from imshakin by michael selman
Our story starts in Lake Jackson, Texas, where the small record label Van was once based. Charles and Bobby Vanmeter, two brothers from Longview, TX, started the label out of the back of their music store in Lake Jackson. Both men ran the small studio where they used a Roberts 4 track recorder to recorded local acts from Angleton, Clute, West Colombia and Freeport. The two brothers took on an accountant to help with the business side of the label named Lonnie Roberts, who was also an accountant for Dow Chemical at the time. Lonnie’s address was used occasionally, which is why you see Angleton on the labels and not Lake Jackson. Lonnie once recorded a single for the label with The Raiders titled, “Rugged But Right/ Room Full of Roses.”
The two groups I would like to spot light on this specific label are the Raiders and The Originals. I have come across some evidence that Van did in fact record a few groups in the Garage, Rocker vein, but have not acquired them as of yet.
The Raiders were a three piece consisting of Jessie Castor on bass, Bill Pitcock on drums and Terry Simpson on guitar. I had the pleasure of speaking with Terry Simpson on the phone to get the down low on this mysterious label and his group along with some information on The Originals.
Terry told me that the group started in 1961, but did not actually record until 1962. The group’s first recording was the hit, “Stick Shift.” It was outside of a club in Angleton that Terry just started playing around on the guitar and ended up writing the guitar section of the song on spot. The group went to the Vanmeters with the song where Terry and Jessie Castor then wrote the rest of the song and recorded the tune. “Stick Shift” sold 100,000 copies in Houston alone after being picked up by the Vee Jay label, giving the record worldwide distribution.
When the group started playing Terry was a fifteen year old and a freshman in High School, Jesse Caster was twenty-two, and Bill Pitcock was twenty-six years old. Another single the group wrote, which was not a chart topper, was a track titled “Raisin’ Cane/Repetition.”
This disc is my personal favorite and was recorded in about 1963 with two different members, Clyde Kirkpatrick on bass and Larry Cox on Drums. This tune features a slower bass line edging toward a tittyshaker.
It was around this time The Raiders went through multiple lineup changes and finally became the backing band for Walter Crane, who was a popular vocalist in the area.
The group then recorded “Honey Blonde/ One Little Raindrop,” both tunes written by Monte Angell. Their third single contains the Terry Simpson and Jessie Castor cover of “Stick Shift 65/Blast Off”, with the “Blast Off portion written by Gary King. Their fourth single contains my favorite of the four singles “How Much of Your Heart/Searching For Your Love.” The song features Ronnie Ellis belting out the vocals and was written by Monte Angell. For more information on The Originals please refer to Garage Hangover’s interview, which features some additional tunes as well.
I would like to thank Terry Simpson for giving me his time, and Doug Hanners for providing the photos of the band on stage and the publicity poster.
LISTEN: The Raiders – Stick Shift
LISTEN: The Raiders – Raisin’ Cane
LISTEN: The Originals – LucilleRead more at www.imshakin.comPopoutPopoutPopoutPopoutPopout