(Day 47) Kingtones Memoirs
March 23, 1964 (Monday)
Mike, Phil and I got up at 3 P.M. Pete and Bob stayed in bed. It was another very pleasant day outside. Mike and Phil decided to go to Miami to see if they could find some parts for Phil’s Thunderbird. I stayed at the apartment and cleaned it up.
When Phil and Mike got back, we decided to go fishing at Porky’s Lake. Mike said he would paddle the canoe so that Phil and I could troll and catch fish. As our “fishing expedition” began, with our 89 cent fishing poles, Mike started to paddle. What seemed like a good idea at first, having Mike paddle so we could troll for fish, turned out not to be so good. Mike was paddling so fast that our worms were skimming along on top of the water. Phil and I didn’t get a single bite, much less any fish. We told Mike he either had to paddle much slower or he couldn’t paddle at all. Mike paddled the canoe to shore and got out. The bad news was that Mike was pissed. The good news was that Phil and I started catching all kinds of fish by just sitting in one spot.
Bob and Pete finally got out of bed and decided that they wanted to eat supper out. They stopped by Porky’s to see if the three of us wanted to join them, so the five of us went out for dinner. After we ordered, we talked about Sunday night’s performance: what was good, bad, changes that should be made, new things we should try, etc. Before we knew it, an hour had passed and we didn’t have our food yet. We waved down our waitress and told her that if we didn’t get our food in the next ten minutes, we were leaving. By the time we finished eating and got back to our apartment it was 8:50 pm. We changed into our uniforms and flew to Porky’s.
When we got to Porky’s, the line to get in, was once again out the door. When we got inside, the place was packed. As we took to the stage, the crowd roared, screamed, clapped and hollered! Michigan State students, whom The Kingtones had been playing for in Lansing during the past six months, were there in force. We could do no wrong!
Every song we played, the crowd went crazy. The “Kingtones sound” was loud and clear. Pete was at his best. With Phil’s driving guitar, Mike’s powerful beat, Bob’s booming bass and old crazy me bouncing and jumping around on the keyboards, we had the place going wild. The students danced like mad fools. Some of them had to be taken off of the table tops by the bouncers because they were dancing on them. It was mass hysteria!
When “The Situations” came on stage, they were a little intimidated. It was probably a good thing that they came on when they did, or the place might have been torn apart. “The Situations” took the edge off the crowd a little bit and calmed things down.
As soon as we came back on again, the Michigan State students started chanting, “The Bird,” “The Bird.” We did a crazy rendition of “Surfin’ Bird,” a.k.a. “The Bird,” by the Trashmen. It was a huge audience favorite at the Coral Gables in Lansing where The Kingtones had been playing, and they wanted to hear it. We gave them “The Bird.” Oh my, the place went crazy! You couldn’t hear yourself think! When we finished the song, they yelled “more, more!” insistently. They wouldn’t stop. So we gave it to them a second time. The place went ballistic!! It’s hard to express in words how good we were that night and how the audience reacted to us. We sounded like a national recording group and looked and acted like professionals.
We held the crowd so well, that some of the students waiting outside to get in, never got in that night. When we finished at 3:30, the audience yelled “more…. encore, do the Bird again, …encore.” Before we left the stage, Porky had us make an announcement that on Tuesday night, if you had an M.S.U picture I.D. Card, you could get into Porky’s without paying a cover charge. This brought about more hysteria!!
As we left the stage, the owner of Lenny’s, which was Porky’s number one rival, came over and offered us a job playing at his place. Porky’s had now become the number one club to go to, because of The Kingtones. Lenny wanted us. He said he would pay us more money than what Porky was paying us. I don’t know if he remembered at the time, but we had tried to audition for his place before we went to Porky’s. Lenny himself said he already had a band for spring break and wouldn’t even listen to us. Because of this, Phil told him no. We were staying at Porky’s. This was the first year that Porky’s became the number one club in Fort Lauderdale.
As we were leaving, Porky came over, smiled and said, “you guys were good tonight.” That’s about the best compliment you could get out of Porky. We wanted him to say “you guys were awesome, magnificent, terrific, fabulous, etc.” But coming out of Porky, “good” was as good as it was going to get. He continued by saying that he was going to start running an afternoon jam session, starting Thursday, from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. He wanted us to start advertising it on stage tomorrow night. We couldn’t believe it. Not only were we already playing seven nights a week, starting Thursday, we were going to start playing twice a day. Porky wasn’t done yet. He said that he wanted us to come in later that day to practice with another singing group that he was going to let perform at his club, but they needed a back up band. They were called the “African Beatles.” This was starting to feel a little like a sweatshop. I thought to myself that I wouldn’t be able to survive at the pace we were going.
When we got back to the apartment, I wanted to write Chick a letter. I had been so busy lately, that my letter writing to her was negligent. I wanted to her tell how well we were doing at Porky’s and how much I missed her. I was so tired, however, that I fell asleep with the pencil in my hand. We were all healthy and getting along good.