By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon
A few weeks ago we talked about the Tweeds and their first 45. I planned to finish their story and cover their second 45, and then I remembered that someone had already done some research on them, long ago. So I contacted Jim Duffey, longtime local record collector and historian. He generously sent me a copy of his article as it appeared decades ago in Discoveries Magazine, a now-defunct collector’s publication. It shed some light on what we already covered and I’ll be drawing on it for the rest of the story.
The short story: Kenmore teens Paul Varga (drums), Ted Connor, Alan Shaw & Dave Constantino (guitars) formed a band when they were all no more than 14 years old! Shaw left and James Dunnigan came in, completing the group with a bass guitar. This is the best-known Tweeds lineup. After playing in local dances and teen clubs, they won a Battle Of The Bands at WKBW’s annual Fun-A-Fair. They were rewarded with the to record in a New York City studio, toward a possible major label contract. A Thing Of The Past / What’s Your Name was released in the Summer of 1967.
This brings us up to 1968 and today’s record. But first a few additional facts to fill in the gaps with what I already wrote and inform the rest of the story.
— Varga was a student at Kenmore West but the Connor, Constantino and Dunnigan all attended Kenmore East.
— 1967 was the first year for WKBW’s Fun-A-Fair event. It was co-organized by Maury Bloom, area promoter for Decca Records. The contest prize is unclear – apparently a “chance” at a contract with Decca. There was some kind of further acceptance process which included an audition. I’m not sure if they had to pass an audition first before being allowed to record, or if the recording session served as the audition. In any case it was recorded at Decca’s NYC studios and released on Decca’s affiliate label Coral.
— I believe The Rogues, Caesar & His Romans, The Rockin Paramounts and The Vibratos all performed at the Fun-A-Fair. Not sure if they were only performers or actually competed. Two bands that did compete were The Druids and The Cavemen. Though they didn’t win they may have gotten noticed there- both bands got to release a 45 around this time.
— Dave Constantino wrote Thing Of The Past specially for the session. Credit for this (and the other three Tweeds sides) was shared with all members for the sake of unity but Dave was the main writer.
— They used the same Decca studio where things like Bill Haley’s Rock Around The Clock (a Decca release) was recorded. Mike Jacobs produced and Paul ‘Green Tambourine’ Leka helped.
— Thing Of The Past never cracked the Billboard Top 100 though it sold 30,000 copies over time, peaking at #2 on the local charts.
In February of 1968 The Tweeds returned to the Decca studio to record their second 45. Mike Jacobs – son of Coral artist Dick Jacobs – again produced. I Want Her To Know / We Got Time came out also on Coral. Since they had done well with the ballad A Thing Of The Past, I Want Her To Know was similarly intended as the ‘plug side’. But some radio station DJ’s were pushing the rocker side We Got Time. This hurt the momentum of the single.
Following a shakeup at Coral they were given a new producer, John Simon, who promised to cut an album if the single did well. With this motivation, Tweeds’ members personally tried to intervene to get DJs to stick to the I Want Her To Know side. Their manager George Constantino (Dave’s father) tried to contact Coral/Decca for help too. But nothing came of it. DJs continued splitting the play and the single stalled.
Ultimately I Want Her To Know / We Got Time only sold about half as many copies of the first record. So no album would be recorded.
I chose the ‘Rock’ side We Got Time for today’s feature. Unlike the Beatles/Beau Brummels sound of their other tracks, this one has a harder sound, like the British Invasion sound of The Who as filtered through an American teen garage band sensibility. Note that it has TWO guitar breaks- unusual. It’s interesting also to note that the members were 14-16 years old at the time of the first recording, and half a year older at the time of the second! Bear that in mind when listening.
Jim Dunnigan left the group not long after this, as he was preparing for college. Tim Murphy came in on bass but soon Ted Conner also left – drafted – and the Tweeds became a trio consisting of Constantino, Varga and Murphy. When Murphy left Billy Sheehan came in and they continued for awhile as The Tweeds, but eventually became Talas.