Friday, August 10, 2012

The Sensational Stereos At the Martinique

The Sensational Stereos
Vocals by Tommy Knight

11901 – Memphis - I Go Crazy - Try Me

11902 –Good Lovin' - Bewildered -Lost Someone

Martinique Nite Club Presents
EP 17

Recorded live Easter 1964
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Produced by Bill Sauls


Lee Hazen
Back in the early-mid 60's I used to carry my Ampex 960 2 track recorder around to clubs and record groups playing live.

I [...] have great recordings of "The Stereos" at the Martinique in Daytona with Tommy Knight singing a James Brown style show one night. Jim Matherly played lead guitar .

Bill Sauls a.k.a. Bill "Sweet William" Saul

Bill Hileman, Stereos drummer :

In 1964, [I] was drafted by a hot local band called, “Sweet William & The Stereos.” And wouldn’t you know it? They were from the same high school Bill attended in Knoxville! They played Florida, Tennessee and Washington, D.C., for years, including a 4-month stint in 1965 which Duane Allman was their fill-in guitarist. Later, Duane went on and formed a band called ‘The Allman Joys,’ with his brother, Gregg, and a drummer which Bill had personally tutored. The Joys improved enough by Spring Break that year that they were able to play during Sweet William’s musical breaks.

Shortly thereafter, Sweet William started playing back-up band to the main attractions at the Martinique in Daytona including Dee Dee Sharp, Lou Christy, Sam & Dave, Bo Diddley, Del Shannon, Jackie Wilson, The Marvelettes, The Angels, Ray Stevens and The Dovells.

In 1966, Sweet William recorded their first album at R.C.A. Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. Their first single made it to 123rd on the Billboard charts without any promotional backing. The band’s success enabled them to open for the Rolling Stones and a Ray Charles sound-alike “as of yet unknown” Ronnie Millsap in Knoxville, and also, for Roy Clark at Chilhowee Park.

Bluegrass mandolinist Sam Bush :

Now, looking back, I'd probably be scared of a lot of the people we were hanging out with. Right down the street was a house band called Sweet William & The Stereos. Sweet William was a really big guy. They did R & B and rock & roll of the day and there were topless dancers there. Basically, the only people down there in those days were rock bands, strippers and hookers! (laughs)

Tommy Knight

Probably not a regular member of The Stereos, from Knoxville, Tennessee. The vocalist here came from New-York and relocated to Florida.

I found several mentions of Tommy Knight, soul and RnB singer on the internet. Not sure if all are refering to the same Tommy Knight.

In 1961, came two Kim productions, one on the Gold Eagle label (That's All I Ask / There's No Pain ) and the other on Atlantic's subsidiary Atco (It's Real / Say You Do).

In 1964, there was a release on San Francisco's Emerson label in 1964 (Yes Yes Go On / Ha Ha Ha And Oh Oh Oh)

Mid sixties? : two acetates have surfaced : Don’t Bring Back Those Memories sent to Eddie Singleton's Shrine Records, a Washington D.C. label and "Baby My Love" (Abtone studios recording).

Tommy Knight was certainly one of the artists who recorded under aliases in the Ed Chalpin's Studio 76 in New-York. One of these aliases was Slim Pikins.

Mike Rashkow, who worked there, has thus described the Ed Chalpin enterprise :

When I worked at Studio 76 [Ed Chaplin] business was something I had never heard about, nor knew existed. It was the reason he had a studio and the reason we had 10 track, as bad as it was. Basically, the business was making quick, down and dirty (and I would guess unlicensed) covers of bulleted chart movers, and then leasing them out to labels in foreign countries. He had ongoing business relationships with a group of labels all over the world. These independents, with which he regularly did business, would get the covers on the street before any major label even realized they had a hit or could get someone in their legal department to draw up a contract.
You can hear "Tighten up" HERE. (released on the german Vogue label in 1968 and probably on other labels).

In 1981, Tommy Knight and the Mighty Knights were the featured artists on the Babette Bardot Revue at the Kings Inn Motel in Daytona Beach.

Babette Bardot (born 1940) is the stage name of a buxom Swedish actress (and burlesque dancer) who appeared in Russ Meyer's films, including Common Law Cabin and Mondo Topless.

Wendell Holmes (The Holmes Brothers) :

"We used to work with Tommy Knight, the band was called Tommy Knight and the Mighty Knights, and we would gig mostly in Harlem and at private dances," said Wendell Holmes. "We used to play at a bunch of different clubs in the 1960's. There was a lot of night life in Harlem and it was exciting. We played more soul stuff and top 10 than straight-up blues, even though I'd rather play blues and gospel, but that wasn't really up to us. But all that scene just vanished.

Guitarist Wild Jimmy Spruill, tired of session work, formed an East Coast nightclub trio in the mid-sixties, with singer Tommy Knight and drummer Popsy Dixon

Finally, mentions of a Tommy Knight Trio in some New-York venues are made in seventies newspapers.


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