There is some confusion about this band name. The Plagues (1964-1967) were from Lansing and the Plague (1967-1970 was from Lowell. These are two totally different bands.
The Plague was from Lowell c. 1967-1970; Recorded at Smitty’s Studio on the NW side of Grand Rapids. The Plague recording was – That’ll never do b/w Badlands (Quarantined 41269) sold for $86.00 (un-played mint) on May 12, 2006.
The Plagues (1964-1967) were from Lansing. One of their recordings was I’ve Been Through It Before b/w (Clouds Send Down) Tears From My Eyes (Fenton 2070) sold for $887.77 (un-played mint) on May 12, 2006.
Here is an article about the Lansing band called the Plagues (1964-1967) by Rick Tupica:
Solid State Sounds: The Plagues & Frightened Trees
by Rich Tupica
The Plagues gigged around their home town and across the state from 1964 to 1967. The sharp-dressed band of high schoolers also opened a Lansing show for the Young Rascals. The band’s chief songwriter, Bill Malone (lead vocals/bass), went on to become a Hollywood director. Malone’s film resume includes the 1999 remake of “House on Haunted Hill.” Here is Rob Zombieinterviewing Malone about it.
Prior to that, while still working at the famed Don Post Studios (which made masks for films and Halloween costumes), Malone made the mold for the Michael Myers mask in the original “Halloween” movie. But before he dedicated his days to his love of films in California, Malone was Lansing’s answer to Lennon/McCartney. The band also consisted of Van Decker (lead guitar), Phil Nobach (drums) and James Hosley on rhythm guitar.
The Plagues’ “I’ve Been Through It Before” 7-inch on Fenton Records is one of the most unheralded Lansing-made songs ever. I’d say it’s also the most valuable record, dollar wise, to come out of the capital city. Aside from that, it’s probably my favorite mid-1960s garage single, period. The song has all the elements I prefer in mid-sixties garage rock: dramatically well-written lyrics (“You expected me to … believe every word you said … but now those words are DEAD!”) – which is topped off with an obnoxiously fuzzed-out guitar riff, a mind-burning hook, and that primal energy only a teenager with a new guitar could muster.
The flip-side was “Tears From My Eyes” – a softer, melodic tune that shows Malone fully embracing his Beatles worship, which he told me about when I interviewed him for a City Pulse article back in 2010. “We were basically a Beatles band to start with,” Malone said. “We did all Beatles tunes. Then we started branching out. We also liked the Byrds and the Animals. It wasn’t long after our first show at Everett High School that we played Waverly Junior High School — we nearly started a riot. It was like something out of ‘Hard Day’s Night.’ We had a big local following; there were about 300 kids in our fan club.”
The Plagues put out two other singles. One of those was the band’s original tune,“Through This World,” which charted locally on WILS, then a popular AM pop station in Lansing. But eventually the teen-scene sound faded into prog-rock and The Plagues called it a day. Malone headed to Cali to work at Don Post Studios, his dream job as a teen. But before he left for the West Coast he briefly fronted another Lansing-based garage band, The Frightened Trees. The band recordedthe ultra-rare “Round and Round” single in its short life, which also included “I’ll Be Back” – a Beatles cover. The Frightened Trees included Malone (lead singer/bass), Terry W. Himes (drums), Henry “Hank” LaMont Markenson III (lead guitar), and Tom LaBlanc (guitar). The other members of The Plagues stayed in Lansing for quite some time.
With Malone out of the picture, Decker, Nobach and Hosley began reforming a new band in the fall of 1966. With the addition of Scott Durbin and Scott Allen, that band became the Plain Brown Wrapper, which played huge shows in Detroit with the likes of the MC5 and Bob Seger. The Plain Brown Wrapper, which eventually went through a rotating cast of members, recorded the “You’ll Pay” 7-inch and a few others before it broke up in 1974. Today, by chance, Malone, Decker and Hosley all live in California – Nobach is in the Detroit area. But Malone looks back fondly on his early Plaguesmania years.
“We were very energetic and enthusiastic,” Malone said. “We were funny and goofy on stage. We’d rock it out like teeny-bop rockers. We’d put on a show. Our story is very much like the movie, ‘That Thing You Do!’ I laugh every time I see it.”
Thanks to Rick Tupica for allowing us to borrow his great articles.