The Donnybrooks


An Interview With Dugan Turner

60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music? Were the drums your first choice for an instrument?

Dugan Turner (DT): I received my first set of "Hotshot" drums from Santa when I was four. However, I truly became inspired by a Gene Krupa movie in the fifth grade and began drumming in earnest. Drums were my first choice for an instrument.

60s: Was the Donnybrooks your first band?

DT: The Donnybrooks was not my first band. My first band was called The Sticks and Stones. This band was together about a year in 1963.

60s: When were The Donnybrooks formed? What year would this have been in?

DT: I formed The Donnybrooks in Bakersfield, California in 1963.

60s: Who were the members of the band?

DT: The original line up was: Mike Claughton - lead singer; Tom Keene - bass guitarist; Dugan Turner - drums; Greg Harris - rhythm guitar; and Tony Norton - lead guitar. Greg Harris was dismissed and Mike Claughton took over on rhythm guitar.We were managed by a disc jocky by the name of Mike Lundy.

60s: What type of gigs did The Donnybrooks typically land?

DT: Our typical gigs were school dances, fairs, and clubs at the beginning. As we developed, our venues became more well known. We played the Sunset Strip. Some of the gigs were at It's Boss, Whiskey A Go-Go , Hollywood Wax Museum, and The Hollywood Paladium. Our best gig was playing on the same stage with Sonny and Cher, here in Bakersfield, California.

60s: Other than Sonny & Cher, did The Donnybrooks play with any other "national" acts?

DT: Yes. Other than Sonny & Cher, we played with the Beach Boys, Lovin' Spoonful, Peter and Gordon, Chad and Jeremy. Louis Armstrong, The Mamas and The Papas, Paul Revere and The Raiders, Dino, Desi, and Billy, and The Yardbirds.

60s: The Donnybrooks released Always Getting Hurt b/w I'm Going For You on Canterbury in early 1967. What were the circumstances leading to the recording?

DT: The record on the Canterbury label was our first release. We recorded several other singles as demos. Ken Handler contacted us and made an offer to sign us to a recording contract. We were very na´ve and very impressed with the limo that he sent to Bakersfield. We were picked up and driven by chauffeur and taken to a large office for discussions. He was a very heavy hitter and, if I recall correctly, either C.E.O. or C.F.O of Mattel Toy Company at that time. He had several other artists signed. We knew of another group that had a hit with him. We decided to fire our manger and go with him. The single was recorded in Hollywood. I cannot recall the name, but it was the same studio that Eric Burdon and the Animals were recording at. They had a large track. I recall that this was the first time we had seen overdubbing. It was very unusual to have the soundboards and just earphones to hear the other players. We were there about five hours.

60s: Always Getting Hurt has somewhat of a Byrds-like sound. Did The Byrds influence you at all?

DT: The Byrds did not influence us. The group that influenced us most was Paul Revere and The Raiders. We wanted to be a show band, too. We liked their choreography and incorporated similar moves.We were trying to develop our own sound. We did not want to be a band that covered oher group's songs. Tony was a tremendous guitar player with a very distinct style and we tried to capitalize on that. He could play a guitar with his teeth. He was from Oklahoma and could finger pick unlike anyone we had ever seen.

60s: Who wrote the band's material?

DT: I wrote lyrics only. The music was written by either Tom, Tony, or Mike. They wrote lyrics as well.

60s: What was a typical set list like for the Donnybrooks? I imagine you had to perform some cover material...

DT: A typical set list would start out with three fast dance songs to get the crowd on their feet and dancing. Then (we'd play) one slow song, one original song, and then we'd play a couple of audience requests. We'd usually play 12-15 songs and then take a break. We would usually close with a little instrumental number by Chet Atkins. Some of the songs we covered were Money, Louie Louie, Wipe Out, and a jazzed up version of Mr. Sandman, finger-picked by Tony.

60s: Did The Donnybrooks record any other singles?

DT: As I stated earlier, there were other demo records made. There are unreleased songs on reel to reel and demos.

60s: Did the band appear on TV at all?

DT: We did appear on local television in Bakersfield, California.

60s: Did The Donnybrooks participate in any Battle of the Bands?

DT: We participated in numerous Battle of the Bands. We won in Hermosa Beach, in Santa Monica, in Pismo Beach, in Modesto, and in Bakersfield. The biggest Battle was at the Hollywood Paladium . There were 300 groups, of which there were ten finalists that actually played the Paladium. We were one of the ten finalists. It was sponsored by KHJ and Pepsi Cola. It was called the Big Boss Battle and took place on May 10, 1966. Trophy presenters were Sonny and Cher, Bob Lind, and The Blossoms. The Avengers, The Epics, The Titans, Auggie and The Girl Watchers, and The Words, were some of the groups we competed against in the various Battles.

60s: Why did The Donnybrooks break up?

DT: We broke up because two of the members were going off to college. Mike wanted to try his luck in Nashville, and Tony wanted to go back home.

60s: Did you or any other member form or join any bands after The Donnybrooks?

DT: Tom joined another band playing night clubs. Mike formed a group which included his wife as lead singer and wrote songs in Nashville for twenty years. We lost track of Tony. I formed the Western Front, a country and western band, but didn't promote it like the Donnybrooks. It was just a little night club band locally.

60s: Do you still perform at all today? If so, where and how often?

DT: None of us perform today. Each of us owns his own business and are successful in our endeavors.

60s: How would you best summarize your experiences in The Donnybrooks?

DT: It was a very heavy experience for guys our age. We had fan clubs, fan mail, girls, rip offs, good deals and bad deals. Some of the adults in our world at that time took us by the hand, some took advantage of our youth and egos, and some just took us.


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