Many 1960's era garage bands recorded a classic single, and some recorded two classic singles. But how many bands recorded two versions of the same songs...with each being uniformly great? Well....Kempy & The Guardians did...
Dean Brown Recalls Kempy & The Guardians
I was born and raised in Oak Cliff, Texas. Back in 1965 I was in Jr. High and hooked up with a rhythm guitar player named Gary Seals. We played local parties for a while as The Guardians. About a year later we met up with a great singer named Gary Kemp Rawlings (Kempy). He joined up and we got serious about the music. The band consisted of:
Gary Kemp (Kempy) Rawlings - Lead Vocals
Larry Samford - Bass and Vocals
Gary Seals - Rhythm Guitar and Vocals
Alan Roth - Drums
Dean Brown - Lead Guitar
We recorded both versions of Love For A Price in 1966. The original recording on the Lucky Sounds label was our first time in the studio and we just did what we were told. We weren't very pleased with the initial sound so we went to a different studio and did it "our way". I played on both versions of Love For A Price/Never. At the time of the second recording I had become a big fan of bands like The Yardbirds who had perfected that "fuzz sound". In addition to my 57 Tele, I played through a 1966 Fender Bassman with distortion via my Gibson Maestro Fuzztone. I was pretty happy with it and Kemp and the guys loved it. A fellow by the name of David Smith did the organ work during the "Lucky Sounds" version. He had played with us a little, but left the band shortly after that.
When we showed up at the studio for the "Romunda" version I had nothing worked out for the lead guitar. The sound engineers suggested we "take it up a notch" with a strong lead break. We basically re-arranged the song on the spot. Pat Davidson was the person who wrote both Love For A Price and the flipside Never. His previous credits included writing a couple of songs for The Uniques. I honestly don't know what he did after working with us, but he was certainly with us at the sessions.
Both recordings were the result of us winning a city wide Battle of the Bands back in 1966. I never saw so many garage bands in one place. It took two days to complete. We did win it and the “prizes” included some instruments and a “recording contract.” The people who sponsored this event were running the show as far as recording. Both versions were recorded in the Dallas area. The “Lucky Sounds” version wasn’t a well-equipped studio and only after insisting did we get to re-record someplace else. The second time around (we recorded at) Sumet Sound. The same people who came up with Lucky Sounds found the Romunda label and worked that deal for us. I’m not sure where they were based, but Posh Productions owned them. Every track was recorded before they would let me do my “tele” solo. I had to wait until about 2:00 in the morning.
In our early days as a band we were the Rocket’s Saturday night house band. We took it over from a popular local band called The Penthouse Five. The owner of the “rink” really liked us and paid us well. She also financed a great part of our equipment and helped us build a teenage following. By the time we were finished there we were getting some great gigs. We played on Ron Chapman's Sumpin' Else show on ABC.
We got to share the stage with some very talented bands. The Briks and The Chessmen are two that stand out in my mind. They were both great bands.The first band I remember impressing me was a trio called The Pendulums. We were competing against them at a Montgomery Wards Battle of the Bands. They won. By the way, this was 1964 and their lead guitar player's name was Jimmy Vaughn. He and I bumped into each other a lot after that. I remember seeing Jimmy Vaughn live with The Chessmen and he was awesome. He knew all the Jeff Beck licks. I also recall The Mystics, The Gentlemen, Kenny and The Kasuals, The Cavemen (they were also contestants in the same contest we won for the recording contract) and every band Jimmy Vaughn ever played in.
(we were not a psychedelic band). We were a little behind in that regard. I probably tried to give the appearance of an "enlightened" individual, but I was just starting high school and hadn't done much except play guitar. Gary was (and I'm sure still is) one of the most down to earth people I've ever known. I don't think he ever considered us or wanted us to become "psychedelic", but by the mid to late Sixties things were just going in that direction. I on the other hand loved it because it gave me the opportunity to "crank up the fuzz".
I'm still active in music, and I sort of do have a fuzz box. I play the steel through a Line 6 POD amp simulator. It has some great distortion patches. Iinstead of fuzz tones I play a pedal steel guitar. You can check it out at www.farwestcountryband.com. I'm the one sitting down with the hat. It pays the bills.
I actually spoke with Gary a few days ago. The first time in about 30 years or so. We tried to determine where the rest of the guys are. I’d like to see them again.
NOTE: Gary's recollections were collected and assembled from many different questions posed to him on the garagepunk.com Forums.
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