The Wild Things

Previously known as Dave & The Dynamics, New Castle, Indiana's Wild Things are best remembered today for their lone single on the Showboat label: I'm Not For You / Love Comes, Love Goes. Bassist Jay Dennis (nee Eldon Pitts) was a founding member of the group, but unfortunately had his tenure with the band cut short in 1966 by his enlistment in the Army. Initally hopeful he'd be able to rejoin the group upon his return, that sadly was not to be the case. Though he didn't join any other band in the '60's, Pitts looks back at his time in The Wild Things as an experience that he wouldn't trade for anything...

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

Eldon Pitts (EP): I suppose listening to music on radio, like many other kids growing up in the '50s, was how I first got an interest in music - particularly with rock 'n' roll emerging as it was. When I enrolled in seventh grade, in middle school, I had my first opportunity to take an instrumental music class. I wanted to play guitar, but being a public school music class - learning to play classical music - guitar wasn't offered. So I decided on string bass, since it was an orchestra class with only string instruments. Bass seemed to me like the next best choice after guitar. I played string bass through high school, including the 15-piece jazz band, and played tuba my last couple of years in marching band after the orchestra class was dropped. I learned to play bass guitar to join the first rock band I was in.

60s: Was that The Mersey Beats?

EP: The Mersey Beats was the first rock band I was in. That band probably was together less than a year and played for only two or three high school dances.

60s: After The Mersey Beats you joined forces with members of The Cutaways. How did you hook up with them?

EP: I had seen The Cutaways play once for a street dance in my hometown. I didn't know any of the guys in the band at the time.

60s: Dave & The Dynamics was formed from The Cutaways...

EP: Dave & The Dynamics was formed in the fall of 1964 by three of the four previous members of The Cutaways. They had asked drummer Dave Barnes to play with the new band. But their bass player, Jack Cupp, was leaving to join the military. Barnes and I had played together for three years in the high school jazz band. Barnes asked me to play bass with the band. Initially, I didn't want to leave The Mersey Beats. But I finally decided to join Dave & The Dynamics.

60s: Who were the members of Dave & The Dynamics?

EP: The members included Gary Hamilton - lead guitar; Dave Bennett - rhythm guitar; Jack Cupp - bass guitar (all three from The Cutaways); Dave Kirkpatrick - keyboards; Dave Barnes - drums; Dennis Roland - percussion; and I replaced Cupp on bass. The band soon was pared down to Hamilton, Bennett, Barnes and myself. I used the name Jay Dennis in the band, I guess because I didn't like my name for a rock band. I think I took the name from a popular local rock radio station DJ named Ray Dennis.

60s: Where did the band typically play - schools, parties, teen clubs, etc?

EP: All of the above, actually, as most garage bands were doing in the '60s. We played a lot of "after ballgame" dances (sock hops, for those who remember when they were called that) at our high school, Walter P. Chrysler Memorial High School, in New Castle, Indiana. We also played for high school dances in other area cities, and frequently in the summer at Pebble Beach, a local outdoor teen club on a lake.

We once played for the grand opening of an Arlan's Department Store, in New Castle - part of a department store chain, I think. We played outdoors on a flatbed truck at the entrance to the parking lot.

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

EP: Our sound was, I suppose, kind of a cross between The Beatles, Beach Boys and Byrds. Like most other garage bands, we did covers of all the popular Top 40 hits of the '60s. We tried to sound as much like the original hit recordings as possible, and we did a lot of two-part vocal harmony. I think the bands that influenced us the most were The Beatles, of course, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five, Byrds, Animals, Kingsmen, James Brown, Lonnie Mack, and Paul Revere & The Raiders.

60s: Charles Rocky Rose was the band's manager. How did you hook up with him?

EP: Rocky Rose owned the most popular music store in our hometown. Naturally, that's where all the kids who were interested in trying to start rock bands would hang out. Rocky heard our band and asked us to sign a contract with him as our manager. He was extremely active in promoting our band, and he seldom took his percentage of our earnings. He kept us busy with bookings most weekends during the 2-1/2 years I was with the band. Rocky was a great businessman and promoter. He had been in the country music business for many years, and had a record on the top country charts in the '50s.

60s: How popular locally did Dave & The Dynamics become?

EP: Dave & The Dynamics probably was the most popular garage rock band locally because we pretty much got a head start on other bands that formed later, except The Mersey Beats, which disbanded after I left.

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

EP: We eventually were playing jobs in Michigan and Illinois, so we were on the verge of gaining regional popularity.

60s: The band entered a jingle advertising contest in 1965 and won the statewide contest. What men's clothing manufacturer was the jingle for?

EP: As I recall, the clothing manufacturer was His and Hers clothing. The band (wrote) the jingle, although I don't remember it. I don't know of any copies of the recorded jingle that still exist. If so, I would love to have one.

60s: Did Dave & The Dynamics participate in any Battles Of The Bands?

EP: We participated in only one Battle of The Bands, that I recall, in Muncie, Indiana. I believe a Muncie band, Roosevelt Johnson & The 7 Cs, won that contest. I don't recall the other bands that participated, nor do I remember what songs we performed.

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

EP: Our band never made any TV appearances. I don't know of any film footage that exists of the band, but a projectionist at the local movie theater once wanted to use our band for a action film he wanted to make about an adventurous rock band, I guess. This guy apparently had invented a new type of film camera lens. We shot one scene for the film. It was of us seated at the counter of a local diner. We had to jump off from the stools, run out the door to the parking lot, get in one of our cars and speed off down the highway in front of the diner. We got to watch the scene on the screen at the Castle Theatre where he worked. It was a lot of fun, but that one scene was as far as the film ever got.

60s: Prior to recording your only single, Dave & The Dynamics changed names to The Wild Things. Why?

EP: In 1966, the band took on an agent, Bill Craig Jr., from Muncie. At that time, I believe he thought we needed a different name, perhaps for a different, more contemporary image. Rocky Rose, who was still our manager, thought of The Wild Things, which I suppose came from the hit single by The Troggs.

60s: The single you recorded was I'm Not For You b/w Love Comes, Love Goes. Where was the 45 recorded?

EP: We recorded the 45 in a small studio in Santa Claus, in southern Indiana. We booked the studio for a five hour session, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., on a week night in the summer of 1966. We stayed overnight in a motel there. The session was a lot of fun. As I recall, it took us several takes and about 2-1/2 hours to get a cut of each song that we were satisfied with.

60s: Who wrote the songs that comprised the single?

EP: All four of us actually worked on writing the two songs on the single. So we just put two of our names on each title.

60s: What about the other songs that were recorded but never released?

EP: Prior to releasing the 45, we had written six original songs. We recorded those at the Jan Eden studio in Indianapolis, in January, 1966. The titles were I'm Not For You, Love Comes, Love Goes (both earlier, different versions), Just Once In My Life, Things Have Changed, La Pimienta, (the only instrumental, Ventures style), and Standin' By My Side. I do have a dub from the session master tape. I would love to have the master tape, but so far haven't been able to track it down, since the studio no longer exists. I also just found a tape of five cover songs our band recorded, probably at a rehearsal. The songs on this tape are It Ain't Me Babe, Treat Her Right, Hang On Sloopy, I'm Down and I Need You.

60s: A band named The Chevelles released a single on the Skoop label and covered both Just Once In My Life and Things Have Changed. Do you remeber the band, or the names of the various band members?

EP: I don't recall ever hearing of them, so I'm afraid I can't help you with the personnel. Just Once In My Life, a song which I wrote, and Things Have Changed are two of the six songs on the Jan Eden Studio master tape, but I never was aware of this band, or any other band, recording any of our original songs. I would be interested to know whether they are the same ones that we wrote, with the same lyrics - although I'll admit it would be highly unlikely that someone else would write two songs with exactly the same titles.

We might have performed some of our original songs, particularly I'm Not For You after the 45 was released, but I don't recall ever performing those two songs in public, so I don't know how anyone else would have even heard them - unless they heard the studio tape. But our manager apparently had the master tape - the one I recently located - since it was recorded. So, it's a mystery to me.

60s: Of the six original songs, why were I'm Not For You and Love Comes, Love Goes selected to be the Wild Things single?

EP: I really don't recall. When you hear the Eden studio taped version of I'm Not For You, you'll probably find the difference between it and the updated version we released interesting. The released version, from the 45, was on the Hoosier Hotshots compilation LP. The original version was done as a ballad and pretty much sucked.

60s: You enlisted in the Army in the fall of 1966 with the intention of returning to The Wild Things upon your return. I don't believe you ever had the opportunity to return, did you?

EP: No, I didn't. The band had switched to another booking agency, the Beacon Talent Agency in Indianapolis, while was gone, and for a while was the house band at The Triangle, a popular teen club in Greenville, Ohio. But the band broke up in 1968. Dave Bennett and Dave Barnes joined another very popular band, The Chosen Few, from neighboring Muncie. That band continued for about 14 successful years as Faith Band, recording several outstanding albums and the national hit single, Dancin' Shoes, written by lead singer Carl Storie.

60s: Do you recall where The Wild Things located your replacement, Phil Mann?

EP: Phil was in school with us, although he was a couple of years younger. I think we had heard him play someplace with another band and liked the way he played. He joined the band to replace me when I finally left for the Army in January 1967. I believe he later was replaced by Richard Douglass from Muncie.

60s: Did you join or form any bands once you returned from the service?

EP: (The Wild Thing) was the only rock band that I every played with.

60s: Do you play at all today?

EP: I still play with an instrumental jazz trio, with keyboardist David States and drummer Dave Barnes (from Dave & The Dynamics), who still lives in Indianapolis. The three of us have played together off and on since high school. It's great to still work with Barnes because he is unquestionably one of the best, most natural drummers I have ever heard. I also work with another trio with a female vocalist that performs mostly pop songs from the '40s, '50s and some from the '60s. The groups perform only a few times a year, mostly for private functions. For the past four years, I have played for all of the musical theater productions performed by the First Nighters civic theater group in New Castle, Indiana, and at the Guyer Opera House, a civic theater group in Lewisville, Indiana.

60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with Dave & The Dynamics / Wild Things?

EP: It was a great 2-1/2 years of my life. The guys were all great to work with and were extremely talented. We were young and we were breaking ground, at least locally, as far as garage rock bands went. Although we only released one 45, it was significant for us. And we were on the verge of breaking out regionally when I had to leave. Although leaving and not being able to return to the band was disappointing, it was an experience that I would never trade for anything.

"Copyrighted and originally printed on by Mike Dugo".
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