In 1967, Discoscene - a local "Magazine For Teen/Young Adults In The Delaware Valley" - predicted a "great future" for The Rising Tydes.
The band did end up recording a single, and was featured on several TV shows - including Ed Hurst's SUMMERTIME ON THE PEIR. Though the
band was never able to break out nationally, they did become somewhat popular in their area, and their two songs have been reissued on
Crude PA Volume 2.
Mike Fredericks graciously recounted the band's story for 60sgaragebands.com.
An Interview With Mike Frederick
60sgaragebands.com: How did you first get interested in music?
Mike Frederick (MF): Tom Savage. Tom was an older guy - at least he was at the time - who lived a couple of doors up from my house in Morrell Park in Philly. He used to sit on his front steps in the evenings, play his ukulele and sing songs. My parents thought that was kinda neat, so my dad bought one and the required reading: a Mel Bay book. Though I ignored it as long as I could, the idea of my younger siblings and especially my parents (geez!) being able to play a musical instrument got the better of me. So I took the uke and the book off to my room and conquered it.
60s: The Rising Tydes was your first band, correct?
MF: The very first. Ed Murray and I were MC-ing a local church dance where several local guys in a loosely formed band started to play. They used to invite us up to sing a few songs. After a couple of weeks of that, two of the guitarists - Ray Rudnitskas and Mike Bell - asked us if we were interested in starting a new band. (This was at) Christ the King Church's recreation center, Morrell Park in Northeast Philadelphia in 1965.
60s: The band had a couple of different line-ups...
MF: When it first started, the band was: Ray Rudnitskas, lead guitar; Mike Bell, rhythm guitar; Dave Snyder, drums; Ed Murray, vocals; and Mike Frederick, vocals.
When I left for the Air Force, it was: Ray Rudnitskas, lead guitar; Mike Bell, rhythm guitar; Ronnie Spering, drums; Ed Murray, vocals; Mike Frederick, bass guitar; Bill Byer, keyboards (though we had Bob Derer in there for a while).
60s: What type of gigs did you initally land?
MF: School dances, a few parties, a lot of deejay dances - even a couple of parades. We also played one wedding for some insane reason - "You want us to play daddy's little what?" We played a lot of C, Am, F and G that time.
60s: Did you play any of the local Philadelphia teen clubs?
MF: Naw. There really wasn't a whole bunch of them in '65-'66. We did play some American Legions or VFWs or some other vet-type places. We got a lot of open mouths there. Especially when we did Paint It Black and a Who-style destruction sequence at the end... complete with smoke bombs and guitar smashing. It was very effective. We usually weren't invited back.
60s: So the band was loud!?
MF: As loud as possible - which wasn't all that loud now that I look back on it. The biggest amp we had was a Fender Twin. I remember we once used an overdriven Grundig tape recorder for distortion. But I suppose live we were mostly like The Kinks or The Who. I used to love to try and play like John Entwistle. Not that I was that good, mind you, but it was fun to try and play those crazy speed-bass riffs like he did.
We really weren't polished enough in the early days to do The Beatles or The Byrds - though we admired them greatly and we did try. Day Tripper was a close as we got. When Bob Derer joined us on keyboards, we were able to include songs like Good Lovin.
60s: Did the Rising Tydes participate in any Battle of the Bands?
MF: Yeah. Quite a few of them. They were mostly sponsored by radio stations, and were usually outside which was great fun in the winter in Philadelphia.
60s: Do you recall other bands that you competed against?
MF: Damned if I know. I was too busy trying not to screw up to pay much attention to the competition. The Gass Company was one of them. And The Flock.
60s: Do you recall some of the songs you played at the competitions?
MF: Hmmm…For Your Love and Tobacco Road. Stuff like that.
60s: The Rising Tydes were managed by "Tony." What was his last name?
MF: I wish I could remember that. I could spot him, as well as his wife, Max, in a crowd even today. I could take you to the house they lived in at the time. I do remember his first name wasn't really Tony. It was Marston or something like that. Of course, it was the sixties so how many brain cells did I destroy? (NOTE: In follow-up communication, Mike revealed that Tony's last name was Lazarus).
60s: How did you hook up with him?
MF: He lived down the street from Mike Bell, so we sort of adopted each other. He worked for a music store so I guess he was predisposed to nurturing a rock band.
60s: Was he instrumental in promoting the band?
MF: Oh, extremely. We were 14 to 16 years old when this started and we didn't know squat about anything more than C, F and G. It was Tony that got us hooked up with the deejays and the television stations. Without him, we never would have gotten very far from the garage. The record, the magazine articles were all his doing.
60s: How popular locally did The Rising Tydes become?
MF: We were pretty well known and very popular in some circle. I remember one night played at a school in Sharon Hill for a WFIL dance and the place went nuts. You'd have though we were the Beatles. They just loved us. At least the girls did. The boys weren't quite so keen about their girlfriends screaming over the dudes on stage. I remember bonking one of them on the noggin with the headstock of my bass when he tried to yank out Ray's guitar cord. It was pretty cool to need security (in order to be able) to leave.
60s: How far was the band's "touring" territory?
MF: Southeast Pennsylvania, perhaps as far north as the Reading area with occasional seek and destroy mission into Jersey.
60s: You were asked to leave the band in 1966. Why?
MF: I'm not completely sure except that maybe I was the only guy out of high school - which set me apart a bit, I guess - and I was just another singer in a rock and roll band. I can't argue the point. While I was having fun, Ed sang lead most of the time so I was John Hall to his Daryl Hall.
60s: Who asked you to leave?
MF: I can't point the finger at any one of them but it was Tony who broke the news. No blame - two vocalists in a small band without a bass or keyboard player was overkill. Had the situation been reversed, I'd probably have done the same.
60s: What were the circumstances leading to your re-joining the group?
MF: Ha! When they found out I had learned to play bass! It was a skill I developed during my brief hiatus ("Philadelphia boy converts ukulele skills to bass guitar. Film at 11!"). They had picked up some dude on bass that was either not very good or just didn't fit in. When I grew magic fingers, all was forgiven and bass-dude got the heave-ho.
60s: Your first musical instrument was the ukelele, but you didn't play an instrument until your second tenure with The Rising Tydes. Did you have any interest other than singing in your first go 'round with the band?
MF: Sure I did. I knew a bass or a keyboard would be a great addition to the band but I didn't make a ton of money bagging groceries at Pantry Pride. My dad was a Philly cop, my mom stayed at home and I had three brothers and a sister, so the funds simply weren't there. After I went to work as a lineman for Bell Telephone, it was a different story. I went with the bass because it was more affordable and I figured it would be easier to learn.
60s: There were also other personnel changes made around this same time, when Bob Derer joined on keyboards. Where did the band find him?
MF: Bob was a classmate of mine at Father Judge in Philly. When I found out he played keyboards, I lobbied both he and the band to add him. I doubt it was true love on Bob's part since he didn't stay for very long.
60s: After Derer left, how did you hook up with Bill Byer?
MF: I think that was a friend of a friend thing - by route of Ronnie if I remember right. Bob had left at his own choosing so Bill was tapped to fill the open slot. Nobody got canned that time.
60s: But your cousin, Ronnie Spering, replaced Dave Snyder on drums. Why?
MF: I don't think Dave and the rest of us were ever really on the same wavelength. He seemed more interested in playing along with Doc Severson than with us. So…when the opportunity presented itself in the form of Ronnie, Dave was history.
We do sound a bit cutthroat, don't we? Interestingly, none of us knew Ronnie was my cousin until later when my parent's figured it out.
60s: The Rising Tydes released one single: Artificial Peace b/w Don't Want You Around. Where was the 45 recorded?
MF: Sound Plus Studios on North Twelfth Street in Philadelphia.
60s: What do you remember about the recording session?
MF: That is was an evening gig and on the second floor up a long, narrow flight of stairs. We had to drag everything up then back down when we were finished. It must have been like giving birth: You remember the pain, but not the details.
60s: The songs were both group originals. Who wrote them?
MF: It was pretty much a group effort. Ray or Mike Bell would come up with some interesting chord progressions, I'd add some bass runs, Ronnie would come in and Ed would improv some words. Then we'd review the lyrics until we either were satisfied or got tired of it and then moved on.
60s: Did the group write many original songs?
MF: Only a few during my tenure. And only those two were recorded. As newbies, we seemed to be more interested in emulating our ideals than being inventive. That was starting to change but…
60s: Do any (other) '60's Rising Tydes recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings?
MF: Not that I know of but perhaps if any of the other guys stumble across this interview, they could answer that.
60s: The Rising Tydes appeared on the TV Show SUMMERTIME ON THE PIER. What do you recall about this appearance?
MF: That we couldn't hear a damn thing. It was lip sync'd, of course. Everybody we knew watched the show. When we got home, they all asked why Ed had kept his head down throughout the entire song, Don't Want You Around. It's tough to lip-sync when you can't hear the music. So he made sure you couldn't see his lips move. Or not move.
We were on that day with Brenda Lee and Buddy Rich. Ronnie was extremely proud that Buddy took the time to tell him that he was a very good drummer. I'm sure he'll be telling his grandchildren that story. I know I am. I also remember watching the horse jump into the ocean. That was pretty cool.
60s: The band also appeared on some local TV shows. Do you recall which ones?
MF: Whatever that show Jerry "The Geeter with the Heater" Blavit did was. We also did another Ed Hurst show in a studio once - AQUARAMA or something on UHF-17.
60s: Does any 8mm or 16mm film footage exist of the band?
MF: Not that I know of but maybe if I can track down the other guys, they might know if some exist. That would be funnier to watch than my wedding video.
60s: The Rising Tydes performed in Fairmount Park in the first ever city-sponsored rock event in a Philadelphia park. How did you land this gig?
MF: Tony. Not sure how he got us into these things but since he worked at a music store downtown, he usually had some good intel on stuff coming up.
60s: Where you headliners? Did other bands perform?
MF: We played along with three other bands whose names also escape me.
60s: You left the band again in '68, this time to join the Air Force. How long did The Rising Tydes continue on without you?
MF: About two more years, I think. I can't give a definitive answer on that. I was in the Philippines at the time.
60s: Did you join or form any bands after The Rising Tydes?
MF: I got away from playing for a long while. Then, when I turned forty in 1989, I did an open mic night at the local bar in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I played Here Comes The Sun and a couple of other songs. By the end of the night, I was invited to join the Ramsey Band headed by a really great blue guitarist, Scott "Scooter" Ramsey.
60s: What about today?
MF: I formed a band about two years ago here in Tampa called The Leo Toffard Project. Must have been a "Fifties" thing. It is named after my two grandfathers, Leo Frederick and William Toffard. John "Twig" Twardzik (formerly of PA's Leer Brothers fame) is our drummer. Keyboards are handled by Dave Rittenour - a world class player. Art Mickelson is on bass and guitars. Somehow I ended up as the lead guitarist.
60s: How often, and where, do you perform?
MF: Perform is a relative word. We play most Monday nights in my garage - which sounds like I've come full circle, except I have way, way better toys now. Pretty much all of them actually.
We've all been there and done that so we're in a bit more of a laid-back mode now. Too many back problems at our age to be schlepping equipment all over the face of the earth in the wee hours. So, outside of Mondays, almost never. Not that we never wouldn't - it's just become more of personal challenge now. We find getting a song right more satisfying that a midnight barroom. That's our story and we're sticking to it.
We are available for fundraisers and funerals.
60s: A 1967 article in Discoscene predicted "a great future" for The Rising Tydes. Did the band feel, too, at that time, that it was on the verge of greater success?
MF: We were certainly hopeful of a career. Things had gotten a lot further along then we'd have ever thought possible when we first started. We were beginning to develop that tightness that comes after being together for several years. Not just musically - though that was a big part of it - but as brothers. We joked together, got in trouble together and propped each other up when necessary.
It's hard to put this into perspective thirty-five years later. We were just kids then. Could we have made the big time? I think it was possible. We were getting very comfortable with our performances and we were developing a strong stage presence. Those that heard us enjoyed our clowning around as much as the music. Who knows? Like a thousand other bands, we'll have to wait for another lifetime to play out that dream.
60s: Looking back those thirty-five years later, how do you best summarize your experiences with The Rising Tydes?
MF: As damn good fun. If I had to do it all over again, I doubt I would change a thing - except maybe for that Air Force part.
POSTSCRIPT: Ray Rudnitskas, lead guitarist for The Rising Tydes, stumbled upon Mike's webpages, and provided the following update on the band members:
Ed Murray - Last seen working at a Corporate owned McDonalds in King of Prussia, PA in the '70s;
Mike Bell - living in the Washington D.C. area, working as a plumber;
Ronnie Spering - running his own business called PlateCrafters in Colmar, PA;
Ray Rudnitskas - lives in Pittsburgh, VP of a communications company.
To read more about The Rising Tydes, visit Mike's website at http://www.take5-net.com/~leotoffard/tydes.htm