"1966 is already being marked as the year of the Bare Facts" - GO MAGAZINE, 1966 article
We at 60sgaragebands.com highly regard garage heavyweights such as the Music Machine, Seeds, Count Five, and Electric Prunes. They were successful enough to warrant much deserved attention during their '60s glory days, and they probably receive even greater attention today. They were national acts and enjoyed - no matter how fleeting - the adulation of fans all over the country. What really excites us, however, is digging up information on the local or regional bands of the '60's that grasped at widespread fame and fortune, only to never actually be able to reach it. The Bare Facts resoundingly fall into that category. Hugely popular in their home town of Portsmouth, Ohio, the band traveled to New York to record but - due to circumstances beyond their control - never acheived national status. Long time favorites, with classic songs such as "Georgianna" and "Bad Part Of Town" on their resume, 60sgaragebands.com is elated to be able to present the history of the Bare Facts. Rhythm guitarist Ron Pruitt graciously filled us in...
An Interview With Ron Pruitt
60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Ron Pruitt (RP): I was interested in music from a very early age because practically all my relatives played instruments. But I got seriously interested in music after the Beatles. I was 13.
60s: Was The Bare Facts your first band?
RP: The Bare Facts was I think the third band I was ever in. My first band was The Four Coachmen. I first started playing professionally with that band when I was 15. We played six nights a week for $6.00 apiece a night at two different clubs from early June to sometime in November 1965, then the band broke up.
60s: What about your second band?
RP: Honestly I can't remember the name of that second band. We only played a few gigs. Actually I think I was in two bands in between The Four Coachmen and The Bare Facts, and I can't remember the other band's name either. I can remember the people who played in those bands though. I think.
60s: What about The Bare Facts then? Were was that band formed, what year, and by whom?
RP: The Bare Facts was formed in Portsmouth, Ohio in early spring 1966. The leader and chief songwriter, Bill Williams, formed the band.
60s: Who else comprised the band?
RP: The members of the original Bare Facts were Bill Williams, lead guitar and vocals; Dave Craycraft, organ, vocals, and trumpet; Rusty Pruitt, drums and vocals; Ron Pruitt, rhythm guitar and vocals; and Randy Boldman, bass guitar and vocals. Later on we added another guitar player, Bill Maple.
60s: Where did the band typically practice?
RP: We practiced wherever we could - (in our) parent's basements, and living rooms. After a while we got a permanent rehearsal place in an unused room at our roadies' house.
60s: What type of gigs did the band typically land?
RP: We played any and all gigs we could get: parties, dances, events, clubs and concerts.
60s: Did The Bare Facts have a Manager? If so, was he/she instumental in with the band's career?
RP: We had two managers who were partners, Dave Craig and Bill (Dall) Callahan. Dave Craig was a disc jockey at a radio station (WIOI) in Portsmouth and Bill Callahan was the Program Director at WMCA Radio in Manhattan. They got us the record deal. Much later it was learned that Dave Craig had been stealing from his partner and us. That ended up sinking our record deal, and eventually caused the band to wither out of existence.
60s: How did the band hook up with Craig and Callahan?
RP: The way we hooked up with Craig and Callahan was like this. Bill was then, and still is, a schmoozer. He had met Dave Craig before the rest of us did. Dave Craig had originally been from New York. He had worked at a radio station in Michigan before he came to Portsmouth. He had known Bill Callahan from New York, for how long I don't know. So, the two of them had this thing going about trying to find a band to manage.
60s: A 1966 article in GO Magazine actually claims that Craig "discovered the group when they were entertaining at a record hop to raise money for an underprivileged children's home." That's GOT to be the work of a very clever PR Man, right?
RP: Actually it's true. The first time he saw us perform was at the children's home in Wheelersburg, Ohio.
60s: But Craig was very successful in promoting the band.
RP: The band was the biggest thing ever locally. We sold 5000 records in two days and ended up saving the little record store that we gave exclusive sales rights to. Before our record it had been headed for bankruptcy; it's still in business to this day.
60s: How would you describe the band's sound?
RP: The band's sound was described as "Blue-Eyed Soul." The influences were The Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, James Brown, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, The Bar Kays, Jimmie Smith, Muddy Waters, Sam The Sham, Junior Walker, and many, many others.
60s: What about The Young Rascals? They typically come to mind when discussing "Blue-Eyed Soul" acts.
RP: I should have mentioned The Young Rascals because we did "Good Lovin'," but I said "and many, many others." We did Ferry Cross The Mersey for God's sake! The influences are across the map.
60s: Did you ever get to play with any of these acts, or any other national acts?
RP: We played alongside many national acts on the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars: Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, The Strangeloves, Dave Clark Five, Chubby Checker, Aretha Franklin, The Left Banke, and many others. It was too long ago to remember.
60s: How did you manage to land a gig on the Dick Clark Caravan Of Stars?
RP: The Dick Clark Caravan of Stars. We only did one show with them; we opened at the football stadium in Portsmouth. They all used our equipment, 'cept for Mitch Ryder and The Strageloves. We were there, a bus came into the stadium; the crowd hadn't started coming in yet. We met everyone then went off behind the stage to talk down our set again. The emcee came up, introduced the whole thing, then us, and then we came up and played our two songs. I don't know how many acts there were on the show, but there we a bunch of them.
60s: The Bare Facts actually recorded its singles in New York. What were the circumstances leading the group to New York?
RP: We were in New York only a matter of months after the band formed. We made a demo at a local radio station and our manager in New York got us a record deal. 60s: Regarding the demo...the liner notes to a Sundazed CD compilation state that pre-Jubilee demos of Georgiana and Bad Part Of Town were recorded. Do you recall if there were any differences between the demo versions and the versions recorded in New York?
RP: What they must be referring to about the pre-Jubilee recording was the demo we did at WPAY in Portsmouth. Who has those tapes, if they still exist, I don't have a clue. Between the demo and the final version I don't think any changes were made, same tempos, keys, etc. I'm sure the demo had less production value, but the arrangements weren't changed.
60s: Who was the band's primary songwriter(s)? Who wrote the songs chosen as the band's first single?
RP: The primary songwriter was Bill Williams. Dave Craycraft wrote both the songs on the second single. Bill wrote both the songs on the first single; those were the songs from the demo, so the record company wanted us to record those first. At the time those were the only songs he had written.
60s: That first single, Georgiana b/w Bad Part Of Town, was recorded in 1966. Where in New York was the 45 recorded?
RP: We recorded both our records at Jay Gee/Jubilee Records on Broadway, I think between 57th and 58th Streets. We knocked the songs out in two three sessions or successive days. We knew the songs very well by that time so we nailed them in just a few takes.
60s: How popular did the song become locally?
RP: The record was huge locally.
60s: Did it make any dents nationally?
RP: As far as I know, and again I could be wrong, we only made it to 100 on the Billboard singles chart.
60s: While in New York, were you able to perform live on stage at all, or did you go simply to record?
RP: We performed at a huge club in Brooklyn (the name escapes me), but it had formerly been The Town And Country, the largest nightclub in the U.S. We opened for The Troggs and The Boys From New York City. We stayed in New York for about ten days the first trip.
60s: The single was succesful enough to lead to some TV appearances. What do you recall about these?
RP: We appeared on UPBEAT, a nationally syndicated TV show in Cleveland. Bobby Goldsborough, Aretha Franklin, and Chubby Checker were on the same show. We played on dance shows on WLWT in Cincinnati and WSAZ in Huntington, WV. We played both sides of the single on all shows.
60s: I believe you returned to New York in 1967 to record the second single, "The Only Thing" b/w "To Think". What do you recall about this session?
RP: Our second single went pretty much the same as the first except by that time we had added the other guitar player I mentioned above. Dave Craycraft wrote both songs. It was during the second trip to N.Y. that the trouble started between the two managers.
60s: Why did you feel it necessary to add another guitar player in Dave Maple?
RP: I'm not sure why we added Bill Maple. What I remember was after our first record became such a local hit he showed up at one of our rehearsals wearing an identical suit to the one that we wore in our first promo picture. He was a fairly good guitar player, so he got in. I think the main reason was because he also played trumpet and we wanted two trumpets. Craycraft played left-handed organ and trumpet at the same time. Later on we added a sax player, Frank Binnochi. He came in after the second record was recorded and only gigged with us during the disintegration phase. I played with both these guys in bands years later when I was playing with Freddie Empire.
60s: How did the band's popularity change after the second New York trip compared to the first trip?
RP: The label released the second record on BT Puppy, one of Jay Gee's labels. Because of the problems with our management the record company started to lose interest and didn't give the second record the support it gave the first one. We were so young and dumb we didn't know how to go about getting new management. Had we not been such babes in the woods we could have secured new management and kept our relationship with Jay Gee.
60s: You've mentioned problem with your management. What actually happened?
RP: My brother was actually the first to find out what was going on. Both times we were in New York they put us up in a hotel in midtown Manhattan. On our second trip Dave Craig was there in New York too. Both of them would come and visit us once a day in our hotel room (and it was a room. It was like five beds in one big room). They would bring us ten dollars apiece to last us for the day. Randy Boldman and I were sixteen. Remember this is 1966 or '67. Ten dollars a day was a fortune, way back then, in New York City. You could get a whole meal, with lots of beef, for a dollar sixty. You could buy shirts and pants for a few bucks each. Randy and I would sortie out every day to go shopping for cool clothes. We came back to Portsmouth with Tom Jones' shirts, Dough Boy jackets, Bell-bottomed, super tight in the crouch, black pants, and got promptly suspended from high school on our first day back. High School instantly became a much more harder place for us. I went to summer school after my junior and senior years and received my diploma in the hall from the Dean of Boys in August 1968.
60s: But what happened that confirmed for you that Craig was cheating you?
RP: On one of his visits to the hotel he accidentally left his briefcase. My brother, apparently being extremely nosey opened it and found the evidence; receipts, contracts, and other stuff. It very soon became clear that what we had been led to believe we were making on gigs had been drastically under reported to us and to Bill Callahan.
60s: That's very unfortunate. When exactly did The Bare Facts call it quits?
RP: The band broke up because we lost our management and our record deal. We just slowly petered out. We broke up in August 1967.
60s: At what time did the group make a trip to Florida? The liner notes I referred to earlier indicate the Bare Facts "moved their operation to Florida in the late sixties."
RP: We did go to Florida the summer of 1967, but we had no management or agent. My dad got the band a few gigs, and they were playing our record. The biggest gig we did there was opening for The Left Banke. I almost got in a fight with their keyboard player because he pushed my brand new Fender Bandmaster amp over and it almost fell off the stage. We stayed in Bradenton Beach, all of us piling in at my father's place. My father had a seafood restaurant on Anna Maria Island, so we hung out on the beach and ate seafood and drank beer for about two months. On the way back to Portsmouth we were so poor we actually stole a shopping bag full of oranges from an orchard one night. By the time we made it back home, all of us, and the inside of the van, was sticky with orange juice.
60s: Did you join or form any bands after The Bare Facts?
RP: Since The Bare Facts I have been in dozens of bands, about 40 at last count. I am good friends and a former band mate of Tim Reynolds (I was the original bass player in TR3), as well as Carter Beauford and Leroi Moore of The Dave Matthews Band.
60s: Please tell me about your career today. Do you still perform? If so, how often, and where, do you perform?
RP: Today I am a teacher at Southeastern Business College, and yes I still perform nearly every weekend around Southern Ohio, eastern Kentucky, and West Virginia. Right at this exact moment I am taking a brief hiatus, but plan to resume a regular playing schedule shortly. For the last three months I have been rehearsing in preparation to record a CD of gospel tunes written by my brother Rusty.
60s: What about future plans, say beyond 2002?
RP: I plan to continue playing music in bands until they have to pick me up off the stage and put me in the coffin.
60s: Georgiana and Bad Part Of Town are both on various 1960's garage band compilations. When did you first realize that people were still listening to the band's music (35 years after it was recorded!)?
RP: I first realized that those two songs had been re-released on an album called Psychedelic Microdots Volume 2. I think it was volume 2 (NOTE: Bad Part Of Town is on Volume 3). I was shocked, but greatly satisfied.
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