Michigan Garage Bands

The Beau Biens at a WCBN Mixer in April of 1976

One of the great things about radio before consolidation was how a Michigan Garage Band could hit the big time.

Sometimes it was just one or two hits, like the Rationals. Others, like The Prime Movers gave birth to the Stooges and the solo career of Iggy Pop. The Decibels was Bob Seger‘s first band. The Last Heard and The Bob Seger System followed. Bob’s connection with Teagarden and Van Winkle was the jump off for a solo career that is now legendary. Glenn Frey started with The Subterraneans, then The Four of Us. His Seger connection runs deep, beginning with backing Bob up on “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.” After his migration to California and a connection with Don Henley and Linda Ronstadt, he was a founding member of The Eagles.

Some simply vanished. The Beau Biens is a classic example. The Yardbirds-inspired Grosse Pointe band that relocated to Ann Arbor when the members enrolled in The University of Michigan recorded ‘Times Passed’ b/w ‘A Man Who’s Lost’ at WCBN, Michigan’s carrier current college radio station by DJ. Joe Doll. Their single became a collectors item until it was repressed 50 years later by Detroit’s Archer Records.

Plymouth’s “Sound Unlimited”

Keener 13 Facebook Fan, Glenn Jimmerson was a member of The Sound Unlimited, a Plymouth, Michigan garage band. He remembers, “We played the Fifth Dimension in Ann Arbor, The Mump at Northland, the Cavern in Northville, The Chatterbox in Allen Park, the ByPass in Brighton, the Chip in Plymouth, Royal Oak Dondero (with Glen Frey’s band), the Teen Fair Inc. at Cobo Hall (twice), The Courtyard in Detroit. Great times and working with Dick Purtan was a riot.” The other members in the band’s photo (at right) were: L-R, John Fannin, Mike Fannin, Dan Tripp and Ron Paquin.

Robin Seymour – Swingin’ Time

Local radio played a huge role. Everyone from Tommy James to Mitch Ryder depended on visionary music directors at stations like Keener 13 to take a chance on their stuff. They were also staples of local TV shows like Swingin’ Time and Club 12-7-0

Tim Tam and the Turn-Ons

While most bands eventually broke up, a few, like Tim Tam and the Turn-Ons retained a bit of fame in a pair of apartment buildings, christened Tim Tam and Turn On, the last of which was demolished in the summer of 2009.

Great websites like Michigan’s Rock and Roll Legends catalogues the stories of dozens of Michigan Garage Bands. Jim Feliciano’s excellent Motor City Radio Flashbacks is filled with Michigan Garage Band memories. If you grew up listening to these bands at sock hops and on your transistor radios, it’s as easy as typing a name into a browser (or YouTube) and you’re likely to find a treasure trove.

Here’s an incomplete list of Michigan Garage Bands (Cover Image – The Tidal Waves):

The Aardvarks 
Amboy Dukes
Band X
Brownsville Station
Bantam Rooster
Benny and the Jets
Blue Echoes
The Cherry Slush
Death (proto-punk band)
Demolition Doll Rods
The Detroit Cobras
The Dirtbombs
Five Emprees
Fortune & Maltese & the Phabulous Pallbearers
Frigid Pink
The Frost
The Go
Goober & the Peas
Gore Gore Girls
The Gories
Grand Funk Railroad
The Hentchmen
The High Strung
The Index (band)
The Iguanas
The Jades (American band)
The JuJus
Terry Knight and the Pack
Luv’d Ones
Me and Dem Guys
The People’s Temple (band)
Pitche Blende
The Plagues
The Pleasure Seekers (band)
The Prime Movers
? and the Mysterians
The Quests (American band)
The Raconteurs
The Rationals
Riot Squad
The Shy Guys
The Spits
SSM (band)
The Stooges
Teegarden & Van Winkle
The Tidal Waves
Tim Tam and the Turn Ons
Tonto and the Renegades
The Troyes (band)
Two-Star Tabernacle
The Underdogs (American band)
The Unrelated Segments
The Up
The Von Bondies
The White Stripes

Quick Takes:

Stevie stumping for Joe Biden – October 2020

The headline in the Detroit Free Press on March 15, 1974 — nearly 47 years ago — was clear and direct: “Stevie Wonder Plans to Move to Africa.” Here is why Stevie’s Ghana aspirations are suddenly back in the news. (Freep)

What’s your favorite 60s sitcom?

Sometimes I miss the mindlessness of 1960’s TV comedies. These days you actually have to pay attention to what you’re watching. You can rank your faves here.

Spotify is looking more like a radio station every day. I wonder how long it will be until there are 18 minutes of commercials an hour?  (Axios)

When my altar ego, Terry Shepherd  wrote “Chasing Vega,” deploying the thriller as a graphic novel was a given. Now one radio vet is channeling her on-air experience in a comic vein. (Jacobs Media)

The Guess Who at the White House

This week in 1970, The Guess Who won “Best Group” at the first Juno Awards.  That Summer, the band was invited to perform at the White House for the Nixon family and guests. They were asked to eliminate American Woman (due to political interpretations of the lyrics) from their setlist as a “matter of taste”. (ME Music)

Peter Noone

And audio memory from the 2003 Woodward Dream Cruise: Our good friend, Bob Berry interviews Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits. Bob produced two hours of programming for Friday evening of that weekend. Ironically, that afternoon a power outage that impacted much of the Midwest put Keener off the air until just before Noon on Saturday. Bob Berry’s interviews are some of the greatest stories never told. (Video)

Today in History:

Charles and Diana

1868: US House of Representatives vote 126 to 47 to impeach President Andrew Johnson.
1909: The Hudson Motor Car Company is founded.
1942: The Voice of America begins broadcasting (in German)
1963: The Rolling Stones started a Sunday night residency at The Station Hotel, Richmond, Surrey. The Stones were paid £24 ($41) for the gig and played on the first night to a total of 66 people. £24 from 1963 would be worth £392, adjusted for inflation.
1965: The first full day of filming took place for The Beatles movie Help! ‘ with the group riding bicycles on location near London Airport, England.
1968: Fleetwood Mac released their debut studio album (also known as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac), a mixture of blues covers and originals penned by guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer which peaked at No.4 on the UK chart and stayed on the charts 37 weeks. This is the only album by the band not to feature keyboardist, vocalist Christine McVie in any capacity.
1969: The Jimi Hendrix Experience played their last ever-British performance when they appeared at the Royal Albert Hall.
1973: Roberta Flack had her second US No.1 when ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’, started a five-week run at the top of the charts. The song was written in collaboration with singer songwriter Lori Lieberman and was born of a poem she wrote after experiencing a strong reaction to the Don McLean song ‘Empty Chairs.’ Roberta Flack first heard the song during a flight. She performed it for the first time live when supporting Marvin Gaye who told her she had to recorded a version before playing it live again.
1973: The Byrds made their final live appearance when they played at The Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey. (The then-current incarnation of the Byrds, which included Roger McGuinn, Clarence White, John York and Gene Parsons).
1975: Led Zeppelin released their sixth album Physical Graffiti in the UK. Recording sessions had been disrupted when bassist and keyboard player John Paul Jones had proposed quitting the band, supposedly to become choirmaster at Winchester Cathedral, England, although in reality he just needed time to rest after Zeppelin’s demanding tour schedule. The group decided on a double album so they could feature songs left over from their previous albums Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV and Houses Of The Holy.
1976: The Eagles ‘Greatest Hits’ became the first album to be certified platinum by the R.I.A.A. New certification’s represented sales of 1 million copies for albums and two million for singles.
1981: Britain’s Prince Charles announces engagement to Lady Diana Spencer.
1982: The Police won best British group at the first annual Brit Awards held in London, Adam And The Ants won best album for ‘Kings Of The Wild Frontier’, Cliff Richard won British Male Solo Artist, Randy Crawford won British Female Solo Artist, British Breakthrough Act went to The Human League, British Producer was Martin Rushent and Outstanding Contribution went to John Lennon.
1982: Winners at the Grammy Awards included John & Yoko Album of the year with ‘Double Fantasy, Kim Carnes for Song of the year with ‘Bette Davis Eyes’, Quincy Jones won producer of the year and Sheena Easton best new act.
1990: American singer, songwriter, pianist Johnnie Ray died of liver failure at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. He scored over 20 Top 40 singles between 1952 & 1960 including 1956 UK No.1 & US No.2 single, ‘Just Walking In The Rain’. Dexys Midnight Runners’ name checked Ray in the lyrics to their 1982 hit ‘Come On Eileen’.
1992: Kurt Cobain married Courtney Love in Waikiki, Hawaii. The press reported that the couple were expecting a baby on Sept 10th of this year.
2004: Estelle Axton, who helped create the legendary US soul music label Stax, died in hospital in Memphis, aged 85. Stax was home to Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Isaac Hayes and Booker T and the MG’s and the Stax studio, ‘Soulsville USA’, was second only to Motown in its production of soul hits during its 1960s heyday.
2009: The United States Mint launched a new coin featuring American composer, pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington.

Today’s Birthdays:

Steve Jobs

1885: Admiral Chester Nimitz (d. 1996)
1921: Abe Vigoda, (Tessio in The Godfather – Fish on Barney Miller) (d. 2016)
1938: James Farentino (Dynasty) (d. 2012)
1942: Paul Jones, lead singer and harmonica man for Manfred Mann.
1944: Nicky Hopkins, Keyboards (The Rolling Stones – The Who – The Kinks). (d. 1994)
1950: George Thorogood, Blues Master.
1953: Derek St Holmes, Axe Man for Ted Nugent.
1955: Steve Jobs, (Apple),(d. 2011)

Let’s send you on your way with a Michigan Garage Band cover of the George Harrison tune, “Awaiting on You All.” The 1971 release peaked at number 108, “bubbling under” the Billboard Hot 100.

Thanks for listening!

Scott Westerman
Curator: Keener13.com
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit