Described by Bobby Holliday as a "melting pot of music," Greenville, South Carolina was home to a handful of garage bands in the
1960's, some of which shared their members interchangably. Holliday played rhythm guitar for The Bojax - best known for their
fantastic Back From The Grave comped song Go Ahead And Go - but also sang lead on a cut by The Wyld. Likewise, Stanley Ward
played guitar for The Tombstones, another local combo, while a member of The Bojax. Holliday explains how and why, as well
as provides the complete story of his '60's group, in this interview for 60sgaragebands.com.
An Interview With Bobby Holliday
60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Bobby Holliday (BH): My Dad played guitar, and loved bluegrass legend Bill Monroe and country music legend Hank Williams. I got my first guitar for Christmas, 1963. The first song I learned was I Walk The Line by Johnny Cash. I was really into Elvis (early Elvis rock and roll). Then the Beatles came on ED SULLIVAN in February 1964, and - like the rest of the musical world - my fate was sealed.
60s: Was The Bojax your first band?
BH: Yes, Bojax was the first. We were originally called The Knights (for the first few months) but the members were the same. We were together with various member changes for seven years. In 1970, when Edwin Bayne returned from Viet Nam and rejoined the group, we changed our name to William Goat. We still had the four original members, but bassist Mack Sanders switched to lead guitar, and Edwin Bayne switched from lead to play bass guitar.
60s: Who named the band? What exactly does it mean?
BH: Mack had a model car set by "Big Daddy". The photo on the box had a garage in the background named "Bojax Garage." We liked the sound of the word, and we wanted to choose a name that no one else would use (one of the main reasons we decided to change our name from The Knights). So I guess you could say we truly are a "garage band".
60s: Where was The Bojax formed, what year, and by whom?
BH: All the original members went to Berea High / Junior High school in Greenville, South Carolina. Lyn Cook (drums) and I (rhythm guitar / vocals) started playing together in 1964, and soon added Mack Sanders (bass) and Roy Wood (lead guitar) to form The Knights. Edwin Bayne (lead / rhythm guitar) was playing with another band in the area called The Shags. Members of The Shags were older than us, and were getting pretty well established in some local clubs. They were helpful in teaching songs to us, and eventually getting us some gigs.
I don't remember the circumstances, but Edwin left The Shags, and joined us for our first gig as The Knights at Union Bleachery Gymnasium in Greenville. There's a photo of that night on the Bojax website. I remember our pay for that gig was $6 plus a case of Pepsi. We were very young: Mack was 12, Lyn and I 14, and Roy and Edwin 16 at that time.
60s: You've refererred to personal changes...
BH: There was one other early member; Tommy Griffin (rhythm guitar, vocals). Jimmy Summey (bass); Cecil Wyche (keyboards); Carol Cox (keyboards); Van Stout (bass), and Philip Maynard (guitar) all came later in various forms of the band. Edwin and I left the band for a short while to join The Traveliers, a band with an established name in the area and a manager, Soupy Hendricks.
60s: What about Stanley Ward, who also played guitar for The Tombstones. How did this arrangement come to be? Was he playing in both groups at the same time?
BH: Greenville was a melting pot of music during this time, and we were constantly borrowing members and setting in for missing members in other groups. Remember, we were all quite young, and many times (Mack particularly...since he was only 12 or13) a parent would not allow a band member to play certain clubs. So there was always some scrambling and improvising to keep working. We played a local club, The Golden Strip Teen Canteen, and met Stanley's sister, Vicky. She really liked the band, and introduced us to her brother. We really hit it off, and for a period when Edwin wasn't in the group, Stanley played lead guitar for us. He continued playing with The Tombstones, but they didn't gig quite as much as us, so we were able to make it work most of the time. We did the same thing with Rudy Wyatt during that time as well.
60s: Rudy Wyatt of The Wyld produced The Bojax, and you sang on The Wylds' Know A Lot About Love.
BH: We were great friends, and still are. I think we first met Rudy through his friendship with The Shags. They were all a couple of years older than us. Rudy really liked Mack's bass playing, and used him, as well as me, on vocals. Rudy had recorded the song Alley Oop, and the flip side of the original version by Gary Paxton was Know A Lot About Love. Rudy wanted to record it, and thought my voice would be a good match for the song. I remember being influenced by singer Colin Blunstone of the Zombies at that time, and the recently released Wild Thing by the Troggs influenced us to add the flute. I remember the song making it to #24 on the charts regionally. Recording Know A Lot About Love was a major turning point. I remember being in a car in the high school parking lot one morning before school, when I heard Know A Lot About Love on the radio for the first time. I was totally surprised, and that day The Bojax said, "We've got to cut a record." Rudy was excited to be a part of it as a player as well as producer. He introduced us to Will Hammond, who had the label Panther Records. It changed us from being "just another club band" into being "recording artists." Will Hammond was responsible for getting Rudy's record deal also. He had played with, recorded and produced a band called The Uptowners and later The Snowmen, and Ward Burton. Members from that band went on to record and be in a movie with Gene Vincent. I remember two great songs from those guys: Sugar Daddy by The Snowmen and If'n by Ward Burton. Rudy also played on both of those tracks.
60s: Where did The Bojax typically practice?
BH: When Edwin was in the band, we were able to practice in a large building behind his parent's house. It was almost the size of a small club, so we were really able to get the feeling of being on stage. Other times, we would have to move from home to home in the living rooms of our parents' houses...trying to stay ahead of the inevitable neighbor's complaints.
60s: Where did you band typically play - the usual schools, parties, and teen clubs?
BH: All of the above, and mainly teen clubs - and often we found ourselves in the better paying "adult clubs" that served alcohol. The clubs/law always seemed to look the other way regarding our being underage in those places.
60s: What were some of those clubs? Were there many in South Carolina during that time period?
BH: There were quite a few in the small towns over about a 60-mile radius. The main one was Club Jamarta. Jamarta was owned by James Posey, a great friend to musicians. Jamarta featured all of the great bands in the area: The Wyld, The Tombstones, Moses Dillard & The Dynamic Showmen, The Rants (who later became The Toy Factory, and eventually Marshal Tucker), The Nomads, The Shaggs, The Knights of the Road, The Tangents. I lose count of the number of bands and records that the musicians from these bands later formed and recorded.
60s: Do you remember anything in particular about any of these bands?
BH: The Nomads were having success with their 45s about the same time we were. They were more of a Beach/R&B band. We had a kind of rivalry with them because our singles were being released at the same time. I believe we were always able to stay a position ahead of them on the charts though. I was always impressed with the consistent quality from The Rants/Toy Factory, who later became Marshall Tucker. Because of their drive amd talent, their eventual success did not surprise me. Moses Dillard & The Dynamic Showmen was probably the best band though. They were a black 7-9 piece R&B band (with a few white members). Moses was discovered by Otis Redding, and they had Peabo Bryson as one of their lead singers.
60s: How would you describe The Bojax' sound? What bands influenced you?
BH: I'd have to say that the first word that comes to mind is "reckless." It was as much about the energy as it was the music. We were learning so much, so fast, it's hard to put a real focus on our sound at that time. There were definitely two types of bands emerging at that time. Bands that played "soul/blue-eyed soul" that later became known as "beach music," and the bands influenced by the British invasion. We were in the second group. If we did soul music it was usually very blues oriented, and we'd put our own spin on it. Influences: The Beatles first; Stones; Hollies; Animals; Zombies; Manfred Man...and from the States: Chuck Berry, Mitch Ryder, and The Young Rascals. We also listened to the blues: John Hammond, The Bluesbreakers, Freddie King, Albert King, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, etc. We eventually started choosing obscure album cuts and flip sides of 45s to help develop a more original sound.
60s: What about Dylan? Go Ahead And Cry has a definite Like A Rolling Stone influence.
BH: I'd forgotten, but Like A Rolling Stone was huge at that time, and a definite influence.
60s: Did you ever work with a manager?
BH: Much of the time early on, our manager was anyone with transportation to lug around the equipment and us. I mentioned Soupy Hendricks earlier. He managed a few groups in the South Carolina area, and when Edwin and I left The Traveliers and returned to The Bojax, he managed The Bojax for a while. He was always pushing us to add a horn section and be a soul band, so we didn't work together very long. He did land us the concert with the Hollies and Herman's Hermits though. Most of the time we managed ourselves. Thanks to the success of the 45s we had a good following and reputation that kept us working. 60s: How often did you work? How popular would you say The Bojax became?
BH: I think we were quite popular. It's hard to be objective when you're in the middle of it as it's happening. We were working steady, and the clubs were filled with enthusiastic crowds. The first single, Hippie Times, charted for a few weeks in the 30s. The second and third singles made it to the Top 10, and received good airplay for a couple of months each. By the second and third single we were getting airplay not only in our local area, but in Charlotte, North Carolina, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.
60s: How far was the band's "touring" territory?
BH: During the years as The Bojax and as William Goat, the area was limited to South Carolina, Western North Carolina, and Georgia. There were so many small clubs in small towns that we were always busy. I remember a gig in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where we opened for The O'Kaysions. They had a "beach" hit called I'm A Girl Watcher. Our song, So Glad, was charting in Myrtle Beach at the same time, so they put us on the bill together. Our repertoire at the time was very hard psychedelic rock: Hendrix, Cream, Vanilla Fudge, etc. We opened with Manic Depression by Hendrix to a crowd of "soul/beach music" lovers. They didn't boo - but they didn't applaud either. It was the most awkward mismatched concerts that I've ever been a part of. We all had a good laugh after it was over.
60s: The Bojax opened for The Hollies and Herman's Hermits. How did the band land that gig?
BH: It was through manager Soupy Hendricks. I don't remember details of how he got us the gig, but we were excited to be opening for the Hollies. It was a very cold, New Year's Eve, and we had a three-hour drive in a bus with no heat. The crowd response was a bit overwhelming, and they were rushing our dressing room just like they were for the Hollies and Herman's Hermits. We gave our Bojax card to some of the fans in the crowd, and they mailed us the photos they had taken that night. It gave us great memories, and a brief glimpse of life on the other side.
60s: The Bojax would released three singles. Where were the 45s recorded?
BH: Go Ahead And Go and Hippie Times were done in one session at Mark V (5) Studios in Greenville. This was the same place Know A Lot About Love was recorded with The Wyld. Rudy produced both tunes, and as with all songs back then it was basically two-track/ live with no over dubs. Go Ahead And Go has the obvious Kinks/Dylan influence. Rudy was impressed with Spencer Davis' Gimmie Some Lovin' and wanted to create that large auditorium type, live sound for Hippie Times. He even had a couple of other drummers (Robin Miller from The Wyld, and Preston Elrod from The Traveliers) come in to stomp their feet on a large platform while clapping their hands. I think both songs were done in two-three takes.
Fast Life was also done at Mark V in a separate session. Rudy wrote, produced, played lead guitar and sang background vocal on this one. Robin Miller and Lyn Cook both played drums. We put it in a key at the very top of my vocal register, and I was going for a Stevie Winwood-inspired lead vocal. Rudy had the engineer record in the red, and much of the track is on and over the edge of distortion. It's probably my favorite of the songs on our 45s.
Don't Look Back was recorded in a very small two-track studio in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. Don Dudley was the engineer, and you can actually hear the faders go up at the top of this tune. Jimmy Summey replaced Mack on bass, and Cecil Wyche was added on organ. Again...just straight ahead live with no overdubs.
Because of the success of Don't Look Back, Will Hammond wanted to become more active with our next record. From his advice we recorded I've Enjoyed As Much Of You As I Can Stand and So Glad in Atlanta, Georgia at LeFevres Studio. Again Jim Summey was on bass and Cecil Wyche on keyboards with Lyn, Edwin, and me. Will Hammond and his musical partner, Jim Staford wrote and produced these tunes for us. The quality of the studio is immediately noticeable. This is the first recording we used overdubbing. Jim Stafford overdubbed the lead guitar parts on both tunes. With each single we became more popular to a larger regional audience.
60s: I'm glad you mentioned Jim Stafford (Spiders & Snakes). How did you hook up with him?
BH: We met Jim Stafford thru Will Hammond. They were a duo in a club in Atlanta named Joker's Wild. Again - because of the success of Don't Look Back - I think Jim became interested in us and he and Will wrote those songs for us, along with a couple of others that were never released.
60s: Whose idea was it to cover Don't Look Back, which had been recorded previously by The Remains?
BH: That was my idea. I got a copy of the Remains album while traveling to Denver in the summer of 1967. As I mentioned, The Bojax were always looking for good, obscure material. We started doing a few tunes from that album, and Don't Look Back seemed to be a real crowd pleaser. We already had Fast Life recorded, and decided to cut Don't Look Back as the A-Side of our second 45.
60s: Was the band writing many original songs at all during this time?
BH: The Bojax did a lot of obscure songs and had a very original set of songs, but we didn't do a lot of writing until '69-'70 after we had changed our name to William Goat.
60s: You've referenced some Stafford songs that were never released. Are there any unreleased Bojax recordings in the vault somewhere?
BH: I'm trying to research that now that as we've been offered to do a reissue album with Misty Lane. There was one silly tune we recorded by Jim Stafford and Will Hammond called Yours Forever I'm. I'm not sure if I still have that tape, or what condition it might be in. There's a good assortment of songs by William Goat from around 1970 that I'm getting together, since the band members are the same.
60s: Did the Bojax make any television appearances?
BH: Unfortunately, no.
60s: Why did the band break up in the '60's?
BH: Probably the same reasons most bands broke up during that time: Members went to war, or members went to college. Edwin Bayne was going to be drafted, so he joined the Marines and went to Viet Nam. Jimmy Summey and Cecil Wyche left the area for college. I attended college locally, primarily to stay with The Bojax. Lyn and I joined Van Stout (bass) and Philip Maynard (lead guitar) and kept the band going. When Edwin was wounded in Viet Nam and returned home, Lyn, Mack Sanders, Edwin, and I reformed the original group, and changed our name to William Goat. We played together until the summer of 1971, when Rudy Wyatt asked Lyn and me to move to California and try to get a record deal with him in Los Angeles. That point marked the end of the four of us playing together again, publicly or privately.
60s: And after that?
BH: Mack and I played together in various bands throughout the '70's & '80's. When I returned from California we formed Tomorrow, and opened for numerous concerts and festivals. Some of the bands we opened for included Steely Dan, Z Z Top, and Fleetwood Mac (Bob Walsh version). In the mid-'70's thru early '80's I performed solo in coffee house type clubs across the Southeast. I recorded two album: Home Grown and Another Stage. The second album had a couple of singles that charted regionally - One Sided Love and Singing Them Old Love Songs To Myself. In the '70's you could still walk in to most radio stations, set up an appointment with the program director, and if he liked your music, get steady rotation airplay from the station. That situation started changing in the '80s as the stations became more standardized and as they lost their desire/ability to make their own choices about the music they played.
I teamed up with Mack's brother, David Sanders, as a duo for a couple of years around 1977. Mack played and recorded an album with a very popular band called Anthem during this time. Mack and I played together again with his brother David in the early '80's. We recorded an album - Sanders/Holliday Band - opened for Elvin Bishop (Fooled Around and Fell in Love) in Springfield, Missouri, and traveled exhaustively for a few years. By the mid '80's I was tired of traveling and did a house gig duo in Greenville while pursuing a songwriting career in Nashville. The highlight of that period was opening a show for Ray Charles at a festival of 80,000 people. I stopped performing after New Years Eve 1992, to devote full time to songwriting. I became a staff writer in Nashville with Milsap/Galbrath Publishing (owned by Ronnie Milsap and his producer, Rob Galbrath). The main reason I got that gig was because the style I was writing suited a new group they were producing at the time. I had two songs on the group's first never-released album for RCA, and two songs on their second never-released album for Liberty Records. In 1997 they went multi-platinum as The SheDaises. These years were musically the best experiences of my life, but eventually the creative constraints of the song writing industry made it slightly more rewarding than playing top 40. I walked away from being staff writer in the mid '90's because of a great opportunity in the health and nutrition industry.
60s: What can you tell me about your '70's Home Grown LP?
BH: Home Grown was recorded at The Sounding Board Studio in Greenville and was released in 1976. It featured 10 original songs. Some of the musicians included: Mack Sanders - electric and bass guitar; Buster Phillips - drums; Mitch Humphries - keyboards, background vocals, and string arrangements; David Ball - acoustic bass; and Jerry Coker - Sax and flute. It was a very eclectic mix of songs, and for me an opportunity to experiment and to enhance my solo career. Influences during this period included The Band, Dylan, Van Morrison, Jessie Winchester, Gordon Lightfoot, and Dave Mason. I had been to a couple of summer jazz camps taught by Jerry Coker that also were very influential to my style. Mitch Humphries co-produced the album with me. He and Buster Phillips went on to become very successful studio musicians in Nashville. David Ball was popular at that time with Uncle Walt's Band, and today is a successful recording artist. Jerry Coker has written numerous books about playing and enjoying jazz. Jim Campbell designed the very detailed artwork for Home Grown and for my next solo effort, Another Stage. Jim also designed album covers for The Marshall Tucker Band.
Another Stage was recorded back at Mark V Studio and was released in 1977. It also featured 10 original songs. Mitch Humphries co-produced it also. Two 45's were released from that album, One Sided Love and Singing Them Old Love Songs, and both charted in the top 20 regionally. I was very fortunate to have the help of some great musicians on that LP as well, including Buster Phillips again on drums. Mack and I did another album together in the mid-'80s with his brother, David in The Sanders Holliday Band with another 10 original songs. On my two solo projects I played primarily acoustic guitar, but on this one I was the bass player, Mack was lead electric, and his brother David played drums.
60s: What about your career today. How often, and where, do you perform?
BH: I'm glad you asked that question - but I'm afraid you may be getting a lot more answer than you intended! I don't perform, but I enjoy writing and recording. Rudy Wyatt finally released two albums of boogie piano, and I have two tunes that I co-wrote with him, one on each album.
While working as a staff writer in Nashville I quickly learned that a good song lyric begins with having a strong original concept. Ernest Hemmingway once said, "always write what you know," or write about the things that are familiar to you. Another key principle I've learned is to follow your passion, and write what you love. These three truths led me to the idea of creating a collection of songs honoring the natural beauty of the Carolinas.
This has been home to my family for generations, and I love this area. Whenever there is a free day with good weather, my wife and I are either hiking, biking or kayaking. Cold, rainy days and evenings are spent creating these songs. Through the years many songs have been written using this area as a backdrop. Much of the country, old time, and mountain music tell tales about the area's rich history (lost love, feuds, moonshine, cornbread, grits, etc.). That's been done, and done quite well, so there's no point in doing it again.
My songs for this project focus on nature and the unique natural wonders in the Appalachian Mountains and foothills of the Carolinas and North Georgia region. I envision a finished product where the acoustic guitar is always in the forefront of these tunes, and supported by other traditional acoustic instruments such as mandolin and dobro. But, unlike the traditional songs of the past, the style is more progressive utilizing Hawaiian "slack key" guitar tunings along with jazz type chords and progressions.
My original plan was to write at least 20 songs in order to have 12-14 for the finished product. (I'm now) four years into it, and I'm currently working on song #15. I am now ready to begin recording process. The goal of Naturaland (working title) is to inspire, educate, arouse curiosity, as well as to entertain. I also hope to raise environmental awareness without being preachy or heavy handed in the lyrics.
For example, the song Oconee Bells tells about a rare flower that has been placed on various lists of endangered and threatened plants.
Beautiful & rare
Where are you hiding?
Are you still there?
Or the bridge to the song Red Hills & Cotton:
But as time rolls along
All the cotton is gone
And the red clay is covered
With houses & roads Oh how I miss those
Red hills & cotton
Probably the most straight ahead pitch for environmental concern is a quirky tune titled Mother Nature Lost Her Balance.
Mother Nature lost her balance
And the world was too busy to notice
Till tiny ripples from her fall
Caused a chain reaction, crashing around us all
Other songs focus on various aspects of nature such as Winter Wildflower about nature's power and perseverance:
A winter wildflower breaks through the snow
The first sign of spring determined to grow
As the power of nature unfolds
The restorative quality of nature:
There's magic around these mountains
That heals the body, mind and soul
I take a deep breath and feel it
Revealing its power, leading me home
The weight of this world has lifted
My life is at peace.
Keowee keeps calling me
Nature's wonder and mystery in this song about the monarch butterfly:
In late September off they go
All the way to Mexico
So how do they know the way to go?
And how can they know?
When they've never been there before?
The monarch's mystery may never, ever be known.
Nature's resilience from Peaceful Eastatoe:
Nestled 'neath the cool soothing rhododendron shade
High above the falls, in tangled disarray
Tracks of the Appalachian Railroad still remain
A place Mother Nature has reclaimed
And the obvious, nature's beauty, in this song about Lake Jocassee:
Here the raging rivers stop
Captured by the view
Golden sun on the Jocassee Jewel
Shimmering diamonds of light on a turquoise pool
Glassy smooth, clear & cool
I'm sure you have noticed a lot of strange words in these lyrics. Most of them are Cherokee. The last lines of the last song in this collection, Red Hills & Cotton, sums up my feelings about this special place:
Anyone who's seen, knows what I mean
The Lord never made a better land!
60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Bojax?
BH: In a nutshell, being in The Bojax gave me the direction that I continued to follow for most of my life. With The Bojax I discovered the joy of music. The friendships that were made are still some of the best friendships I have today. With the loss of Edwin Bayne last year to cancer, I became even more aware of the importance of these friendships, and of the value of remembering those days together. I want to thank you for giving me a reason for remembering, reliving and finally writing all of this down. I hope I've given your readers something they can enjoy as well. John Weathers has done a great job of creating a Bojax website for those who want to see more at http://flounder62.serverpro2.com/Bojax.htm
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