Let the Good Times Roll: The untold story of the Crawdaddys

(Excerpts from Tell-Tale Heart/Town Crier Ray Brandes’ groundbreaking history of San Diego’s original retro-visionaries. Read the full version in Che Underground’s Related Bands section.)

Detail: The Crawdaddys indoor group shotThe Crawdaddys have been called one of the most influential bands ever to come out of San Diego. When one looks at the groups its members have spawned, as well as the recurring popularity of ‘60s-style punk and rhythm and blues over the past 30 years, it’s hard to dispute that assertion. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of music history, an uncompromising commitment to artistic integrity, and a roster of musicians with unparalleled talents and distinct individual styles, the Crawdaddys single-handedly gave birth to the revival of garage music in the late 1970s in the United States. The reverberations of the first few chords they played are still being felt today.

The Crawdaddys’ story begins and ends with lifelong Beatles fanatic Ron Silva, who grew up on Del Monte Avenue in Point Loma. He and his neighbor Steve Potterf started listening to records together in the ninth grade, and while Silva would barely tolerate Potterf’s love for Kiss, Aerosmith, Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin, he gradually convinced his friend to appreciate his own tastes. “After a while Steve started getting into the music I liked — Beatles, early Stones. I remember sitting in his room playing guitars along to my dad’s Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley 45s,” says Silva.

Throughout high school, Silva, Potterf and Ron’s brother Russell spent many hours playing rock and roll in the Silva family garage, and it was during this period that Ron began his obsession with historical accuracy in clothing, shoes and hair, and in justifying what was considered cool as evidenced by a photograph in an album cover, an old magazine or book. He scoured his favorite albums for details, looking in thrift stores for similar clothing and traveling to Tijuana to purchase pointy-toed boots. He also developed a reputation as a bit of an oddball in high school for wearing Beatle suits and speaking in a Liverpudlian accent.

“In the final weeks of my last year at Point Loma High School, I knew that more than anything I wanted to get in a ‘real’ band,” Silva remembers. “I put an ad in the San Diego Reader that said that I was into the Kinks and Blondie!” The ad was answered by singer Jeff Scott (who had recently left the Dils) and drummer Josef Marc. “I’d intended to start my own group but ended up joining Jeff’s and Josef’s newly named Hitmakers. Jeff had a few originals, but when we started playing together we mostly covered songs by the Kinks, Beatles and early Stones.” The Hitmakers became part of a growing DIY scene in San Diego that included the Zeros and the Dils. It was reaching a zenith in 1977, when the three groups played a show at the Adams Avenue Theater in October. “I guess that was the first big ‘punk’ show in San Diego,” Silva says. “Unfortunately it wasn’t a particularly majestic experience for me. I borrowed somebody’s black Les Paul Gibson that night. A Les Paul is a pretty heavy guitar, and I’d never played one before. On our first song, I did one of my Pete Townsend jumps, and the strap broke, dropping the guitar like a ton of bricks!”

Detail: The Hitmakers, 1978, from James Stark’s Punk 77The Hitmakers eventually replaced their drummer with Joel Kmak, and Potterf joined the band on guitar. Their popularity grew — not just locally, but in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco, where the band planned to relocate at the end of the summer of 1978. On the eve of their departure, however, the Hitmakers decided to fire Potterf because they “didn’t care much for his attitude,” according to Silva. “It probably took me about two days to decide that I would quit and start my own group. That was the Crawdaddys.”

Birth of the Crawdaddys
The Crawdaddys came together quickly as Silva met Mark Zadarnowski through Tim LaMadrid, a fellow Beatles enthusiast who had been organizing home showings of rare Beatles films. “I was just beginning to try and learn how to play bass, and Ron was looking for something more authentically ‘60s than the Hitmakers,” recalls Zadarnowski. “Ron brought up the idea of starting the Crawdaddys. We knew [drummer] Dan [McLain] from his record store, Monty Rockers, and asked him to play drums.”

The first gig was at Abbey Road in September, 1978 and featured Ron’s brother Russell (affectionately known as “Scuzz”) on drums. Local musician and eventual Crawdaddy guitarist Joe Piper remembers the Crawdaddys’ second show at Glorietta Bay Hall in Coronado: “One day Dan McLain told me he’d joined an R&B band. My first thought was that he meant something along the lines of Jackie Wilson/Ike & Tina Turner Revue … Shit! I don’t know what I thought! But he was really excited about this band, ‘The Crawdaddys.’ And they blew my mind! I was amazed! There they were: this brave, beautiful, perfectly realized anachronism! In my own backyard! Who knew there was anyone in the world, much less San Diego, hip enough to do what they were doing!” The lineup of Silva, Potterf, Zadarnowski and McLain was in place by their third gig at the Lions Club in North Park in January 1979.

Detail: The Crawdaddys’ third gig, at the North Park Lions Club, January 1979The Crawdaddys had now fully begun their assault on the eyes and ears of San Diego. Their next stroke of luck was aided by an unlikely source. “I got a call from Jeff Scott, who by then had forgiven me for quitting the Hitmakers,” recalls Silva. “He said he was going up to L.A. in a few days to play the Hitmakers’ new demo for this guy Greg Shaw and if the Crawdaddys could put a few songs on tape he’d take me and Potterf along.” The band quickly assembled in the Silva garage and recorded Chuck Berry’s “Oh Baby Doll,” Bo Diddley’s “Tiger in Your Tank” and a couple of originals on a two-track machine. “In my opinion it would be fairly safe to say that Potterf and I blew Shaw’s mind that day,” says Silva. “We walked in, and Potterf had this absolutely devout Brian Jones thing going with the hair, and we both had the complete Downliners Sect ’64 look from head to toe. It was totally ridiculous and great at the same time. Shaw said, ‘Go back to San Diego and make an album, preferably for next to nothing, if you don’t mind.’ We didn’t.”

Watch the Crawdaddys play Bo Diddley’s “Cadillac”:

Read the full Crawdaddys story!

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81 Responses to “Let the Good Times Roll: The untold story of the Crawdaddys”

  1. Mmrothenberg Says:

    I’ve been privileged to track the progress of this piece as Ray worked the research over more than two months … I’m so excited it’s live!

    Great story, great artifacts and compelling insights into the Crawdaddys’ lasting influence on the narrative we’re building here.

    There’s so many treasures to see and listen to (the flyer for the first Crawdaddys gig … a nice early piece by Jerry C. … the marvelous videos), I recommend touring the whole collection a few times. I’ve been witness to its genesis, and I’m still enjoying reviewing it.

    Bravo to Mr. Brandes for a fantastic job and to the assorted Crawdaddys for the music then and the memories now.

  2. Cyndie Says:

    Um…wow. Great job and fabulous detail.

  3. Dean Curtis Says:

    Fabulous work Ray! I just read this far and can’t wait to read the rest.

  4. Tom G Says:

    Jeez, just read the whole thing. Definitive. Most excellent Ray.

    Ron’s purisms go way back. If I remember correctly, he told me that his grandmother sewed buttons on his collars when he couldn’t find button-downs in the ’70s (I think he’s wearing hes grandma’s work in his senior picture from high school). About the same time, I worked in a small grocery store that was on his route home from school, and him and Potterf would come in and buy Cokes only in the 6 oz bottles (because the 12 oz bottles didn’t exist in the 60s).

    The Hitmakers were an incredibly good band too, but it wasn’t a surprise that Ron would start a more period-perfect band. What was a surprise was the first time I heard them (the Crawdaddys) cover “There She Goes Again” at the Lions Club. I was both dumbfounded and pleasantly surprised that they were branching out. They quite definitely were one of the best bands to emerge from San Diego.

    Now then, where’s the boxed set?

  5. Ray Brandes Says:

    Isn’t that Harold Gee at the foot of the stage at the Lions Club?

  6. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Ray: I also thought it was Harold when I first saw the photo … But then thinking back to Mr. Gee’s Flickr archive, I believe it’s a friend of his named Bob Davidson:

  7. Tom G Says:

    I’m pretty sure that is Harold in the Lions Club shot. In the picture above, that’s Jan Beck (Harold’s ex) and, I’m pretty sure that’s Harold too (despite what the caption might say). Harold?

  8. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Tom G.; I agree they look strikingly similar — according to Harold’s and Bob’s exchange of comments on that Flickr page, Jan dated Harold after Bob.

    (It could be an Andy Kaufman/Tony Clifton kind of goof, of course, and they’re both the same guy! LOL)

  9. Harold Gee Says:

    Nah…that’s Bob Davidson…I took the photo. Turns out he is a photographer as well, and has his own photos on flickr that are pretty interesting. Here’s his flickr site and his photos…


  10. Harold Gee Says:

    This is how I look in fairly recent times, if anyone is interested…


  11. Harold Gee Says:

    Hey cool! That is me, a much younger me, in that Lions club shot. Nice to see that I’m in one of these old photos, somewhere on the periphery.

  12. Dave Doyle Says:

    Excellent job Ray!

    I didn’t recall half of the stuff that was gone over, but I do remember asking for the “Crawdaddy Express” lp at the Licorice Pizza in PB after seeing them presumably at the Lion’s Club or the Skeleton Club and having one of the Kmack bros tell me that they were posers and I should listen to the Buggles! Oh the horror!

  13. Dave Doyle Says:

    Harold… You er um look different!

  14. Ray Brandes Says:

    Had you taken their advice the world might be a different place right now. The mind boggles.

    Now that I have your email, I’m going to get in touch with you with some questions for a similar Unknowns piece I’m working on . . .

  15. Ray Brandes Says:

    Thanks for the confirmation, Harold. Great recent photo of you. But I wonder, do you always get so dressed up to work in the garage?

  16. Dave Doyle Says:

    Indeed Ray, I’m glad I ignored him! Yes, feel free to contact me, I have a bunch of posters, Q-Subs and Dan McClain stuff from the era….

  17. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Dave Doyle! You were a high-school hero of mine. I’m giddy to have you here!

    Harold: Every time I see that beard, I want to sit on your lap and ask for presents. (Is that even legal in Louisiana??)

  18. Dave Doyle Says:

    Glad to be here, thanks for having me!

    Nothing much is illegal in LA!

  19. Hobie Hodge Says:

    Dig that video, gonna show my kids how to play that song when they get a little older. I recall some long cold Vespa rides from Encinitas down to SD with my San Dieguito High crew to see the Crawdaddys at varioius venues. I seem to recall one at SDSU maybe with Untouchables? That was an an unusually big show attendance wise if I recall.

  20. dylan rogers Says:

    Ray: I have been waitng for this. Very cool.
    I was just driving down Del Monte (beach to bay) an hour ago.
    Thanks Ray!

  21. Dave Fleminger Says:

    Phenomenal post Ray! I’ve already read this several times…

    Dave Doyle! Great to see you here! I believe it was you who hipped me to the Crawdaddys…thanks!!

  22. Tom Ward Says:

    Dave Doyle! Hooray! My fellow bass-player. I bought my Unknowns records in 1982 and ’83 after being exposed to them by Miss Carina Burns (as I mentioned somewhere else on the blog (Hello again Carina))--and it was shortly BEFORE I saw the Crawdaddys in their “Howling Men” guise, during their Los Angeles sojourn. So despite being in bands with Ron Silva for years, Mr. Doyle here is about as big an influence for me as Mr. Silva and his merry men. Glad you’re here, Dave.

    Ray, I can’t wait to read the entire piece you’ve written--and I think you’ll do a good job for the Unknowns, too.

    I admired Mark Z.’s concept so much I eventually duplicated it, equipment-wise--by buying his amp, in fact. What kind of genius runs a ’56 Fender bass through a ’62 blonde Showman--in the earliest ’80s if not ’79 even? This feat was only equalled for me by the Unknowns full-Mosrite thing--but that’s for another day. I’d be curious to know when Mark got the ’56 Precision. I guess my first visuals of him playing are with the Mystery Machine in ’83, but I think he’d that instument / amp combo for quite awhile by then. I also owned the Crawdaddy AC50 at some later point. But this is gearhead stuff for another day.

    Mark Z. was replaced in the Crawdaddy line-up by Mike Stax--he who is so conspicuously absent thus far on the blog unless I’ve misseed him--and Mike lent an unprecedented-for-San Diego bass-playing presence to the Crawdaddys in mid-flight (crawl?). I’m sure Ray tells it and I should just shut up. But Mike, I honor your distinctive playing, the surety of your highly particular taste, and your choice of (in chronological order) Gibson EB-2, Harmony H22 (if I have that model number right), and Baldwin / Burns “Baby Bison” basses. These instruments were totally appropriate for what you were going for, and added to your already vivid visual style.

    My extra-favorite Crawdaddy, if I may embellish superlatives, would be Peter Miesner. As the furthest thing from a generic latter-day “blues guitarist,” Pete has always had a distinctive sonic personality--while still sounding completely “authentic.” That strikes me as an admirable feat, to sound familiarly “old” or “old-school,” while still sounding immediately recognizable as no one else but yourself. He must have some signature ways of phrasing a run of notes, because you can always tell when you’re hearing Pete--and not just with the Crawdaddys. I can say to myself, “Oh--Pete Miesner” in much the way that you could hear something on Stax Records and say to yourself, “Oh--Steve Cropper.” Pete likes a rounder sound I would say, plenty of mid-range twang, but not “surf-y”--if he uses reverb, it’s not very much. There is a little country flavor to his R&B soloing, which is maybe why I thought to mention Memphis and Cropper on Stax, but Pete’s style fits alongside such other players more than it stands on them. Also, they could assimulate regional styles like New Orleans stuff. They were often more versatile than their models, having the benefit of hindsight and a few years’ worth of time to sort it all out--but still, it points up something about the nature of their accomplishment. With Keith Fisher’s keyboard insights assisting, the Crawdaddys were really effective with some of the deeper material they attempted, like Irma Thomas.

    Another thing I’ll say is that Ron Crawdaddy had and has a convincing R&B voice--it’s one of the blessings he has that I continue to wish he would give more credit to, and use. Maybe he will, as he grows comfortable not being twenty-five any more, with that kind of young-frontman brashness on tap at all times. None of us have that advantage at this point--we is some kind of elder statesmen or we is nothing, that’s how it is. Fine, that’s how it was, too, for plenty of musicians we admire--and did back then--especially in the R&B field. I think of Jimmy Witherspoon, heck--Rufus Thomas--Pop Staples, for crying out loud! Can I say Bo Diddeley? Not the springenis’ chicken on the farm, I believe he was born in 1925 or thereabouts, so forty in 1965, in time for the Big T-N-T Show with Ike Turner & Tina. How old was Ike Turner if his band is on “Rocket 88″ in the late ’40s? In the last three months, I’ve done gigs with Don Gardner, “Young” Jessie, and now, Dean Parrish. Singers from the generation before us. They sound good. If I weren’t so broke and far away, I’d try to produce some timeless ’58 / ’64 style R&B, early soul-type recordings with my man Silva--maybe someone else will, they can always fly me in to play bass! But Ron himself (you yourself, Ron) needs to be feeling that kind of material, and sometimes it is more “where he is” than other times. His musical tastes are eclectic (maybe not as eclectic as Steve Potterf’s proved). That’s fine, we all are, but if he were really into it, he might be able to take that “convincing” voice and make it, indeed, “persuasive.” That’s my own agenda speaking--hope no one’s minded. Least of all you, Ron. But what I’m trying to say is, I don’t really think the Crawdaddy story has really quite concluded. Has a fat lady sung? Get back out here and sing, blow some harmonica if you feel like it, sell some t-shirts. There is a whole Irma Thomas back catalog to cover, The Neville Brother’s “Why Wait” is waiting to be heard again, and “I’m Gonna Keep What I Got” still applies.

    This has been my “Beatles Tell Elvis to Get Back to Rock & Roll” speech.

    If nothing else, I can see a title for the documentary. I propose “Ron Silva Men In Tight Pants.”

  23. Tom Ward Says:

    I was followed that link to Bob Davidson’s work, above, as provided by Harold Gee. Kind-of wow!

  24. Tom Ward Says:

    Harold, I dig that stuff in your garage, from the junior-size conga with stand, to the album cover with chianti bottles and dame, to the cameras on the shelves. Also that Yamaha acoustic has quite a suntan, as you can see by the inverse shadow left by the missing pickguard. At least, that’s how it read to me in a quick glance. But I can’t solve the crime, only observe the clues.

  25. Paul Fehlman Says:

    Dave Doyle. Nice to see you in here. After hanging in Mr. Romano’s drafting class with you, I was blown away to see you playing on stage at Clairemont High (I think it was Sunshine of Your Love) and then about a year later with the Unknowns at Clairemont again? I love the whole DIY gigging at high school thing.

    I bought my Crawdaddy Express record the same day I bought my Unknowns record at a small record store in San Luis Obispo during an ill-fated 3 months of college at Cal Poly. Inspired by both plus a few others I returned to SD to start playing again.

    I dug your Mosrite, as well as Tom Ward’s variety of basses that I always coveted.

  26. Dave Fleminger Says:

    Dave Doyle got me started on a life-long trek thru geardom and the search for The Tone…and then witnessing The Crawdaddys playing “Mystic Eyes” at the Roxy I began to understand how much one’s playing style is influenced by the equip you use and vice-versatile. It’s not merely an aesthetic authenticity issue, it’s taking into account the sound the boxes make and what was their original intent of manufacture, leading to what kind of playing they inspire. And of course in some cases what they inspire goes way beyond the original intent. But I can’t imagine the The Crawdaddys or the Unknowns playing just any ol’ instruments…for me that was such a total concept break from the ‘whatever’s available’ punk tradition or the latest-flashy flying-finger hoodley machines. It became cool to care. It wasn’t just about making it acceptable to be a gear gourmet, it was essential…besides, with all those classic instruments hanging around unused in shops (like the pointy-80’s uck-axes do today) how could you not want to pick up the insts your heroes played? A ’56 Fender bass and a blonde Showman could set you back farther than the sticker on many new cars now.
    Jeff’s EB-2 was from Apex Music…hanging next to a Country Gentleman bass and many other forlorn, forgotten axes highly coveted at this later date. Actual hands and handiwork went into those gitboxes, the minute differences of such brought out individual character, along with being built of materials and finishes you can’t even use anymore.
    It’s great to see how much mileage Ron got from his Harmony Rocket (or is that a Meteor?) in all those photos…he probably played it to the point where a tapered, compound carved neck felt positively odd (the Harmony necks were usually the same width at both ends). sorry…nerdsapoppin’

  27. Ray Brandes Says:

    About that Harmony . . .in the summer of ’81 Ron, Carl, Paul and I were headed out to a Hedgehogs gig in Carl’s parents’ Suburban. Ron never had a case for it; it was just thrown into whatever car was being used at the time. Well, this time we took a sharp corner and a Vox AC30 (anyone who’s played one knows how heavy they are) fell on top of it, splitting the neck in two. Ron quickly switched to Carl’s Silvertone, a ’60s Sears hollow body that we used for ages. In fact that guitar was actually run over by the Suburban, in its case, and it survived intact!

  28. Lydia Butynski Says:

    Good job Ray!!!

  29. Ray Brandes Says:

    Thanks, Lydia. I finally got you to post something! For those of you who don’t know, Lydia was there, as Mark’s girlfriend (and later wife) for 100% of this story. She can attest to the fact that some of the more unbelievable aspects to the story are true.

  30. Dean Curtis Says:

    Finally got around to reading the rest of the story last night. It must have been extremely hard to keep track of all the band lineup changes to write this.

    Which band had more members in it’s history -- Manual Scan or The Crawdaddys? haha! Bart?

    My favorite memories of the Crawdaddys are house parties they played at. When they were playing at a house party and everyone was drinking and dancing and having a good time, and the band locked into a groove on “Groovin” by Ben E. King, or “Got My Mojo Workin'”, WOW! No live band was better than they were on some of those nights!

  31. Tom Ward Says:

    High casualty rate, Ron’s had a lot of guitars. But there’ve been times when Ron has had the same guitar seemingly for years. Well, a couple of years at a time? Years seemed longer then, of course. In the mid-’90s I worked at a guitar shop in Berkeley, and negotiated a cheap price for him on an off-brand from Italy called Welson. These are actually pretty cool machines documented on fetishguitars.com, where I see that what I worked out for Ron was called a “Jazz Vedette.” See:


    I keep hoping he’ll find a keeper one of these days, but then one day after the turn of the century someone forwarded me an SF craigslist ad for the Welson, and so I believe it’s gone now. These things have actually developed a bit of a following since then--possibly because many brands of instruments have just become too expensive to collect. So some the off-brands have picked up the slack. Websites like fetishguitar have also created some excitement around these less-frequently-seen machines as well, merely by presenting them in a colorful, easily accessible venue. But the Welson and some of the other Italian makes are pretty decent and stand on their own merits if, as Dave Fleminger seems to imply, you work WITH the instrument rather than expecting it to behave like a Les Paul or take-your-pick of iconic rockstar guitars.

    There is even one, the model played by Hound Dog Taylor, that is super-sought after despite being on the department-store level, just because he played one. If you want his sound, you’ll in fact have to put that fancier guitar away. There are times when you NEED something like a Harmony Rocket or Meteor--or one of Japan’s Teisco or similar brands. Part of the genius of the Crawdaddys was getting that equation right at a time when it was flying in the face of all possible everything, as Fleminger is pointing out above. But I think what Ray underscores is that it was easy to take these cheap-but-appropriate guitars for granted because they were so underappreciated and devalued in the general market. That’s just the opposite case of today--to the extent that Harmonys have just been reissued! I kid you not--there are at least four models available, sort-of Harmony’s greatest hits!

    Classic Ron Silva guitars were Harmony (who also made that Sears Silvertone) from Chicago, and Hagstrom (Ron’s was pale blue, a stratocaster-ish solidbody) from Sweden, but I think in the ’70s he also had a (considerably upmarket hollowbody) Guild Starfire for awhile--and a Vox AC30, although it may have been one of those confused ones from the early ’70s when the parent company of Vox, Jennings Music (JMI) was in turmoil. This Vox (or close copy) was actually sold as Foxx, I believe. When I met Ron, though, his amp was a solid-state Sears Silvertone 2 x 12″ piggyback affair. The head fits in the back of the cabinet. Classic and cheap, and suitable for basic R&B rhythm--and the speakers were probably Jensens, one of the industry standards.

    Was Ron’s Guild the one that was Peter Miesner’s mainstay for so long? Earlier pictures of Pete show him with one of those weird Gibson 335 derivatives that is full-depth (like a “jazz guitar”--an archtop hollowbody) despite having the double-cutaway profile of a typical 335.

    The Guild Starfire, I note, was the choice of the rhythm guitarist in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, for one. Also, you see Dave Davies wielding one in the mid-Sixties. Those are but two examples, but very relevent ones to the Crawdaddy mythos. I think Pete did pick up a Telecaster, though, eventually. Isn’t that what he played with the Tell-Tale Hearts, Ray?

  32. Tom G Says:

    Pete Meisner’s now in a Django Reinhart gypsy jazz sorta outfit called the Zzymzzy Quartet. Here’s their MySpace:


    (You may have to cut & paste the two halves of the url if it doesn’t fit)

  33. Tony Suarez Says:

    i had a harmony Silvertone during the Wickershams period. Tom Ward glued the neck when that was dropped in front of my house. And a testiment to his woodworking ability ( or access to parents tools) it is together to this day. Thanks Tom. It’s till got the bigsby and a few years ago, the pick ups were all sorted.

  34. Paul Fehlman Says:

    I rocked a Silvertone Jazzmaster through a Sears-Roebuck amp at the Jr. High Talent show, singing over the auditorium PA (think little round flush-mount speakers in the ceiling tile). Dave Flem was in attendance -- 7th grade I think.

    I guess I had the whole thing backwards since I was using authentic retro on a BTO song that was contemporary with that time. Go figure.

  35. Tom Ward Says:

    Hi Tony, that particular Harmony / Silvertone guitar is a black hollowbody with sort-of trapezoidal white towers for the pickups to stand on, right? Same “platform” as the Harmony Rocket, Meteor, etc. You are Crawdaddy-ready, then, as from the photos it looks like virtually everybody who came through the band had one version or another at some time. “Born In Chicago,” indeed; the guitars certainly were.

    There’s another black one (identical to yours in my memory) in a shop right now in the East Village, where they are referring to it as the “Chris Isaak model,” not that anyone knows from Chris Isaak out here, especially.

    I guess you’re saying that my repair has lasted longer than the age of the guitar when it needed repair! I’m glad to hear you got the electronic side of it sorted out. The new slogan for us is: “keep on rocking in your free time.”

    For anyone new to the Harmony / Silvertone thing: Silvertone was a brand name owned by Sears, Roebuck & Co. The brand name was applied to guitars made by several manufacturers, but particularly the HARMONY outfit, factory-made instruments originating in Chicago, Illinois. The field of “less-expensive” Fifties / Sixties / early Seventies guitars is an interesting one. Other frequently seen examples of “badge-engineering” include AIRLINE guitars and amps: sold by department-store Montgomery Ward, but made by Valco, whose brand name for the same merchandise was usually SUPRO. The there were KAY instuments, also from Chicago, and sold as KAY, but also OLD KRAFTSMAN, and sometimes as SILVERTONE again. So if you have a Silvertone on your hands, it is only after you familiarize yourself a bit with the hallmarks of Harmony AND Kay that you know what you actually hold.

  36. Tom Ward Says:

    I left out DANELECTRO above. Some Silvertones are Danelectros, from New Jersey--especially the ones that appear to be “solid,” as in solidbodies. Of course, they’re not solid in that sense, though they ARE solid in the slangier sense. They’re good instruments. Most of the Silvertone bass guitars you will see are in reality Danelectro models. So are all those “amp-in-a-case” jobs bearing the Silvertone name. Okay, there’s my vintage guitar lecture for today--mostly for our non-guitar-playing friends, so they will know a little about what we were talking about--should they care in the slightest!

  37. Paul Fehlman Says:


    Right you are. The SR had the mind-blowing atomic logo. That thing was so underpowered it was like playing through a walkie-talkie. That might be why I overcompensated and went for the Ampeg SVT years later which was totally overdone for the small clubs.

  38. Mmrothenberg Says:

    OK, so help me understand the sequence of events: In this Crawdaddys piece, Ray describes how the nascent mod movement helped breathe new life into the band.

    I dimly recall (and have read about on the blog) the philosophical divide between “Craw-mods” and “ska-mods.” (Only in San Diego could such cliques exist in such a small scene!)

    How did things unfold historically? Were kids who liked the Crawdaddys in ’79 among the first to embrace “Quadrophenia” and buy parkas in 1980? Was this genuinely coincidental — that the slightly older Crawdaddys’ exacting devotion to the ’60s happened to appeal to a group of kids who’d found their way back to that era through a separate route?)

    If the latter, I’m hugely curious about what motivated late-’70s San Diego to breed not one, but two independent movements focused on a precise understanding and retelling of fashions, music and artifacts of the mid-’60s. While lots of punk-schooled youngsters around the country were exploring music from that earlier period, I don’t think most American cities had even one movement as forensic and single-minded about historical accuracy.

    Speaking as another 1965 birth and SD transplant who clung with passion to the music of the Beatles and other bands of my early childhood, I’m going to make a pop-psych observation you can take or leave: In San Diego, we were living in the middle of a great deal of churn — whole new neighborhoods springing up, families uprooting from around the country and gathering in the sprawl — and a lot of kids born in the ’60s were thrown together pretty abruptly.

    Both the kids who were dropped into San Diego and the kids who were born in a quieter, smaller San Diego watched their entire environment change at a rate unrivaled anywhere else in the country.

    Was the music of earlier that era something stable and deep-seated that we carried around in our heads even as the local landscape changed radically? Were these songs and fashions an absolute in a very relativistic period of local transition?

    That feels right to me. Anybody else recognize themselves?

  39. Dean Curtis Says:

    >>How did things unfold historically? Were kids who liked the Crawdaddys in ‘79 among the first to embrace “Quadrophenia” and buy parkas in 1980? Was this genuinely coincidental — that the slightly older Crawdaddys’ exacting devotion to the ’60s happened to appeal to a group of kids who’d found their way back to that era through a separate route?)

    Speaking with Ron when he was performing in bands in the Bay Area in the 90s helped refresh my memory about when the Crawdaddys and the mod scene started coming together on a regular basis. He told me he remembered playing a show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and he spotted a handful of mods in the audience. Before that he wasn’t much aware of the mod scene. This was probably in late 1980 to mid 1981.

    I remember seeing the Crawdaddys before then. I’m pretty sure the first time I saw them was at the North Park Lions Club, at this show (info from SD Concert Archive):
    05/23/80 The Puppies, The Crawdaddys, The Unknowns, North Park Lions Club
    This was my first exposure to the Unknowns as well, and I thought both bands were great. I thought The Puppies were “interesting”, kind of like The Buggles.

    But until mid-1981, when the Crawdaddys started playing for an audience of mods quite a bit (at parties mostly, and eventually I Blend / Kings Rd), they played mainly at clubs that were over-21 and none of us in the mod scene were 21 yet so we didn’t have many opportunities to see them. We were aware when they were playing -- in fact it bugged the hell out of me to miss their shows!

    As far as I recall, we saw the Crawdaddys after the mod scene was formed and not the other way around, So it was mostly coincidental.

    As far as ska-mods vs. craw-mods, the people in the scene early were influenced not just by the movie Quadrophenia, but by the late 70s / early 80s UK mod and rude boy scenes. We kind of blended them whereas in England I think they were fairly separate. For survival if nothing else -- there was a lot of violence between subcultures in the UK.

    Later as we gained more knowledge of the original 1960s UK modernism movement (mostly through the book Mods! by Richard Barnes), some of us got more into the music that would have been popular in the 60s scene, such as R&B and original Jamaican Ska (or Blue Beat), which caused a backlash against the post-punk ska revival Two-Tone bands.

    One key feature of the mod scene in the 60s and the revival is to be one step ahead of the pack of “tickets” (everyday mods) by wearing unique clothes or discovering an obscure band (old or new) or introducing a new dance move. This is what gets one the “ace face” designation (which may not last long as someone tops you in turn). This would keep the scene always changing, so what one wore one week (side vents on a jacket for example) may be totally passe the next week (at least it was this way in the 60s -- we were much more lenient in the 80s). So liking 80s ska one day and not the next was a part of the mod attitude. As people in turn rediscovered somewhat obscure 60s English mod bands like The Creation and John’s Children, that were more authentically mod, ska became even further removed from the “acceptable” music to listen to (in public anyway). We were all young and super opinionated, even if we didn’t necessarily hate all of The Beatles music, we certainly wouldn’t be caught listening to it because it was too mainstream.

    Generally speaking, as the scene got larger in the 80s, many of the Craw-mods move into the psychedelic and 60s garage scene, while the ska-mod scene grew huge. I think the mid to late 80s scene in Southern California was split into several camps: scooter enthusiasts, Northern Soul, ska, and mod power-pop type music (influenced by The Jam and others). But there was a lot of mixing of these groups too.

    In Northern California things split very differently, into two main groups: purist mods who only listened to authentic 60s British R&B, beat groups and Northern soul, and were very picky about their clothes as well; and into a scooter / skinhead group.

    But I’m making gross generalizations here, things may seem different to others.

    As far as this question:
    >Was the music of earlier that era something stable and deep-seated that we carried around in our heads even as the local landscape changed radically? Were these songs and fashions an absolute in a very relativistic period of local transition?

    My parents listened to AM top 40 rock ‘n roll radio constantly in the 60s, and later I got a transistor radio and was playing it all the time. I remember hearing Pushin’ Too Hard, Psychotic Reaction, Too Much Too Dream, to name just a few songs I liked. So absolutely, the 60s had a huge influence on me as well.

  40. Mmrothenberg Says:

    I’m glad to have witnessed all the hard work that went into every facet of those scenes! When I talk to reasonably hip peers who’ve converged on NY from other parts of the country about SD’s ’60s aesthetics, they often look at me like I’m nuts — the first assumption is that I’m lionizing cheesy “oldies” bar bands.

    I know the garage revival spread its tentacles elsewhere, but the exactitude of what was happening in San Diego — especially in the scene around the bands — was really something special.

  41. Ray Brandes Says:

    First of all, thanks Matt for bringing this thread back to music. Nothing against the gearheads, mind you, but the Crawdaddys themselves would gotten pretty derisive at the endless discussions about guitar manufacturing. To them the question was simple: is it “cool” or is it “too cool” (verbal irony).

    Dean captured the essence of what I wanted to say about your first question perfectly. I spent a lot of time thinking about it today, and I wanted to be as specific as possible historically about the fact that the Crawdaddys emerged from a scene in which no one wanted to be labeled or classified. NONE of the early punks/oddballs in San Diego wanted to be lumped into a category--there were plenty of others who wanted to do that to us. The Crawdaddys came first; the mods, who embraced their own brand of conformity, came second. The Crawdaddys sprung completely from the eccentricities of Ron and Steve Potterf, meeting the equally eccentric personalities of Mark Z and Dan. I had the opportunity to see the original band a couple of Sue Stoup parties when I was 17, and there was nobody playing dress up or “making the scene.” When the Hedgehogs (who had a similar purist mentality about “beat” music and clothing) were playing, beginning in 1981, the majority of people who came to see us were just regular Joes and Josephines. A few mods (Dean Curtis, Missy Showalter, Kirk Murray, James Harrell, Dennis Borlek etc.) came to see us play, and we thought it was ultra cool that there were kids who had created their own little scene, and we were glad, just as the Crawdaddys were, that our worlds were able to collide.

    As far as your final assertion, I don’t think it’s possible to generalize about what motivates people to take up a particular banner. I still passionately reject labels and categorizations, and as a youngster, I hated the idea of following a group. (It was okay, mind you, for others to follow me!) I think some were attracted to the music because they experienced it through older brothers and sisters, parents, etc. and others found one particular tribe more accepting of their quirks and idiosyncrasies. All scenes that spring up in opposition to mainstream culture are filled with misfits of all stripes--and if we all had anything in common, it was both our outcast status and our good taste.

  42. Lydia Butynski Says:

    I can validate the fact that the Crawdaddys emerged long before the
    mods discovered them and before there were people walking around w/ parkas calling themselves mods.

  43. tony Suarez Says:

    there wasn’t a lot of gear geek out then, perhaps. As we didn’t know the vocabulary of the techy stuff that made these amps and geetars sound so unique or make the music sound the way we wanted it too.

    I saw the crawdaddys for the first time at an April or May show at Adams Avenue theatre. Gordon was on drums, Mike S on bass. Throughout that summer they played alot before taking off to LA for the Howling Men version of the band. They had that sound, and were fun to hear and watch.
    I’ve heard Ron’s account of things in bits and pieces over the years and it’s great to see Ray put this together in a cohesive, well thought out linear fashion.
    Ray, Ron and I had the pleasure of getting our Beat Group/Hollies harmony ya yas
    out in side projects (The Sovereigns in 1986, and The Hottentots two years later)that were over before the usual band boredom set in. They were short lived and I tell ya, I think I now look back as preferring it this way: learn 15 songs, play 10 times out and go back to the regular gig, refreshed.

  44. dylan rogers Says:

    I myself a big fan of San Diego punk/garage/whatever/music have lived and played music across the counrty. When talking to a few people in N.Y.C. and S.F. about S.D. bands, I heard things like this a lot ” those bands only cared about there clothes” and “No fun”.
    This would drive me crazy. I would tell them “it was only about music,thats why the bands were so good” and “those bands stemed from the 70’s punk scene, they were looking for there punk roots”. Maybe I was wrong on the 2nd but it sounded good.
    I do fell it is nice to see a band with a good stage presence.
    A lot of bands across the country were into 50’s and 60’s music, like DMZ covering The Sonic’s, The 13th Floor Elevators back in 1977/78 but The Crawdaddys brought the big guns out as far as stage presence and Beat authenticity.
    Never got into a Crawdaddy’s show, to young but I did stand outside and listen and I fell lucky to have just stood outside and yes I had FUN doing it.
    Oyeah I love DMZ also!
    When does they west coast LYRES thread begin?

  45. Patrick Works Says:

    Ron has more soul in his little finger than most other bands have in their whole lineup. Aside from Mike’s quotes and Ray’s original manifesto, people here are overlooking Keith and his electric piano…he was amazing and added depth to their sound that made them absolutely the best band around to dance to.

    Herein lies the real magic and ‘Daddy mystery…anybody who heard them had to dance. Musicians talking to each other and playing for each other were one thing…but the Crawdaddys got through to everyone…because their sound was full and rich and tight…and danceable.

    Ours (we mods and whatnot who followed them so religiously for a few years there) was a scene based on dancing in tiny sweaty little rooms…all night long and as often as possible.

    These guys made that a lot of fun, and by their changing sets and the range of things they played they allowed us to never ever get bored on the dance floor.

    Thanks to them all…and thanks to Ron and Peter and Tom who finally let me sit in on a couple of tunes with the Crawdaddys one night in Point Loma at some obscure club…they even paid me an even split of the night’s take!

    (does that make me a step-‘Daddy?)

    All time best cover “Groovin'” by Ben E. King

    Mod-est cover “Daddy Rollin’ Stone” by the Who



    I’m glad I metcha!

    Patrick Works

  46. Dean Curtis Says:

    Anyone care to comment on the Crawdaddys reunions? The mid to late 90s one (I can’t remember exactly when it was) came to the wonderful Ivy Room and was a great time. I think Berkeley band The Loved Ones opened, and I remember Ron, Keith, and Peter in the lineup. Tom, didn’t you play bass? I saw Dave Fleminger and some other SD expats there. BTW, the extremely talented guys from Berkeley that were in The Loved Ones, The Monarchs with Ron Silva, and earlier bands basically took over where the Crawdaddys left off for a while there in the late 80s to the mid 90s, as far as 60s R&B went (thankfully there was the Nashville Ramblers / Black Diamonds in the Bay Area at this time too).

    Then there was the Crawdaddys reunion at the second Las Vegas Grind. They were good but the feel just wasn’t right -- I guess because they were on a huge stage in a big ballroom, and like Pat said the music was best in small clubs. I felt bad because people came all over the world to finally see this legendary band so expectations were extremely high. All I could say was “I wish you could have seen them way back when”.

  47. Dave Doyle Says:

    Big shout out to Tom, Dave, Paul and Lydia (whom I last saw on a hike up Cowles Mtn!).

    I’ll not match the previous verbosity, but I would like to add that I’m glad Tim LaMadrid gets some props for his efforts in providing support and artistic input into the early days of the Crawdaddys, his attention to detail is one reason I dug their published stuff. It separated the men from the boys in many regards. He also shot that film (video) of ‘Cadillac’ on 16mm in a rehearsal space next to the old KGB studios on PCH iirc.

    And I’d like to add that Mark Z provided a great deal of support for Mark and I during the Golden Hills days, who could forget traveling out to Valley Music in the Dodge to nab some much needed Gretsch strings or eye the vintage crap in the back room that Cactus let us look through?

    Good times!

  48. Tom Ward Says:

    Dave D., so glad to hear you! And here I was about to bust out with another chunk of verbosity. Maybe I still will for the sake of posterity, as it is already typed up. Ray set me up with a bit of a wind-up there, above, and then a flood of memories set in. But your thoroughly good-natured post has me hesitating on my shades-of-gray number, not a pure tribute. Everybody knows I mean well, right?

    One day we are going to have the TRUE high school reunion--this entire bunch in one room. That will be zany.

    Dave, you’re in Los Angeles now?

  49. Tom Ward Says:

    Okay, just hesitating a moment. And now I’m off to a rehearsal. Saturday night I’m backing up the soul singer Dean Parrish. He had some very nice 45s out in the mid-Sixties. This gig will be very much in the Crawdaddys mode but we will have trumpet, tenor sax, and alto. There’s a bio for this guy on wikipedia, though definitely with a British slant to the writing, even to the flavor of the errors and typos. You can really hear the voice of the writer, and it’s written through the prism of the Wigan Casino “Northern Soul” scene. As a Staten Islander, I guess Dean Parrish qualifies as northern soul by any measure--not just the “popular in a 1970s, north-of-England-scene” measure! Some of it is pretty southern sounding, thankfully. Dean P. is classically Italian-American in the grand New York manner, but the records featured some of New York’s finest 1960s African-American session musicians, including the famous Bernard Purdie on drums, who is still a busy worker today. We won’t have Bernard Purdie on this gig but the guy we have is good! And we do have an integrated band, in the Stax way. I’m very happy about that. “Dean Parrish” is a stage name, so he really had people confused for awhile about his identity and whereabouts. His song “I’m On My Way” apparently closed the Wigan Casino nights, so he apparently has fans in England to the extent that a documentary film (including a recording of the phone call that let him know he’d been “found”) was made by the BBC last year.

  50. Tom Ward Says:

    I keep thinking the backing band I’m with whom I’m working--we’ve backed some other singers, too, in recent months--could back Ron Silva sometime.

  51. Tom Ward Says:

    Ray, here’s a bit of writing, sent in a mild, well-intentioned point / counterpoint kind of way as sort-of a rebuttal to your post, but not really. Hoping it’s grist for the mill.

    IS it possible that, despite their tendencies toward derision in such matters, the Crawdaddies may have cared for the technical side of things--their material culture as expressed in part in vintage instruments--A BIT MORE than they let on amongst each other? There is the band rhetoric you invoke--a kind of “that’s cool knowledge / that’s trying too hard”--cool vs TOO cool was I think how you phrased it--where the bar is set pretty low--yes, there is that, and then, there is what is implicit in the photos, recorded sounds, and the rest of the evidence. They didn’t possess all that--and play all that--by chance. I think these guys were vintage guitar freaks and collector geeks with the best of us--but severely in the closet and in self-denial about it.

    Look at the care with which they picked things out--trousers, classic Pepsi bottles, waistcoats, whatever. Records. Electric guitars, Wurlitzer pianos--everything just so, even if calculatedly unkempt. All this in the context of a continual dialogue and group arbitration about literally everything inside a miniature counterculture, obsessed with its own trends. Feigning boredom with “equipment talk;” wait, I’m confused. Wasn’t it all shop talk of some kind? Are these people honest with themselves? Maybe even the discourse of itself about itself must follow a prescription of form, too? Truly a brilliant tower of aesthetics, layers upon layers! As complex as our financial system, like a pyramid scheme of the spirit. What else could I do but join? Unfortunately, guitar-talk is my small-talk, like discussing the weather…my destiny, to be the courtier of ill-wind, bringing news of Fenders past.

    Now contrast all this with your posting yesterday of one of the cleanest recordings I’ve heard, full of vintage keyboard sounds and perfect guitar tone, and it’s produced by a former Crawdaddy--but ten and more years later. What? I thought these guys only used broken-down stuff that just happened to be from 1964 because it fell from the sky that way. It’s hard to reconcile the meticulous sound design with the kind of too-cool-to-care nonchalance you describe. What changed? Maybe a hint of this was always there?

    Equipment-talk, Ron called it. In England they call it perhaps being a bit of an “anorak.” Yes, the Crawdaddys had a fear of being eggheaded. Pointy-headed? But the story of Sixties Pop is filled with technicians--and all of us in the larger Crawdaddy camp honored their genius. So why wasn’t it hip to be concerned with the details of manipulating the knobs, spools of tape, names of things? Because “cool” has always required some detachment, perhaps. An earnest anorak hardly looks detached. But we know cool is a mask, right? I mean we’re all on some continuum between Belmondo and Jerry Lewis. But if you’re INSISTING you’re Belmondo when in fact you are flubbering around as much as the next guy there may be a coolness comeuppence coming somehow. Why not just admit to some of the Lewis factor? Of course the Crawdaddy thing is way more multidimensional than this discourse could ever be. They and their immediate circle made for a very complex and contradictory set of fascinating people. But Ray, your invocation of one of the group attitudes stirred something up in me.

    The Crawdaddys still expected someone outside, like Tim La Madrid I guess, to be their George Martin, Phil Spector, Bones Howe et al. Maybe it was Keith who finally caught on to the implications of Do-It-Yourself; even in the Crawdaddy era, he learned how to repair the Wurlitzer that he apparently insisted on using. The Crawdaddies in their early days took it pretty far, but then stopped doing for themselves at the point where it might suggest (to them) a touch of the egghead, pocket protector, or trainspotter--meanwhile pretty much resembling that remark, I would imagine, to plenty of outsiders! But I digress. In the absence of Abbey Road or 2120 S. Michigan Ave or Norman Petty, you have to become your own “genius”--yes? Lambert and Stamp are not managing you, there’s no Mickie Most or Bert Berns around. To become productively self-reliant (given that you are your own genius) may require knowing one model of microphone from another--and what kind of guitar is best at making the particular sound that’s in your head. Bobby Fuller had no fear of this. Why do you? Why did the Crawdaddies? Nobody calls Bobby Fuller a “brainiac,” but that’s what he was, by Crawdaddy definition.

    One danger of proximity to the Crawdaddies was a kind of brainwashing. A number of us here must have willingly gone for at least fifty percent of it--and enjoyed every minute! I really haven’t quite left off; it still represents a kind of hipsterism I dig to embrace. But there were aspects of it as lived out by the band members that even a true believer might reasonably dissent from. They dissented so much themselves that they had to break up!

    I think the Crawdaddies had various “tropes,” even amongst themselves, that in fact consisted of a good deal of misinformation combined with self-denial. I think they feared each other’s judgement, and one of the things at stake was, yes, derision for appearing too much of a “Brainiac.” There’s that term again. It’s their term as far as I know (unless the Unknowns invented it), and a sometime nickname for Skid Roper--if I recall correctly. One of the things Skid knew a lot about was the details of equipment. He was a drum collector, for one thing, and a wheeler-dealer in the best sense of the word. He was also pretty particular about tone and reverb and petty concerns like that--the methodology of the craft.

    The Crawdaddies were crypto-cerebral cats who indulged in some anti-intellectual poses in order to protect themselves, sometimes from each other. They could pretend to have a disdain for the specialized equipment they had sought out--and corroborated with photographic evidence--as if they had ironic distance from the tools of their craft--meanwhile indulging in a demanding and specific “cufflink competition” (to coin a phrase) with each other. Is that kind of detail-oriented activity any less of an abstract, intellectual pursuit? I smell a rat! I think these guys were totally deliberate about everything they did. Even the negligent aspects were like cordoned areas, special designated negligence zones.

    I think they were a lot closer to the tools--the means of production--than they let on. And if they had been able to indulge themselves more in admitting to caring about the machine-age technical / cultural side of the art and craft, they might have achieved even more than they did in that brief, early timeframe--and Ron might still be playing that Harmony Meteor today. Guitar with no case? That’s not cool; that’s amateur. A misreading of Beatle myth and the script of “A Hard Day’s Night” suggests a text: Where was Mal Evans? That’s his job. No Mal Evans? Okay, well, forget about it. If he’s not here, than we’re in Hamburg; conduct yourselves accordingly--something like that. Never mind that George Harrison maintained that black ’56 Gretsch Duojet perfectly until the day he died! You see: it all comes down to who your favorite Beatle was, after all! But Paul McCartney (we’ll leave John out of it) puts out a lot of misinformation, too. He claims to be ignorant of technical matters and the instruments, but he had that first Hofner bass professionally renovated once he could afford it, even though they were giving him new ones, and kept on buying various tools of the trade--even if he didn’t have himself photographed with all of them. It’s in fact pretty hard to locate the source of this persistent mythology about not knowing much about your farm implements, and how that’s cooler than keeping the ploughshare sharp. Could it, too, be unique to San Diego--and the Crawdaddy mythos--which includes you, too, Ray? Is it something we got from the 1977 inheritance, or the Ramones? But again, I think it’s a fake-out. People who pretend not to care often care the most, they just haven’t sorted out what they can wear on their sleeves, faces, or guitar straps. Musicians who say they don’t care about one thing or another turn out to require the perfect means of expressing their not-caring! That may take the form of a $75 bass covered in blood, Johnny Ramone’s eternal Mosrite, or the whole Pete Townshend thing: a guitar fanatic who destroys guitars in the stage act. It’s okay to be those things, no matter how conflicted. I also think it’s okay to be an inquisitive show-business professional who wants the best or most appropriate set of clown shoes and trapeze ropes she can find--and who knows the names of all the brands, has tried them all out. Anyway, guitars, cars, vintage baseball stats; to each their trivial pursuit; if it’s not one thing, it’s another.

    As it is, the Crawdaddys fought the cufflink competition to a draw, but lost the contract in the shuffle. I loved how Ron’s liner notes for the Fred Sanders album said they “were ready to walk barefoot across America.”

    Maybe a tinge of the anti-intellectual--coming from obvious intellectuals--was an ingredient in the self-sabotage.


    Love to all! Just hoping to add a little flavor to the history.

  52. dylan rogers Says:

    Tom/Ray: Wow! I think that both of your above post are a good example of how you can never really judge a person by reading what they post on the Internet.
    You both write very well, unlike myself and this make’s people think I am an idiot, and that’s cool.
    I know you guys go way back, so I am not trying to preach to the choir.
    What I can say about observing both of you since I was a kid and is the reason I have always respected you both is that neither of your every seemed pretentious at all. Both you guys seemed laid back and cool.
    Does the above make any sense?

  53. Tom Ward Says:

    Layers upon layers! Looking through a glass onion, indeed. I hope there is a place at some fantastic table for that hilarious and insightful writer. I had read but forgotten that piece. It’s great how the author brings in the Einsteinian relativity stuff with the ‘retro-present warp.’ The National Retro Curve is one of one hundred hysterical touches. I’m nostalgic for this article already! Must be riding the crest of that warp. Just don’t let me go over the falls.

    I love the Onion. One of the good things about the modern New York where I live are the street-corner kiosks full of the Onion. Maybe there could be a special San Diego edition, the Onion-Tribunal.

  54. Todd Lahman Says:

    I picked up their record ‘Crawdaddy Express’ at OTR and practically wore it out. At the time I never thought of Crawdaddys as a band that was trying to recreate the 60’s . I guess I was just naive. I would go and see them at King’s Road/ I-Blend when ever they played. The first time I ever heard the Yardbird’s, ‘A Certain Girl’, was when they performed it live. Also Frankie Ford’s ‘Roberta’ was fantastic! I don’t know if they ever played with the Paladins but what a great show that would have been. I’m sure Ron’s and Dave’s record collections were very similar.

  55. Tom Ward Says:

    I don’t know if Ron Crawdaddy and Dave Paladin knew each other, but they definitely connect in space, if nothing else, through knowing the Unknowns and their recording studio efforts (which continue down to the present day): http://www.soilsouth.com . I’ll ask Ron if they ever shared a bill with the Paladins along the way (unless he eventually cares to speak here himself; hi Ron). If it happened, it would’ve been pretty early on in the Paladins’ career. My memory goes back to seeing the Paladins in 1982 and ’83, and a number of times in the second half of the ’80s. The two bands would have been a better match earlier on--before the Paladins got really loud!

    The Crawdaddies are more of a “Fifties band” than meets the eye, of course--because so much of the R&B popular in the early Sixties was written in the 1950s--and because it’s all a continuum, anyway. But they definitely knew the original versions--the Crawdaddys were academic that way, I’m glad to say.

    Speaking of the Yardbirds, you gotta love the rockabilly madness of “Jeff’s Boogie.” I suppose that’s another “birth of the retro” right there, in 1965 (or is it ’66?). They’d all grown up on Cliff Gallup, anyway (who’d played lead guitar with Gene Vincent), and this tune grafts some Les Paul-style stuff onto a Chuck Berry instrumental (that was less then ten years old at the time). “Jeff’s Boogie” is a good example of a guitar player wearing his influences on his sleeve, but also transcending them. This record is more complex than it seems, because it’s not only an exercise in technique, it’s an exercise in irony…early post-modernism….

    Another related comment--the Crawdaddys portrayed their Chuck Berry covers (and stuff like the Frankie Ford record you mention) very competently and with a superior level of “feel.” They also sometimes handled with aplomb some fairly unlikely early-rock & roll material that has rarely if ever been covered at all by others along the way. “That Is Rock & Roll” by the Coasters comes to mind. Larry Williams would be another favorite, though not on the same level; his “Slow Down” has been covered dozens of times through the years.

    Indulge me with the Yardbirds instrumental for a moment:


    See if you can catch the reference to “Alfie” that Beck throws in there in one of the breaks--as in “what’s it all about, Alfie?”

  56. Tom Ward Says:

    Ray, I was never clear on this, but from your quoting of Mark Z., I guess Ron would get the credit for founding the group. Is that a fair thing to say?

  57. Patrick Works Says:

    Gotta chime in on this one:

    It makes no difference which version of Paul Revere and the Raiders you see…they have always sucked in any incarnation at any time.

    Sorry Mr. Stax…I know you love ‘em and I love you, but that’s it.

    I’ll never forget missing the opening moments of what turned out to be a fantastic performance by one of those “who’s in the lineup this week” bands that never seem to go away…The Temptations…live at Disneyland…just ’cause Mike wanted so badly to see Paul Revere et al…who were playing that same day. What a joke!

    Half a song into the set and I made a beeline for the Temptatations/Four Tops show. The Temps wore matching cranberry colored sharkskin suits. Slick. They floated on a barge/stage in front of Tom Sawyer Island while the crowd watched assembled under the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse.

    I believe Salvador Dali did lights that night and Andre Breton was the MC. They were never friends of course, but hey…the show must go on…

    My own surreal intro to the evening was being ejected from Injun’ Joe’s Cave earlier that day with Dave Klowden…Dave and I decided my harmonica would sound really great with the echo in the cave so we decided to check it out. Natural reverb in a fake cave…only at Disneyland. We got rousted by the Mickey Mafia who in Frontierland dress as 7th US Cavalry soldiers circa Little Big Horn:

    Micky Mafia: “Step out of the cave boys”

    Pat: “Sure…OK”

    MM: “What were you doing in the cave boys?”

    Pat: “Playin’ the Blues Sir!”

    MM: “You weren’t smoking anything in the cave?”

    Pat: “No sir, there are children in the cave.”

    MM: “Can I search you?”

    Pat: “No Sir!”

    MM: “May I smell your hands?”

    Pat: “What?!”

    -double take glance between Dave and I-

    MM: “May I smell your hands?”

    Pat: “Sure Mister…Knock yourself out!”

    So he smelled my hands and then repeated the whole thing with Dave. Bizarre.

    Yeah…so I’m not sure how many uniformed soldiers would be required to still form up under the banner of the 7th US Cavalry…and I’m really not sure if “Gary Owen” sounds best in harmony or with fuzzbox/reverby guitars…but I know Dave and I spent the rest of the day repeating our own mantra to many rather alarmed tourist families:

    “No Blues at Disneyland”

    And it’s still so to this day.

    As an aside I believe Jerry came upon us as we were being…er…interrogated…and made like Scooby and Shaggy who just saw a ghost…

    I believe he had a pocket full of something Uncle Walt would not have approved of.

    It may have been blues.

    I think it was.

    Patrick Works

  58. robyn wexler Says:

    You are correct the Crawdaddy house parties were fabulous!!!
    Maria Dudley also had EXCELLENT house parties and hung out with Ron Silva!!!!!

  59. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    Scooby & Shaggy!

    I remember the scene. The lead ‘Cavalry man’ was wearing US Government-issue “Birth-Control Glasses.”

    With the hair-do and striped blue blazer, I didn’t exactly look like I’d evoke police sympathy. ;-)

  60. Tom Ward Says:

    I would imagine that was, Jerry, your ginger-haired phase, the best early back-combed look ever, and I think I recall the jacket in question. It was all very ’65 and colorful at this point.

    I remember how evident it was that you had not only the wherewithal to pull this stuff off, but somehow had access to (visual) reference material that I could barely imagine. The dust had only just settled on the Sixties, and the visual documentation was mostly what was left lying around. Now the cup runneth over with books from Taschen and images on the internet and what-not. I think we knew the vaults were filled with graphic treasure, but they seemed sealed at the time.

    In those days, though, you could find tab-collared shirts in every thrift shop. It wasn’t too hard for the Crawdaddies to pull their look together, because the shirts and waistcoats and so on were just sitting there on the thrift-store racks, witing to be found. But Jerry, you had one-upped everybody on the outfit level, and raised the ante considerably.

    The cavalryman thing is funny because it points out that it was still possible (in the early ’80s) to have a similar confrontation between freaks and “the Man” as twenty years earlier--perhaps a bit less charged without the Vietnam War in the background--and by “similar” I guess I mean “un-ironic.” Depended on your individual cop or security guard. But I suppose “the Man” will always be “the Man” to some extent, and this all went down at Disneyland--famous for its agents, hidden passageways, and with limited tolerance for counterculture inside its version of pop culture. But your particular look would have had them baffled. Not that there aren’t striped jackets at Disneyland, but they are more of the “straw boater” Americana variety. I DO rather like the idea of you subverting Main Street in some sort-of alternate period-mufti, like a more psychedelic Robert Preston in “The Music Man.” Without much effort I know you could easily have done 1905 (or 1895) as well--and did, in a way. I easily imagine you addressing Walt’s agents as if your dialogue had been written by Arthur Conan Doyle, perhaps.

    Just seeking to further contextualize the anecdote….

    Anyway, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, indeed. I wonder what would happen if one tried to jam with the bears--you know, the Country Bear Jamboree.

  61. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    This was while the backcomb was still blonde. Prolly weeks away from the first time I grabbed a bottle of NiceN’Easy 110 Dark Auburn.

    The source of that coat -- a style known as a ‘bumfreezer’ -- was the ever-generous Perter Verbrugge, mentioned frequently, elsewhere in this blog. Every good and appreciative word dedicated towards Pete is deserved and due.

    Funny, looking like that -- Who Sell Out and Kinks Face to face -- in SoCal, ’83.

    The Kinks Take a Drink in '65

    I was waiting to get on Space Mountain with Fleminger and Lucas, when some real “t-shirt, feed-cap and mullet” starts calling out to me from a couple of turns around the snake-coils of waiting people. “Hey, you Man!” I am again, expecting some epithet or new-wave comment -- and pleasantly disappointed. “Hey, You’re Roger Daltry!” he says. At that time, the name Roger Daltry evoked imagery of shirtless-ness and fringed, suede capes!

    That year in Tijuana, some street vendor also followed me and the Answers down Constitucion -- improbably imploring us: “Hey Hey, Badfinger! Look at this good deals for you, Badfinger!”

    It could have been a scene in The Magic Christian…

    “Badfinger es y sera…..Badfinger!!! Gracias por la musica que dejaron en este mundo sediento de armonia. Y si “Alla” hay algo…que sigan haciendo musica !!!”

  62. Ray Brandes Says:

    Thanks for using the term un-ironic. The irony epidemic has grated on me for many years. There was much irony in the way we used to talk, and in our sense of humor, but as far as our love of the past goes, it was pure, sincere and heartfelt. Sometime towards the end of the eighties/beginning of the nineties, irony started to take over as the dominant form of humor among young people, and the modern ironic hipster was conceived, incubated in an atmosphere of seventies parties, the approximation of logos and sixties typeface and ultimately came of age in today’s era, when many kids are so confused they cannot distinguish between something that is “cool,” and something that is “cool” because it is “uncool.” Am I making any sense?

  63. Mmrothenberg Says:

    >>That year in Tijuana, some street vendor also followed me and the Answers down Constitucion -- improbably imploring us: “Hey Hey, Badfinger! Look at this good deals for you, Badfinger!”

    Jeremiah: Wasn’t that the day I was trying to get y’all to eat the goat-head tacos?

  64. Jeremiah Cornelius Says:

    I have ALWAYS eaten the goat-taco! Especially when the meat is hacked off the bone, on an old stump for a cutting board. Double-especially, if they are prepared and served in a pre-fab garage building, with one wall open to the street.

    Secret? First -eat the hot carrots and jalepenos, after several gulps of the Rojo. Now one has an inhospitable environment for invasive organisms!

    Fish tacos? That’s another story. I’d rather have an ammonia milkshake.

  65. Mmrothenberg Says:

    >>I have ALWAYS eaten the goat-taco!

    I believe Mr. Fleminger was especially nonplussed by the cabeza. It may in fact have precipitated his current vegetarian state (if not mine). :-)

  66. Mark Zadarnowski Says:

    Ray — Great Job! I’ve already told you that but I want to make it public.

    I’m a bit surprised at the amount of comment this has generated. Anyway, if anyone is still following the thread:
    The P-bass and Showman I got about 1980. The P-bass was a pretty penny even then, but it has appriciated about twenty-fold.

    The previous comment proves I will talk about gear, I love it! I hate how great vintage gear has gone beyond even the collector idiot phase and entered the “investment piece” phase and the only concern is how much the thing will appriciate. I don’t care that my P-bass is worth 20 times more than when I bought it because I sooner sell my leg. It has also put any of these “investment pieces” out of the price range of anyone who would actually play it.

    I played the first series of renunion shows including The Ivy Room, Casbah, Bodies and some place in LA that I can’t recall. I believe that was winter 1992.

    Anyway hi everone!

  67. Steve LaFollette Says:

    Excellent story, Ray. I’m surprised I haven’t seen anything written by you in Ugly Things.

    Tom W, great to hear you’re still playing so much. I appreciate your encouraging Ron (and by implication, the rest of us) to keep rockin’. Too many of our colleages have put down the guitar for good. Granted, it’s tough to find the time, what with jobs, kids and all, but if it’s in your blood you’ll find a way to make it work.

    That said, can anyone recommend a guitar/keyboard player in the SF Bay Area? Ron and I are starting up a new group and hope to make it stick. Same old sound. It’s great playing with Ron again after almost 25 years (I played bass in one of his “blink and you’ll miss it” bands, the Nightcrawlers, in 1985 with Jack and Gordon), he’s definitely still got the goods.

  68. Dean Curtis Says:

    Great hearing that Ron and you are starting a band here in the Bay Area! I look forward to seeing you play. The only good musicians I know here Ron probably already has played with in some band or another in the past.

  69. Christina Says:

    What did ever happen to Jeff Scott? I heard he quit music and became an economist…..is it true? Too bad, he was a fairly intense guy with a ton of talent.

  70. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Wow! More Crawdaddys video posted by Ray to YouTube … Here are a couple of tracks from the Spirit Dec. 7, 1980 (incidentally, the last evening John Lennon could have dropped by to watch the band and certainly a healthier place for Darby Crash to have spent that night):

  71. mancalledclay Says:

    i spoke briefly to mark z a couple weeks back after a couple decades of not being in contact. this to let him know i’d dredged up an old 4-track cassette he’d helped record during an early version of Dogs With Masks.
    he seemed to approve of the mixes responding with a ” sounds cool!”….
    which means it’s probably worthy of sharing with any old fans of his, friends of the crawdaddys…..or retro so-cal new wave pop in general.
    i’m glad zadarnowski did not pawn his instruments away like so many.
    btw…cass was inspired by a short story by charles henry bukowski.


  72. C.J. Wilson Says:

    What Tom G said (pasted below) is, (i’m sorry), total spew.
    I was there in the sixties in my dad’s supermarket. We had 6 oz Cokes, but mostly the 12 oz and even 16 oz sizes all through the mid sixties (i have the bottles to prove it) . Even though i preferred Pepsi or RC Cola to Coke.
    6 oz bottles were not that popular by the mid sixties. The pop machines were all going to 12 oz bottles by then unless you found a Coca Cola machine strictly for 6 oz bottles (which was getting rare).

    All our machines were 12 oz or you could get the 16 oz bottles out of our Coca Cola ice water cooler (which wasn’t coin operated, and you’d pay the appropriate price at the counter). Pop out of that icy water was the best btw!!
    One could still buy six packs of the 6 ouncers though…and i remember a couple customers who would routinely buy them and take them home.

    So, Ron & Potterf were incorrect in their ‘purity’…they could’ve drank 16 oz bottles of crap sugar!
    Seems totally stupid really.
    But, i dig the article and also dig the Crawdaddys music.

    Tom G Says:
    September 20th, 2008 at 11:37 pm
    Jeez, just read the whole thing. Definitive. Most excellent Ray.

    Ron’s purisms go way back. If I remember correctly, he told me that his grandmother sewed buttons on his collars when he couldn’t find button-downs in the ’70s (I think he’s wearing hes grandma’s work in his senior picture from high school). About the same time, I worked in a small grocery store that was on his route home from school, and him and Potterf would come in and buy Cokes only in the 6 oz bottles (because the 12 oz bottles didn’t exist in the 60s).

  73. Ray Brandes Says:

    About five minutes into A Hard Day’s Night, the Beatles are sitting on a train and their lunch arrives. They are all drinking 6 oz Pepsis, and John pretends to snort his (Coke, get it?). This is why Ron drank Pepsi, and in the small bottles if he could find them. By 1980 it was 12 oz glass Pepsis with the old logo only. Ron had a real aversion to the shorter, styrofoam labeled bottles that came out around 1983 or so--he said they caused cancer.

  74. Mmrothenberg Says:

    >>About five minutes into A Hard Day’s Night, the Beatles are sitting on a train and their lunch arrives. They are all drinking 6 oz Pepsis, and John pretends to snort his (Coke, get it?). This is why Ron drank Pepsi, and in the small bottles if he could find them.

    This kind of Talmudic discussion helped make that segment of San Diego so remarkable. It always reminded me of the “Star Trek” episode where the aliens have based their society on old gangster movies. :-)

  75. Ray Brandes Says:

    “A Hard Day’s Night” is the Leviticus of . . .oh, never mind.

  76. Dean Curtis Says:

    Ron Silva’s R&B band from the 90s -- Ron Silva & The Monarchs -- have reformed and are playing on Sunday October 4th at the Tower Bar in San Diego! Don’t miss it!

    More info:
    Facebook Event

    They are also playing on Oct. 2nd in San Francisco and Oct. 3rd. in Los Angeles. Details

  77. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Ray posted another cut from the Crawdaddys’ Dec. 7, 1980, performance at the Spirit Club:

  78. Mmrothenberg Says:

    … And since I can’t think of anywhere else to put it, here’s a clip of Mike Stax performing a couple of numbers with the Hoods, the band he formed in 1991 with former members of the Trebels:

  79. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Can I get some help on the Hitmakers timeline?

    I just stumbled over this San Diego Troubadour piece on Joel and Jef Kmak, and (collating the two) I’m getting confused on personnel and dates …

    Jeff Scott, Josef Marc and Ron Silva formed the Hitmakers in 1977 — and grabbed bassist Steve Kelly from the nascent Penetrators.

    Joel Kmak left the Pens to join Marc, and Steve Potterf joined on guitar (still in ’77?) According to the Troubadour article, Jef Kmak joined on bass … Replacing Kelly, I guess?

    The Hitmakers let Potterf go in late summer ’78, and Ron Silva joined the exodus and formed the Crawdaddys. Who took over guitar in the Hitmakers?

    According to the Troubadour, “In 1978, the Hitmakers toured the East Coast including New York’s Max’s Kansas City and Boston’s Rat Cellar. Soon, they headed to London in search of a contract. In England they ran into problems with British immigration over their visa status and, unable to work, were forced to return home. Unfortunately, the band didn’t survive the turmoil.”

    Who was in that last lineup? Did it break up by the end of ’78?

  80. Bruce Injection Says:

    Matt -- you could always “poke” my ex, Suzie, on Facebook and add as a friend. She knew Jeff Scott and the Hitmakers, (and Zeros), well.

    Also, Tom Grizwold has all the info on these guys as well…my ex, Tom, Gary Heff,…we all lived together and they were a lot less “compromised” than I was. I think their memories would be very intact still!

  81. Mmrothenberg Says:

    Crawdaddys reunion at Rhino Records!!

    Sunday, May 29 · 7:00pm -- 10:00pm
    10952 Santa Monica Blvd.


    “That’s right, folks.Bomp/Voxx Legendary Recording Artists, SAN DIEGO’S THE CRAWDADDYS, are reuniting and doing a one-time show in Los Angeles, in preparation for their upcoming Spanish tour. This is the legendary 1981 lineup.

    “Ron Silva- Vocals
    Mark Zadarnowski-Bass
    Peter Meisner-Guitar- backing vocals/harmonica
    Keith Fisher-keyboards- backing vocals
    Gordan Moss-Drums”

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