PAUL COTTON... Musical Archive

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The Capitols)

The Capitols were formed in February 1958 when Paul was almost 15. He was the lead guitarist but did no singing in the band. Within a week of announcing the band's formation the group had its first gig at the YMCA. They played at the local South Chicago YMCA, school functions and private parties. This original band name was taken from the brand name on Keith Anderson’s accordian. Paul had suddenly gained instant popularity at school, was elected chairman of the Entertainment Committe and was the only student in school without a car to be accepted into the Chariots, an elite club where owning a car was a prerequisite!

Keith Anderson :
"I think Paul and I met in wrestling class in our freshmen years. Then I noticed Paul was playing french horn in high school band. Jerry Urban and I were playing alto and baritone saxes respectively. Frenchy, I think, played drums in (Thornton Township) High School (TTHS) Band as well. I received an outside suggestion from somebody - it may have been Buddy Riley - that we look into getting a band together. That is when, I think Norm started playing (if not learning to play) guitar over at Buddy Riley's house. If we started the band as freshmen, that would put us in the year 1957. We were all learning to play instruments, better, at that time. We rehearsed sometimes at my house, sometimes at Buddy's house, and memory fails for other stuff. Every year, TTHS would hold a talent show. It was very theatrically correct. Staging, Sound, Directorship (I think the director had lots of theatric experience) and Lighting. High school students were encouraged to perform in their realm of expertise. The Capitols performed at least two of these years. One year, when we were on the bill, Eddie Cochran, who made the song "Summer Time Blues" headlined. It was an awesome night."

Guy (Frenchy) Germany remembers:
Early on we played for almost anyone who would have us—weddings, school dances, lounges and parties. The first gig I remembered playing in was a sleazy little lounge that I would not be caught dead in today. We played in a lot of beer joints we could not enter without special permission because we were all underage. It is a wonder we survived. I won’t mention any names, but one of us caught a dread disease by drinking out of half empty glasses after the bar was closed. It certainly was not me as I did not and still do not drink liquor. We played in a lot of neighboring states during the summer months. I remember one time we rented a house on Lake Michigan while we had a gig nearby. As far as songs, we played everything that was popular at that time. We played a huge selection of tunes as we could copy most all of them upon request. We had an R&B sound that would put most black bands to shame."

Jerry Urban remembers:
Keith did a great version of "Johnny Be Good"........absolutely wild ! We also played "Night Train", "Deep Purple", Beach Boys stuff, Ventures ( Buddy and Paul did a great job on there stuff). When we were just beginning at "Poppels Under 21 Club", they started having recording artist's , who were in town(Chicago) to plug their new records stop over at "Poppel". I think the first star we ever "backed" at these live appearances, was Bobby Vinton, with his "Roses are Red, Violets are Blue" record. We were the Capitols at that time , I believe".

The Capitols, circa 1960 (click for larger view)

Thanks to David Adams, former high school friend, for the following information:
The Capitols, are listed in the program for an event entitled "Circus --- The 1960 Variety Review", which was held Saturday,March 26, 1960. They were the fourth act of 22 on the bill. The members of the group were listed as Keith Anderson, Norm Cotton, Franchot Germany, Bud Rielly (sic) and Jerry Urban. The work they performed was entitled "The Mummy".

While still known as the Capitols, a demo album was recorded. It included instrumentals and two vocals.




Here are some reflections from Chuck Edelhofer:
"This demo album had the hearts and the souls of six teenagers who worked very hard as a group who enjoyed what they did. I thought I was the best singer as I was the only one who sang. However, I think the two that stood out over all were Paul and Jerry Urban. Jerry Urban played the saxophone and had exceptional control over the instrument. Remember, we recorded this demo album in the twilight of the 60's and as I recall it, record producers thought Jery's version in 'Wolf Pack' was too suggestive to release. Keith Anderson's presence on the bass guitar is very apparent as I listen to the album. Franchot's drums and Buddy's rhythm guitar brought the rest of the group together. We had a lot of fun and as I recall, we played a lot of places and met interesting people. 'Marie' was listed as an up' n' coming song on the March 13, 1961 Top tunes of Greater Chicago. Also on that list were songs by Ral Donner and Linda Scott whom as I remember, we worked with. I always new Paul was very talented as a guitarist, however, I never thought he'd take over my singing gig!"

Four of the instrumentals recorded for the demo album were eventually released on 45's when the band changed its name to the Mus-twangs.

Reflections from Keith Anderson:
"...Performing, exploring new riffs and styles, learning--that's all we (at least I) wanted to do...the name "Capitols" came from an accordion I played (I played that accordion on the Capitol's album. Thank God, the engineer mixed it down.) (Keith also comments on the arrangement of the songs on the Capitols demo album) One of us, the singer or Paul, would start with playing/singing the lead line. Walter Riley would usually be next with the appropriate sound (8th notes). The rest of us would join in with our initial concepts being subject to what the originator had in mind.
We Capitols had a blast every summer jumping into my dad's station wagon (later Buddy and I had our own cars) touring Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, with no itinerary. We would go into a town, ask where music was played, and invited ourselves to play. Sometimes our hosts would provide food and a place to sleep. We were aged 16, 17. We usually came home tired, hungry at Summer's end...but great memories. We played many (Jim Lounsbury) record hops as the live band during the school year. We did a few TV appearances. We used to reinforce our Sears amplifiers, then jump on top of them to do a pretty wild rock & roll performance. I would say Buddy Riley was the group's foundation. He laid out some great driving riffs. Paul and Jerry did leads. On a personal level, Paul and I double dated. I had my dad's car. I would go to Paul Cotton's House. His bed had a speaker on each side of the pillow. He would listen to 45's for hours on end-Link Ray, Duane Eddy, whatever. I venture to say Paul's early influences included those 45's and Buddy Riley. The "Capitols" became the "MusTwangs" in 1961 and an era of great teen-created music with these bands-rock & roll! We cut the Capitol album for Nero Records. It was produced by Lou Reizner,at Nero Recording Sudios, Ltd. in Chicago. (I remember the sessions. Buddy Holly's bass player-looking a little strung out on drugs-visited the session and gave me a few licks to try on the Fender Bass I had just bought. I will never forget THAT). Nero sold the cuts to Mercury (SMASH Label). We were not old enough to sign recording contracts. Mercury Records sent their attorney to each of our homes to explain it to our parents, who co-signed. We asked Mercury to change our names to the Mus-twangs, before we released the first cut (45rpm)"

Jerry Urban remembers:
"I remember cutting the original demo 33 at radio station WIND studios in Chicago. Dick Williamson, a WIND DJ, was our manager at that time, and Howard Miller, a radio icon at that time, also with WIND , was involved too. I remember we all had to appear in court with a parent before the judge to have our estates set up, as we were minors, before we could sign the Mercury Records deal. When we played at the Aragon Ballroom, we opened for "Dickie Do and the Dont's", Ral Donner was on the bill with his new record "The Girl of my Best Friend", Bobby Rydell was a headliner, and we got to jam with him backstage. We were the Capitols at that time, and I think timing wise, this happened about the time we cut the demo at WIND."

Further links to Paul's musical history -

History main page--- Beginnings--- Capitols--- Mus-twangs--- Starfires--- Carol Vega & Trio--- Gentrys--- Rovin' Kind--- Rovin' Kind Gig Dates--- Illinois Speed Press--- Illinois Speed Press Gig Dates--- Poco & Beyond--- Joseph Schwantner--- Chuck Edelhofer--- Keith Anderson--- Gerald (Jerry) Urban--- Guy Franchot (Frenchy) Germany--- Walter (Buddy) Riley--- Johnny Jordan--- Johnny Moyer--- Carol Vega--- Johnny Moore--- Verne Johnson--- Frank Bartell (Bortoli)--- Mike Anthony (Harry Baikauskas)--- Fred Page (Pappalardo)--- Rob Lewine--- Bobby Simms--- Barney Pip--- John Uribe--- Kal David--- Jim Jarosz--- Ronnie Laas---

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