Red Beard and The Pirates

Max Waller, in his capsule summary on Red Beard & The Pirates for the Fuzz Acid & Flowers website, writes that their song "Go On Leave has just about all the classic garage-punk ingredients; frantic beat, pumping bass, fuzz outbursts, girl-put-down lyrics, and raw vocals." The song, written by James Weaver with lyrics by Don and John Miller, has also been recognized for being the true classic that it is by its inclusion in the Back From The Grave series, and more recently by its appearance on Gear Fab's first Psychedelic States: Georgia volume. Though Go On Leave is the song Red Beard & The Pirates is most associated with - at least to collectors of '60's garage punk - they recorded other songs, and were one of the more popular bands that sprang to life in the Blue Ridge and Copperhill parts of Georgia and Tennessee.

(NOTE: In addition to their single, James Weaver has four other fantastic Red Beard & The Pirates songs never before released, as well as two rehearsal instrumentals. Sound quality is a bit rough, but if any '60's reissue garage label is interested in hearing the songs for possible release, contact and we will forward your inquiry to James.)

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

James Weaver (JW): I was interested in music from a very early age and I played any kind of instrument I could get my hands on. At age seven or eight, I got a toy accordion (believe it or not) for Christmas. It became my constant companion and I could play a bunch of songs on it. My uncle played guitar and I learned from him and I began to jam with a couple of my elementary school buddies when I was a freshman in high school. We formed our first band and went from there.

60s: Was Red Beard & The Pirates your first band?

JW: My first band was named The Constellations and it consisted of all of the subsequent members of Red Beard and The Pirates. We performed at local sock hops and we had a weekly live performance on a local radio station in Copper Hill, Tennessee. After about a year we changed our name to Red Beard and The Pirates. We were looking for a more exciting and robust name to launch our rock and roll careers. We came up with the name after a lot of discussion about the image that we wanted to project. We were adventurous and "pirate" like in nature and we wanted to conquer the whole world. We were influenced by bands like Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Animals, and other marauders from that time.

60s: Where and when was Red Beard & The Pirates formed?

JW: I guess we were officially formed in 1964 or 1965. Our home town was Blue Ridge, Georgia, a very small town in the north Georgia mountains. The band consisted of:

Larry ("Red Beard") Carruth - Drums/Trumbone
Don Miller - Lead vocalist
John Miller - Rhythm Guitarist
James Weaver - Lead Guitarist
Larry Queen - Bass Guitarist
Randy Queen - Keyboard/Sax (Randy was killed in an unfortunate auto accident shortly after our band broke up)

60s: Where did the band typically play?

JW: We played at a wide variety of venues such as sock hops, local dance clubs, school proms, private parties and holiday celebrations and events.

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

JW: We did not have a single weekend off in almost two years and we mostly played in a radius of 100 miles around our home town. We occasionally went as far as two or three hundred miles for some events. We were one of the opening acts for the Lou Christie Lightning Strikes concert in Dothan, Alabama and our single became number one in Swainesboro, georgia. We were invited to play for their high school prom.

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

JW: We played everything from Ventures' surf Music (to feature our guitars) to Wilson Pickett's Land of 1000 Dances to James Brown's I Feel Good. We played Beatles, Stones and many of the latest hits on the radio in addition to some of our own material. With two people who could play drums, we switched back and forth from material with horns-sax-trombone to driving rock and roll with blazing guitars.

60s: Did you play any of the local teen clubs?

JW: We played at the local teen canteen The Blue Ridge Canteen, other canteens in the area such as The Copper Hill Canteen. Most of the surrounding towns had a local teen dance club and we played in as many as we could.

60s: Did Red Beard & The Pirates participate in any Battle Of The Bands?

JW: I remember the big one that we entered and won in Blue Ridge. The grand prize was a chance to go to Chattanooga, Tennessee and perform on TV in the "March of Dimes Telerama". This was televised on a major network and you performed live in front of between 12,000 and 20,000 people in addition to being broadcast over the network. The event was filled with appearances by stars like Michael Landon, David Hartman, Clu Gulega, and The Stonemans. It was an incredible experience.

60s: Did Red Beard & The Pirates have a manager?

JW: Our managers were the fathers of the two sets of brothers in the band. Our manager was Joe Queen and our assistant manager was Robert Miller. All of our parents were great and assisted any way that they could.

60s: How popular locally did Red Beard & The Pirates become?

JW: There were at least seven bands in our immediate area and it was an extremely competitive life. We all had our "core group of followers", and they all backed their favorite band "to the hilt" - to use a pirate expression. Arrrrrrrrrr! We were very popular in many of the small towns around our base of operation and packed the clubs with people most everywhere we went.

60s: What were some of those other local groups?

JW: The group that was instrumental in motivating us to form our group was called The Blazers. They were a little older than we were and were the featured act at our local teen canteen, The Blue Ridge Canteen. They were a great band and were very popular all over the area. Other bands of notable mention were The Unknowns, The Road Runners, The Mondels, The Twilights - and I am sure there were a couple of others.

60s: Where was the Go On Leave / Don't Be A Loser single recorded?

JW: The single was recorded at an independent labelís studio in Atlanta. The owner, Johnny Brooks, had a previous track record as I understand and he had came to Atlanta to open the label and find new talent. The label name was Gaye Records, and it was somehow affiliated with Marvin Gaye. The recording session was like a new world to us. We were amazed by the surroundings and had to adjust to playing isolated and in separate booths. It was a great experience and we were extremely pleased with our first single.

60s: Who wrote the songs that comprised the single? I believe the songs were credited to the band. Did Red Beard & The Pirates write many original songs?JW: The two songs on the single were written by me, our lead vocalist and our rhythm guitarist. Lyrics were by Don Miller and John Miller, and the music by James Weaver. We gave the writers information to the label as we wanted it shown but it never made it on to the single recording for whatever reason. We were underage teenagers and we didnít raise much of a fuss about it at the time. I came up with the opening guitar section on Go On Leave while practicing at home and after developing the basic song/chord structure I presented it to the band. After we got tight on the music track, lyrics were added to the song by Don and John. Donít Be A Loser was done in the same fashion. I developed the basic chord structure and musical idea and lyrics were added later. I also want to credit Randy Queen, our keyboard player, who came up with a killer keyboard solo for the song.

60s: There are rumors of a second Red Beard & The Pirates single on the Lou label.

JW: This would not be true. We did not release or record any other recordings with anyone except our label in Atlanta.

60s: So..are there any other Red Beard & The Pirates recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings, or unreleased songs?

JW: Yes. We recorded four additional songs with our label shortly before they went out of business. The titles of the other four songs were: From A Zygote To A Pirate - The Ballad of Red Beard; You Tried So Hard; Youíre All Fed Up; and Paint Me A Picture. These songs range from a rowdy "pirate" song to a Wilson Pickett-style R&B spoof of high school life to a couple of rock and roll pieces. The four songs that were never released were recorded as possible singles or a full album project. Shortly after we did the rough take in the studio the label went out of business. Everything ceased at that point. I also have a tape of an early rehearsal session that contains several songs.

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

JW: In addition to performing on "The March of Dimes" event, we entered and won the Freddie Miller Stars Of Tomorrow contest that was televised on a major television station in Atlanta. The grand prize was an all expense paid trip to New York and an audition for the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. We didnít make it but we were the only act, out of our group of contestants from Atlanta, called back for a second audition. We came close...but no cigar!

60s: Why did the band break up in the '60's?

JW: I guess we like so many bands were caught in "The Perfect Storm" of life. Some of us went to Vietnam, some of us married, some of us went to college and some of us had to find employment in other towns.

60s: Did you join or form any bands after Red Beard & The Pirates?

JW: I have played in several other bands over the years and one of my bands got to open for Tracy Byrd, the country star, at a concert at Stone Mountain, Georgia. I truly enjoyed playing with all of the groups and music has been a central theme in my life.

60s: What keeps you busy today?

JW: I currently own my own company that provides piano/keyboard and guitar labs to more than forty elementary schools in the Atlanta, Georgia area. We also offer classes through three private schools, four parks and recreation facilities and a series of classes through Clayton State University. I do get to perform in the classroom regularly and I have been lucky enough to receive the gift of being able to "give back" some of the music to a new generation of players. I have been truly blessed.

60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with Red Beard & The Pirates?

JW: In a nutshell I would have to call it the adventure of a lifetime. We were surrounded by a sea of incredible musical talent and got to perform some of the best music ever written by the top stars of those years. I learned to work hard and to try to be the best I could be musically and I had a great group of "shipmates" to share the journey. I learned to deal with disappointment and adversity and to enjoy the victories when they came. It was fantastic.

1. Go On Leave (Gaye 3043) 1966
2. Don't be A Loser (Gaye 3043) 1966
3. From A Zygote To A Pirate - The Ballad of Red Beard (Unreleased) 1966
4. You Tried So Hard (Unreleased) 1966
5. You're All Fed Up (Unreleased) 1966
6. Paint Me A Picture (Unreleased) 1966
7. Walk Don't Run (Rehearsal)
8. Wildwood Flower (Rehearsal)

"Copyrighted and originally printed on by Mike Dugo".
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