The Galaxies IV

They won a national Battle of the Bands competition, played for two full years at The New York World's Fair, had a special day named just for them, were profiled by author James Mitchner for The New York Times and, after their name change to Alexander Rabbit, were asked to perform at Woodstock. That's quite an impressive list of accomplishments for a band that never scored a national hit. Their best known song, however, Don't Lost Your Mind, is a definite favorite of Thanks to drummer Alan Fowler providing the scoop on The Galaxies IV.

An Interview With Alan Fowler (60s): How did you first get interested in music?

Alan Fowler (AF): I started banging on pots and pans around the age of eight.

60s: Was The Galaxies IV your first band?

AF: The Galaxies was my first band. We evolved into Alexander Rabbit with the original line-up plus the addition of a lead singer and the loss of TJ Tindal.

60s: What year was the band formed?

AF: I, Chris Holmes, aka Duke Williams, TJ Tindal and classmates of Blessed Sacrament Grammar School formed the group around 1962.

60s: Who all comprised the band?

AF: Alan Fowler - drums; Chris Holmes - guitar; Len Demski - bass; TJ Tindal - guitar; Charles Brodowitz, keyboards; and Steve Shier - lead vocals.

60s: How would you describe the band's sound? What band's influenced you?

AF: Our sound was a fuzz/psychedelic mix of original tunes: Don't Lose Your Mind is a good example. Our influences ran the gamut from The James Brown Revue to The Yardbirds and other English and American groups.

60s: Did The Galaxies IV have a manager?

AF: We were managed by Bolton Holmes, father to our lead guitar player.

60s: The Galaxies IV played at the New York World's Fair in 1964 and 1965. How did the band land that gig?

AF: We were invited to play the New Jersey Pavilion by a state official who heard us play at a local mall during a Battle of the Bands, with the winner to appear at the Lambertville Music Circus's production of Bye-Bye Birdie. That began over 80 standing-room-only performances at various pavilions throughout the fair for the next two summers.

60s: Apparently the band was such a smash that it was once declared "Galaxies IV Day". Who declared it as such?

AF: Robert Moses, a powerful New York leader and politician, noted our popularity and honored us by declaring one day in the summer of 1965 "Galaxies IV Day". He presented us with a plaque honoring our record-breaking attendances.

60s: The band also won the world's largest Battle of the Bands.

AF: We were the finalists from the Trenton, New Jersey area. We competed against 400 other bands from around the world. The National Tea Council sponsored the entire event. We competed locally for the honor of appearing as the rock band in the Lamberville Circus' production of Bye Bye Birdie.

60s: The Galaxies IV received write-ups in The New York Times and in Reader's Digest. What was the angle of these stories - the Battle of the Bands victory?

AF: (The articles) were from the summer of '65. James A. Michener, noted author, wrote the original story for the Magazine section of the Sunday New York Times and that story was condensed and later released by Reader's Digest in the Fall of '65.

60s: What were some of the national acts that you opened for/toured with?

AF: Almost too many to name and I know I'll forget many, but here goes: Paul Revere and The Raiders, Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs, Ruby and The Romantics, Little Anthony, Lovin' Spoonful, The Four Seasons, Righteous Brothers, BB King, Chicago, The Association, The Isley Brothers, Herman's Hermits, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Left Banke, Vanilla Fudge, Mountain, Young Rascals, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, Three Dog Night, BJ Thomas and The Triumphs, Question Mark and The Mysterians, The Guess Who, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap; now I'm brain dead but I know there were more...

60s: How far was the band's touring territory?

AF: Our Booking Agency, William Morris, had us on what was then known as the East Coast College Tour - north from New Hampshire and south to Virginia and Maryland. We were all in high school and could only perform on weekends until summer time.

60s: How many singles did The Galaxies IV record in total?

AF: Check out Fuzz Acid and Flowers on the web site. They list more singles than I remember releasing.

60s: Where were the singles recorded?

AF: All of our singles were recorded in New York City.

60s: Did The Galaxies IV write many original songs?

AF: 99% of our released tracks were original.

60s: Do any (other) '60's Galaxies IV recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings? Any unreleased songs?

AF: There are many unreleased tunes, recorded in New York City. I have a few of my own which I will release under the name Shakey and The Blind Man.

60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances?

AF: (There was) a lot of footage. TV and 16mm film exits somewhere. We appeared on many Philadelphia, New York and Steel Pier shows. We were filmed and recorded many times at the Lambertville Music Circus; only God knows what happened to the material.

60s: You became The Galaxies V after adding Steve Shier as vocalist. Who primarily sang before Steve joined?

AF: We all sang prior to Steve. Steve approached Chris one day and said he thought he could add a great lead voice. He was correct. We all loved his voice, talent and personality. He became a great friend as well as a talented bandmate to us all. With Steve's addition, we still continued our vocal harmonies.

60s: What prompted the name change to Alexander Rabbit?

AF: We thought our name was outdated (i.e. Bill Haley and The Comets.) One afternoon at Rider College, Chris and I discussed a name change. He suggested Alexander and I added Rabbit; it took. I think (it was in) 1968 or 1969.

60s: Reportedly, Alexander Rabbit was scheduled to play Woodstock, but your appearance was cancelled by you manager. Why?

AF: If only I knew. I think Bolton thought the appearance would interrupt our college education with "overnight success" and called William Morris to cancel. We were too young to sign our first recording contract at age 15 and needed our parents to sign off for us. We had to promise our parents that we would all graduate from college, which at that time in our lives, seemed so far away.

60s: When did the band call it quits?

AF The band (played until) 1970 or 1971. I left a week before the album cover shoot (Note: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame: The Bells Were My Friend, Mercury, 1970) because of disputes with our manager and production company. We were totally owned and controlled and I refused to be a slave and controlled by others in my chosen career.

60s: What about today? How often, and where, do you perform?

AF: Today I am a government official with Northampton County Government with an office in Easton, Penssylvania. I was recently appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission as the Commissioner for District 3. I'm planning for my retirement from government service by practicing my writing and vocal skills with my neighbor, who sang with The Doobie Brothers. We will be known as Shakey & The Blind Man.

60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Galaxies IV?

AF: Wonderful, simply wonderful. (It was) an experience of a lifetime to cherish forever!

"Copyrighted and originally printed on by Mike Dugo".
"Listen live, online to their music at Beyond The Beat Generation, 60's garage and psychedelia".