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The Rovin' Kind
Bound To Roam
With Dick Clark
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In the summer of 1965 the Gentrys trio of King Cotton, Freddy Page & Frank Bartel were joined by Michael Anthony, keyboardist & vocalist, & then Kal David. The name was changed to the Rovin' Kind and It appears that the name of the band was derived from “Bound to roam”, a song penned by Mike Anthony. Part of the lyrics include “I never was the rovin’ kind…& now I’m bound to roam”. This was the flip side to the first official single release by the Rovin’ Kind, “Everybody”.
The Rovin' Kind was mainly a cover group. They started to play a lot of gigs at a club called the Busters , 5 nights a week, alternating with Baby Huey. They also played at the Black Orchid in Stoney Island. The band won a regional battle-of-the-bands contest against some 80 rivals and, for their reward, got flown to L.A., where they were featured on American Bandstand. After a 6 week stint in LA followed by 7 nights a week for a time at the Tiger Club in San Francisco they returned to Chicago and opened for the Dave Clark 5, Little Richard, the Chambers Brothers and were offered billing at the Chicago Whiskey-A-Go-Go which the prize gig at the time. It was at the Whiskey in 1968 that James William Guerico spotted them, signed them up, changed their name to Illinois Speed Press and took them to LA.
At one stage the Rovin' Kind were the 3rd highest paid band in Chicago.
It was unprecedented that a band could get so popular in such a short time. Kal brought the concept of the mailing list which he had used to great effect with his former band, the "Exceptions".
Everytime they moved to a different club they would
send a photo announcement of the next engagement. Very
effective. This continued until the move to
Paul knew Kal David from when Kal was leader of Kal David & the Exceptions, which also included Peter Cetera who went on to join The Big Thing which became CTA, then Chicago. Another member of The Exceptions was Marty Grebb who went on to join The Buckinghams. Kal & Marty eventually reunited in the Fabulous Rhinestones after the break up of Illinois Speed Press.
John Kelly, road manager, started following the band closely in 1965:
"Over the next year I followed them from club to club and got to know them better as individuals. I grew my hair long and so did Michael (Anthony). We began talking more and then started hanging out on Saturdays in Old Town where we met Pam Domico. Paul, who lived nearby, began trimming my hair. I was a 19-20 year old lounge lizard going to nightclubs to dance and meet girls who became friendly w/ some players in one of the popular bands.One thing led to
another and I went on the road w/ them for 3 months. It was basically 90 unbroken parties and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Not being particularly goal oriented or ambitious this seemed like a swell thing to do, An "almost job". Fit me like a glove. The fact that I had no idea what a road manger was supposed to do was not an impediment. No one else in the band knew either. It was also one of the few jobs someone w/ long hair could get in those days. This was Chicago in 1966 after all. I worked w/ both bands from July of'66 to October of '69. It was quite a ride."
Unfortunately Barney wasn't blessed with the greatest vocal chords, with a voice akin to a poor man’s Tiny Tim. Block out Barney when you listen & the Rovin’ Kind is in fine form.
Apart from the above the band recorded “My Girl”, the old Temptations tune as one of its first recordings. A live (or possibly live in studio) version exists but it is not documented as an official release.
Everybody/Bound to Roam, 1965, contrapoint 9006
Night People/Right on Time, 1966, roulette 4687
My Generation/Girl, 1966, dunwich 146
She/I didn't want to have to do it, 1967, dunwich 154
You can't sit down/You turn me on, 1967, smash 1002,
(noted on the 45 as “Barney Pip with the Rovin’ Kind”
"The first record that I recall them doing
once I was working w/ them was "My Generation" which was sung by Michael. It was recorded at Chess studios which was pretty legendary by that time. Clay Pitts was in the sond booth w/ another local producer named Bill, who went on to produce the Rotary Connection eventually."
In 1966 The Rovin' Kind entered a "Battle of the Bands" in which they defeated about 80 bands in front of Dick Clark who then flew the band to Los Angeles where they performed for American Bandstand (recorded on the beach). The songs they performed were the original written by Paul, "Right on Time" & “Night People”. The air date of the American Bandstand show was August 6, 1966.
Here's a nice memory from Evie (Marks) Botta who was 15 at time:
"I remember the battle of the bands night when we all had to vote. Kal picked up me, Sandy and another friend and brought us up to Mo's house to flood the radio station with phone calls. We all brought our change, found all the local pay phones we could, stood out in the freezing cold and dialed over and over and over again. It was fun and so worthwhile. Having said that, the band won on it's own merit and was a favorite of many fans, we were just a small majority of the votes and calls that came in. It was something that Mo (president of the Rovin' Kind fan club) and a few of us fans wanted to do, but it was all of Chicago's votes that won it for them because they were the best."
Unfortunately footage of the bandstand show is not commercially available. It shows the band on a beach lip syncing to the two tunes. They are all having fun. Dick Clark has a chat to Paul and the other guys briefly between the two songs. Dick Clark productions has the copyright & have, as yet, not released any of the footage commercially. Only under very limited circumstances can artists who appeared on Bandstand obtain a copy of their performance.
If anyone thinks they can talk them into releasing footage of the August 6, 1966 show, make a call to Jeff James at Dick Clark productions on 818 8413033 & plead with him for a copy!
The band stayed in Los Angeles for about six weeks & then went to San Francisco and played at a venue at the San Francisco Airport called "The Tiger". Then it was back to Chicago.
Press coverage & promotion
Billboard, July 2, 1966, Roulettee advertises :Sizzling summer hits”, Rome & Paris “Because of You”, Harry Starr “Into my world”, Ray Singer “Hey You”, Tommy Jones & the Shondells “Hanky Panky” & Rovin’ Kind “Right on time”.
Here’s a few promotional lines advertising performances at the Tiger Club, taken from various editions of the San Francisco Chronicle in July, 1966:
“The Rovin’ Kind open at Bill Gilbert’s Tiger Club on Monday. Headed by Frank Bortoli the Rovin’ Kind have added many spokes to their entertainment wheel over the years”
“The sensational Rovin’ Kind have been held ove at Bill Gilbert’s Tiger Club at the Hilton Inn. Led by handsome Mike Anthony, the talented quintet does Beatle & Rolling Stone impressions”
and more from the San Francisco Chronicle…
“An exciting combination for any stage in a quintet of talented, hard-working young men known as the Rovin’ Kind are currently causing ferocious fun for everyone 7 nights a week at Bill Gilbert’s Tiger Club at the airport. A quintet of singing, dancing, clowning intstrumentalists, their hit album (wrong) “Right on time” & ‘Night People’ have earned for them a spot on the American Bandstand TV show with James Brown, due to be shown later next month”
A few of the Rovin’ Kind recordings were released on CDs called “The best of Dunwich” . Here is an edited version of some of the comments in liner notes from one of those CDs:
“Though primarily a live act, the Rovin Kind has a well documented recording career. Guitarist Kal David & drummer Fred Page had previously worked with the Exceptions, cutting singles for Adore & Tollie around 1964. “My Generation” signaled their debut on Dunwich. This was not just another inept American attempt at the Who classic. The Rovin’ Kind version is distinctive with its propulsive, almost R & B feel (thanks in particular to drummer Page). Lead vocals on this particular track were handled by keyboardist Mike Anthony. While “My generation” floundered the Rovin’ Kind kept up a hectic club & studio schedule. Besides session work at Dunwich (most notably David, Bartel & Page’s help on HP Lovecraft’s “anyway that you want me”). They were also billed under Barney Pip on his disposable smash records single “you really turn me on” in late 1966. In may 1967 they were on Dunwich again with “She/Didn’t want to have to do it”. As was the case with most Dunwich singles released that year it was predictabey a more refined commercial effort by the band. Regardless the Rovin Kind’s cover of “She” is every bit as good (or we think BETTER) than the Monkees version. Likewise “Didn’t want to have to do it” is so close to the original (with Kal David’s autoharp & strikingly exact lead vocal), it sounds like a Lovin’ Spoonful outtake.”
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In the Chicago tribune, May 14, 1967 there is a picture of the Rovin’ Kind performing in a campus chapel with manager Clay Pitts at the pulpit with them. The caption of the photo says:
“In front of stained glass windows, the Rovin’ Kind, a New York rock group (not really, Pitts was from New York tho), provide the background for an experimental chapel service held recently at Garrett Theological seminary on the northwestern university campus, Evanston. The group offered a program ranging from the Lord’s prayer to “Kum ba yah”. All arrangements were by Clay Pitts, who also directed the Rovin’ Kind & led the congregation in group singing. Even choral responses to prayers were set to a rhythmic beat.”
Another photo appeared in a different section of the paper with caption:
“CLAP YOUR HANDS - Clay Pitts of New York leads the congregation at a recent chapel service in a rock-hymn composition of his own ‘Clap your hands’. Musical accompaniment came from the Rovin’ Kind, a rock group in mod dress.”
Yet another photo & caption:
“MOD VESTMENTS - The Rovin’ Kind were not dressed in the traditional robes of black during their appearance…instead their garb was ‘mod’ all the way, with boots, tight-fitting cream suits, yellow shirts. & black Byronic ties”
There was also a lengthy article by Joy Balm & Robert Baker relating to the chapel performance headed “NOW MUSIC VOICES
SOUL MEDICINE” & excerpts of that article are transcribed as follows:
“-and the power & the glory - yeah, yeah - and the Glory (loud drum roll) forever - the lord’s prayer was never like this.
Most of the 400 persons in the audience, nearly all members of the ‘under 25’ & ‘now’ generation but a few sporting ‘mod’ apparel, watched in curious silence. Shoulders were held solemn & still; heads did not bob. Occasionally a brow furrowed or someone cracked a smile.
Everything was framed in high seriousness against 3 arching stained glass windows, despite a hint every now & then that the whole affair really might be high camp.
‘This is not a gimmick, but an honest attempt to find a new expression of worship’, insisted Dr. Orville McKay, president of Garrett theological seminary, in his opening remarks in the recent experimental worship service.
Not all the chapel goers seemed convinced, as the Rovin’ Kind proceeded to set the Lord’s prayer, the 23rd psalm, the united church statement of faith (congregation seated) & even Gloria & the Kyrie Eleison (congregation standing) to a solid rock beat.
As the 7th program in a series stressing the present status of christian worship, the 5 checker-suited New York entertainers with collar length hair & choir boy ties, drew the largest crowd of the week in the seminary on the northwestern university campus.
If the success of the amplified rock music as a communications media with god is equated with attendance, then the service with 400 attending certainly was a resounding success compared with the weekly average of 75 who usually attend the Friday morning service. And if the adaptability of rock music as soul medicine is measured by sing-along statistics, then once again the service was a reverberating success. Every mouth seemed to be moving along with a song.
The music was all on electric guitars (two), bass, autoharp, organ & drums. It was good, well-played.
Hal McGhee, liturgist for the service, prayed for a ‘strong voices, strange voices, different voices, new voices’, & then announced the band would be available for autographs after the service.
‘Allellula’, intoned the Rovin’ Kind, creating something new in their own time.
One stumbling block however: the basic drive of the rock beat is highly sensual. Even ‘surely goodness & mercy shall follow me’ began to sound just a bit risque when enjoined with the big beat.
And if ‘kum ba yah’ had gone on one or two more choruses longer, the audience might really have started to swing.”
In the summer of 1967 Frank Bartel left the band, discouraged that there was no direction or record company interest. He was being pushed by his 1st wife, Nancy, to get a steadier income. So he left and they hired Keith Anderson to replace him. It was soon after that James Guerico took over management. The break that Frank wanted so desperately had finally
arrived but he had already made his exit.
Keith was a good showman & he would stand on his amp and move around on stage. He stayed with the band through the change of name to Illinois Speed Press.
Here are Keith's comments of that time:
"When their bass player decided to leave the group, Paul suggested that I join the group - The Rovin' Kind. They practically hired me off the Bobby
Simms Stage. I remember Paul coming to see me at the M&B Club, where Bobby & I had been playing for the last couple of years. I cannot remember who,
of the Rovin' Kind, came with Paul, if any. Anyhow, Paul's only preliminary question, was "Keith, You like to play the blues, right?" I said well, of course. (I never knew why Paul asked that, but I surmise he was asking on behalf of Kal, who was/is a blues fan.) Anyhow, next I was asked by Paul if I wanted to join. Now, that was a tough question--really. I think I may
have taken a day or two, before answering, and I still do not know, in retrospect, whether I made the right choice. It was all good. The Rovin' Kind were wonderfully supported by friends, Mo and Pam. Now the Rovin' Kind played lots and lots. We were on tour in New York, and were approached by a company to audition (Peppermint Lounge, NY) to be the "Great Shakes". "Winning" the audition, we were offered lots of money to be a "Monkees" type group, and promote their product. Artistic principles ruled, however, and we, instead accepted James William Guercio's offer to record on Columbia Records as the Illinois Speed Press."
Clay Pitts, manager, Rovin' Kind
Clay was an independent producer and manager who was trying to get his foot in the door to be an arranger and record producer. He was operating on a shoe string and he couldn't generate much excitement
or record company interest. Once James Guercio made overtures that he was interested in the band, it pretty much sealed Clay's fate. He gracefully
bowed out of the picture and went on to do some producing and writing in the 70's.
Possibly up to the conclusion of the Rovin’ Kind, Paul went by his first christian name of "Norm". He decided to go by the name of "Paul" after people were continually calling him by names similar to Norm but they just couldn’t seem to get it right, hence he started using Paul as his first name. It’s interesting to note that Paul’s “Right on Time” is credited to “Norm Cotton” on the label. John Kelly, road manager for the band:
"Back then Paul was known as Norm. He announced to, I think, Freddy that he wanted to use his middle name because he didn't care for Norm. It took us all a while to get used to it but by the time we moved to L.A., it was a done deal."
In early 1968 the Rovin' Kind became the Illinois Speed Press
John Kelly remembers the move to LA:
"we left in a blizzard as I recall. Couldn't wait to leave the cold and snow. It snowed through 5 states as I recollect. Michael and I drove the truck w/ all the instruments and our luggage, switching on and off as drivers, The only stop we made other than gas
and meals was a detour to Grand Canyon. We arrived at dawn and it was spectacular. Then back to the highway. We were very focused and determined. We had a caravan of 3 or 4 cars, Kal was driving his car
and so was Mickey Saxe, another friend of the band. Keith may have also been in this caravan."
Further links to Paul's musical history -
History main page---
Carol Vega & Trio---
Rovin' Kind Gig Dates---
Illinois Speed Press---
Illinois Speed Press Gig Dates---
Poco & Beyond---
Gerald (Jerry) Urban---
Guy Franchot (Frenchy) Germany---
Walter (Buddy) Riley---
Frank Bartell (Bortoli)---
Mike Anthony (Harry Baikauskas)---
Fred Page (Pappalardo)---