The Yellow Payges

For a band that recorded and released over 10 singles - as well as a complete LP - and had two somewhat minor hits, the Yellow Payges have been largely - and unjustly - forgotten. Many sources, due to Bob Barnes' and Bill Ham's association with the group, even erroneously list the band as hailing from Fort Worth, Texas. So when former Driftones and later Palace Guard drummer Terry Rae offered to hook us up with Yellow Payges' founder and lead singer Dan Hortter, we anxiously jumped at the oppurtunity to set the record straight. And Dan was more than gracious in responding to question after question in order to help us do so.

An Interview With Dan Hortter (60s): We've had the pleasure in a previous update of printing the recollections of Palace Guard Terry Rae, whom played with you in an earlier band, The Driftones. Was The Driftones your first band?

Daniel Hortter (DH): Let me begin by saying how much I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to share my Yellow Payges experience with your readers. The '60s was a special time. We were young, inquisitive, challenging, testy, experimental and had a tremendous thirst for truth and meaning of life. I am so thankful I had the privilege of being there when it all took place. Thank you and God Bless. Terry's correct. The name of the band was actually The Driftones. The first band I was a member of was called The Pendleton's.

60s: How long were they together prior to The Driftones?

DH: Approximately four months.

60s: Tell me about The Driftones. Where were they formed, what year, and by whom?

DH: The Driftones was formed around September of 1965 in Southern California, in the Torrance, Redondo Beach, and Hermosa Beach area. Dave Travis was the founder of the band. He left the group about seven months after he formed it. The group disbanded at that point. In around April of 1966 I started going to a club called the Hullabaloo in Hollywood. The Palace Guard was the house band and I was close friends with Rick, the bass player for the Guard. Here's how the whole thing came about. The Guard performed I'm A Man, but with no harmonica. Rick knew I played harmonica and suggested to the other guys that they let me play along with them. They would not let me up on stage so they tossed me a microphone out in the audience to play along. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was up on stage not only playing but singing the song as well. This caught the attention of Gary Bookasta, the owner of the club. He asked me if I had a group which could back up the Newbeats in two weeks and of course I said yes. Well, the next day I got on the phone to Terry and said, "Hey, I got us a gig at the Hullabaloo Club backing up The Newbeats. What do you say we put together the Driftones and do it?" He agreed and we put together the Driftones. (The band) comprised of Larry Tyre, rhythm guitar; John Knox, lead guitar; Herby Ratzloff, bass; and Terry on drums. We changed our name to the Yellow Payges a few weeks later and shortly after that started playing the Hullabaloo Club on a regular basis.

60s: I don't believe Terry was a member of the band at any time while it was known as The Yellow Payges. Is this correct?

DH: To the best of my recollection that is correct.

60s: Aside from Terry leaving to join The Palace Guard, what other personnel changes occurred?

DH: There were no changes prior to changing our name to The Yellow Payges. However, there were several members over the years up to 1970: Danny Gorman, drums (replaced Terry Rae); Bob Norsoph; lead guitar (replaced John Knox in 1966); Mike Rummans, bass (replaced Herby in 1966); Mike Rummans, lead guitar (replaced Bob Norsoph); Randy Carlisle, rhythm guitar (replaced Larry Tyre); Jim Lanham, bass (stepped into Mike's place on bass); Teddy Rooney (replaced Jim Lanham); Bill Ham, lead guitar (replaced Mike Rummans); Bob Barnes, bass (replaced Teddy Rooney); and Donnie Dacus, lead guitar (replaced Bill Ham). Danny Gorman, Bill Ham, Bob Barnes and I stayed together from August 1968 until we disbanded in November of 1970.

60s: Teddy Rooney was Mickey Rooney's son. Did having Terry in the band help to land more press, or more high profile gigs?

DH: No, it never did. His Dad really didn't pay too much attention to what Teddy was doing at that time. I think he may have come to one performance. It's too bad because I think Teddy really struggled with that. I believe he would have liked to have had his Dad's acceptance of what he was doing.

60s: Before joining, both Bob Barnes and Bill Ham had previously played in bands in Forth Worth. In fact, The Yellow Payges are still mistaken as a Texas band by a few sources. How did you hook up with them?

DH: Bob Barnes was a friend of one our friends. When Teddy Rooney left the group we needed a bass player and we knew Bob played bass so we gave him an audition and he passed the test. Shortly after, Teddy left and Mike Rummans left as well. Bob knew Bill Ham from back in his home town of Fort Worth. Bob told us about this incredible guitar player he knew and he thought it would be great if we could get him. This all took place in late July of 1968. Now mind you we had a gig at the Hollywood Bowl on August 18th and we were in desperate need of a lead guitar player. We had Bill flown out for an audition. Bob was absolutely right; Bill was unbelievable. We brought him on and in two weeks from his joining the group we played the Hollywood Bowl with Eric Burdon and The Animals, The Rascals and Tommy James and The Shondells. It was a great night for us.

60s: You mentioned that the band formed as a result of a suggestion by Gary Bookasta. Did he act as your manager?

DH: Gary Bookasta was indeed our manager. He was pretty bright and had many connections. However, he was successful in getting us (only) so far. His major drawback was that he really didn't understand musical creativity. He tried to mold us into something we were not and wouldn't allow people who had the capability to help us. He wanted to do it all: produce, engineer, and approve our writing and arrangements. Unfortunately, this took a toll on us all and it just didn't work.

60s: Did you ever confront him about this, or were you too concerned about "upsetting the apple cart"?

DH: We were, of course, reluctant to say anything as we believed he knew what was best given we were in our teens and he was 28.

60s: Bookasta also managed The Palace Guard at this time. Are you aware of any other bands that he managed?

DH: He also managed The Wild Ones, another South Bay group who later changed their name to Power.

60s: Was Bookasta instrumental in TheYellow Payges' replacing of The Palace Guard as house band for the Hullabaloo Club?

DH: I don't know if we replaced (The Palace Guard) as much as The Guard disbanded. I believe that had they stayed together they would still have been the main act at the Hullabaloo Club. It just turned out that we were in the right place at the right time.

60s: Do you know if The Palace Guard also felt that Bookasta demanded too much control?

DH: I would say that at the end The Guard felt the same way.

60s: Where did The Yellow Payges typically practice?

DH: We practiced most of the time at the Hullabaloo Club. Occasionally we would practice at one of our homes.

60s: Was there a difference in the types of gigs that the band landed as The Driftones compared to when you were known as The Yellow Payges?

DH: As The Driftones it was typically high school dances, weddings, and things of that nature. As The Yellow Payges it was primarily clubs and concerts. The highlight of our career was playing at the Hollywood Bowl on August 16, 1968 with Eric Burdon and The Animals, The Rascals and Tommy James and The Shondells. It was awesome!

60s: Did you tour with any of these bands - or any other "national" acts?

DH: We toured for a year with Eric Burdon and The Animals. We also did a six month tour with The Beach Boys. There were several big names we either opened for or were on the bill - groups like Buffalo Springfield, The Doors, Iron Butterfly, Pink Floyd, The Turtles, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Byrds, The Standells, Canned Heat, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Love, The Leaves, The Grass Roots, and The Nazz before they changed their name to Alice Cooper. We pretty much had the opportunity to perform with some of the greatest names at the time.

60s: How would you describe the Yellow Payges' sound? Did any of these bands or artists influence you at all?

DH: We were absolutely a rock 'n' roll band. Our influences were definitely The Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Cream, and The Beatles, with a significant R&B influence as well.

60s: How did you land a gig on the Dick Clark Caravan Of Stars?

DH: It was actually called Dick Clark's Happening '67. Gary was the one who made the arrangements. It was a forty-five city tour in forty-five days.

60s: I found a copy of a 1966 article on the Internet regarding "Operation - Cool It", which was an oppurtunity for a thousand disadvantaged children to tour the carrier USS Bennington. The article stated that The Yellow Payges was "one of the popular rock n' roll groups on hand." Do you recall this?

DH: I asolutely recall this. Louis Lomax was an LA TV/Radio personality. He put the whole operation together to keep things from boiling over again following the '65 Watts riots. The goal was to give the inner city kids things to do during the summer weeks. It was a very interesting gig to say the least. I believe either The Palace Guard or Wild Ones performed as well.

60s: Where did The Yellow Payges record most of their singles?

DH: We did almost all of our recording at Paramount Recording Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard. However, there were a couple of other studios we recorded at both in town and out of town.

60s: Who was the band's primary songwriter(s)?

DH: Bill Ham and Bob Barnes. I also wrote but not to the extent that Bill and Bob did. They were very prolific.

60s: Which song or songs did you pen?

DH: Crowd Pleaser.

60s: What can you tell me about the VOLUME ONE album?

DH: It was recorded at Paramount Studios and engineered by Brian Bruderlin, who was also the owner. The songs were pretty darn good. However, this is where our downfall occurred. Gary Bookasta insisted on producing and at times literally engineering. The outcome was a mediocre album that had the potential of being something very special had he just let Brian and us do our thing.

60s: How well did the album do?

DH: The album did fairly well. If I recall, we sold nearly 200,000 copies.

60s: You personally got your "start" by playing harmonica with The Guard on I'm A Man. Was it your idea to cover it years later with The Yellow Payges?

DH: The Driftones were playing it long before The Guard did. And - yes - The Payges continued playing it. We always closed our concerts with it.

60s: I believe it was the band's biggest hit. To what do you attribute its success?

DH: Although I'm A Man did very well for us locally, the truth is, our biggest selling record was Vanilla On My Mind. It actually went to the top five in several markets and in a couple hit number one.

60s: What are some of your favorite songs that The Yellow Payges performed?

DH: We did a lot of stuff by the Stones - like Honky Tonk Woman, Paint It Black, and Let's Spend The Night Together as well as The Yardbirds' Train Kept A' Rollin' and Over Under Sideways Down. (I also enjoyed) some of the stuff we wrote - Devil Woman, Crowd Pleaser, and Boogie Woogie Baby. But the one that I have always enjoyed performing the most was I'm A Man. We just KICKED ASS with that one. If you recall, Danny did a drum solo that was unreal.

60s: How popular would you say the band was?

DH: I think locally we achieved quite a bit of notoriety. Nationally was kind of spread out. We were very popular in the Southern States as well as in the Midwest. We also has some success on the East Coast.

60s: Have any unreleased Yellow Payges songs survived that you're aware of?

DH: I have no idea. It would be nice to hear one though.

60s: You appeared on AMERICAN BANDSTAND. What do you remember about that?

DH: I can tell you I was fairly nervous because one of my idols, Jackie Deshannon, was also on the show. I remember sitting in the make up chair right next to her. She introduced herself to me and we talked up until the time we went on. God she was beautiful! Everything else was pretty much a blur from that point on. I couldn't even tell what song we did.

60s: Do you remember what other TV Shows the band may have appeared on?


60s: Could you by chance mean THE NAME OF THE GAME, the drama show with Gene Barry?

DH: YES - It was with Gene Barry, Susan St. James and Tony Franciosa. The episode that we appeared on started out by showing the group in a nightclub scene. I have seen it several times over the years but never had an opportunity to record it.

60s: The Yellow Payges appeared in posters promoting Marshall Amps and Hagstrom Guitars. How did you get involved in that endorsement deal?

DH: I believe the company was Merson, a Gulf & Western Company. Gary had a friend who was a Sales Representative for them. He was really a good guy. Gosh - I wish I cold remember his name. He got us the deal.

60s: According to the FUZZ ACID & FLOWERS website, The Yellow Payges also signed for an ad campaign for the Yellow Pages telephone book and this actually led to the disintegration of the band. Is this true?

DH: Looking back on it now, I believe the signing of the campaign for AT&T was our demise. Gary Bookasta sold us out plain and simple. Cunningham and Walsh, a big time Wall Street advertising agency was contracted by AT&T to put together a national ad campaign to show the youth of America that they weren't the bad guys everyone made them out to be. They initially approached Gary to buy the "Yellow Payges" name so that they could put together their own version of a group to market for AT&T. Gary talked them into signing us. It was a huge deal - lots a money. We were put in these hideous yellow aatin ruffled shirts with black velvet pants, and did these ridiculous commercials. It pretty much destroyed everything we worked so hard to accomplish. 60s: In another Internet search, I found an article reprinted from the NEW YORKER on one Kenny Schaffer. Scaffer, apparently, VP of Belta International, a company that specializes in improving communications between the Soviet Union and the West. Reportedly, he earlier worked in client relations with rock bands in the '60's, including the Left Banke, Chain Reaction, and The Yellow Payges. The article continues by stating that one of his early public relations jobs was working with the "offical teen ambassadors of the Telephone Company in a mutli-million dollar promotional campaign." One guess as to who the "offical teen ambassadors" were? Is this guy the culprit that helped end The Yellow Payges?!

DH: You know - I saw that article as well. It also has a picture of him. He didn't look familiar to me. Of course, we're talking over 30 years ago. He may have been one of the Cunningham and Walsh agents that was doing the ad campaign for AT&T at the time.

60s: How long after the start of the campaign did the band call it quits?

DH: The campaign began in '69 and we broke up in '70.

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

DH: No. I did sign a contract with Buddha Records as a single artist but nothing ever came of it. I was pretty much worn out by that time.

60s: Do you still perform at all?

DH: I haven't performed since 1975. I have been in the High-Tech Industry since 1971. I have been extremely fortunate in that I have had and continue to have a successful career.

60s: What's the future look like for Danny Hortter?

DH: Hey - I'm looking forward to retiring here in a couple of years. I have a lovely wife, five wonderful children and four incredibly beautiful grandchildren. That is what I look forward to. I am so blessed and lucky to have been a part of a terrific era and to still be alive.

60s: Why haven't we seen a Yellow Payges compilation CD yet? Are you aware of any reasons why one hasn't been issued?

DH: We had several songs in the can but Universal had them locked up. I don't even know how to get the masters.

"Copyrighted and originally printed on by Mike Dugo".
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