Part 1, THE HANGMEN - What A Girl Can't Do

THE HANGMEN - 'What A Girl Can't Do' / 'The Girl Who Faded Away' (Monument 910) November 1965

The Hangmen are now well represented on some garage websites with detailed information about the band aswell as rare photos. So head on over to "Garage Hangover" and "60s Garagebands" but have my site your port of call for a more in depth look at their 45s and sole album on Monument Records.
I've also got some vintage pics from the archives of The Hangmen's lead guitarist and songwriter Tom Guernsey, that as far as I know are unique to my "Flower Bomb Songs" (outta)site.

The Hangmen formed when Washington D.C. band The Reekers drifted apart sometime in mid 1965 when various members went to other colleges outside the Washington area. The Reekers were a popular draw and had a wild surf sound. Just check out the classic 'Don't Call Me Flyface' from 1964.

Tom Guernsey soon got active in putting together another combo by seeking out the 'long hairs' at Montgomery Jr College in Washington D.C. where he was attending. The new band was given the name of The Hangmen (which I think is a super cool name for a band)....

Around about the same time Monument Records, based in Nashville got passed tapes of recordings by The Reekers. The songs were 'What A Girl Can't Do' and 'The Girl Who Faded Away' both written by Tom Guernsey.

Monument were impressed and decided that they wanted some of the teenbeat sound on their roster (the label was primarily a vehicle for rock and roll, country and western and R'n'B. At this period in time Roy Orbison was the label's biggest star) and signed the band but because The Reekers were no more, Monument released the songs under the moniker of The Hangmen simply because of the Tom Guernsey connection.

So what of the music? 'What A Girl Can't Do' is classic mid 60s rock with an echo laden backbeat, pulsating bass runs and a Ventures style guitar attack giving the song instant teen appeal. The sound was new and dangerous with a potent mix of merseybeat and sneering 'put-down' lyrics. Thankfully Monument Records got their distribution right in and around the 'Tri-States' and the 45 was a big hit locally. Sadly the non existent promotion elsewhere meant that the band would not make it on to the National scene.

The flip 'The Girl Who Faded Away' is a gentle ballad in a Paul McCartney style. Tom confirms that it was influenced by the minor key kings The Zombies.

Both songs were compiled back in 1984 on the Satan label release 'Signed D.C.'

The picture of The Hangmen at the top of this post was printed in the Montgomery County Sentinel on June 16th 1966. It shows the band at Walt Whitman college with an added throng of students as The Hangmen looked over their setup for a forthcoming gig at the venue next day.
Remember to click the pic to


  1. Actually, the Hangmen played at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD. I attended this school but, unfortunately, that was a couple of years after their gig there.

  2. i was there... (i was always there)


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