The Preachers

Some may be surprised to learn that The Preachers, the band best known for releasing the scorching cover of Who Do You Love? were also responsible for releasing the equally great Just Don't Complain by John English and The Lemon Drops. Dionysus Records will shortly release a 10" EP containing both songs, as well as the rest of the recorded output of the band. In order to commemorate the release, Keyboardist and group leader Rudy Garza kindly shared his story with

An Interview With Rudy Garza Of The Preachers (60s): How did you first get interested in music?

Rudy Garza (RG): I grew up in a musical family. My dad played guitar - Classical and Mexican folk music. My mother studied opera. I became interested in the piano after hearing someone play Boogie Woogie and started studying at the age of about 10. This was about 1950. I studied pop music (Hoagie Carmichael) and advanced to Jazz. I was not a rock and roll fan because the piano parts were too simple. I studied with a couple of black piano players and became interested in a very funky blue's style of piano.

60s: Was The Preachers your first band?

RG: In my late teens I had several dance bands. We played mostly jazz and no rock and roll. The band was called the SJQ, which stood for Semi Jazz Quintet. During my college years I always had a jazz band. Usually it was piano, bass, drums and sometimes a guitar. The Preachers came after college and lasted about two years

60s: How did you come to join the band?

RG: After I got out of college in 1964, a friend of mine named Dick Monda (of Daddy Dew Drops fame) called me and told me about a back up band that was being put together that needed a piano player. I had just received a BS in Physics and found that the Aerospace industry was in a recession so I couldn't find a job. Playing the piano for money sounded good to me.

60s: Who were the other members of The Preachers?

RG: At the first rehearsal I met Hal Tennant who played lead guitar. He also had just graduated from college. Zeke Camarillo (Jim) played bass. Richard Fortunato played rhythm guitar and sang lead vocals. Zeke and Richard had played in other bands together. I don't think we had a drummer yet. I can't remember the name of the singer we were going to back up. After a couple of rehearsals we decided to fire the singer and just go to work as a 5-piece band. We then found Steve Lagana playing in a beer bar. He had just the drum style we needed. These are the guys I think of when I think of The Preachers: Rudy Garza, piano and leader; Hal Tennant, lead guitar; Richard Fortunato, vocals and rhythm guitar; Zeke Jim Camarillo, bass; and Steve Lagana, drums.

60s: Where type of gigs did you land at the start?

RG: We started out playing in beer bars in Manhattan Beach. There wasn't much money but we always worked.

60s: Aside from the beer bars, what other clubs did you play in?

RG: We played at the Casbah in Canoga Park for about one year. We did play occasionally on the Sunset Strip but I can't remember the names of the clubs. We might have played at Gazzari's next to the Whiskey A-Go-Go. There was another club closer to the heart of Hollywood that we played in but the name eludes me. We packed the house wherever we played so we tended to stay in one club for a long time. We had a long stint at a club near LAX called Herman Hovers. This gave us some stability and allowed us to survive while working in the studio.

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

RG: In 1964 and 1965 there were many bands coming up. Most of them didn't work as much as us because they insisted on playing their own music. They were smart because it allowed them to develop their own style. The preachers played everybody's music so the development of our own sound came slowly. We sounded very much like the Rolling Stones. Some of the bands I knew were the Seeds, Love, Leaves, Byrds, and the Righteous Brothers. Most of these (bands) were very slight acquaintances.

60s: Did you share the bill with any of these bands, or any other national acts?

RG: The only ones I can remember are the Byrds, Glenn Campbell, Jackie De Shannon, Seeds, Bobby Fuller Four, and Bobby Sherman. (There's others but) I can't remember.

60s: How popular locally did The Preachers become?

RG: We were very popular in the San Fernando Valley. And most of the Hollywood bands knew us and expected us to have our turn at a hit record.

60s: Did you have a manager?

RG: We did acquire a manager named Jerry Fonarow. He came from a very prestigious management firm called "Management of Artists." He decided to go out on his own and thought the Preachers were a good bet. I believe a friend of his heard us at a beer bar in Manhattan Beach and brought him down to hear us.

60s: The Preachers appeared on SHIVAREE, SHEBANG, LLOYD THAXTON, and other television programs. Was Fonarow responsible for landing the band such high profile appearances?

RG: Jerry got us a better playing job at Herman Hovers and arranged for all of the TV shows. The Zeke was reviewed on AMERICAN BANDSTAND. Some kid said he liked the melody (?). We had already signed with Moonglow Records. They had the Righteous Brothers so we thought it was a good place to be.

60s: What led you to Moonglow Records?

RG: My friend Dick Monda had worked with Ray Maxwell (President of Moonglow) on some record productions. He introduced us to Ray.

60s: The Preachers released three singles that I'm aware of: Who Do You Love / Chicken Papa; The Zeke / Quit Talkin' About Him; and Stay Out Of My World and Pain & Sorrow. What do you recall about these?

RG: Who Do You Love - Hal introduced this as a good song for us to record. When we recorded it we had trouble with the introduction. Dewy Martin (drummer for Buffalo Springfield) said, "try this." He did a little drum intro. We liked the drum intro and that's how we recorded it; Chicken Papa - was something Richard had been playing in other bands so we threw it on the B-side. When we did the SHIVAREE show, the dancers loved it because they could prance around like funky chickens; The Zeke - We were rehearsing one day and Zeke started playing a rift on his bass. Hal joined him and then the whole band came in. We liked it so much that we started playing it in our club act. When we recorded it we put the screams in the background. That was Zeke and I doing the screams; Quit Talkin' About Him - At this time (1965) we made a big mistake and changed lead singers. With Richard Fortunato we had a very basic raw sound - it was unique to The Preachers. Folk rock was becoming popular so we decided to hire a singer who could sing pretty. We should have remained true to ourselves instead of trying to follow trends. We hired Burke Reynolds. He sang real pretty but it just wasn't the Preachers. We then came across John English and replaced Burke, which brought us back to the raw sound of The Preachers. He had the lyrics to Stay Out of My World and Pain & Sorrow but no music. I wrote the music and we recorded the two songs. The harmonic solos were actually two harmonics playing on top of each other. Hal played one and I played the other.

60s: Whose idea was it to release Moanin' / Just Don't Complain as by John English III, and not as by The Preachers?

RG: I was becoming disenchanted with Moonglow as a record company. I was very na´ve and did not understand that I was in the music business. I would try to make a record have a certain sound and Moonglow would change it. We recorded Moanin' and Just Don't Complain. I got upset with the voicing of the trumpets and the mix, which buried the piano solo. I decided to quit the music business for a while until I could get with a record company that was more progressive. It was stupid but I was young. Moonglow wanted to release the record but the Preachers had apparently disbanded. So they released it as Johnny English and The Lemon Drops.

60s: How did you hook up with John English? What was he doing prior to joining The Preachers?

RG: I don't know what John did before The Preachers. I can't remember exactly how we met John. I do remember auditioning him in front of a live audience and they loved him.

60s: You've stated that Hal introduced the band to Who Do You Love. The song's been covered numerous times, but what do you attribute the popularity of The Preacher's version to?

RG: I think it is popular because it's presented in such a raw fashion. I think the screaming in harmony set it apart. I have heard other artists do the song since we did it and I feel they were influenced by our version.

60s: Have you ever heard The Woolies version?

RG: No. I've never heard it.

60s: Are there any unreleased Preachers' songs in the vaults?

RG: We did record a song with Burke Reynolds called Two Brothers. I loved it but Moonglow wouldn't release it. It was a semi-folk song about two brothers who fought on each side during the civil war. I don't have a copy of it and don't know what happened to Moonglow Records.

60s: So Moonglow was partly responsible for the break-up of The Preachers?

RG: We didn't think we had a future with Moonglow so we mutually went our own ways. Looking back I 'm sure if we would have stayed together we would have been successful. It was musically a good sounding band.

60s: Did you join or form any bands after The Preachers?

RG: After The Preachers I went to work as an Engineer at the Lockheed Skunk Works. After a few years I came back to the music business and played in many dance hall bands - none of any notoriety, but it made me a living.

60s: What about the other Preachers?

RG: Richard and Zeke joined The Vegetables. Steve Lagana played drums for Johnny Rivers. Hal joined The WC Fields Memorial Electric Guitar String Band. I have lost touch with Richard and Steve.

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

RG: I play once a week with a bunch of guys who used to play in bands in the '60s. We rent a rehearsal hall and play for our own enjoyment. Once in a while we will play at charities. I like the sound of the band. It sounds just like a '60s garage band. I tell the guys there's no way you could get studio musicians to sound like us.

60s: Does the band have a name?

RG: We have been getting together every Thursday night in a rented rehearsal studio for about six years. We just refer to ourselves as The Thursday Night Band.

60s: How did you hook up with Lee Joseph of Dionysus Records?

RG: I found out that some of The Preachers records were on his compilations. I emailed him trying to buy some. We started talking then. He is going to release a 10" record of all of the Preachers song including Moanin'.

"Copyrighted and originally printed on by Mike Dugo".
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