THE ASCOTS Halloween Dance October 1965

Whoa! I got a really great email some years ago from John Neff of the Ascots and many other bands. John is a real Detroit success story! I love to get emails from great musicians they give the history of Detroit Rock n Roll a new piece to the puzzle. So without further ado I will let John Neff guest post for me tonight!

Hi, Kimmer;

I love your Detroit Blog. Was just turned on to the KJ Knight book excerpt page by a friend of mine who used to play with him in LA. I am from Detroit, and had a number of bands there in the 60s and early 70s. One of the more notorious ones was The Ascots (1964-66), who recorded a 45, "So Good" b/w "Who Will It Be?"

THE ASCOTS, August, 1965, just before recording their 45. From Left; John Neff-Lead Guitar, Bob Pelmear-Bass, Vocals, Dale Kath-Rhythm Guitar, Chris Chappell-Vocals, Frank Giglio-Drums.

We recorded it in August of 1965, and went on Robin Seymour's Swingin' Time with it, and dave Prince started playing it on WXYZ after we played a sock hop at Notre Dame High School in early 1966 with The Shades Of Blue ("Oh, How Happy") and The Capitols ("Cool Jerk").

We had just gotten the 45 and I gave him one at the dance. he played it, introduced us as "Detroit's newest recording act" and we did our set. he took the record back to the station and started playing it. Well, unbeknown to him, it was a private pressing and we only had it on consignment in a few stores.

The Ascots business card

Soon CKLW started getting calls for the song, and Rosalie Trombley called up Prince and asked him where the hell he got the record, because she was getting calls for it and couldn't find it anywhere. Well, I had put a band card in the sleeve of the 45 when I gave it to Dave, and he dug it out and gave her my number.

Rosalie Trombley

Rosalie called around dinner time one night, and my Dad answered. She ID'd herself and he called to me, "It's someone from CKLW". I got on the phone and she said she wanted a record for the station and that I should call this distributor and give him the record so he could get it into the stores around town. I did, she started playing it and we sold out.

That 45 today is one of the examples used to demonstrate Detroit Garage Rock, and has been bootlegged for over 25 years. I was shocked to learn that, and that the single goes for from $600-1,000. at record shows! (I still have a few mint/never played copies left!).

Anyway, you can see the band and hear the record HERE, click the 'Bands' tab and click 'The Ascots'.

After The Ascots, I had a band called The Tribe, that Punch Andrews picked up as manager. we made a record at Tera Shirma Studios called "Maple Street Park", and again went on Swingin' Time.

MC5 Hill St House Ann Arbor MI

We changed the name to The Pavement and eventually broke up in 1968. I then had a band called "The Electric Blues Band", which hung out at the Hill Street house of the MC5 and was signed to Electra after we played the 1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival, but the record was not released, as Jac Holzman sold the label to Warner's and they dropped most of the artists.

I then joined Don Davis' rhythm section at United Sound Systems, called "The Company", and played guitar and synthesizer on over 150 'Soul' records as they were called then.

The rest you can learn on my site, but thank you, thank you, thank you for keeping the formative days alive. Detroit was an amazing music town. I remember one of my bands playing at Silverbell, opening for The Spencer Davis Group and Fleetwood Mac - the same night!

What a great town and a great time.

Today I have a recording studio in Inverness, Marin County, and am just finishing up construction on a large new world-class studio across from George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch.

I also have the story of Richard Haddad, who always wanted to play in our bands as a guitar player, but truthfully, he didn't have the 'stuff'. Then he switched to Bass and found his way - ended up going to LA with Scot Richardson and SRC.I think he went by Rick Michaels then. Anyway, he teamed up with Steve Perry, and they started an album project called, "Alien". They got signed to Columbia, and Rick bought a sports car with his advance. he crashed it and was killed, thus the end of the project.

But Bud Prager, their manager, took Steve up to Herbie Herbst, manager of Journey, and said, I think you guys need a singer.The rest, as they say, is history. So sadly, Rick's untimely demise led to Steve joining Journey. By the way, I engineered the current Journey Revelation 3 cd set with the new Filipino singer, Arnel Pineda. Also, Rick went out to LA with a friend of mine named Mike Nardone (also from Detroit area), and they had a band with KJ Knight. How webly we weave, yes? Thanks for a great blog! John Neff

John's Websites


John Neff said...

It's great! Thank you so much - and you got the Lynch and Journey stuff in there too!
Keep goin', Kimmer! Keep it alive!


Susie Forkin said...

Another great one Kim!! xoxo

Whaler said...

"Great Stuff Jeff..remember Silverbelle..and a few others...Thanks..Whaler"

Geri Rubello Gillespie said...

i read the story of john neff, amazing some 45's are worth tons!!

Jon Campbell said...

GOOD ONE!!! Happy to see that this finally got out there. Thanks John. And,Thanks Kim--GOOD STUFF!!!

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