Mouse and The Boys

Mouse & The Boys have earned their way into the Garage Rock Hall Of Fame with their classic psychedelic garage opus, Xcedrin Headache #69. Though drummer Pete Rowland wasn't with the band from its inception, he was a member at the time their signature tune was recorded, and was with the band as it continued on as M.O.U.S.E - until it eventually dissolved in 1972. Thanks to Xcedrin Headache #69's appearance on Gear Fab's Psychedelic States Florida Volume 1 CD, the band has been discovered by a whole new audience and, as of this writing, has plans to reunite in 2003.

An Interview With Pete Rowland (60s): A few different sources have listed the drummer for Mouse & the Boys as "Ted" Rowland. Is this an error?

Pete Rowland (PR): This is an error. The original drummer for Mouse & The Boys was Ted Vaughn. I came along later and was added as a second drummer. Using two drummers was an idea we had just to be different than most of the groups at that time. The same reason the brass was added earlier. Ted and I played together a total of two times before Uncle Sam called him for an all expense paid visit to Vietnam. So, I guess, I kind of inherited the sole drummer spot.

60s: How did you first get interested in music?

PR: There was music in my home all my life. My Mom and Dad both had great voices. My Dad was a machinist/welder who, later in life, was elected Mayor of Baldwin, Florida, the small town where I grew up. Mom was a beautician with a beauty shop attached to our home. We used to sing together at home or on road trips to visit family. The first time I can remember singing in front of a crowd was at our church. Dad, Mom and I sang Just A Little Talk With Jesus in church when I was five-years old. I was so small they had to stack four to five wooden Coca-Cola bottle crates so that I could be seen over the preacher's podium. I also had what was considered a "Nanny" or "Maid" in those days, since both parents worked. I called her my "Black Mama" and she was with us for over 25 years. She and I would sing together also. I even went to church with her some times. I was the only little white boy in a totally black church in the late '50s- early '60s. I didn't realize how unusual that was until I got older. I loved it and got my gospel roots there.

60s: Was Mouse & the Boys your first band?

PR: I had been in one other true garage band in school. I formed a group known as the Soutels, aka the Phantoms. Three school buds and I got together and played at the local teen center and for some school assemblies, grocery store openings (usually on the back of a flatbed truck), etc. I was strictly the front man at that time and had never played drums. Our drummer's mom made him quit the band because of his grades, and we had a big gig for the Rainbow Girls Organization coming up. I begged and pleaded to my mom to get me some drums and let me learn how to play. She gave in and I set them up in our garage, turned on some Ventures records as loud as I could, and taught myself the basics of drums and how to keep a steady beat. I've never had any lessons and will be the first to admit that I am merely a singer that can keep a steady beat on the drums and not a "real" drummer. That band lasted through high school. I met Larry (guitar) and Billy (bass) who played in Mouse & The Boys in 1966. We were all in the chorus at Lake City Junior College in Lake City, Florida.

60s: Who formed Mouse & The Boys?

PR: It was formed in 1965. Mo (Mouse) Samples and Ted Vaughn pulled the guys together from other local groups to form The Deep Six, which evolved into Mouse & The Boys.

60s: Were you aware of the Deep Six/Florida Deep Six prior to joining them as Mouse & The Boys?

PR: Kingsley Lake is near Jacksonville and Baldwin (where I lived at the time. It's now a suburb of Jacksonville). They had a dance hall and recreation area down at the lake called New Kingsley Beach. They had live bands on Sunday afternoons and I used to drive down and swim and dance all afternoon with high school friends. I wasn't really aware of The Deep Six other than I had heard their singles on the radio (WAPE The Mighty 690 AM - The Big Ape - Of course, everybody listened to the Ape). Anyway...I later realized, after we all got to know each other and started talking about the past, I had seen them and danced to their music at the lake. Small world indeed...

60s: Did the prominence of the "other" Deep Six, who had a hit with Rising Sun force the band to change their name?

PR: Absolutely. From what I understand, the guys had no idea there was another band named The Deep Six. When they released Last Time Around, they were notified they would have to change the name as another group already had the rights or something like that. So, they added "Florida", and when they recorded I Don't Wanna Cry and Start From Here they were "The Florida Deep Six".

60s: Was there any real difference in the types of gigs that the Deep Six landed compared to the types that Mouse & The Boys played? I know you weren't a member of the Deep Six, but do you think Mouse & The Boys were a much bigger band?

PR: The Deep Six played mostly local events from what I understand from the guys. Mouse & The Boys were at another level entirely. Just to give you an idea of the popularity and the influence we had with the young people in Jacksonville...we decided we would be totally different from all the other groups of that time in our music (soul vs. rock / psychedelia) and also different in our "look". We cut our hair and dressed in Gant shirts and casual slacks. It was a total collegiate look. However, we decided to wear black and white saddle oxfords in lieu of the weejans (sp) and penny loafers the college preppies wore. A local shoe store, Larry's Shoes in Jacksonville, sold us our first pair. The salesman - I don't remember if it was Larry or not - gave us shoes after that because he said since we started wearing them he couldn't keep them in stock. Kids all over Jacksonville were wearing them.

60s: How did Maurice Samples acquire the name "Mouse"?

PR: I always thought it was a take off on the name "Maurice" but I've learned that one of the guys (Les) told him he looked like a rat and Ted decided he looked more like a mouse and it just stuck as a nickname

60s: Were you at all aware of the great Texas band, Mouse & The Traps, during this time?

PR: None of us had heard of the group at that time.

60s: So, who comprised Mouse & the Boys, and what instruments did each play?

PR: Maurice "Mouse" Samples - lead vocals, guitar, bass, trombone, and drums; Larry Dreggors, guitar and vocals; Lester Langdale, keyboards, bass, and vocals; Billy Harden, bass and guitar; Frank Crumpler, trumpet, keyboards, percussion toys and vocals; Jimmy Moore, trumpet and percussion toys; Ted Vaughn, drums; and Pete Rowland, drums, percussion toys, and vocals.

60s: Where did the band typically practice?

PR: We were members of the musician's union and would use the union hall whenever possible. However, we practiced almost every day that we didn't play, so we weren't able to get the hall that often. Eventually, we all agreed to rent a house. Mouse lived there and split the rent with the band. This way we were able to practice any time and as long as we wanted. We called it the "Mouse House" and it was used for all kinds of band practices and parties.

60s: What venues did you regularly perform at?

PR: We played at local halls such as the Riverside Women's Club, Southside Women's Club, Jacksonville Beaches Auditorium, Ravine Gardens in Palatka, as well as armories throughout Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. During the late '60's promoters would hold public dances in these places. It was like a concert with no seating…because there were no seats. The kids stood or danced for the two to four hours. We also played many, many proms. Once, we played two proms in one night on opposite sides of Jacksonville. We played two early sets at one and then had a police-escorted van carry us to the other to play the last two sets there. We became known with the help of the local radio station. At that time there was no FM. The strongest radio signal in the Southeast was WAPE 690 AM known as The Big Ape. It had 50,000 watts of AM signal that reached all the way up the East Coast and throughout the Southeast. They would play our records and work some of our dances. They put our name and sound out there for us. We wound up playing at colleges and fraternities and became known as a party band, like in ANIMAL HOUSE.

60s: How popular locally did Mouse & the Boys become?

PR: Depending on whom you talk to, of course, we were considered the #1 band in Jacksonville and several other areas for a few years. They even declared it Mouse & The Boys Day once in Savannah, Georgia. To this day I still run into people who reminisce about Mouse & The Boys dances and how much fun they had.

60s: "Mouse & The Boys Day"? PR: It was more or less a publicity thing done by the radio station in Savannah (WSGA, I think)We were playing that night for a public dance and they declared it "Mouse & The Boys Day". I can't remember if it was Dancin To The Beat or Love Is Free that was the single on their charts at the time but, I know it was like #1 or #2 and they had us in the studio answering phone calls and doing live interviews.

60s: Did the band ever have a manager?

PR: We had a couple of managers during the lifetime of the band. Ron Wayne, a local deejay at WAPE 690 AM was manager for The Deep Six and later Mouse & The Boys. A local promoter who was using us for his dances, Sidney Drashin of Jet Set Enterprises, decided he wanted to start managing the group. Sid was a "Type-A" personality who, like all Type A's, was either liked or despised by people. There were times when we wanted to tar and feather him but, looking back, he took us places and got us things we would have never gotten without him. Fred Stein was our Road Manager/baby-sitter and traveled with us all over the Southeast. He was always there when we needed him for most anything - including a good laugh.

60s: What other local bands of the era do you especially recall?

PR: Some of the bands were The Tropics, The Dalton Gang, The 31st of February, The Wildflowers, The Second Coming (who later relocated to Macon and became The Allman Brothers), Dennis Yost and The Classics IV, The Illusions, and numerous others that don't come to mind right now.

60s: As Mouse & The Boys, your group released Dancing To The Beat b/w Tears In My Eyes in 1967. Where was the 45 recorded?

PR: It was recorded at Sound Labs of Jacksonville on a 2-track machine - laying down the basic track and then overdubbing the vocals. I sometimes think what we could have done if we had the technology available today. Our song Dancin' To The Beat was #1 in Jacksonville for weeks. It was #1 in Valdosta for, I think, six to eight weeks. I'm not really sure of the amount of time. It actually got to number 102 in Billboard. They called it "Bubbling Under" at that time.

60s: Wasn't this also the single that was released as by Mouse & The Boys and Brass? Whose idea was it to add the brass parts?

PR: I'm not really sure exactly whose idea it was as I was not a member at that time. I know the reason was to be different from the rest of the groups. Call it a gimmick or whatever. They needed a different sound. Most of the groups were three to five members trying to look and sound like a British group as were The Boys' precursors The Deep Six and The Florida Deep Six. The core group recorded one single as the Deep Six, one as The Florida Deep Six, then one as The Boys.

60s: Was adding the brass a result of any type of influence from another band?

PR: I think the turning point came when the guys went to see James Brown live. The intensity of the music and the performance struck a main nerve with the guys. The brass was added, Mouse's name went out front and they became Mouse, The Boys and Brass. They started dressing in "collegiate" outfits, with black and white saddle oxfords and playing good dance music or "soul" music as we came to call it. People started buying saddle oxfords and "beachboppin'" or "shaggin'" at our dances until they were soaking wet.

60s: How would you best describe the band's sound in general?

PR: The band was a pop/R&B/blue-eyed soul/dance band with a horn section. We were unique at that time due to most bands being guitar oriented acid rock or British blues groups. We were influenced by a wide variety of groups and individuals including The Beatles, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, Union Gap, Rascals, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, and even The Lettermen.

60s: Frank Crumpler and Jimmy Moore comprised the brass section. Did they perform with you live, too, or only on the single?

PR: Frank and Jimmy were full-fledged members of the band and performed live and in the studio as we all did. David Brown (of the 31st of February and Tiffany System) played sax along with Frank (on trumpet) in the studio during early recording work. Frank knew Jimmy from some previous work they had done together and brought him into the group since David was working elsewhere.

60s: Mouse & The Boys also recorded the classic Love Is Free b/w Xcedrin Headache #69. What do you recall about this session(s)?

PR: Love Is Free was the follow-up single to Dancin' To The Beat b/w Tears in Your Eyes. Love Is Free was completed and Mouse, Les and I were in the Sound Labs of Jax studio (late, late night as usual) trying to come up with something to put on the B-side. We never were a "psychedelic rock" group. We were a pop/R&B/soul dance band. We thought it would be funny to do a parody of all the "acid" music that was becoming popular. So, Mo pretty much tossed out a couple of lines and we threw together the base track. Then we went back and overdubbed every type of distortion, fuzz guitar, toys, and any other "psychedelic" type sound we could think of (including rattling car keys and passing the live headphones across the live mics in the studio to get the effect on the guitar break). It was just something we did as a joke to fill the flip side of Love Is Free. We were in the control room listening to it to see if there was anything else we could stack in it and the sound engineer, Guy McColskey, asked us the title. We didn't even have one at that time. We considered I Want You… I Need You but nothing seemed right. At that time the Excedrin commercials were popular on TV and I jokingly said, "Let's call it Excedrin Headache #69 because that's what it's giving me." After a good laugh it kind of stuck. Then we had to change the spelling for copyright purposes to "Xcedrin". We never thought it would be the song that would come back after this many years. We only did it on stage once that I can remember because most of it was studio effects that couldn't be duplicated live at that time. Mo and Les got the writer's credit on the label and we all got producer credit.

60s: Who was the band's primary songwriter?

PR: Mo wrote most every original song the band recorded

60s: Do any other '60's Mouse & the Boys recordings exist?

PR: We had seven singles or fourteen sides released on vinyl. I recently burned a CD to give as a Christmas gift to the guys one Christmas. Unless someone has a box of old 45's hidden somewhere, the only copies I know of are my own and a couple of the guys in the group. We did see one in an auction catalog for Rock 'N' Roll memorabilia. It was the Xcedrin Headache #69 45 on Rubiat Records. The minimum bid listed for it was $100. I sure wish I had all those boxes of 45's I used to have.

60s: Are there any vintage live recordings?

PR: To the best of our knowledge, there were no live recordings ever made of the group.

60s: Did Mouse & The Boys participate in any Battle Of The Bands?

PR: We never participated in any Battles. We never had the time as we were always booked to play somewhere in the Southeast. I can't ever remember us being without work back then. One summer in three months we played something like 80 different gigs. Mo and I, who did most of the lead vocals, were drinking glycerin and corn syrup to coat our throats and make it through the rest of the gigs.

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

PR: No. I sure wish there was some footage somewhere.

60s: Being as popular as you were locally, did Mouse & The Boys get to open for any "national" acts that played in Florida?

PR: We opened and backed a lot of name groups at the time including The Classic IV, The Newbeats, Len Barry, The Birdwatchers, The McCoys, The Spencer Davis Group, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, Tommy Roe, ? & The Mysterians, The Electric Prunes, The Shangri-Las, Archie Bell & The Drells, Canned Heat, and the Mothers of Invention. One memorable moment was in the Macon Coliseum in Macon, Georgia. We opened for Steppenwolf. We ended our set and the crowd was asking for an encore. We went back out to do it and right in the middle of it Steppenwolf's Road Manager pulled the main plug on us and told us to get off stage. We left the stage but when Steppenwolf came on they were greeted with catcalls and boos that could be heard over their music.

60s: How far did the band's touring territory extend?

PR: The band's territory was mainly in the Southeast U.S., as far West as Memphis, and as far North as the Carolinas and Virginia.

60s: I believe you left the band prior to its dissolving. Is this correct?

PR: I never left the group. First to go was Ted as Uncle Sam called him to Vietnam. Next was Lester due to "artistic differences"...then Jimmy - also for "artistic differences". We traveled and continued performing with the remaining five for a while and recorded a couple of singles under the name M.O.U.S.E.

Then Mo came in to practice one day and presented each of us with a copy of The Living Bible and said he had a vision and would no longer be able to perform with us. He went into the ministry. Frank was the last to go due to personal reasons leaving me, Larry and Billy. After some experimenting with singers and drummers, we decided to regroup with me out front. We hired another drummer and keyboard player and became Pete & The Boys. We played over the next few years locally as a club show band and created quite the following there, too. In 1972, I left to go out on my own with a new band under the name Music Machine and toured with them until late 1976.

60s: What keeps you busy today?

PR: For the past 16 years I have been employed at Cecil W. Powell & Company, Northeast Florida's largest privately owned independent insurance agency, where I currently serve as Assistant Operations Manager. The only singing and playing I do is in the music ministry of Southpoint Community Church in Jacksonville.

60s: Do you have any plans musically for 2002 or beyond?

PR: Other than the music ministry, I have no plans except for the band reunion we are planning for probably the spring/summer of 2003. We have been in rehearsals lately and hopefully will have more news about this reunion concert in the future.

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