Going the Rock Route
By Norman M. RichardsWhen they started out they called themselves
. Their name was derived from thewell known American instrumental group called The Ventures from Tacoma, Washington. For their time they played an easy to listen to style of guitar based songs. They became major contributors toward the surf sound that largely emanated out of California. The Ventures had anationwide hit in 1960 titled “Walk Don’t Run.” That song and many others were a major influence on scores of upstart guitar players. Lead parts were fed whole to guys tuned into it.Charles Nabess was one of them. American rock and roll was taking shape. Elvis Presley hit the biggest. Gene Vincent, Eddy Cockran, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard had big radio hits.Buddy Holly, Bill Haley and The Comets, even Cliff Richard and The Shadows were aninfluence on Charles. Near the end of high school he began to imagine being in a band of hisown. He met Larry Haynes who had the same thoughts. Jim Moran heard them talk and showedinterest. Jim bought a basic drum kit. The boys acquired their first electric guitars.Their first practice was in the Anglican Church Hall down by the river. They learned “Perfidia,Walk Don’t Run, Pipeline, Apache” and Jim had to learn “Wipeout” once other songs wereironed out by the guitar players.
appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. That was ahome run measured by the influence felt by every kid in town. No one moved unless a Beatlesong played somewhere. It gave repertoire for The Venturas. Charles’ younger brother Donaldwas invited to join the band. I was interested in drumming too. But, I started as a non- instrument playing member of the band and helped with equipment setups and sound adjustments at dances.Donald brought another side to the band’s performance. He did an uncanny imitation of ElvisPresley. Mom told me their Uncle, Simon Nabess was good at impressions too. Indeed,something felt essential about what they did on stage. The idea came to change their name to
. Along the way, the band had girlfriends who handled the door and band business. In passing, one gal, attached to a local skating coach said he might help the band if theywere interested. He had a keen interest in music and knew performance well.The band was introduced to Mel Metzner. He began to assist the band with rehearsals first andsoon took over business affairs as manager. He encouraged them and became close confidant notunlike Brian Epstein was for The Beatles. Mel was friendly but was all business around localkids. Mel had a stutter like country star Mel Tillis. That endeared him to band members who’dgrown close to him. Larry Haynes more than the others, took pains to finish Mel’s sentences. Akind of short hand took place between Mel and the boys. He helped with costuming and adviceon everything. Charles bought a Mosrite guitar like The Ventures played. Fender amplifiers were purchased and Jim ordered a white pearl Ludwig drum kit. Their style and sound improved. Jimadopted a top hat most thought he slept in. He always had it on. Since The Beatles set trends,everyone wanted Beatle haircuts. British and American rock groups joined in. Again, time and