I was asked to do this Q & A by Pat Curran of Shindig Magazine in England. We have been very fortunate to have a number of articles written about us through the years as 'The Gants'. Most have been accurate and some not so accurate. So I'm glad to have the opportunity to correct some of the misinformation. This is written in collaboration with Johnny Sanders, and Don Wood, who recently passed away, and in memory of Vince Montgomery of the original members of "The Gants".
Questions & Answers with
Sid Herring &'The Gants' Interview 2010
Q: What were your earliest musical influences?
A: Jimmy Reed, Little Richard, Elvis, Ray Charlies and Bo Diddley were some of my first memories of pretending I could sing and play. I started playing a little around 11 or 12 years old. I had an acoustic Silvertone guitar that I got for Christmas from Sears & Roebuck. About 3 years later I got a Silvertone electric guitar & amp. Johnny Sanders, who became 'The Gants rhythm guitarist,and I heard about Bo Diddley playing at the armory in Greenwood Ms. which was across the tracks in the black area of town. He played that square guitar he had. He was playing 'Bo Diddley 1956' with that great rhythm of his and I was mesmerized
at his ability on that guitar. I think he also played 'Road Runner' that night. So when we got back home I started trying to play that rhythm like him. Johnny Sanders didn't play at all, but I began to teach him what I knew. Also, the future drummer with Paul Revere & the Raiders, Joe Carrero, was at my house that night and we tried to play that 'Bo Diddley' beat. That was my first addiction to music. By the way, I'm not sure if you're interested but I'm a big fan of Robert Johnson, the blues legend. His grave is a little over a mile from where I was raised in the Greenwood Ms Delta. They have witnesses that this is the actual burial site there on Money Rd. at the Zion Church. There are two other locations that claim to be his burial sites.
I assume you know he was from Greenwood, as well. I'm just proud to be from the area where all this started. I've written songs about him. I've got a couple named 'Johnson's Blues' and 'Money Road' so I guess you could say I have been influenced by him also. I go by his grave quite often when I'm back home.
Q: I believe you formed the group in 1963 while still in High School?
A: Yes, Johnny Freeman, who later became the second rhythm guitarist for a while, nicknamed Freakie, lived down the street. We had both been talking about playing guitar together. One day I went down to his house. He had a lot of equipment then and we started practicing in his attic. His family was very successful in the cotton ginning business at the time. From that point, we started forming a band we called The 'Kingsman'. I had met Vince Montgomery, 'The Gants' bass player,at the pool hall. Shortly after that I ran into him again at the GHS cafeteria. I asked him if he could play bass and he said he could play anything. I asked him if he would come over and play with us. A day or so later he came over and he had a fender guitar. I said where's your bass? He started turning his guitar strings down low like a bass and said "Right here. What do you want to play?". I knew then that Vince was special and his ability to sing harmony was extraordinary. Vince was a big part of the band. He had a great ear for music. He was quite a character. We miss him very much. Ed Foresman is playing bass with the band now and he's a character, as well, and very, very talented on the bass. Ed is the only official Gants bass player since Vince past away. He's been with us over ten years.
I had heard about an opening for a gig at the Greenwood youth Center and that was our first gig. Johnny Freeman, Vince Montgomery, Donald Campbell and me as 'The Kingsman'. That night Donald had a few drinks and didn't make it to the end of the gig. Mr. Freeman, Johnny Freeman's Dad, went and found Joe Jr. Carrero (who I had mentioned earlier) to take his place so we could finish the gig. Next we played at the auditorium at GHS. After that, we heard about another band named 'The Kingsman', a folk group. Also another group named 'The Kingsman' who had a hit song 'Loui Loui'. As a result we started looking for a new name. I never really liked 'The Kingsman' for a band name. It just didn't fit. Johnny Freeman booked a gig as 'The Kingsman' which we played at the Perkins house up the street and we got Don Wood to be our drummer that night. Don was a little younger than us but he was ahead of his time on the drums. I think Don was about 14 or15. We were like big brothers to him. A bad influence. Ha! Shortly after that, I had booked a gig out of town, I think in Winona Ms. about 30 miles from Greenwood Ms. Freakie's parents wouldn't let him go out of town to play the gig, Vince Montgomery, Don Wood and I played that gig. I booked another gig in Columbus Ms. They wanted a four piece group, so I asked Johnny Sanders to take his place. He really had no confidence in playing, but he was my best friend, and I told him he had to help. I had been teaching him to play a little here and there, but he was just too scared to get on stage. I told him it would pay good money and I'm not sure exactly how much but around $50 a man. He said "What time do we start?". I remember I had to kick him every time we had to change cords in songs. Johnny Sanders always said he couldn't sing but, in fact, his singing really played a big part in the band. He learned a lot in a short period of time. Also I think when Johnny Sanders joined the group the dynamics changed. Johnny Sanders and I, being best friends, communicated very well and easy. When he joined the group you could just feel that we had the right formula. Everything just seemed to fall in place. We all felt it. I don't think it would of been the same if he hadn't joined the group. That's when we changed the name. The chemistry changed. So that was the beginning of "The Gants".
Q: Is it true the band name came from a make of shirt?
A: I was in school and my first cousin, Freddie Carl (who invented and started 'the Viking Range Co' in Greenwood Ms which has become very, very successful all over the world, sorry I'm proud of him, he was sitting in front of me in class. He had on a Gant shirt own. I saw that name and thought that would be a great name for a band. It also had a little loop on the back of the shirt, that I thought was cool. The pulling off and collecting of the loops later became a fade with our fans. I asked Freddie what he thought about the name 'The Gants'. He said it sounds good. I asked the other guys if they liked it also. That became the name of 'The Gants' band.
Q: I presume you saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964 and they were a big influence? What was it about them that appealed to you? (I ask this as a teenager myself at the time in the UK who had no time for the Beatles/Stones and spent my money importing Jan & Dean/Beach Boys albums from the States a case of the other mans grass……..)
A: As 'The Kingsman' we were playing songs like 'Do The Dog' and 'Walking the Dog' by Ruffus Thomas, 'Walk Don't Run' by the Ventures, 'Twist and Shout' by the Isley Brothers, 'Long Tall Sally' and 'Lucille' by Little Richard.
I remember I was ridding down Howard St. in Greenwood Ms and on the radio I heard 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' and was blown away by it. I went straight to the record shop and got 'Meet The Beatles'. I went home and started to work the songs out. I hardly came up for air. I loved it. Their voices, their harmony, the sound of their guitars, their songs and their long hair,everything was fantastic. That kind of set off the rocket burners for me. I started working three times as hard on my music. On their covers, they had taken the music I was raised with and made it new and better to me. I was in paradise.
Q: In 1965 you supported "The Animals"? Presumably that’s were you heard Road Runner and House of the Rising Sun?
A: I really liked 'House of the Rising Sun' and 'The Animals'. It was a challenge to me to hit the notes and sing like that. Actually, we didn't hear 'The Animals' play 'Road Runner' until we went on tour with them around Fla. and I loved Bo Diddly so much it made an easy choice for our recording session at 'Fame Studio' in Muscle Shoals Ala. When we played it at our gigs the people would freak out. They loved it. So that was another reason to record it.
Q: Then you recorded in Muscle Shoals how was that?
A: I really loved it. We were a little intimidated at first but it didn't take long to get over that. When we were recording 'Road Runner' Hershel, our producer, told us we could take a break and get something to eat. We had just started recording' Road Runner' and had a couple of tracks on it but I was not happy with it. I thought we could do it better. I asked if we could do it again and Hershel said we would after lunch but when we came back and he wanted to start on another song. I wanted to make it sound like it did when we played it at the gigs, which was much better in my opinion. I have to say that when I suggested one of my songs to Hershel, he pretty much let us call the shots on the material. He was good about that. That was what we were comfortable with, our songs, our formula and he knew it.
Q: Was this after the recordings at Sam Phillips studios?
A: Yes, we had played two or three gigs as 'The Gants'. I think we played in Vicksburg Ms. We made about $250-$300. I'm not sure exactly how much. The next week or so we went to Memphis Tn. and recorded 7 songs. The first 2 songs I ever wrote were 'Crying' and 'I'm No Good'. We set up real quick and started playing. We were nervous and we didn't tune up very well. We played and sang all the songs back to back. No over dubs. No breaks.
Q: Who was Dominic Fratesi?
A: Dominic owned an amusement Co. in Greenwood Ms and had been involved in the music business. He heard us play at the Legion Hut in Greenwood. We had rented the building for a gig. He came up to me and asked if we'd be interested in recording in Muscle Shoals at Rick Hall's 'Fame Studio' in Ala. I think we had the 2nd or 3rd hit to come out of there. I think Aretha Franklin had the first. The week before, 'The Rolling Stones' had recorded at Muscle Shoals Sounds, another studio there. It was our 2nd time there. I'm not sure of the exact date. I just remember we went to the movie one night there and they said the Stones had been there before us.
Q: You then had a hit with 'Road Runner'? I particularly liked the flip side ‘My Baby Don’t Care’ a great slice of Mersey Beat which you wrote. Was that the first song of yours to be recorded?
A: Thank you for that. Like I mentioned before, the songs named 'Crying' and 'I'm No Good', were the first songs I wrote to be recorded, but 'My Baby Don't Care' was the first song I wrote that we cut at 'Fame Studio' in Muscle Shoals Ala.
Q: I believe you also played with The DC5 and The Yardbirds. How did you get on with them?
A: Yes, not too long after we toured with 'The Animals' we got a call from a friend of mine who was my neighbor when I was a kid in Greenwood. His name is Mitchell Malouf, who is a great guy. He had started a booking agency in Jackson Ms and he called me and asked if we wanted to open for The Dave Clark 5 at the Jackson Ms Coliseum. In fact, the very first time I ever saw a guitar was at his house. I guess I was about 8 or 9 years old. I asked his younger brother Mike "How do you play this?" and he said "You mash down the strings". That was the very first time I ever touched a guitar.
When we played with 'The DC5' they wanted to play first so they could get it over with as soon as possible. We went on after them and the crowd went crazy for us. I remember feeling a chill starting at the top of my head and going down to my toes from the roar of the crowd. They responded much better for us than they did for 'The DC5'. It was just one of those nights. They didn't like that very much, but I liked the lead singer Mike Smith. That was pretty much our first big gig in our area. I think that was the point that we crossed over to becoming a real band. Things started really happening after that.
As for playing with 'The Yard Birds' and 'The Box Tops' in Memphis Tn. George Kline was a big radio disc jockey there (also a close friend of Elvis Presley) and he called us and booked us with the tour. It was only 2 bookings. We played Little Rock Ark. with 'TheYard Birds'. It was great seeing those guys. I remember Johnny and Vince had on wigs because they were in college then and had short hair. The crowd started hollering "They have wigs on". Don and I were the only ones to have long hair then, so I started pulling on my hair to show them that my hair was no wig. That was so-- funny. It was great!
Q: Having been signed by Liberty Records talk me through your first album. Was it the Muscle Shoals tracks and were they basically your stage act at the time?
A: Well, most of the songs were, except the original songs. We didn't play those very much on our gigs. To be honest, I just thought they were ok. When you compare them to 'The Beatles', they barely scratched the surface, but I pushed on with them. I asked the other guys if they wanted to help write some songs and nobody seemed to be interested in writing. I loved writing right from the start and still do today. At Fame Studio, they only had a 2 or 4 track recording machine, so we had to go to Nashville Tn. to The Red Barn Studio to finish the album that we started at Fame Studio. I had to play and sing at the same time on some songs, like 'Hide Your Love Away' and others.
Q: Did you have enough original material to fill the album or did Liberty insist you did covers?
A: We didn't have a contract with Liberty until after the Road Runner album was cut. It's kind of funny, but the music that drew Liberty to us before the contract, was what they tried to change after we signed. Go figure. Other than the songs on the album that I wrote, I had a couple more in the works, but hadn't gotten to the point to be recorded yet on the 'Road Runner' album.
On 'The Gants Galore' the second album, I had a couple of the songs that were finished that they wouldn't record on the 2nd album, but I insisted on them being on the 3rd album 'Gants Again'. Liberty had changed our producer to Dallas Smith, and he wanted to do all cover songs. We picked 'Cracking Up' for the 2nd album. Dallas Smith pretty much picked the others. I didn't like most of them especially, 'Peter Rabbit'. Earlier, I had mentioned that our formula was what we were comfortable with that made the 'Road Runner' album work so well.
Q: The producer Hershel Wiginton is not a name I’m familiar with, what was he like?
A: Hershel Wiginton was a good guy. He was the guy on the TV program 'Hee Haw'. He was the bass singer on that show, but that was after we recorded the 'Road Runner' album. He brought us the song 'Little Boy Sad' and 'What's Your Name', which was on the 'Introduction To The Gants' CD that Sundazed last released. He lived in Nashville Tn. He let us pretty much do what we wanted to do. It was Jimmy Johnson, who was the engineer for us. He worked for Rick Hall at the time. He eventually became a big time producer on his own. I think he was the producer or engineer on some of Bob Seagers albums, also others. I'm not sure, but I think it was the 'Silver Bullet' album, or one or more of his albums, but you should check that out. He was very good at his job.
Q: Your follow up single was two new tracks a cover of Johnny Burnette’s Little Boy Sad’ and your own ‘Smokerings’. Were you happy with the choice?
A: Yes, but we couldn't decide which one would be the A side. In those days, you didn't want one song fighting against the other for air time. At first, I wasn't sure about 'Little Boy Sad', but after we finished, I liked it. Obviously, I wanted 'Smoke Rings' to be the A side. By the way, we were wrapping up the days session and about to leave and I said I had one more song that I really wanted to do. Hershel said ok, but let's do it fast. 'Smoke Rings' almost didn't get recorded, but that was why at the end of the last verse, the words weren't quite right. That's why I kind of laughed on the last verse. They didn't have time to go back and do it right. I was trying to get it in quickly.
Q: I believe your career was then dealt a death blow by your High School Principal?
A: Boy was it. I think it was 'Greener Days' that was moving up the charts, in the East United States at the time, and they had invested a lot of our money in that session. Our principle, Mr. Dribbling, said if we took time out of school to do the tour, that he would report us to the draft board and we would be drafted. I guess he was trying to protect my future. What he didn't know was that this was my future. We had to cancel the tour. A drastic mistake. That changed everything, because the tour was mostly produced by the radio stations on the east coast. I often wonder what would of happened had we done that tour.
Q: Nevertheless you recorded your second album in LA. Talk me through it. Why none of your songs? Some of the material eg ‘Peter Rabbit’ was not really you. Was this all Liberty’s fault? (I did an interview two years ago with Jackie DeShannon who was on Liberty the same time as you and she didn’t have a good word to say about them)
A: Well, that was the time that they insisted on us changing producers from Hershel Wiginton to Dallas Smith,then they became high dollar sessions. By the way, we recorded 'Gloria' which was first recorded by Van Morrison and the band 'Them', which I'm sure you know. They had put it out a while before us, but it had been banned and pulled off the radio because it was too sexually descriptive, at that time. At least, that's what I heard. Our 'Gloria' was being played on WLS radio, a major station, off our 1st album, quite often, in 1965. We called and begged Liberty literally to release 'Gloria' as our next single after 'Road Runner', they refused. It would have saved us a lot of money, as well. Shortly after that, the 'Shadows of Knight' released it and it went to the top in 1966. They were from the Chicago area. You know being in the music business in those days, was like a chain screwing. The only one that didn't get screwed was the one on the end and we were on the front. Ha!!! Also there's something that I got a big kick out of. Me and some friends were riding down the street in my car listening to WLS radio and the disc-jockey and Bo Diddley were talking about our version of 'Road Runner'. The jock asked Bo how did they make that beep beep sound on their record and Bo said they had some electrical device that made that sound. So I went straight to a phone and tried to call them and tell them it was not a electrical device, it was just my owe road runner beep, but I never was able to reach them. I always wanted to talk to Bo Diddley and that seemed like a good time and opportunity to do so. I just thought that was interesting. Back to Hershel and Dallas. We were very happy with Hershel Wiginton. I guess Dallas thought on the 2nd album, because Peter Noon looked like me, (Ha!! Im a little older than him) that we could get away with a songs like that. I'm not sure why. I thought that was a joke. I remember after we finished the first part of the session, we went back to our rooms and tried to think of a way to get out of it. I hated most of the songs he picked. They had us doing songs off of our competitor's albums, not to speak of the songs 'Peter Rabbit' and 'Dr. Feel Good'. As I said before, 'The Beatles' were my idols and those songs weren't even in the same ball park. We wanted to do better quality songs whether we could be that good or not. We wanted to be as good as possible. Just a short time before we played a club in N.Y. called 'The Phone Booth'. 'The Young Rascals' were the house band and they opened for us. They hadn't released their songs yet. Not to say they weren't good, because they were really great, but why were we recording their songs? We hadn't cut the 2nd album yet. It made no sense. Also, two of 'The Rolling Stones' were in the audience that night and we were very nervous because they were great like 'The Beatles'. Not as good but very, very good.
Q: You presumably kept touring during this time. Do any shows stand out?
A: I remember when we played Lake George N.Y. for 2 weeks and we had a great time playing those shows. We had some very good gigs and fun in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and others in Fla. Also, I'm not sure if this was later or not, but we went on tour with 'Sam the Sham & The Pharoes', 'The Swinging Medallions' and others. We had a great time. I remember when we were recording at Sam Philips Studio in Memphis Tn, our first recording experiance, and Sam Philip's took us in the back and said this is going to be our latest release and he played 'Woolly Bully' on an acetate record. While trying to stay in the quality of 'The Beatles', we weren't that Impressed. It just wasn't our style but what did we know? I think it sold around 5 million.
Q: You then went to Nashville to record your third album. It was a big improvement on the previous one mainly because it included some of your songs especially the wonderful ‘I Wonder’. What are your views on it?
A: Thanks again for that. To me, that was a better album. They let us have more input in the project. I liked Wayne Moss & Charlie Mc Coy. They had worked on some of Bob Dylan's records and we felt more at home there.
I still had a couple of the songs that I wanted to record on the 2nd album like the songs 'Somebody Please' and 'Spoonful of Sugar'.
I'm not sure why 'I Wonder' sat on the shelf so long. We had recorded it at Fame Studio back when we cut the 'Road Runner' album. We had talked about it being a single back when we cut it but it, never happened. I liked 'I Wonder' very much, but they didn't totally agree. Dallas Smith, picked better cover songs to cut on the 3rd album like 'Rain' and a new song like 'I Want your Loving', but he still wanted to do more covers. They were a better choice than the 2nd album. Better, but not much better, but, by that time I think it was too late because the 2nd album had put a bad taste in the mouth our fans. On the plane to Nashville,
I was trying to write something like 'Road Runner'. I wrote 'I'm a Snake' quickly, as you can tell, but it was better than 'Peter Rabbit', right? Ha!
Q: Then you went back to LA to record some singles with a pre-Bread David Gates. What was he like to work with? ‘Greener Days’ was one of his songs and the next single was Bob Lind’s ‘Drifters Sunrise’. Did this mean that Liberty still didn’t have faith in your songs?
It seems a paradox to me that you had problems getting your songs recorded when a lot of bands disappeared because they couldn’t come up with original material?
A: As for Daved Gates, that was totally professional. Daved Gates was very cool and easy to work with, not to speak of the L.A. Symphony Orchestra. They really knew what they were doing. It was really great. I loved the songs, all of them. I thought that would take us to the top. As for getting my songs recorded, I'm not sure why they didn't seem to want my songs. I guess they didn't know the type of fan that supported our recordings. When we played gigs, I could see what seemed to move them the most, just by watching their reaction when we played certain songs every where we played.
Q: By this time you’d left High School. How did you avoid the draft?
A: Ironically I failed their hearing test about 3 times. I guess it was all the loud music.
Q: Did the end of the band come gradually when your Liberty contract expired?
A: Yeah, I guess you could say that, but when Johnny Sanders went to med school, we were like brothers, it seemed like a big void there for me. We rehired Freakie (that's when we named him Freakie) and planned a trip to Hollywood Ca. We got an apartment out there for about 2 months or so. That's where I met my wife, Sandee Jones, who was Miss Teen USA 1967 so I was real lucky. The guys went back to Greenwood Ms, but I stayed out there longer with Sandee and did some writing and tried to make more connections. I then got married the next year to Sandee, after she finished her rein as Miss Teen USA. After we got married, we moved back to Greenwood. That was a culture shock for Sandee. We then moved to Jackson MS where Don Wood and I got a job working at South Eastern Talent Recording Studio for a little over a year. From there we went to Memphis Tn. to work at TMI Recording Studios and worked with Steve Cropper of Booker T. & the MG's. He wrote 'Midnight Hour', 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay' and many other great songs. I was glad to be working with Steve. He was great. I had an artist contract with TMI. Also, Don and I were staff song writers there. We lived in Memphis Tn. almost 5 years. I still see Steve Cropper every now and then. I also met a guy in Memphis, that I need to mention, named Jim Zumwalt. He was my mgr. for a while and we became very close friends. I got him in to the music business when he started managing me and my band. He became very successful as a music attorney in Nashville TN. Because of that he has cursed me from time to time but over all he's has done extremely well. I always appreciated his honesty and fairness . Thats hard to fined in this business.
Q: I believe you eventually returned to Greenwood and released a couple of singles and an album which I’m afraid I’ve never heard?
A: Yes. When we moved to Memphis Tn. I wrote and recorded another album called 'Watch Pocket'. The first single was 'River Knows' and then 'People All Around Me', 'Who Will It Be' and a song that I didn't write called 'Mammy Blue' that got a little action, but never got off the ground. So we moved back to Greenwood Ms. around 1975, and I started playing singles with me and Harvey Wallbanger (may electronic drums) and boy, he could bang it.Harvey and I toured for about 6 years. Ha!! During that time I recorded a single called 'Do It in the Name of Love' and 'Monday Morning'. You can go to utube and put in my name and 'Do it In the Name Of Love' will come up. I cut that in Jackson Ms. It got played in 20-25 States and a couple hundred radio stations and came real close to making it, but didn't have enough promotion. I was traveling to Nashville a lot to record more music. I did a song called 'You Are My Fantasy', that was one of my favorites recordings. It was doing really well, also. It was climbing the charts very fast in a number of places. They called me to sing it, after they recorded the track. I was living in Greenwood Ms. at the time, around 1980. Then one day, one of the guys that worked on the session, heard it played on the radio in Nashville, and said they didn't get paid for the session. They pulled it off the radio. I think they wanted about $5000 back session pay to keep playing it. It was like a 'Greener Days' production. My producers wouldn't pay it. I also did a couple more albums. One called 'American Dream' with my producer Mike Daniels in Hendersonville Tn. and a duet album with Marry Lee Rush who had "Angel of the Morning". It was pretty good, but I think they were trying to live off of our past fame. What can I say? It's the music business.
Q: You’ve had CD compilations issued in the UK and on Sundazed in the US. Are you surprised that the band is so fondly remembered?
A: Yes, honestly I am. I didn't think some of 'The Gants' music was very good compared to the Beatles and others, but then again, who is, when you talk about 'The Beatles'? Then the Internet came in play and everything changed. We started playing again, mostly charities. We played the Under Ground Garage thing in N.Y. with Little Steven Van Zant who plays with Bruce Springsteen. He kind of took us under his wing and helped us a lot. He is the nicest guy you could ever meet. We played N.Y. several times with him and his people. Later on, he took us on tour with other groups of our time. We toured the Hard Rock Casinos in Fla.
Q: Did the later Sundazed CD ‘Introducing the Gants’ containing the Sam Phillips recordings and the live material gather everything up or is there still tracks in the vault somewhere?
A: There are a couple of tracks that never got finished, but are not enough to release. We recorded a CD in 1990 in Hendersonville Tn. that covered some of our older songs, also songs like 'Mustang Sally' and one I wrote called 'Take My Heart'. We also did another CD in Tupelo Ms. with John and Mike Mahelic in 1993. Again, we rerecorded several old songs and several new songs I had written. One called 'Delta Blues', that me and a friend Doug Green wrote, which was the name of the CD. and one song that I wrote back in 1965 or1966 named 'I Call Your Name'.
I think we cut about 12 songs. It was pretty good in my opinion. We then did another session with about 7-8 songs on it. One I wrote called 'Sunset On Malmaison' in 2004. Later in Nashville Tn. I started a Blues Rock band called 'Sid Herring & the Blues Sauce' for about 2-3 years. It was a very good band. We won a blues contest at a club in Nashville, which I was proud of. I wrote about 10-12 Blues Rock songs for that band. I wrote 2 or 3 that I think could have been hits called '$19.16', 'Hard to Remember' and 'Your're Bad'. I might also release those songs.
Q: I understand the Gants have reformed and are performing again. Have you written any new songs or do you have a store of unreleased songs from the 60s that you might record?
A: Yes. 'The Gants' played a gig this weekend 10/16/10 at the actor Morgan Freeman's and Bill Luckett's club Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale Ms. and it was like the old days. We had a packed house. It turned out great. People of all ages. It was great fun. Things are happening and I love it.
On the new and old songs, I talked about some of that earlier. I now have my own in home recording studio. I am more closer to my music now than ever. I'm like a kid in the candy shop. I am writing and recording almost everyday. There is no set style or label on what kind of music I play. It's just what ever comes out. I'm very fortunate that my son and daughter also love music and they are talented singers in there own right, and they help me with my latest music ventures. I am in the process of writing, playing, engineering and recording a Pop Rock CD, a Blues CD and maybe rerecording some of my songs from the past like 'I Wonder', 'My Baby Don't Care' and a couple of other songs. I plan to rerecord 'I Call Your Name' and others, which were half finished, that I plan to finish now. They will have then and now in them. I hope to have those CD's on the market in the not so far future. I like the old saying " It Ain't Over Till It's Over" by Yogi Berra the old baseball player. That's the truth.
Q: You mentioned your response to first seeing the Beatles but what was your response as they left Merseybeat behind and became overtly psychedelic.
How did you view this and did it affect your songwriting and or the songs of theirs you covered. Thanks a lot, Pat.
A: Yes, I think some where between' Revolver' and 'Sargent Peppers' albums it got to where there were so many different and unusual sound effects that you couldn't play or make those sounds with out a synthesizer or a fifth band member. I think later on, for a while, we all floated up there with a little help from our friends, so to speak, or maybe the hippie and flower child generation. 'The Beatles' set the bar so high before that, when they came down some, they were still equal or a little better than everybody else. It was still great, but they left the rock like covers such as Little Richard's 'Long Tall Sally', Chuck Berry's 'Roll over Beethoven', songs like 'Anna' and others. That was a good part of the draw they had on us in the beginning. Also, there were other good groups and music starting to pop up like 'Spencer Davis Group', 'Cream', Jimmy Hendrix and many others. That's the time, I think, we and a lot of other groups started becoming even more original. They kind of opened the door to a different sound and a new way of looking at it. I always wondered what could possibly top what they started. To tell the truth, it hasn't been beaten yet. Close, but no enchilada. On my writing, I started going back to my roots. R&B, Blues and Blues Rock. As I said earlier in the interview, I had a blues band not too long ago and I tried to stay in the traditional three cord progressions when I was writing but, I ventured out of the norm a bit because of my experience with trying to write like 'The Beatles'. When I write today, I still have a lot of Beatlelesque like melodies, that come out naturally, because it became part of me. You know, like writing a song with the regular blues rock cord progression, or writing one with a wide combination of different cord progressions, like 'The Beatles' did. One other thing I'ed like to mention, when we were in N.Y., playing at 'The Phone Both Club', which I talked about earlier. We had been invited to a 'Cash Box Magazine' party that Paul McCartney and Ringo Star were going to be there. This was unbelievable to us, to be able to meet them. The night of the party, the lights all over N.Y. went out. Needless to say the least,we were extremely disappointed.
Q: Apart from the Animals/DC5/ and Yardbirds where there any other British bands you appeared with and what were they like.
A: When I was a signed artist and writer at Trans Maximus Incorporated (TMI) Studios in Memphis. TN, I had the fine pleasure of sitting right in front of Jeff Beck in the studio on about five or six songs, while he proceeded to marvel me with his incredible ability on the guitar on the 'Going Down' album. Jeff was different, but I like him and his music. Eric Clapton became one of my idols, because he didn't try to dress differently, or have any gimmicks, just great writing and music. Obviously, I love the guitar. There is a new artist that I like very much, James Morrison, I think he is really good, and a new writer to me, EG White. They both are great. They have a wonderful future ahead of them. Other than that, at the moment, I don't recall any others.
Q: Did the constant references to Hermans Hermits ever get you down. I'm just thinking of the concert footage from the last Sundazed CD. I was impressed you didn't brain the compere with your guitar after he kept going on about Herman( who was far more popular in the USA than he was over here) Thanks a lot, Pat.
A: You know, my view and Peter Noon's opinion of solid rock n roll were like the difference between black and white. I like all kinds of (good) music, but I'm not sure why a lot of people were always trying to get me to do bubble gum music. I never played music just to make money. I played it because of the way it makes me feel. I love that. Music has been true to me.
I figured, if you work hard enough and truly love what your doing, the money would come, or at least the opportunity would come to make money, if you're dealing with good people, or don't get into the screw chain. In my opinion, Peter Noon seemed to be more interested in the prestige of what it could do for him, rather than the music, I don't really know. As for people confusing me with him, I didn't mind that much. It was a little frustrating, when they wouldn't believe me, when I told them I was not him. I signed a lot of autographs for him just to get his fans to move on. I met him at the Jackson Coliseum, and when his drummer saw me, "he said hey Peter, that guy looks like you!". He didn't say much and I don't think he knew or cared that I played music, as well. Someone there got us together for a picture. On the stage in Little Rock Ark, I wasn't sure what to say. I just wanted to get on with the gig. I think the disc-jockey was more impressed with it, than the crowd. ///
Q: How do you look back on your 60s heyday?
A: First, I thank four long haired boys from Liverpool England for the best band the world has ever known, for changing the world to a better place and my life with it, 'THE BEATLES'. I would also like to thank all the Ms. Blues singers' and all blues singers and pickers from way back in the past and all others before them. For a long time, I thought, well we tried, but we didn't even get on the map. How ever with the Internet we now have a new chance at a music life. I am really enjoying our serge of new popularity. Back in the late 70's and early 80's, I thought for sure we had seen our best times in our past, but after working with people like Little Steven Van Zandt and having people like Tom Petty, who is a legend to me, mention our name and play our music on world wide radio, and all the people at Sundazed Records, Rhino Records and many many others, it has been and still is, a great honor to be recognized for what we've done in the past and now. No matter how popular you get, to think that four young kids out of a small town in Greenwood Ms. could reach around the world, just amazes me that our music would still be popular after all these years. I guess you can tell it makes us all very proud. Music, throughout my life, has been my true education of what the world is about, and I think I can speak for everybody ever involved with our band, that we thank every single person around the world that ever bought or will buy, or ever took a moment to listen to our music, or ever came to one of our gigs. I hope in some way we made their lives better, because that's the whole point. We thank you very much, for asking us to do this interview.
Sid Herring of The Gants
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Sid, Johnny, and Freakie