The Jackson Investment Co.’s single Not This Time and What Can I Say (mistakenly printed on the record as What Can I Do) is a perfect example of 1960’s garage meets folk-pop ala The Byrds, and The Beatles. In fact, the greatness of both songs has been recognized by the single’s inclusion on the Teen Jangler Blowout volume of the excellent Teenage Shutdown CD compilation series. Drummer Jim Phillips graciously shared his stories of playing in one of Lakeland, Florida’s most popular bands.
An Interview With Jim Phillips
60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Jim Phillips (JP): I guess the first group that really turned me on was Jan & Dean. I dug the clever lyrics in Baby Talk, and I wanted to go to Surf City. Then like most other kids in America I got hooked on The Beatles, The Kinks, and just about any band with that infectious Brit sound.
I got my first drum when I entered the tenth grade at Lakeland High. It was an antique marching snare with wood rims and calf heads. On the first day of school I took it into band class. The guys in percussion burst out laughing and sang When Johnny Comes Marching Home.
My dad swapped a boat we had lying around for a Slingerland trap set. I learned my way around it by playing along to simple tunes like The Dave Clark Five's Glad All Over and Bits And Pieces. Dave Clark had a really accessible, primal style. He made rock drumming seem easy, like clapping your hands.
In the sixties, Lakeland was a good place to see national recording artists, and my buds and I never missed a concert. Bands like The Lovin' Spoonful, The Association, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, The Beau Brummels, The Electric Prunes, and The Turtles played the old Civic Center, or the Polk Theatre. The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield and the Strawberry Alarm Clock played Florida Southern College. At Tampa's Curtis Hixon Hall we saw The Rascals, and Hendrix. Their music was irresistible. We had to follow it, wherever it led.
60s: Your first band was The Pounding Surf.
JP: The Pounding Surf was formed early in 1967. The original members were Gary Cook - lead vocals and trumpet; Mike Roller - bass and vocals; Tracy Anderson - rhythm guitar and vocals; Mike Trabulsy - lead guitar and vocals, and me on drums.
Mike Trabulsy's brother-in-law, Bernie Jackson, managed a pizza restaurant in a Lakeland strip mall. Each night, after the restaurant closed, we'd push back the tables, and set up and jam. Pretty soon we were playing teen clubs in Polk and the surrounding counties.
60s: Why did the band change names to The Jackson Investment Co.?
JP: Later the same year we added Danny Province, on Farfisa organ, and George Stewart, a multitalented performer and songwriter. Both were fine musicians. George had great stage presence, and could play keyboards, trumpet, and guitar over his shoulders and behind his head, Hendrix-style. We spent the summer practicing, eight to ten hours a day, every day. We knew we had something special.
The addition of George and Danny changed the group fundamentally, so we felt it was time for a name change as well. Bernie, who was something of an entrepreneur, had previously registered the name Jackson Investment Co. He suggested it, and when nobody had a better idea, we agreed.
60s: Where did you locate Danny and George from? Were they in other bands?
JP: George had recently left another band whose name I don't remember. Unfortunately, I can't recall where we got Danny from, either.
60s: How active was Bernie Jackson in promoting the band?
JP: Bernie was a really good manager. Thanks to him we were booked solid for most of the three years we were together. He also ran a busy restaurant at the same time, which was no mean feat.
Although we were the first and only band Bernie managed, he wasn't a stranger to the entertainment industry, strictly speaking. Years earlier he had performed at Cypress Gardens, in the water ski show. He was the guy in the center of the pyramid, skiing with about five people on his shoulders. I guess you could say he did that for us, too. We depended on him for everything, and he never let us down.
60s: Where did the band typically play?
JP: We played teen clubs, high school dances, frat parties, and stuff like that.
60s: How far was the band's "touring" territory?
JP: Throughout central Florida, and the west coast from Panama City down to Punta Gorda.
60s: Which of the local Florida-area teen clubs did you play at?
JP: We played teen clubs in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Tampa, Bartow, Sebring, Punta Gorda, Bradenton, Sarasota, Clearwater, Clewiston, Mulberry, Auburndale, Panama City and Ft. Walton Beach - pretty much any club that would have us. The only specific club names I recall are the Tiki Club in Orlando and The Pier in Daytona.
60s: Did the Jackson Investment Co. participate in any Battle of the Bands? If so, how did the band typically fare?
JP: In '68 (or maybe '69) we won the local Battle of the Bands at the Lakeland Civic Center, which was sponsored by WONN Radio. From there, we went on to the statewide finals in St. Pete, which we lost.
60s: How would you describe the band's sound? What bands influenced you?
JP: With seven members, we were pretty versatile. We usually did a set of soul music, and a couple of sets of whatever else was currently on the radio, including The Who, The Beatles, The Byrds, Hendrix, The Monkees, The Yardbirds, The Rascals, Sly and The Family Stone, The Box Tops, and so on.
Although I stole chops from anybody I could, the drummers who influenced me the most were Dino Danelli and Mitch Mitchell. They were magnificent. I would've given anything to play like them.
60s: How popular locally did The Jackson Investment Co. become?
JP: We had a good following, although we were never nearly as popular as Lakeland's premier group, The Canadian Rogues. Now THAT was a great band!
60s: Other than The Canadian Rogues, what other local groups of the era do you especially recall?
JP: The Tropics. The Purple Underground was really good, and I particularly liked The Split Ends, a class act both on and off the stage. They had a dynamite drummer named Jim O'Brock - that guy took no prisoners!
60s: Your group released one single that I'm aware of: What Can I Say / Not This Time.
JP: We cut it at Bobby Dukoff's in Miami. Dukoff was a sax player who, at the time, had a recording studio in the back of a nightclub. If I remember correctly, the night club was called The Crystal Palace, and the studio was called The Mirage.
Gary - who at 5' 6" was our most vertically challenged band member - had to stand on three Coke cases to reach the mike. Aside from that, everything went pretty smooth, and we laid it all down in a few hours. Incidentally, I think we paid $75 per hour for the studio time.
60s: Apparently you cut the single at the urging of The Canadian Rogues. What do you recall about this?
JP: Not much. It probably came about through discussions between Bernie and Harvey Criswell Sr., who managed The Rogues. But I'm not sure.
60s: Who wrote the songs that comprised the single?
JP: The songs on the single were written by George Stewart, who also wrote the two songs we recorded at Lowery, in Atlanta. Those were the only original tunes we did; the rest were covers.
I believe George's primary musical influences back then were The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. What Can I Say always sounded to me like a blend of The Byrds and The Buckinghams. In Not This Time you can hear echoes of Sky Saxon and The Seeds. Incidentally, in Not This Time, George coined a new word: "substanance", which kind of meant both substance and sustenance (I think). It's in the second verse:
"Thoughts and words of love that came before
have no life, no substanance no more."
I guess he needed a word with three syllables, and "pompatus" hadn't been invented yet.
60s: What Can I Say is very similar to The Monkees' The Girl That I Knew Somewhere.
JP: I'm pretty sure any resemblance to the Monkees’ song was purely coincidental. Again, I can't speak for George, but I think he would've said that The Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds were his major influences.
60s: What Can I Say was mistakenly printed on the single as What Can I Do. How did this happen?
JP: Somebody goofed at Paris Tower. I don't know how that could have happened, with an exemplary fellow like Gil Cabot in charge. We forgave him. Gil was hilarious. I hope he's enjoying his Golden Years.
60s: You’ve referred to songs recorded in Atlanta. These were done with a singer by the name of Vicki Lutz.
JP: The two recordings with Vicki took place at Atlanta's Lowery Studios in 1969. They were never released, and I don't remember their titles. They were produced by John Brumage, who managed Noah's Ark in Tampa.
60s: How did you hook up with Vicki?
JP: I honestly don't know. A friend of a friend, I guess. I think she was from Michigan, and was visiting relatives in Lakeland. We were in touch for a year or two after the Lowery session, then I lost track of her. It's too bad; she was terrific.
60s: Do any other '60's Jackson Investment Co. recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings?
JP: No on both counts, unfortunately.
60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances?
JP: In '68 we appeared on a WFLA TV show called HI-TIME. We were on twice, and supposedly got more letters than any other group on the show. (I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that most of them were written by our girlfriends.)
60s: Why did the band break up in 1969?
JP: Gary and I went to Tampa, to attend USF. Tracy joined the Navy. Then George left. I’m not sure why; maybe he just needed a change. We replaced them, briefly, with Kim Stowers, a guitarist from Lakeland. Then we disbanded.
I believe we'd reached that threshold where we had to decide whether we wanted to dedicate our lives to rock music or try other things. For some of us, other things won. For me, politics and the war had a lot to do with it, too. In light of all that was happening in the country and the world, playing teen clubs and frat parties seemed more than a little irrelevant.
60s: Did you join or form any bands after The Jackson Investment Co.?
JP: One that stands out is Sly Willard, which Tracy and I formed in 1971 with a keyboard player named Andy Bird, and a truly fine guitarist named Craig Hull. We named the band for a Bartow city employee who was trying to get us kicked out of an abandoned meat locker we practiced in every night. We did Allman Brothers and Deep Purple covers, also Cream, Hendrix and The Doors. Tracy, who sang like Jim Morrison, played bass.
We broke up after a few gigs, and Craig Hull later went on to work with Kim Carnes, Randy Meisner, and Wendy Waldman. I pretty much dropped out until 1974, when I joined a Tampa folk-rock-alternative band called Hotcakes (formerly The Whispering Palm Trees). Hotcakes was fronted by Rick and Becky Ferris, and included Mick Wiggins on piano and accordion, and Dave Bullard on guitar, bass and mandolin. We mostly played local bars, including one of Tampa's more legendary watering holes, The Collage, where we alternated weekends with The Outlaws. I was with Hotcakes for less than a year, and then quit to pursue a career in museums.
60s: What about today? Do you perform at all?
JP: I still own a drum set, but don't play it much, except for catharsis or to bug the neighbors. In 1974 I took a job at the Hillsborough County Museum in Tampa, which later became the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI). I worked there until '88, designing and building exhibits. These days I'm a nature photographer and freelance writer. Most of my time is spent canoeing and hiking and writing magazine articles about Florida's environment and endangered wildlife. It's a labor of love, like the band was.
60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Jackson Investment Co.?
JP: Before answering that I want to say thanks for making it possible for us to share our stories.
I just heard our single for the first time in 35 years. I've listened to it a lot since then, and mostly what I hear is seven kids playing their hearts out. I like that.
Out of idle curiosity, I did a search for The Jackson Investment Co. on Google. I was astonished to find that we're on a number of compilation CDs, and our songs are still getting airplay, not only in America, but in Europe and the UK. I immediately called Gary, who was totally psyched as well. We can only hope that George and the rest of the band learn about it somehow - or better still, hear themselves on the radio someday.
And as for my experiences, when I was in the band, even the bad times were good. I loved playing; it didn't much matter where. And when everything came together just right, and the house went wild, the rush was indescribable. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything. I'm incredibly lucky.
1967 Back of Jackson Investment Co. Promo Photo:
"Paris Tower is proud to present the debut of one of the newest, most exciting and versitile (sic) groups to appear in the last few years. They have the drawing abilities of a tight and moving show... the latest in Pop and R&B, plus original material.
THE JACKSON INVESTMENT COMPANY has the drive and persistence which is needed to be a leader in the music field, and its own trends, as you will see. Each member of the group is extremely talented. Gary Cook, Memphis, Tenn., the Lead Singer also plays the trumpet and tambourine. The Bass Guitar player, Mike Roller, Ocala, Fla., also does vocals. Another vocalist and the group's Lead Guitarist is Mike Trabulsy of Miami, Fla. The Rhythm Guitar player, also a vocalist, is Tracy Anderson of Salina, Kansas. The Drums are manned by Jim Phillips of Key West, Fla. Danny Province, a New York boy, plays the Organ and sings. Last, but certainly not least, is the composer of the group's first record... George Stewart of St. Petersburg, Fla. George is a Guitar player and singer. This group has been carefully assembled for the purpose of producing hit records, and pleasing crowds wherever they perform. So, invest some listening time to a new and driving sound from THE JACKSON INVESTMENT COMPANY."
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