Foxfire, Lynn and the Invaders, Sessions, Common People, Tom Carter & the
Ramrods, Black & White, Sound Gathering, Kenny Gordon and Company.
To hear her sing “Boy is Gone:”
Lin singing with a big band:
Lin’s musical history from the beginning to the formation of the Common People, courtesy of Lin Nowicki:
“I will try to paint this picture for you. Please keep in mind, that the exact years might be in soft-focus, but I can get you into the era. Perhaps the mention of a few tunes we performed at the time, will help with the time-line.
The FIRST time I ever sang to any accompanyment at all, was in someone’s living room, across the street from Douglas Park. Johnny Boggs and his friend (can’t remember the name)..were the boys who played guitar…my friend, Mary Rudolph, and I sang a couple of songs with those boys, and talked about “starting-a-band.” As I recall, Mary and I naturally fell into singing harmonies for Johnny’s lead. This was when were were only 10 or 11 years old…1958? I am not sure of how we were then introduced to Bob Brock (the Polka guy)…I think it must have been through Johnny, and perhaps his friend Tom Madden, but Mary and I sang with Bob, at a few weddings. I also recall singing one or two Brock gigs, without Mary. The timeline seems to stall here, but a parade of faces, and livingrooms rushes onto the scene. I don’t know how we ended up singing in Phil Jaglowski’s (ala Phil Lawrence), living room, with Russ Selby, Dick ?, Bill ?, and Denny Johnson, but we did. We were both still only about 11-12 years old. We recorded a record, on Phil’s “Carol Ray” label. The song was “Moonbeam.”
From the “Lawrence Company,” Russ Selby (guitar) formed a band called “The Sessions,” using a drummer named Rick Priest, instead of Denny Johnson. 1960-61? We played a few weddings and VFW parties. Sometime during this period, I recall going to the WMAX studio, at night, to record a version of Pasty Cline’s “Leavin’ On Your Mind.” The song was sort of an epiphany for me. It was the first time that I actually connected with a song, on a very intimate level. I “sang the juice” out of it, and will forever be grateful to Patsy Cline for her inspiration. “Leavin,” They Call The Wind Mariah,” “Kansas City,” and a song that Mary and I wrote, called “Let Him Go,” are the songs most recall while singing with “The Sessions.” We also did a basement recording of a song that I wrote called “Summertime Love.” I don’t know if it was Phil or someone else who did the recording.
Right after, or during that time (very early 60s), Mary and I spent many fun afternoons in the company of Tommy Carter, Dave Vanderhoney, Johnny Boggs, Dave Clelland, Cathy Kahler, Patsy Stevens, and some other “cool kids.” I remember recording some background vocals on a “Tommy Carter & the Ramrods with Cathy Kahler” record called “Cotton Candy.” It was recorded in Tommy’s living room.
Also, right around that time, another aspiring singer, Tommy Madden, asked Mary and I if we would like to form a singing group. He dubbed us “TJ and The Ambassadors.” We had no band, but hired in as feature singers using (I think) some members of Bob Brock’s band to play a couple of wedding-party gigs. Then came a really cool thing… Dion had just broken off with the Belmonts, but he was still travelling and making appearances around the country. Somehow TJ managed to get us booked to do the background vocals for Dion. We wore matching semi-formals to the gig, and successfully sang all of the “doo-wops” for Dion that night. This was a very cool thing for two little Catholic school- 8th-grade girls to do. That was 1962.
There was also a young man named Ted Kadish somewhere in the mix. I can’t remember how I met him, but I guess he was OK with my mom because I recall that he took me around to several auditoriums and halls, doing auditions for a review that he was putting together. That turned out to be “The Ted Kadish All Stars.” We only played a couple of gigs, but the one I remember best was at the Civic Auditorium. Bobby Bond played guitar. The “boy singer” was Freddie Knight. My songs were ” Leavin’ On Your Mind,” “Johnny Get Angry,” “Judy’s Turn To Cry,” and then Freddie and I did a duet on “Hey Paula.” I was too young to sing for the bar jobs that Russ wanted to book for “The Sessions,” so I could not go on with that band.
My mom took me to a private vocal coach named Eric Weaver. For the next few years, I don’t recall doing much actual gigging. I was just studying, and experiencing my first couple of romances. All the while, Mary and I continued to sing together, all the time. We wrote songs in our bedrooms, and sang them in the great acoustics of the girl’s bathroom; both at St. James and West Catholic…
The Invaders are important because three of us formed and became The Common People. In fact, the actual moniker materialized because of our association with the Shamrock.
We WILL GET TO THE COMMON PEOPLE…this all leads up to it. What I consider to be “the FIRST real band was, “The Invaders.” In summer of ’65, Mary and I went to a dance at The Guest House. This was one of the dances that was hosted by “Lee Lyons,” a DJ from one of the local Top 40 Stations. I’m pretty sure that there was a live band playing that night, but, for the moment, I can’t remember who they were. For Mary and me, it was a chance to wear our new mu-mu tops with white Levies, show off our dance moves, and to meet boys. As I recall, it was Mar who met Denny DeCook that night. He was there with Bob Phillips, and Dave Bergsma, (all three were South High boys). They were there to hear the band, and Denny’s alter-agenda, was also to meet girls. I don’t remember much about the meeting…..details are hazy. All I do know is that Denny told Mary that he and the other two boys played in a band, and that Mary had the presence of mind to say that she and her friend were singers. Phone numbers were exchanged, and a couple of weeks later, we all met in Denny’s basement and sang a few tunes. Denny was the lead guitar player. Dave played rhythm-guitar, and Bob played drums. (There was no Bass in the band). I remember being very impressed by their proficiency at playing Ventures tunes, (for Russ, with “The Sessions” had also played Ventures), and I was also impressed with the gory Invaders eyeball logo that was painted on Bob’s bass drum. As it turned out, they asked us to join their band.
At that time, Michigan was enjoying a plethora of Teen-Clubs sprinkled all over the State. We played at The Guest House, school dances for their school and mine, (South and West Catholic), also College dances, The Platters, Shelby Pavilion, The Place, The Tans Haus, The Plantation, Band Canyon, Daniels Den, The Blue Light, Gun Lake Pavillion, and many others. It wasn’t long before posters were beginning to be made by proprietors of places where we repeatedly played, that billed us as “Lynn & The Invaders.” So, the guys agreed that it was a good commercial move to go with that. Then, there was some sort of disagreement between Dave and Bob, and Denny. One evening Dave and Bob came over and told me that they were splitting from Denny, and they asked me to side with them. Not long after they left, Denny came by, and asked me to sing with him. Since I really wasn’t sure about what was actually happening, my decision to remain with Dave and Bob, was strictly based upon “majority odds” …greater strength in numbers. As our popularity, and music was evolving, it was evident, that we should add a bass player instead of another guitar. The guys found an Ottawa Hills boy named Randy Bear, who joined the band. Soon after, came another change. Fred Munch was a piano player who also went to South High. Dave and Bob decided to ask him to play with us. Fred bought a new Farfisa organ and amp so he had something to play at the first rehearsal at Bob’s house.
Lynn & The Invaders enjoyed a lot of success in those early years. Randy was with the band for only a short time. (I can’t remember why he left). However, once again, Dave and Bob found another player. Doug Pollock, a kid from Central High, joined the band. He soon sported the stage-name-moniker of “Gunter Rut.” Soon after Gunther joined the band, we recorded an original song, at Phil Robert’s studio on Leonard Street. It was a song that Dave wrote, called “Boy Is Gone.” The flip side was a song that I wrote, called “Secretly,” for by that time, Fred and I were “secretly” seeing each other, unbeknownst to the other band members. I remember that the recording process was great fun..(but that’s another story). We recorded another song, with Phil, not long after “Boy Is Gone.” It was a Jay & The American’s flip-side tune called “Chio Ragassi Chio.” We even entertained the idea of changing the name of the band to “Gunter’s Group,” or “Robin & The Merry Men,” but soon lost interest in a name change. It’s a shame that, as far as anyone knows, all records of our recording of “Chio Ragasi Chio” has been lost. Lynn & The Invaders kept going strong. We were booked all over the state all year, and solidly through the summer of 1965. In ’66 another change was to come. We hired briefly Lee Lyons as our manager, and recorded another original song…a tune called “This Time.” A faster version of “Boy Is Gone” was the flip-side. At Lee’s suggestion, another member was added to the group.
A very talented kid from Traverse City, Roger Harcourt joined the band. He added another guitar, a fabulous lead voice, and harmonies. This gave the band another layer of fullness and afforded room for Fred and Gunter to double on horns. We loved the sound…and so did audiences. We hired a different manager, (Chuck Bobier), and began to tour out of state. One particularly excellent adventure was our trip to New York, by way of Niagara Falls, where we taped our first TV appearance. It was for some pool-side local Niagara Falls, NY, “Bandstand” -type show that turned out to be a big event at that time. I remember deciding to be daring…and to begin to wear MICRO-mini skirts (even though the more modest regular mini-skirts were then the current style.
(written by Lin Nowicki)
Kenny Nowicki (RIP) Lin’s brothers Page.
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