Regents of Tacoma,WA formed in '63.
Dave Roland - drums
Billy McPherson - sax & various wind instruments
Richard Rossiter - guitar & trumpet
Rich Liebe - guitar
Sammy Carlson - bass
Sammy Carlson - Bass
Chuck Dotten - drums
Chris Isakson - guitar
Terry Bailey - guitar
Paul Olson - keyboards
To know their biography go to their Web Pages The Regents and My First Band Regents Page,
Interview with Samuel Carlson (bass ),Billy McPherson
(sax) , Richard Rossiter(guitar & trumpet),
and Rich Liebe (Lead Guitar) by Hitomi I
Hitomi: How old were you started
Sammy: My first attempt at music was in about 1956 in Pasadena, California. I was nine years old at the time. My parents rented a piano and had me take lessons for a few months. In 1957 I took up the trumpet with my school band, and participated in the school choir for one year. In 1959, when I was 12, my mother bought me acoustic guitar and arranged for lessons. In 1962, when I was 15, I took up the bass guitar and started a band with my friend J.B. Hildebrand. We were soon selected to join a local band, The Invaders. The bass has remained my primary instrument since that date... 1962.
Billy: I started late - in the 8th grade. Junior high school band - clarinet. Hitomi: Please let me know how you became interested in music.
I was born digging Sousa and classical music. I loved Sousa marches and stuff for concert band. I must have been a musician in a past life. The urge to play was strong and I couldn't resist.
Hitomi: Which band
or bands influenced you early on?
Billy: No bands - just composers and orchestras. But I got into jazz when I got into the 9th grade. JUST LISTENING - no comprehension.
RR: I started playing music when I was seven or eight years old. I had a ukelele and a mandolin. When I was about ten, I started playing trumpet in my school band and learned to read music. By twelve or so, I started playing my father's guitar. I had my first rock and roll band, a trio named The Trojans, when I was about fifteen or sixteen.
Rich:I started "playing around" with music when I was about 5 or 6 years old. My sister had a ukelele that I plunked around on until my parents bought a 4-string guitar for me when I was about 9. I started getting serious about music when I was about 10, and took up the trumpet in my school band. When we moved to Washington State, I was in my first year at Hudtloff Junior High School, (7th grade) and switched from trumpet to Sousaphone (tuba) in the school band. It was here that I met Bill McPherson. He was a year ahead of me, and as he suggested, had just started playing clarinet. But he is such a natural talent, that he was already first chair, placing him ahead of students who had already been playing for a number of years. I kept up with the tuba into high school, but during my third year of junior high (9th grade), I had an experience which caused a great change in my musical direction. The school had what was called a "Sadie Hawkins Day Dance", where the girls ask the boys. The band for this dance was The Sonics, in one of their earlier formations. I already knew Larry Parypa from school, and had met Andy, but this was the first time I knew they had a band. I was ruined forever! Listening to them play and watching them on stage told me that this was something I just had to do. So, I got an old guitar and basically taught myself how to play.
Hitomi: Sammy, Were The Invaders an instrumental
band? What kind music did you play?
Sammy: The Invaders played a variety of what we called an East Coast version of Beach Music. Some were instrumentals, but mostly we did vocals. We had a mixture of 50's and 60's songs, none of them from the NW, except for some instrumentls by The Ventures, who were also from Tacoma, Washington. We even had some original music. We recorded "Sly Fox" and "Invadin". It was because of those recordings that The Invaders were "adopted" by the local top 40 radio station in Hampton (WGH) as their band. I tried to get the band interested in playing some Wailers songs and Louie Louie, but they never did. The Wailers came out with Louie Louie in about 1961 and it was not a big hit outside of the NW. It wasn't until after The Kingsmen came out with Louie Louie did The Invaders know what I was talking about. After the Kingsmen hit with Louie Louie, NW music started spreading throughout the rest of the USA. By that time, I was back in Washington and playing with The Regents.
Hitomi: How did The Regents initially come
together, and how old were you at the time?
Sammy: I do not know the details of how Dave, Richard and Rich first came together. I've heard a story about how Billy joined Dave, Rich and Richard. Billy kept asking them to sit in with the band. Finally, they let him play with them and they were amazed at the talent of this young man. Billy became a member of the band immediately after that. I joined them soon thereafter. I was the last of the 'original' members to join, and I joined them in the autumn of 1963 when I was 16. Before I left Virginia, I wrote to the Wailers using the address on one of their record labels. I told them I was moving back to Washington, was a bass player,and would be looking for a band. I asked them if they could help me find a band upon my return to Washington. I was introduced to The Regents by Kent Morrill of the Wailers. Members of the Regents asked Kent if he knew of an available bass player and Kent gave them my phone number. I auditioned with another band at about the same time as the Regents. The other band had gigs lined up, and the Regents did not at the time. I selected The Regents because they were a more talented group. It was a good choice. I never heard of that other band again or even know if they played any more gig than the ones they had lined up. Billy: I met Rich Liebe and Dick Rossiter in the Clover Park high school band. I jammed with them at a school sock hop.
RR: In 1963, I formed a band called The
Columbians. We had two guitars, a tenor sax, drums, and a harp player.
We did typical pop stuff of the time. By late 1964, I met Richard Liebe
(a guitarist) and we formed a new band with a different drummer, retaining
guitarist Jim Rolls and Saxman Max Harnet in
the mix. I don't know what we called ourselves at that point. Subsequent to this we acquired the talent of Dave Roland on drums. Dave also became the lead singer for the Regents. We did not do vocals initially...all instrumental music.
About this time, we played a big "after the game" dance job at Clover Park High School. During the gig, and by circumstances I cannot recall, a young saxophonist (Bill Mcpherson) sat in with us. We were very impressed with his ability to improvise R&R and we asked him to join us...which he did. I
actually knew Bill from the Clover Park High School Band (and I think even Junior High) were I played trumpet. Bill had developed a reputation as a hot soloist, but we had no idea that he could jam R&R.
Billy: I met Rich Liebe and Dick Rossiter in the Clover Park high school band. I jammed with them at a school sock hop.
Rich:The Regents came together in a roundabout way, as I guess most bands do. Sam, Richard (known at that time as Dick, so I hope you and he will forgive me if I refer to him that way) and I had all had bands before The Regents. Dave and Bill did not, to the best of my recollection. Mine was known as The Shifters, alluding to the fact that we played a fair amount of "Beach" music, and we were all into drag racing and hot cars. I played bass guitar in that group. At any rate, we broke up because the lead guitarist graduated and went to college and the rhythm guitarist moved away. So, I started to form another band. I was in the senior part of Boy Scouts at the time, and Dick had a band which played for one of our parties. I had already gotten to know Dave by this time and he was semi-intrested in forming a group. I had really gotten into lead guitar, and my intent was to form a group with me as lead, Dave on drums, a bass, rhythm guitar and saxophone. The first priority for me was a bass player, so I approached Dick to see if he wanted to do that. He wasn't really happy about it, but agreed. But he also brought in two of his friends from his earlier band - Jim Rolls on rhythm guitar (I had known him in Scouts), and Max Harned on sax. So, this turned out to be the first formation of the Regents. As time went on, Jim decided he needed to move on, and besides, Dick wanted to play guitar - not bass. As luck would have it, a friend of mine, Kent Morrill from the Wailers,was working at a local music store, and had received a letter and business card from Sam, asking if there were any groups looking for a bass player in our area. He gave the card to me, and said that he knew nothing about Sam other than what the letter said. So, I gave Sam a call and invited him to a practice session. Enough said, he was in. The next step was Bill. In high school, I played football and all of our games were on Friday night. So, we often played for post-game dances at the school, and I would get on stage after getting cleaned up. Bill had kept pestering me to sit in during one of these dances,and on one occasion, we said OK, after making sure it was alright with Max. To say the least, Bill blew the socks off everyone, and Max knew he had been outclassed. So, he quit and Bill was in. That was the formation of the Regents at mid-term. It changed again after I left,but Sam knows much more about that than I.
Hitomi: Did you know Kent and another members of The Wailers personally?
Sammy: When I wrote to The Wailers for their help in finding a band in late summer of 1963, I had never met them personally. I attended their dances at the Crescent in Tacoma in 1961 and early 1962. I later got to know them on a more personal basis, especially after Dave left us to become The Wailers drummer in 1965, and when The Regents were signed to Etiquette Records in 1966. Etiquette Records was the record label owned by The Wailers. They also had signed to them The Sonics and The Galaxies. In the last four years, I've been in contact with Buck Ormsby, the Wailers bassist. I saw Buck again last summer when I was in Seattle.
Hitomi: Tell me about the music circuit
in the Northwest. Which bands influenced you? Were the Wailers
a Northwest legend?
Sammy: The Wailers were indeed a NW legend. They influenced all the bands of that era in the Pacific Northwest. We were also influenced my various R&B and Jazz artists of the day. On 19 December 1998, The Wailers held the last of a three-day series of concerts to celebrate their 40th Anniversary as a band. The reaction from the public and their fans was exceptional. Of the other NW bands, the other band that had an influence on us and our music was Paul Revere and The Raiders. I wrote an article about the influence of Paul Revere and the Raiders on early NW bands for "Steppin' Out". That article was published in September 1997. Once the article was submitted for publication, it became the property of "Steppin Out", but they recently gave me permission to post the article on our band's website. I hope to make that available soon.
RR:Every NW band was deeply influenced by the wailers and many bands played tracks off their first album. The Regents were also influenced (as were the Wailers) by blues and jazz giants such as Freddy King, Cannon Ball Aderly, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, and pop stars such as the Righteous Brothers, Ike and Tina Turner, many, many others.
Hitomi: What about other bands such as Don and the Goodtimes, The Kingsmen, Paul Revere and the Raiders?
Sammy: The Kingsmen's music had little to no influence on our band's music. What the Kingsmen achieved by making Louie Louie a national hit was to have the rest of the USA focus attention on what we were doing in the NW. For that, we were all grateful to The Kingsmen. Don and the Goodtimes had no influence on The Regents. We were already an established band when The Goodtimes surfaced in popularity in Washington. The first time I ever heard of Don and The Goodtimes was one evening at The Red Carpet in Tacoma, Washington. I was talking with Don Consola, the owner of The Red Carpet, a popular young adult nightclub. A band member of The Goodtimes approached Don Consola with promotional material about The Goodtimes and was asking to be booked at The Red Carpet. The Goodtimes were booked and I went to their first performance at The Red Carpet. I was pleasantly surprised to see my friend Jim Valley playing with Don and The Goodtimes. The Goodtimes were a good show band that had a little flavor or Paul Revere and The Raiders, but in different costumes. The Raiders had a greater influence on us, particularly in their show presentation skills. They put out some great music that we covered. I would have to say that The Raiders had even a greater influence on Jim Valley, because Jim left The Goodtimes to join Paul Revere and The Raiders as "Harpo". I go into greater detail on The Raiders influence in my September 1997 article written for Mark Lindsay's"Steppin' Out"
Hitomi: What kind music did The Regents play?
Sammy: We played a variety of music which included all of the Northwest standards... music by the Wailers, Raiders, Top 40 hits from the 50's and 60's and some obscure Jazz and R&B bands and artists. We were a very versatile band. We could also play for formal occasions such as Senior Proms, playing three or four hours of jazz, waltzes and other slow songs, then turn around for another four hours of rock and roll.
Hitomi: Which songs did you cover?
Sammy: This would be difficult to answer in detail. We did many Wailers early instrumental songs, a variety of up-tempo jazz tunes, some obscure songs by R&B artists. We also covered some rock-a-billy 50's songs, and many current top 40 tunes. Dave Roland, our drummer, and Richard Rossiter, second guitar, were a great singing duo, particularly on some of the early rocking Righteous Brothers songs. We also covered Roy Orbison, Beatles, Stones, and others. It is difficult to say that we had a particular favorite. We played what we liked, and what made the audience react. We played to dance audiences... Our goal was always to get everyone dancing with our first song of the evening, as well as the last. We had some original songs too. I recall that Richard wrote an instrumental that we played all the time, and that he and Dave had worked on some original vocals too. I introduced the band to the music of Rufus Thomas (who was immensely popular in Virginia). Rufus Thomas is Carla Thomas's father. He did "The Dog" "Walking the Dog" and others.
Hitomi: I know the songs! One of my favorite cover versions of "Walking the Dog" is by the Sonics. Japanese '60s band covered it too.
Sammy: I believe we were the first
PNW band to cover "Walking the Dog", and other bands picked up
on it later. I can recall when Jim Valley was playing with The Viceroys
at a gig. He was all excited about some new songs he
found by Rufus Thomas, either"The Dog" or "Walking the Dog". To him
it was new, but we were already covering those songs.
Rich:Our music really covered a wide range. We played everything from current rock and roll (Top 40) and Northwest rock, to the Beatles, to old standards to jazz. I think it's a tribute to the collective talent
in The Regents that we could do such a wide range and do it well. We were really a versatile bunch.
Rich, Dave (in back on drums) Billy and Richard... 1964.
Hitomi: Where did you play? Dance parties, clubs, high schools, etc?
Sammy: The Regents started out playing at dances at Saint Mary's Parish in Lakewood, just as did The Sonics. In the beginning, we also played private parties, private dances at clubs, and even put on some of our own dances by renting halls. We soon left that behind and broke into the more popular hot spots such as The Red Carpet, The Evergreen, Pearl's, and for almost all the High Schools and universities in the area. We would still go back and play Saint Mary's from time to time. The area we covered was all throughout the Puget Sound region of Washington and up into the peninsula as far northwest as Neah Bay. When we look back at what we did today, we are absolutely amazed that we broke into the scene so fast and even played Seattle's Space Needle. In 1965 I think we had almost a monopoly on playing the High School senior parties throughout Tacoma and up into the southern part of the Seattle area.
Hitomi: Did the Regents tour the NW circuit?
Sammy: There wasn't exactly a tour circuit in the NW in those days. We went from gig to gig, and club to club. There was a certain class of establishments, and we broke into those establishments rather quickly.
Hitomi: Were the people who went to see your gigs mainly teenagers?
Sammy: Yes, the vast majority were teens
or young adults of college age. We did do some club
engagements for a much older group. To us they seemed very old at the time... aged 25 to 40. Today
they seem very young. :) Everything is relative!
Hitomi: Did the Regents belong to a management office or did you book yourselves?
Sammy: No we did not belong to a booking agency. Our bookings came from a variety of sources. We booked most of our gig ourselves. We did get some bookings from the Musicians Union and referral bookings from other bands that were asked to play but were already booked. The bands in Tacoma often referred bookings to other bands when they were booked up. We helped each other. There was a booking agent in Seattle who would get us bookings periodically, but if you relied on an agent in those days, you would not work very frequently.
Hitomi: I wonder why original Regents did not release any records. Didn't you have much interest in it, or didn't you have any good opportunities?
Sammy: The original Regents wanted to record, but we were having too much fun performing. By the time we felt we were ready to record and break out, Dave left for the Wailers, Rich became ill, and Richard moved to California with his fiancee. The second Regents did record for Etiquette Records as I mentioned before. When we talk about it today, we all agree it was a big mistake to not record because we could have broken out of the NW and into the USA market easily.
Hitomi: How much did you earn for each gig?
Sammy: We were members of the American Federation of Musicians
union. Union scale was the minimum we would receive in the early
Union minimum scale for a five piece band in 1963 and 1964 for three hours was about $120.00 plus 10% leaders fee, travel and other road expenses. That was the minimum. As we became more popular, our price went up. Some gigs were about $250.00 plus expenses, but most were about $160.00 to $180.00 by 1966. That does not seem to be much money by today's standards, but when you consider that you could buy a new car for under $1,700, and a Cadillac cost $5,000... or that the payments on my house were only $55.00 per month, and that gasoline was about 8 cents per litre, we were actually paid fairly well for a standard gig. Someone earning over $10,000 per year was considered very well compensated in those years.
Hitomi: Did you play "Louie Louie" ?
Sammy : Yes, we did cover "Louie
Louie". The Wailers came out with Louie Louie in 1961, two
years before the Kingsmen. It became a very popular standard song
for NW bands to cover. Our version is probably best described as
a little bit of the original by Richard Berry, some of the Wailers version,
and a little bit of The Regents. Dave sang "Louie Louie" very much
like the 1950's original by Richard Berry, but the instrumentation
was a mixture of The Wailers and The Regents.
Rich:we did play Louie Louie. In fact, the guy who sang it in the release done by the Wailers, Rockin'
Robin Roberts, was a fraternity brother of mine. Louie Louie in its "trash" version as done by the Kingsmen, is still considered as the classic party tune of all time.
Hitomi: Was it very popular there?
Sammy: To say Louie Louie was popular
in the NW would be a gross understatement. Louie Louie was
and is today an immensely popular song in the NW. I am told that
there were attempts to make Louie Louie the official State
Song of the State of Washington. Though Richard Berry wrote it, the
Wailers made it popular in the NW. The Kingsmen made it a national
hit some two years after the Wailers made it popular in the
Hitomi: I see , I think Kingsmen's version is weak than wailers. I love Walers' wired version and Sonics' punk version. It is regrettable your version was not recorded.
Hitomi: It seems North West bands were very influenced from black R&B.
Sammy: Yes, very much so. The Pacific Northwest was rather isolated from the rest of the USA in those days. We did not have interstate highways leading into Washington until about the early 60's. We also did not have the same prejudices as were experienced in other parts of the USA at the time. When the black artists came to Washington, we all flocked to see them, and integrate their music into our own. They had a significant influence on the unique Pacific Northwest sound of the late 50's and early 60's. It was not a matter of copying the music of these artists, but more of integrating what we liked of their sound into ours. It wasn't just black R&B that influenced us, but also the sound of great black jazz artists such as the "Jazz Crusaders", who later became known as "The Crusaders". I can recall when some of the other Regents and I went to see Little Richard at the Evergreen in Olympia. It was great. In 1964, we had the privilege of doing a joint gig with The Jazz Crusaders at the University of Puget Sound.
Hitomi: Was it popular to use saxophones
and other brass instruments in the NW bands of the 60's?
Billy: absolutely. The wind players back then were better than today. For example ---- Kenny G
Sammy: Yes. Most of the bands in those days had a saxophone, and some even larger brass sections. A good saxophonist was essential in those days and we, The Regents, were blessed to have an incredible talent with Billy McPherson on his golden horn. Billy went on to have a very successful life-long musical career. Even today when we play an early 1964 demo tape we made, everyone is in awe of the talent Billy had (and still has) when he was but 16 or 17 years old. Our second guitar, Richard, also played trumpet. He and Billy frequently became a great, but small, horn section on some songs.
Rich:Northwest rock was greatly influenced by black R&B. Freddy King, Chuck Berry, Rufus Thomas, and all the others had a very profound effect. Must guitarists I know copied Freddy King's style to some
degree or another.
Hitomi: What did you think about the British Invasion. It's influence seems smaller in Northwest than another area in United States isn't it ?
Sammy: The British Invasion influenced
all of us in the USA. We (the NW bands) retained our unique
NW sound, but quickly integrated the music from the British Invasion into
our own. The Sonics seemed to pick up on the Kinks, and
we picked up on the Beatles and bands such as The Searchers.
Rich:The "British Invasion" did have an effect, but not as great, in my view. Yes, we played Beatles, Stones and other groups' music, but even then, the black R&B flavor was there.
Hitomi: Which British bands influenced you?
Sammy: Without doubt, the biggest influence on all of us was The Beatles. A good question of the Beatles would be which bands or artists influenced them. Without doubt the Beatles would say they were influenced by Americans such as Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison. The British Invasion took our music and gave it new life then added their own creativity with their original songs that came later. I have many favorite Beatle songs that I love to perform, and one that was put out by The Searchers, "Needles and Pins", which was written by Sonny Bono of Sonny and Cher fame. The British and American music always seems to flow in a large circle between the continents. The music by the Beatles was simple sounding and initially music that made you feel happy. Today, when I jam with younger musicians and suggest we try out a few Beatles tunes, at first they are reluctant. After they play it, they always comment that it is fun music to play, and much more difficult to play than it sounds. We old dogs can still teach these young puppies something.
Hitomi: Did you know the Sonics? What are some of your memories about them?
Sammy: Yes, we know the Sonics.
In the beginning, we played the same music venues as they did.
Many of the Sonics were, and are to this date, our friends. Memory
of them? Well, their music style was different from ours...
it was raw and butt kicking. Though they had the ability to finesse
a song, they seemed to prefer to make it scream. I recall
many instances of socializing with them, primarily the Parypa
brothers, in Lakewood. On the rare instances when we were not playing
and they were, we would go see them perform. I recall
them doing the same when they were not performing... coming to
watch us. Probably my fondest memory that typified the bond and friendship
we had as musicians was when we were doing a "Battle of the
Bands" at the Tacoma Armory with The Sonics and another band...
I broke a string on my bass and did not have a spare string. Andy
Parypa of the Sonics did not hesitate to let me continue with
our performance with his bass. There was no real sense of
competition between the Sonics and the Regents. We were friends...
and still are.
Rich:The Sonics are among our best friends. Andy and Larry Parypa have been friends since junior high school, which goes back more years than I remember, and are friends to this day. We would hang out together when we weren't playing, and even today, we get together occasionally to jam some of the old songs.
Hitomi: Sometimes Sonics are called a prototype of Punk . When I listen their record I was surprised they looked so smart, squire, but the sound is agressive and screaming.
Sammy: Yes, the Sonics music was raw and probably the prototype for all punk and grunge music of today.
Hitomi: Was your sound close to them?
Sammy: Not always. We played
much of the same music, but the interpretations of the songs were
different between the two bands. Once per year, I go back to Seattle
with some of the old Regents (Dave, Richard, Billy) and we
jam with some of the old Sonics. After the first time we got together,
I commented that I thought they were much better musicians
today than before... and of course they thought I was a much
better musician in the 1960's. This is true. I completely stopped
playing music from 1967 until December 1995 when I bought a
Fender P-Bass and started up again. I didn't hear any
comments about my playing when we jammed together last August. It
is all coming back to me fast.
Rich:Our sounds were similar in some respects, but the Sonics were more gutsy and driving than we were. We had more finesse and true musicianship in our work because of the greater variety of songs we played. That doesn't mean either of us was better than the other - just different.
Hitomi: Which bands did you play with?
Sammy: As I said previously, I played with The Invaders out of Hampton, Virginia from '62 to '63, and with The Regents from their beginning in 1963 until the final demise of the later version of the Regents in about early 1967. I completely stopped playing music until I bought another bass in 1995 and joined a band in Wisconsin, Time Domain in 1996. I played with Time Domain from '96 until I left Wisconsin in September '97. Time Domain was a "classic rock" band that played all of the standard favorites from the 50's and 60's, and some from the 70's. A few months before I left Wisconsin, I was asked to also join another established classic rock band in Wisconsin, "The Chubby Classics".
Hitomi: Why do you think there are lots of '60s music fans, both young and old fans, these days?
Sammy: This is a much easier question to answer. The music of the 50's and 60's was honest music, fun to play, fun to dance to, and reflected the society of the 50's and early 60's. It was a great time to be growing up in the USA. There was still much innocence among our youth in those days, much less violence, and drugs had not yet penetrated our society to a great degree. My youngest daughter, who is now a Freshman in college, did not grow up listening to my music of the 50's and 60's. She discovered it on her own when she started playing my old records and tapes. She still likes her music, but freely admits that our music was from a happy time and it makes her feel good. It still makes me feel good too.
Hitomi: I agree with you! I love the innocence of '60s music .
Sammy: Have you ever watched the American TV show, "Happy Days" or the Movie "That Thing We Do"? That is very much how it was. Small parts of the USA are still like that, believe it or not.
Hitomi: Please introduce My first band's WebPages.
Sammy: My First Band website? I think I found that site by a rather round about method. I was looking at the URLs that led people to The Regents Homepage, and it led me to your site. From your site, I found My First Band. I submitted some information on the Regents to that site, and we were posted. I think that site is a wonderful idea. I have included it in The Regents Links Page and have recommended it to many friends who had excellent "first bands" so that they might be included.
Hitomi: I read " In 1964, The Regents started playing the rhythm guitar through a Leslie organ speaker On " My first band's page." I was surprised you did it in '64!! It is a very first, isn't it? Was this trial sound good?
Richard playing through the Lieslie... probably early '65. One of our PA horns sits on top of the Leslie.
Sammy: I can't say for certain that we were the very first band to do that, but I can tell you that we were the very first band that I know of that ever used a Leslie speaker for a rhythm guitar, and the only one in Puget Sound using one during that time. To us it was new untried and unheard of. The first time we used it in public was at Homecoming at the University of Puget Sound in 1964. The audience reaction was wonderful. This was the same gig where The Jazz Crusaders were also playing. There were three bands there that night, all in different halls of the same building. There were The Regents, The Jazz Crusaders, and another Kingston Trio type of group. We invited The Jazz Crusaders to come listen to us during one of their breaks. When they showed up. we did our rendition of one of their songs for them with Richard playing through the Leslie... I believe it was "Tough Talk" You could see the look on their faces when they heard but could not see a strange sounding organ sound. Ten years later, The Crusaders re-released Tough Talk and did it the way we played it for them, with a guitar played through a Leslie. In the 1974 version,The Crusaders slowed it down a little. I think that was a nice unspoken compliment. The sound was great! We didn't use it for every song. Richard had a switch on his amplifier to change from regular guitar amplifier to the Leslie. We tried the sound of doing backup vocals through the Leslie. It sounded great in practice, but knew we could never do it live. We did not have the amplification power to make the Leslie work for voice in those days. We used a simple 35 watt Bogen PA without any effects... not even echo.
RR:You know, I can't remember how we got
the idea to use the Leslie Speaker. In any case, we had my old Gretch
amplifier modified to accommodate the Lesie, and I played my Gretch Chet
Atkins guitar through it. It was a great, lush sound. Nothing
like it before. The sound became a trademark of the Regents.
Hitomi: Please describe the fashion worn by The Regents. Did you wear tie and jackets. Was your hair short or long?
Sammy: Most bands of those days wore some sort of "uniform". What we chose was a convertible uniform using a gray collarless two-button jacket, white shirts with tie bar collars, black shoes, black slacks and thin black ties. These jackets were "convertible" because they had removable collars and pocket flaps (one set of black and one gray). This allowed us to make subtle changes in our look from gig to gig. The later version of the Regents (65-67) wore light pink, blue or yellow long sleeve shirts, with sleeveless pullover sweaters, black tie, black slacks and brown boots. Our hair started out short, and slowly grew longer. While in the band, none of us ever wore their hair any longer than the early Beatles.
Hitomi:I thounght NW '60s sound is something different
from another area, and had particular sound.
Reading your interview I know the part of the reaon, it is interesting and worth not only for me but anyone who loves '60s music.
Sammy: As you know the NW 60's music
was different.... and that the Seattle area has always been big for coming
up with new and different sounds. I have a younger cousin in Washington
who is now in the music business. He is Justin Trosper with the band
"Unwound" out of Olympia. If you do an internet search for Unwound,
I am sure they will come up frequently.
Hitomi: You left the band because you were about to be drafted in '67. What did you and the average boy of the '60s think about the draft?
Sammy: The draft was only one of
many reasons for the final breakup of the Regents. My notice came after
we broke up, but I knew it was coming. We grew up in families where
our fathers and uncles were veterans of the Second World War, the Korean
War and our grandfathers from the First World War. Duty, honor, and
country had real meaning to us. I don't know of too many men who
wanted to be drafted, but when they were, they did not run away as did
so many later on during the war. Only a small percentage of those
who were to be drafted ran away. Even later on as the war became
so unpopular in the US, the majority answered their call to duty.
The news media made it seem to be a larger number than it really was.
Those who wanted to serve generally enlisted or attended a military academy
or Reserve Officers Training Corps in college. It was our duty...
something that was expected of us.
Hitomi: I know the Psychedelic movement was opposed to the draft and war. This made rock to be an art with a strong opinion, and the music lost innocense. (I love music before '67)
Sammy: How very true. After the psychedelic drug culture came out and influenced the music, that is when I believe our music and our overall culture was hitting its lowest point.
seems before '67, regular american boy accept his draft as it was
just a duty with particular political opinon.
Sammy: It was the almost the same after '67 too, only there was mor vocal opposition to the war. Few of us wanted to leave our homes and family for two years. Still, that was what we were expected to do, and we did it.
bands did you play with after you left the Regents, Billy?
Billy: The United States Air Force Band - Washington D.C. Then when I got out - I joined the Buddy Miles Express in Hollywood, California, and recorded a few albums with him.
Hitomi: What kind music did you play ?
Billy: Blues and swing jazz (bebop). I also can play a mean lead guitar.
Hitomi: On 2nd lineup of the Regents, did the
sound change by using keyboads instead of winds?
Sammy: The sound of the second version of the Regents was very different. It was still a very good band, but didn't have the blues and jazz influence of the originals. Isakson played guitar with the original band for a short while, so some of the original band sound carried over, but not much. Later on, the band developed its own sound when we added the keyboards and later a saxophone... which was good enough to land a recording contract, but the people weren't personally disciplined or mature enough to take it any further. The second Regents members were always trying to compare themselves to the originals, but they couldn't. I usually kept quiet about the band members trying to compare themselves to the original members, but when the new horn player tried to compare himself to Billy McPherson, I flatly told him he was no Billy McPherson... and wasn't even close to being as talented. I think that got him angry, but I really didn't care. What I said was true.
Hitomi: Thank you. Have you any comments you'd like to add.
Sammy: I feel so very fortunate to have been involved in the early 60's music scenes in Virginia and particularly in Washington. There were many bands around, but only a few had any success. I did not realize how lucky I was to be part of the early NW music scene until many years later. The original members of the Regents were all talented people, and best of all we were best friends. We did everything together. It was almost a "One for All and All for One" type of atmosphere with Dave, Rich, Billy and Richard. These fond memories prompted me to find all of the original members of the band. I have tried to find the girls who sang with us and members of the later version of The Regents, but without success. I am sure that in time, I will find them all. I am fortunate that I've been able to get back into playing the old music again with my old friends and with new ones. Though we old musicians will not be here forever, I am certain our music will.
Billy: Sometimes I wished the Regents never would have broken up (Vietnam ruined everything). If we would have stayed together, I am sure we would have become one of the legendary Northwest bands. We were together at the right time, and we got along really great. Bands like the Sonics and the Wailers all basically hated each other. I have wild stories of the fights and immature bickering that went on in those two legendary bands. The band members ruined their bands by being to young and naive and not having a mentor to direct them. We all suffered without real mentors.
RR: Playing in the Regents was really exciting. We did some really interesting gigs, like playing at the Space Needle in Seattle and on tour boats in Puget Sound. These were the best times of my youth.
Rich:I think this surge of interest in
'60s rock is great. The Pacific Northwest has produced many fine
musicians and bands over the years, and it also produced a unique sound
during the late '50s and '60s. It was what I generally refer to as
down-home good time rock and roll, and besides being good music, it was
Read Sammys' cool article !The Cause and Effects of Early Raiders on Northwest Musicians and Friends
'60s Garage paradise(BBS)