Gary James' Interview With Sylvan Wells Of
They are a Daytona Beach, Florida band who enjoyed considerable success with a song they wrote and recorded called "The Little Black Egg". We spoke to original Nightcrawlers member Sylvan Wells about the song and the Daytona Beach music scene in the mid-1960s.
Q - Sylvan, is there a Nightcrawlers group in some variation that still performs today?
A - No. We own the name and no one is authorized to use it, so if there's somebody out there, we don't know about (it).
Q - What are you doing with the name?
A - Nothing. The band is a very unusual band. There was one variation after the original five for about six months which I was a part (of) and then we made a conscious decision to shut it down and there would not be any Nightcrawlers without the original five guys. Period. When we were playing, that was always our attitude. If somebody was sick, the band cancelled. We didn't play it with a substitute. We were very, very close. Quite frankly, I don't think any of us were terrific musicians, but we were really good together. So we recognized that and said no substitutes, no fill-ins. We'll eat the money. It's not worth it.
Q - I actually like that attitude. It's refreshing.
A - Yeah, well it was all about the band. It was never about individuals. That's why there was some really great bands in the '60s and early '70s, because they were bands. That was always our attitude. It kind of is our attitude today. The drummer has passed away, so there will never be another Nightcrawlers. The other five are best friends to this day, even though we live in different places. We talk on the phone or we e-mail or text literally once or twice a week. Our children call each one "uncle." That was kind of the difference in us ad I think most everybody else. We didn't know that. When the band was formed there were two guys we didn't even know. Three of us and Rob Rouse, the lead singer and Pete Thomason, the rhythm player, were all good friends and went to the same high school. The other two were not. It turned out we couldn't have asked for better people to be with. That's really unusual I think.
Q - To me, the original Rolling Stones are The Rolling Stones.
A - Exactly.
Q - Through the years you start substituting players, you're not really seeing what made the group so special.
A - The band changed. I like some of their newer stuff, but the band changed. My favorite in the early Rolling Stones was Brian Jones. It was his band. Anyway, that was our attitude way back and it's our attitude today. That's why there's no cover band running around, making money off the name. We won't do that to people. That'd be wrong. When the drummer (Tommy Ruger) died a year and a half ago (December 11, 2013), that was it. That was the end of the road for any so-called reunion or anything like that. We did in '94, the five guys came together and did my high school's 30th reunion. Everybody flew in and we wrote some new songs and we played for an hour and a half. When we started to rehearse the day before it was like we had never quit. All the mental telepathy I call it was still there and we were laughing. We were just stunned that it was like that. I think that's one of the reasons we stayed great friends. (laughs)
Q - After the band broke up, did any of the guys go into other bands in other states?
A - No. One guy, Charlie Conlon, probably the name you know him by, who wrote "The Little Black Egg" lyrics and most of the song, he was approached by Warner Brothers to I guess be the second Neil Diamond, and it failed miserably. He would tell you to this day the reason is he wasn't around the other guys. We would tell him the truth about a song he'd write. If it wasn't any good, we'd tell him it wasn't any good and we wouldn't play it. (laughs) No one at Warner Brothers was willing to tell him no. He lasted only about six months I think and that was that.
Q - What was Daytona Beach like in 1965 for a Rock 'n' Roll group?
A - Probably the most hot bed place in America. We were the top dog. We were playing everywhere. There was another band in town who were much better musicians who couldn't get work. You know them as The Allman Brothers Band. Duane was in my high school class 'til he quit as a Senior. Gregg graduated from the same high school I did, Sea Breeze High School. There was a guy growing up in Port Orange, which is like a suburb, he was four or five years younger than us. He goes on to be the best lead guitar player in the world, Peter Carr, who was the session musician at Muscle Shoals for thirty-five years. If I really stop and think about it, I would say there was a plethora of musical activity in Daytona Beach. I don't know why, but it just turned out that way. We didn't realize it. We thought every place was like this. Guitar players getting together and showing each other things. We were just really lucky in the sense that we got a regular gig right away. The band got really good and me and Charlie started writing songs and people liked them. Pretty soon we're doing about 60% to 70% of the show of all originals.
Q - The clubs allowed you to do that?
A - We never played a club. We played just teen clubs. We said we don't want to play nightclubs. We're not interested. So, we played our music. The other thing is, we never played any covers on the radio. Never. If it was playing on the radio you would not hear us play it. The reason that was, a couple of reasons, Rob Rouse, who did not sing "The Little Black Egg", but who was our lead singer, was probably the best Black Blues singer you'd ever hear and he's White. He had this wonderful Rhythm & Blues collection from the late '50s and I'm just learning to play guitar. I never played before in my life. So, I'm saying to him, "Why don't we play some of that stuff and if we don't play it right, nobody will know the difference? Besides that, they'll think we wrote it." So a good half of our show was Rob singing old Rhythm & Blues. Some of it became very popular later. But when we were playing it, nobody knew those songs. Solomon Burke. Wilson Pickett. All of those people from the late '50s. I've always said Nightcrawlers were a rhythm band. We were all about dancing and having a good time. If you couldn't dance to it, we didn't play it. If we had a really good original tune and it wasn't danceable, we didn't play it 'live'.
Q - No ballads from The Nightcrawlers.
A - Well, ballads, but that was danceable. If it was something that changed tempo, no. We didn't play it 'live'. We were all about getting you out of your chair and jumping up and down and dancing and having a good time. That was our attitude from Day One. If we do a show, we want you to say at the end of the night, we're the best you ever saw. Probably we're not even close to that, but you know, when you think like that you play better.
Q - Right.
A - You try harder.
Q - What age were you writing your own songs?
A - Seventeen, eighteen.
Q - Did that come easy for you?
A - Yeah. (laughs) I thought, boy, this is easy. The other part in parcel that made that work was there was a guy in a suburb, Lee Hazen, who was four or five years older than us and he wanted to learn to be a recording engineer. So he had taken his apartment, stripped out the kitchen and put up egg shell crates everywhere. He bought some microphones and tape recorders and he came to us and said, "Listen, if you guys will come up and practice up here, I can practice recording." And so, "The Little Black Egg" was recorded in a kitchen with a singer outside, over a tree branch, the actual record that you've heard.
Q - Wow!
A - But because of that, we'd go up there a couple of times a week and rehearse. Lee was recording all of this material. All of a sudden, one night after after a show here in Daytona, 'cause we weren't traveling, we didn't do any of that in the beginning of course, Rob Rouse and I in his car at the local drive-in restaurant at two in the morning, all of a sudden we hear one of our songs. We thought, "We didn't do this. How did this happen?" Lee had taken it to the local AM Top 40 station and convinced them to play it late at night. Within a couple of weeks it's number one in Daytona. It was a song called "Cry" and that started it. Then when "The Little Black Egg" was done, it was again an immediate number one all over Central Florida and now record companies want to know who these guys are. Without Lee letting us record, probably none of that would have happened, as I see it.
Q - Everything just fell into place for you guys.
A - Exactly. The serendipity of it when you think back on it is quite amazing. And I mean I have tapes still to this day recorded out there too. (laughs) People tell me, "You should release it." I say, "I'm not doing that. That was never the intent." I respect everything they've done. I'm not going to embarrass them with some stuff that sounds pretty bad quite frankly. I wanted copies of everything Lee ever did. That's the other thing. The Nightcrawlers are really an unusual band in that The Nightcrawlers own the masters of everything they ever recorded.
Q - The only other guy I ever heard say that was Dave Clark (Dave Clark Five).
A - We refused to sign with Kapp Records if they would not agree that we own the songs and they got to lease them from us.
Q - And they agreed obviously.
A - Yeah. That came in really handy in 2000 when Ace Records in England wanted to create a "Greatest Hits" CD. They called Lee Hazen who tells them to call me and of course we have all the masters. So it was no big deal.
Q - Could Lee release those tapes of The Allman Brothers? Does he own the masters?
A - He owns the masters, but I think he gave them or sold them to Gregg, maybe fifteen or twenty years ago and there are not supposed to be any copies anywhere, but there is. (laughs) Without Lee's help we never would have gotten to first base. We'd have been a local band playing our music. Who would have thought Daytona Beach was much of a hotbed for music any time?
Q - Maybe Spring Break had something to do with it.
A - That's true. You drive around this town today, all the teenage places that were open are closed. There are no places for kids to go dance and have a good time. Bars are made to have 'live' entertainment. They want you to play the covers on the radio.
Q - And it's twenty-one to get in.
A - Correct.
Q - And the D.U.I. laws are very strict.
A - That's correct.
Q - A band like The Nightcrawlers could never happen today.
A - Probably not.
Q - The support team for a band is no longer there.
A - But at the same time I would say they can happen if they're reasonably good with original material. You don't need a record company to record it and you don't need their distribution. You can do it on the Internet.
Q - But the Internet is crowded with band videos and websites.
A - Somebody's really got to push it. My point is, there are avenues that closed. There are other avenues that opened up. It seems to me, of course I'm always the optimist, that you just have to think a little harder. You can't say I'm going to do it like I used to do, you gotta do it this way. But I've always been that way about everything. It's never "You can't do it." It's always "We can do it, you just have to figure the method. So let's use our brain."
Q - It's the last season for American Idol.
A - Oh, it's a joke.
Q - But it represents another venue that's closing for talented singers to get a break.
A - That's true. I agree with that completely. I wish there was a way these guys could really do it. The other problem I see today is music is no longer guitar centered. In the mid-'60s, '70s, it was guitar music. And it's not that way now.
Q - You're saying the music is more computer generated.
A - I think so. It's computer generated. I think a lot of it is keyboard type instruments. You listen to most of the music out there today, you have a hard time hearing any guitars, not that I listen to a lot of it quite frankly. That just, to me, seems to be a real problem. When The Nightcrawlers started I didn't know how to play guitar at all, period. The rhythm player, Pete Thomason, taught me to play quickly. You can't do that with keyboards or other things. Our first job was on a Wednesday, or I booked the job on a Wednesday for a Saturday night job, and I didn't own a guitar and didn't know how to play. Now Pete says in the documentary about the band in the beginning Sylvan didn't know how to do anything, (laughs) but he learned real quick. I don't think you can do that now. I really don't. Those first couple of months, jobs were real simple, three chord songs, but we were always a dance band. We were always were rhythm. Rhythm was everything, which I think differentiated us from just about everybody. And we had shows. We had skits and things we did on stage that nobody had ever seen before.
Q - Skits? Shows? That's unique too!
A - Yeah. We tried to entertain you. We were entertainers. We were not musicians. We wanted you to leave feeling like you saw something really unusual tonight and that you liked it and that you'd pay money next week to come see it again. We had fun. First and foremost was to make money. We never played a job, never once for free. Never. And the second thing for us was to have fun and to entertain people, which I don't think a lot of bands thought about.
Q - What kind of deals were you getting at these teen clubs you were playing? Would you get a flat fee versus a percentage of the door, whichever was higher?
A - Yeah. In the very beginning myself and Rob Rouse, who is my closest friend in life, we went to the city of Daytona. They had a Rec. Center that had a second floor dance center. It hadn't been used in probably thirty of forty years, which would hold about two hundred people in the neighborhood where we lived. So we went to the city and talked I guess to the Recreation Director. Rob and I convinced him to put on a dance there for the kids and we'd be the house band every Saturday night and we would get I think $75 for the five of us, which sounds like nothing, but in 1965 fifteen bucks was far more than you'd make being a bag boy in a grocery store. So that immediately gave us a place to work out all our songs, gave us a reason to practice 'cause we knew we had a job every Saturday night and then from that, other things came up on Friday nights. We were all going to a junior college so we were only playing on Friday and Saturday nights. It turned out another teen place in New Smyrna, which is about twenty miles from here, hired us on Friday nights. So we had two jobs every week guaranteed and we did that, I want to say about six or eight months until "The Little Black Egg" hit. Then of course it was silly to stay there, so we left and started traveling. But without that experience and without that process of having a job every weekend that you had to play, and we always wanted to do new songs, so Charlie and I were writing three or four songs a week, working out new shows, new skits, new ways to entertain people, that would never have happened.
Q - Before I ask about "The Little Black Egg" and the touring you did, you said that Duane and Gregg Allman were in your high school and you knew them.
A - Oh, yeah.
Q - You said their band couldn't get work. Why was that?
A - 'Cause we took all the good jobs. But in fairness, they were doing covers. They were singing Beatles songs, stuff like that. They were not doing original material. Gregg, this will kind of blow your mind if you don't know it, back then was not playing the organ. He was the lead guitar players. Duane was the rhythm player and Duane sang most of the songs, which is completely different than what most people think with them. Gregg didn't come to organ until '67 or '68. That's about when Duane started playing slide.
Q - Duane was such a good guitar player, wasn't he?
A - I'll tell you another thing, Duane was a really good guy. Gregg, no so much. Duane was a super good guy. His attitude, even with us, Gregg would get mad about it and I remember him telling Gregg, "They're doing all this stuff and we're better than they are. We gotta figure out why they're doing it and do what they're doing so we can do what we want to do." Duane never resented it. He was a very good guy, is the best way I can say it.
Q - Are you in Gregg Allman's autobiography? I read it, but I can't recall.
A - Oh yeah, by name actually. He mentions "The Little Black Egg" specifically and kind of jokes about it. It's only three chords or something like that. Over the years, a lot of people have asked him if he started in The Nightcrawlers in Daytona and he always gets all upset. (laughs) I don't know what else to say. The Allman Brothers is as good as you'd want to see of that kind of music. They obviously did exactly what they wanted to do with their life. Nightcrawlers on the other hand, three out of the five had post graduate degrees. One was the Chief Judge in this area (Daytona Beach) for ten years. We always knew that we were not going to play music. We were gonna go do other things. We started this thing to make some money while we all went to junior college. When we finished junior college it was either go to Vietnam or go to college and we all went our separate ways. In retrospect, we look at it and say, "Hey, I've been married for forty-eight years, with two children and nine grandchildren." Everybody in the band I think is married to the same lady. That's not a bad way to look at life.
Q - Especially if you'd gone on to be a touring and recording act...
A - We'd have died. (laughs) All of us would be dead. We talked about that one time. Rob said, "You know, when we say 'what if', look at what if. We knew what if." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Look at what happened to them. That's us." I said, "Yeah, you're right. We made the right choice even though you think boy it would've been fun." Be we had a year of touring and a year of flying around and doing all that. None of us really enjoyed it other than being on stage. It was a hard life. We made some money and we went on with our lives.
Q - You toured all over the U.S.?
A - I won't say every state. No way. We did a half a dozen tours in Ohio. We went out to Arizona. We probably hit Texas. I'm trying to remember. See, back then one of the ways these promoters would promote you is they'd hire you for a Friday or Saturday night and you'd fly into say Cincinnati. They'd pick you up at the airport. You'd have your guitar. They would drive you to a teen center say in Cincinnati, then you'd play a thirty minute set from say 6:30 to 7 PM. Then you'd jump in the car and drive fifty miles and you'd get out and do another thirty minute set. At the end of the night you'd wind up in Cleveland. You'd sleep there. After a while you wouldn't even know where you were. Obviously all that changed later on. We're talking about 1965, 1966, and became a little bit better than that, but at the same time it was a way for us to really get out. I'd never been on a plane. I'd never seen any plane except Daytona Beach. So I got to see a lot of places. I got to get on an airplane, not that I care about that today, (laughs), but what more could you ask for when you're seventeen, eighteen, nineteen years old? I thought boy, is this easy. This is so simple. I decided to play guitar and six months later we got a number one record.
Q - You were the right guy with the right stuff in the right place.
A - Yeah.
Q - Today there seems to be too many singers, too many bands.
A - Yeah.
Q - Back then it was so new, so exciting.
A - We were very lucky in that Lee Hazen had the recording thing. The radio station here was willing to play a song on just reel to reel tape. When "Cry" went to number one in Daytona there was no record. There was nothing. It was a number one record on the Top 40. Today you try to get a radio station to play something, forget it. It's a set list from New York. So, lots changed. But all of us look back on it extremely fondly. We are glad what happened. We look at it with great pride, but we had other lives. We moved on.
Q - You opened for The Beach Boys. What was that like?
A - And The Allmans, both. That's the night "The Little Black Egg" was premiered, Easter concert at the City Island Daytona Beach ball park. The opening acts were The Nightcrawlers and The Allman Brothers, or back in those days The Allman Joys. Lee Hazen provided the P.A. system. That afternoon, Charlie Conlon came to my house like he always did and I said, "Here's a guitar lick. I think this sounds kind of cool. I'm gonna go take a shower. Write some lyrics. Make it about Easter." Twenty minutes later, when I came out of the shower, "The Little Black Egg" is done. Finished. When we actually recorded it, we changed one word and that was it. It was all supposed to be about Easter and the song is absolutely meaningless. (laughs) Meaningless lyrics, but that's where it came from.
Q - It's a catchy song.
A - Yeah, well, it's the guitar lick to me that makes the song. Charlie and I have been in music stores where you hear kids showing other kids how to play it 'cause it's real easy. It had to be easy 'cause I didn't know how to play much. (laughs) That simple. It couldn't be real complicated.
Q - Did you get to meet The Beach Boys?
A - Yeah. They were great. I was really disappointed as it turns out that that was the first tour Brian Wilson didn't tour with them. They had a studio musician filling in. I said I don't want to meet him. "What's his name anyway?" "Oh, that's Glen Campbell." "Who the hell is he? I don't want to meet him."
Q - I asked Glen Campbell about his Beach Boys experience and as I recall he didn't like it.
A - Really? That's interesting. That was the tour that he toured with them. I really wanted to meet Brian Wilson. That was the one I wanted to see and he didn't come.
Q - How about Dennis Wilson? He was the only surfer in the group.
A - It's hard for me to give you any input. That was fifty years ago or more. Most of your interaction with them was shaking hands, "Hi. How you doing? Welcome to our town." That kind of thing. Dennis was a little more loose than Carl. That's what I do remember. But you didn't hang out with them. You weren't out drinking or something. You met 'em that night at the show. I know that show when we ended the openings, The Beach Boys started and the crowd started screaming for us. (laughs) So, I know that they remembered it.
Q - If I ever get to interview any of the guys in The Beach Boys I'll ask about it.
A - Well, don't forget, they've done thousands and thousands of concerts. (laughs) For us it was a big deal. It was like the very first time we got to play with other acts that were national type acts.
Q - What other groups did you tour with?
A - One summer we toured, probably a two or three week tour with Neil Diamond. We did a tour with Bobby Goldsboro. Diamond was the one that impressed me the most because he could literally control the crowd with his little finger.
Q - He was a rocker back in the days when you toured with him.
A - Yes he was. Absolutely. Who else? The Royal Guardsmen. They were from Ocala (Florida). They were friends of ours. Well you know the names of the people in the Gainsville band, The Maundy Quintet back in '65. They used to party with us. The guitar player used to come out and see us all the time. His name was Don Felder, and Bernie Leadon who became part of The Eagles. Tom Petty was four or five years younger than we were, but he always came to our shows. Didn't know it was Tom Petty, but I knew it was this blonde, almost albino looking kid who always stood in front of Pete and I, the two guitar players. I found out later, I went to law school there, from the criminal court judge, Benmont Tenche, his son was the organ player for Tom Petty. So, a lot of music in Florida. An awful lot. Most went elsewhere to get their fame, but they're from here.
Q - Was there a follow-up to "The Little Black Egg"?
A - Oh, yeah. The first record was "Cry", but it was never released nationally. The second record, which was released nationally was called "A Basket Of Flowers", which we thought was gonna be the big record and it turned out not to be. We had a third single with Kapp (Records) called "I Don't Remember" and as soon it was released it was banned almost nationwide. (laughs) They thought the vocal in the background at the end was singing Fuck you. Fuck you. I have to admit if you listen to it, it sounds like we're singing Fuck you. Fuck you. (laughs) But we never had that in mind. We didn't know it. We didn't think it. It was never part of it. But by then we had all split up and gone away to college and we didn't care.
Q - What year did that come out?
A - '66.
Q - What is it about the '60s where people played records backwards and claimed to hear strange messages?
A - The thing when I listen to the record or even the CD that Amazon sells even now, if you know the sequence in which the songs were recorded you can hear the band getting better and better. In the beginning we're not so hot. The songs are good but the band is not great. By the time we did "I Don't Remember" we were a tight, good band, but that was right at the end. So what else can I tell you? (laughs) I gave you the whole history.
Q - We're almost there, but not quite. How did Kapp Records hear about The Nightcrawlers? Did they have a rep in Florida going around scouting for bands?
A - Well, what happened was "The Little Black Egg" is released regionally. By then we'd hired a manager by the name of Mike Stone, who would be our manager today if we were still playing. He's passed away too by the way. Mike said he knew how to get records made and so we said, "Okay. You be our manager." He had a thousand records pressed and we sold 'em in a matter of a week. Suddenly the record is on the radio in Orlando, Jacksonville and all over Central Florida. Suddenly it's number one everywhere. Record companies started calling Mike, wanting to do something with us. I had already told Mike that we will not give up our songs. If they take us in the studio, I said I don't want any producers that want to mess with us. They're our songs, we're going to do them our way or we're not doing it. Kapp was really the first one to come along and say, "Okay, we'll do whatever you guys want." So we said okay, fine. They sent us down to Miami to Criteria (Studios) and they had brought in a producer from New York who I immediately got into a fight with over the songs. So, I stormed out and told Mike to tell Kapp we won't record unless they bring Lee Hazen down. He knows us. He knows we're relaxed with him and we don't need a New York producer. They in fact did that and as a result Lee got a job at Criteria. Then he went on to Nashville. So that's basically what happened. At some point people were saying, "Who is this band in Florida that's dominating the airwaves? They're not signed with anybody." So that's what we did. We didn't think it was a big deal. We were the first band I think in Florida to get a record contract. And we didn't think it was a big deal at all. We never thought of ourselves as some kind of stars. To the contrary, we thought we were just like everybody else. So, even when we did shows, even big time shows, if we were not on stage, we were in the audience talking to people. We weren't back hiding in a break room or something. We just didn't think of it that way.
Q - Did you have to give up your publishing?
A - No. We own all the publishing except for two or three songs. It was originally through a company called Allison Publishing, Allison Music, which was a friend of Lee Hazen's. In the mid-'90s I got all the publishing back to the band and Charlie Conlon. It's new under a company called Di Bella Music.
Q - What floors me is how smart you were about the business.
A - Well, thank you. (laughs)
Q - And how creative you were musically. You had both ends going at the same time.
A - I'm pretty self-deprecating a a guitar player. My real talent with the band was I was the business guy. I've never been unwilling to ask people for something. I've never been unwilling to do the business side of things. The guitar playing I could do exactly what I needed to do. If you listen to any Nightcrawler record, there is no improvisation. Every note was figured out ahead of time and played that way. That's the only way I could do it. I was never somebody who was gonna sit down and play guitar eight hours a day and really get wonderful. I wanted to play good enough to play what we were playing. (laughs) And the rest of it was about the business. How are we gonna do this? How are we gonna get more popular? What can we do on stage to make the show better? My good buddy, Rob, was of the same mind. He was a judge and lawyer and I'm a lawyer now. Neither one of us were of course at that time. But we were always very business thinking. That's why no free jobs. We never auditioned. None of that. If you want to see any of the five guys play, and this is the other thing that's really unusual, the only way you can see any of the five is if you come see The Nightcrawlers. You will never see any of the five sit in with anyone else, ever. We don't do that. You want to see me play guitar? You come see The Nightcrawlers, which is unusual. Nobody to this day I think would do that.
Q - You actually had a movie made about The Nightcrawlers.
A - Yeah.
Q - The Nightcrawlers were together for how long? Two years?
A - About twenty months.
Q - There's a whole documentary made about the group's history?
A - Yeah. It has to be under forty minutes for whatever classification they filmed it. A documentary called Cracking The Egg: The Untold Story Of The Nightcrawlers. It interviews the five guys in about 2005, somewhere around there. They interview us and then they interviewed people all over the country and some, both past and current musicians, to talk about the impact "The Little Black Egg" had on their musical careers. It ends with them telling us as of about 2008, I believe it was thirty-nine covers of "The Little Black Egg", including one in Mandarin. So it was kind of fun. We had a good time. (laughs) It was a nice documentary. Rob Rouse's oldest daughter is a film maker in Hollywood. She's the one that came up with the idea and wanted to do this thing for probably the last twenty years and finally got around I guess to putting together the package to get it made. I'm proud of it. It did capture what I asked her to do, which is to capture the closeness of the five guys that were are like brothers, even now. How many bands can say that?
Q - What happened to this documentary? Did it air on HBO?
A - No. It went to all the film festivals. I don't think she's done anything else with it. She's won three or four film festivals with it. In 2008 when it was released, we almost went to L.A. to do a concert after the L.A. debut of the movie. We had agreed to do it. Like a fool I said we'd do it. (laughs) We had written some new songs and some MP3s, different demos to people so we could learn our parts. We were gonna meet three days early in L.A. Then the drummer, who had diabetes, goes into the hospital and has his right leg chopped off. He called me literally crying. He said he can't go. I said, "Of course you can't go." "I'm really sorry." I said, "No, don't be sorry. You just did me the best favor of my life. Like a fool I said we'd do it and I've been scared shitless. Now you've given me a reason to say we can't do it." I said, "We're not doing it without you Tommy. You know that. It ain't gonna happen." And he's the one who's passed away. So that's what happened. The movie's out there. I believe it's for sale. I told her to use the website www.TheNightCrawlers.com. Again, it's something you have to show the kids. My kids growing up I don't think ever believed that their dad had been a rock 'n' roller. Suddenly they get to see all this stuff. So, that was nice.
Q - Is there any 'live' footage of The Nightcrawlers in concert?
A - Maybe fifteen or thirty seconds. A Super 8 or 8 millimeter that one of the fathers took. Back then there weren't video cameras. Nothing like that. Just to hear all of those people talk, contemporary people and others, record store owners in L.A. where "The Little Black Egg" is still selling to this day. So, we kind of laugh about it. We just got a check this past week, each of us got $60 (laughs). C'mon. How many people can say that? Fifty years later. We had to go out and have a nice dinner. How many bands that were essentially in real quick and out real quick and still get money from it can say that? I just shake my head.
Q - These days you do what?
A - I make acoustic guitars. I'm a retired lawyer for the last ten or eleven years and I make acoustic guitars under the Bay State name.
Q - What kind of lawyer were you?
A - I was a trial lawyer. I tried cases. That's all I did.
Q - Were you a defense attorney?
A - No. I was a plaintiff's attorney. And the interesting thing is my friend Rob was a defense attorney and he and I went to battle, head to head, not often, but every once in a while.
Q - That must've been interesting.
A - Well, it's business. You do the business and then we go to lunch. (laughs) And we're still as close as ever. He's just retired being a judge. So, we're back to having a good time. I had dinner with him last night. Life has been good to us, is the best way to put it. It really has.