Originally known as land-locked surf band The Makahas, Alabama's The Shandells would later change names to Shandells, Inc. and record the classic two-sided winner, Say What I Mean and Just Cry. Although the band signed to London Records, internal hassles within the label prevented the group's recordings from ever being released and they were dropped shortly thereafter. The Shandells were never able to break out nationally, but drummer Terry Barkley has fond recollections of playing with a group that became a close-knit family.
An Interview With Terry Barkley
60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Terry Barkley (TB): As a kid, I was always attracted to the drummers in marching bands and in concerts. I joined my school band program in 1963 at age 13, a year before joining The Makahas.
60s: The Makahas was your first band. Whose idea was it to form a surf group in the mountains of Alabama?
TB: Beach music, i.e. The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, etc., was all the rage. We were supposedly named after the "famous" Makaha Beach in Hawaii, but I'm not really sure that it exists!
60s: The Makahas changed names to The Shandells. Was it essentially the same band with a new name, or were there personnel changes?
TB: The name was changed fairly soon after forming in 1964. The original lineup included my brother, J.R. Barkley, on lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Tim Gray, vocals and bass; Donald Langford, vocals and lead guitar; and Terry Barkley, vocals, drums, and percussion. Pat McQuiston soon replaced Langford on lead guitar. Mike McQuiston, Pat's cousin, was later added on keyboards, and Tony Williams later replaced Mike on keyboards.
60s: Who suggested the change in names? What exactly is a "Shandell"?
TB: I don't know what a "Shandell" is! There were a lot of "dells" in those days: The Standells, The Shondells, The Rondells, The Chantells, etc. Later, to separate ourselves from the pack, and to appear cooler and more sophisticated, we became for our second record "The Shandells, Inc." If you look on the web under The Shandells, Inc., you will find that our second record is on several compilation garage band CD's.
60s: Where did The Shandells typically play?
TB: We were high school kids - so schools, teen clubs, bars and clubs, and National Guard armories seemed to be our usual fare. I also remember playing from the back of a lot of flatbed trucks at various grand openings, parties, etc. I think we played most of the teen clubs in North Alabama, from Huntsville down to Birmingham, west over to Mississippi, and north into Tennessee. If we had a home base, it was the teen club on Redstone Arsenal (military base) in Huntsville. However, we did play a lot of bars around the area, usually getting special permission from the local police to perform. I was the youngest of the group, starting when I was fourteen. Luckily, all of our parents were cool about our gigs. We toured The Deep South, Alabama and parts of Tennessee and Mississippi. 60s: How would you describe the band's sound? What bands influenced you?
TB: Originally influenced by the British Invasion, we also did a number of American rock tunes from the late ‘50's and early ‘60's - everything from Jerry Lee Lewis to Roy Orbison to the surf bands. We loved The Beatles and The Stones, the original Moody Blues, Zombies, and The Animals.
60s: Did The Shandells participate in any Battle Of The Bands?
TB: We took part in a number of Battle of the Bands, winning a few, placing high in a few, and losing a few miserably. Battle of the Bands were regular fare for all the local bands. We almost took turns winning (sounds like wrestling, doesn't it?).
60s: Did The Shandells have a manager?
TB: Oh yes! We had a couple of managers (both crooks) who were local DJ's. They could play your records and get you jobs and publicity, but they somehow managed to make more money than the band. In those days - the days of payola - DJ's could play almost anything they wanted to and they could also set the weekly or monthly Top 20 records locally. So, in that respect, it was good to have a DJ as your manager, but they all seemed to turn out to be sleazoids. It was weird having a Shandells record in the Top 10 in Huntsville or Birmingham, alongside The Beatles and all the other great groups. But that's what DJ's could do for you. The same man who owned the comparable station in Birmingham owned the radio station in Huntsville. If he liked you, he'd play your records and they would chart on his stations. I remember that The Shandells had to visit his home in Mountain Brook, near Birmingham, to pass muster with him. That's the way things were done in those days.
60s: How popular locally did The Shandells become?
TB: I would say that we were among the more popular teenage rock bands in the region. At one point, we headlined the Madison County Fair (Huntsville), playing nightly for a week to large crowds. We headlined shows in Huntsville and Birmingham, etc.
60s: The Shandells appeared in print ads for Norris-Johnsons. How did you come to endorse that line?
TB: That was a one shot deal for their grand opening. Once again, another flatbed truck!
60s: What other local groups of the era do you especially recall?
TB: The two oldest bands in the area were The Hi-Boys and The Continentals (later The Tiks). Both were formed in the early 1960's. They were our heroes, and we learned a great deal from them. Other bands who were contemporaries with us were The Rocks, The Coachmen, The Mystics, The Ramrods, and Jamie Hurt and The Mariteens. Larry Byrom, later of Steppenwolf, played in The Tiks, and later The Precious Few. I filled in with The Tiks and The Hi-Boys while still a member of The Shandells or The Sensational Prophets.
60s: What about another Huntsville group, The In?
TB: I certainly remember The In; however, the drummer - George Vail - is the only one I knew. They were in the third wave, maybe, of Huntsville bands - The Continentals/Tiks and Hi-Boys in the first, The Shandells, etc., in the second (circa 1964). I remember that The In used a 12-string Rickenbacker (NOTE: In an upcoming interview for 60sgaragebands.com, The In's Eddie Burton confirms that the band did not use a Rickenbacker) and did original Byrds tunes really well! No one else was doing The Bryds, one of my favorite bands.
60s: What were the circumstances leading The Shandells to record their singles?
TB: Woody Richardson, who had Woodrich Records, basically a country and gospel label, wanted to get into the rock craze. We were one of several bands that he approached. The Hi-Boys and The Rocks were also on Woodrich at one time or the other.
60s: What are your recollections of Woody Richardson?
TB: Woody was/is a great guy, a country boy who is a strong Christian. We became good friends with him and his family. While most of his artists recorded in Nashville, usually at Music City Recorders, Woody did later maintain a small recording studio in the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, area near his home.
60s: Both your singles were released on Woodrich Records. Where were the 45s recorded?
TB: The first record was recorded in 1965 at Music City Recorders in Nashville, a studio owned by Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, original members of Elvis Presley's band. The A-side was Smile On Me, Baby, backed with To The Woods, By The Swuft Wulf, an instrumental. Like our second record, it was recorded in only three or four hours studio time, and that included set-up, etc! There was way too much reverb on the record, but it was basically out of our hands.
The second record was done in 1967 at Quinivy Studio in Sheffield (Muscle Shoals). Percy Sledge had recorded the legendary When A Man Loves A Woman there, and Lynyrd Skynyrd later did their early Muscle Shoals demos at Quinivy. Our A-side was Say What I Mean, backed by Just Cry, both songs written by J.R. Barkley and Tim Gray. By the way, the whole band got writing credits for the first record! Mike McQuiston played keyboards on the first record, and Tony Williams played on the second. My sister, B.J. and her friend Frankie, sang background harmonies on the second record along with the regular band members. Pat McQuiston had just gotten a fuzzbox for his guitar, and he managed to play it throughout both songs! We always wanted to go back and edit the lead guitar for effect, but we never got the opportunity.
60s: Did The Shandells write many original songs?
TB: Again, the band shared writing credits on the first record, and J.R. Barkley and Tim Gray wrote the second record. All songs are copyrighted and registered with BMI. J.R. was the principal songwriter in the group.
60s: How did The Shandells become associated with Dino Promotions?
TB: We became associated with Dino Productions in Nashville through Woody Richardson. They liked Smile On Me, Baby and wanted us to re-record it in Nashville, which we did at Gold Nugget Studio. They gave us lyrics for the B-side, Can't Find A Job, and asked us to write the music. The lyrics were awful, but we recorded the tune anyway. This is what Dino Productions took to London Records.
60s: The Shandells signed a recording contract with London Records, but nothing ever panned out. What happened?
TB: Dino Productions, which formerly had an excellent reputation, went belly-up in an internal hassle that brought on a slew of lawsuits from their many creditors and artists. In short, our chance with London went down the drain, as suddenly no one wanted to be associated with Dino Productions, or their artists.
60s: Do any (other) '60's Shandells recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings, or unreleased records?
TB: In addition to the two singles, the recordings for London exist somewhere, probably with the family of one of the band members. I do not have them, but I remember listening to it back then. We all went out and bought subscriptions to Cash Box and Billboard magazines, and waited for our record to zoom up the charts. We waited and we waited, only to be finally told that London had dropped us. It was all very sad, and the closest we ever came to "making it".
60s: What local and regional TV appearances did the band make?
TB: We appeared on Huntsville TV a number of times, particularly on a show called STERLING STARTIME. We also appeared several times on the COUNTRY BOY EDDIE SHOW on WBRC-TV in Birmingham, an early morning live country music show which was broadcast regionally. The late, great Tammy Wynnette got her start on the show, and Country Boy Eddy is today in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
60s: Why did the band break up?
TB: My brother J.R., our lead singer and rhythm guitarist, was drafted and decided to join the Navy. He was sent to Vietnam. Later, both Pat and Mike McQuiston served in Vietnam. I was still in high school when The Shandells broke up in 1968, and I planned to go on to college (and stay out of the draft).
60s: You joined The Sensational Prophets after The Shandells...
TB: I was in The Prophets - "The Blue-Eyed Soul Band of the South" - from 1968 to 1970, joining after The Shandells. We were booked by Southeastern Attractions in Birmingham and Anthony Attractions in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We were the classic frat party band!
60s: Did you join or form any bands after The Prophets?
TB: Please see my music related website at www.bridgewater.edu/~tbarkley
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