THE KING BEES - THE INSEX - THE SOUND CARNIVAL - THE ALLIGATOR BAG FACTORY - GROUP MEMBER BOB OPDYKE REMEMBERS HIS 60S GROUPS

Bob Opdyke explains:

The King Bees were the first band in which I played that rehearsed enough to have two full sets of music.
We were formed in 1963 and composed of high school and church friends. Our Pastor's son was the lead guitarist.
Like many groups of the time we took our name from a Rolling Stones song. We were a cover band that played at school functions and private parties. The lead singer and I were on the high school swim team, but our school didn't have a pool until our Junior year.
Therefore, we travelled to other schools to practice and for competitions. One of those schools was Hinsdale.

The King Bees
Hinsdale had a tremendous swim team, plus members in several really great bands.
As I've mentioned before, at that time Chicago had many really great bands which formed, merged and re-formed. This provided me with the opportunity to work and play with some of the groups that were getting studio time.
I began to do sideman work and worked in many clubs in the Chicago area.
In 1965 I graduated from high school and went to NIU.
The King Bees - L-R Richard Jensen, Bob Opdyke, Terry Grant, Ken Macik, Nick Angelo

The King Bees drifted apart and I ended up in a group called The InSex.  
Since our group started during the height of Beatlemania and John Lennon came up with their band name as a play on the Buddy Holly group, we did the same.
Our group was originally called "The Insex" (slightly randy, but we were college boys at the time).

In September of 1965 luck brought Dick Stock and I to a new dormatory tower at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois (about 65 miles north of Chicago). Sam and Dick Stock had gone to high school together and both their parents lived in Morton Grove (a northern suburb of Chicago).

I think I saw Dick carry his guitar through the dorm lobby, which started our conversation. He told me that he had a friend who was a singer and so it began. Days later I think we were playing around and someone said they knew a really great drummer from Elmhurst. Dick Miles brought his drums from home. Jim Gienko was a guitarist who came by and asked if we needed a guitar player. We told him we had enough guitar players, but we needed a bass player. Jim got his guitar and amp, tuned down the last four strings and auditioned. Obviously he got the job.

The Insex publicity picture 1965
The picture was taken on "Freshman Rock", on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.
Sam Siegel sits in the top center and then clockwise are Dick Stock (standing), Jim Geinko (seated), Bob Opdyke (half seated) and Dick Miles (standing).

The Insex - mid-song. Jim's back is to the camera, Sammy singing lead and Bob singing a harmony part. Dick Miles is behind the PA cabinet.
Dick Stock had taken guitar lessons from a professional jazz player, so his approach to guitar solos was very cool handed and technically smooth. Over the years I played with lots of guitar players, but only one or two had Dick's smooth!
Dick played a cherry burst Gibson Barney Kessel standard guitar through a Fender Twin Reverb. That combination was killer no matter where we played.
Dick Miles was trained as a percussionist through high school. He had a suit case in which he carried his drum stands and sticks, and the inside top had rows of drumming medals he had won in various competitions. Most were blue ribbons (1st Place).
 Sam was as confident and agile a front man as you'd ever want. Good vocals and boy, could he ever work a crowd!
I provided back up vocals and would sing lead occasionally.
The guys at the Phi Ep Pi house, which Sam later joined, would let us practice in their basement. We played lots of parties and bashes there. Just like the "Animal House" movie.
By the end of the school year (June 1966) we lined up day time jobs in Chicago and started booking performances for evenings and weekends. Since my folks were in New Jesery Sam's folks were kind and let me stay in their home.
The start of that summer (1966) was great, but I became more and more unsure of what I wanted to do with my life.  By July I had decided to not return to school, so my folks retrieved me in August 1966 and Pat took my place.
The Insex - Bob to the right, Dick Stock to the left and Dick Miles up on the drum risers (Note the name on the front of the drum kit)
 
The Insex - Bob Opdyke, Dick Stock and Jim Geinko. Dick Stock was a great guitar player, but not a singer.
The Insex - Sam out front, Dick Stock playing lead guitar and Bob Opdyke on rhythm guitar and vocals.
These four pictures were taken at a Catholic girls college in St. Charles Illinois in May 1966.
We had been concerned about how the school administrators would react to our music, but shortly after we started one of the younger Nuns was out dancing so all went well.
Sam, Dick Stock (he goes by Richard now), Dick Miles and Jim were great guys and we had great times together.
I believe each of them stopped playing after each left the band, but I continued on with several other groups.

The Insex business cards

The name change to The Sound Carnival came about after a Summer gig in Wisconsin (1967).
At that time we played mainly top 40 covers we heard on WLS Radio from Chicago.
Northern Illinois University, located in DeKalb, Illinois was about an hour north of Chicago.
It actually worked out better, because we joined the Musician's Union in DeKalb and could play in Union Clubs in Chicago.
Our song list consistened of the most current Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Yardbirds, Beach Boys, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Chicago Blues like 'Messin' With The Kid' (later recorded by Jim Belushi of Saturday Night TV fame).
We had two or three originals that were written by Dick Stock, but it was the covers that would make them jump. We couldn't get enough British Invasion group music.
Sometimes we'd realize that we were hearing Chicago Blues tunes coming back at us fom England. Crazy.
I remember when the Beatles album "Rubber Soul" came out. We stayed up trying to figure out all the newest songs. My girlfriend was a French major and I kept playing 'Michelle' over and over on the telephone until we figured out all the phrases in the song. Crazy times were when new equipment like the Fuzztone came out and was used on "Satisfaction". Tunes like "Gloria", "Tell Her No", "Summer In The City" and the like kept the dance floors full.
We also had a huge number of great groups that came out of the Chicago area at that time such as The Shadows of Knight, The Buckinghams, The Cryan Shames, The Flock, The Little Boy Blues and the groups which later formed CTA and Chicago to name just a few. We had gone to high school with many of the guys in those bands. This was really a magical time to play music!

For a previous article about The Sound Carnival and a review of their amazing double sided 45 go here

Sometime in mid 1967 Bob left The Sound Carnival and joined the military and was based at the Sonar School in Key West Naval Air Station in Florida. Whilst there Bob formed a group called The Alligator Bag Factory with fellow recruits Phil Leonard (drums) and Larry NeSmith (organ)....bass player unknown. The Alligator Bag Factory became the house band at The Night Beat Lounge for nine months in 1968-69

  
The Alligator Bag Factory

The Alligator Bag Factory
further insights from Bob: 
Shortly after arriving in New Jersey I worked with a couple of club band for about 6 months, but knew my draft notice wasn't far behind. The decision in those days for someone my age was "do I go to Canada or enlist"? I could not find an opening in the Air Force, I wasn't going to Viet Nam in the Army or Marines, so I enlisted in the US Navy.

The ironic twist was I sent to Great Lakes Training Facility (just north of Chicago) for basic training. Right back to where I started. About the second day of basic word went out that they needed guys who could play an instrument for special services entertainment. My Dad had told me not to volunteer for anything in the Navy. This time he was wrong.
After a short audition I was given the opportunity to join with the best of the guys who auditioned and put together a rock band to play for special dances and entertainment events. This meant no marching or drilling throught basic!
Several of the guys from that group stayed in that base area for 8 more weeks of electronics training, so we continued to play and book ourselves into local clubs. It was a bit strange for us to have military haircuts, but be playing current tunes.
After electronics school I was shipped to the Fleet Sonar School in Key West, Florida. At that time Key West had a strange mix of shrimpers, military and motor cycle hippies. It was like the east coast Haight Ashbury.
For a couple of weeks it was fun to snokle or go to Miami on weekends, but it didn't take long. I wanted other musicians to work with.
Phil Leonard grew up in Indiana watching his father play drums in a C&W bands. Phil was a natural. Mike Nesmith for a trained pianist, but he could really a keyboard jump!
We picked up a bass player and lead player for Boston who could really cook and called ourselves The Aggregation. The name fit because we did a full collection of blue, rock and cover tunes.
 When the bass and lead guys were shipped out we hooked up with two Air Force guys and became the house band at the Night Beat Lounge. The Night Beat was on the main drag (Duval Street) of Key West. 
I don't remembr how the name came around, but they called us The Alligator Bag Factor
For about 9 months we played 4 nights a week and backed up other "attraction" bands that the bar owner brought into the club. Some were really great!
What a great place to spend late 1967 and most of 1968.  While we were there music was beginning to undergo some changes. The Jimi Hendrix Experience came out with their first album and within a couple of days we added 'Fire', 'Purple Haze' and several other selections to our set list. What a combination.........Blue Eyed Soul and Hendrix!
 The next few years in the Navy gave me the opportunity to play with guys who brought totally different styles. Groups like Crosby Stills & Nash and American brought acoustic music to the forefront. Southern rock wasn't far behind. The Allman Brothers and Lynard Skynard.

A big thanks to Bob Opdyke for taking time out to provide me with details of his 60s groups and sending me so many cool photographs.

Comments

  1. That's funny, I was in a band that started in May of 1964 called "The InSex" out of Eagle Grove Iowa. We finally merged with another group and became a band called "Lincoln Reed & the HouseRockers" ( A Blue Eyed Soul Group ) who were inducted into the Iowa R&R Hall of Fame in 1999. This publication really brought back memories. Thank You, Denny "Lincoln" Reed.... Webster City, Iowa

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment