Syndicate of Sound





Formed in San Jose, California in 1964, the Syndicate of Sound are considered to be one of the forerunners of psychedelic rock, establishing a national following based on one massive 1966 hit, "Little Girl". Comprised of vocalist / guitarist Don Baskin, guitarist / keyboardist John Sharkey, lead guitarist Larry Ray, bassist Bob Gonzalez and drummer John Duckworth, the band rose from the ashes of high school rock bands the Pharaohs and Lenny Lee and the Knightmen. The new group won a "Battle Of The Bands" contest, beating out 100 other groups to win a recording session with Del-Fi Records. That effort went nowhere, but the band had been working on new, original material and began shopping a tune called "Little Girl" to anyone who would listen. Nearly everyone turned them away before Hush Records, a predominantly rhythm and blues label in Richmond, California, decided to take a chance and issue the record locally in late 1965.

The song became a regional hit, selling 5,000 copies after San Jose radio stations picked up on it. Executives at Bell Records were soon to take notice and took over distribution of the single as well as offering the group the chance to record an album.

As "Little Girl" started to break nationally, first in Oklahoma City, original guitarist Larry Ray was fired from the band and replaced by Jim Sawyers. With the song climbing to the number 10 spot in 1966, Bell Records sent the group on tour to promote their record, only taking time off to tape TV shows like 'American Bandstand' and 'Where the Action Is'. James Brown, who appeared with them on one of the TV shows, was so impressed that he invited them to open his theater show in San Francisco. The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein wanted them to open for the Fab Four on their 1966 tour, but would not offer enough financial incentive to ink a deal. The Syndicate Of Sound continued to play venues in the North-West United States, appearing in concert with The Rascals, The Yardbirds, Neil Diamond, Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs, Tommy James, The Animals and The Rolling Stones.

As a follow-up to "Little Girl", the band came up with a song called "Get Out Of My Life", which Bell refused to release, saying the lyrics were too risqué.

Drummer John Duckworth was drafted at the height of the Vietnam conflict and bassist Bob Gonzalez dropped out, but the band continued on. They recorded two more singles near the end of the 60s for Buddha Records; "Brown Paper Bag" and "Mexico", neither of which made much of a splash. The band split up in 1970.

Don Baskin moved to Los Angeles, where he found work as a studio musician and later turned to Country music during the height of the Disco era.

As the years wore on into the new century, Don Baskin, Bob Gonzalez and John Duckworth reformed with a couple of new members and began performing as The Syndicate Of Sound once again. In 2005, guitarist Larry Ray rejoined the band and in 2006, the Syndicate of Sound was in the first class of inductees into the San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame.

Be sure to read Gary James' interview with The Syndicate Of Sound's Don Baskin