0:00:36 – Speaker 3
Hi, welcome to the show. I’m going for a slightly different format this week because I want to introduce you to three terrific one-hit wonders. They’re not strictly one-hit wonders, i have to say, but we certainly know them all for their one big hit and I thought it might be interesting to group them together to learn a little bit more about them. Each one is exceptionally talented and each has been requested by you, my loyal listener. So today we’re going to hear from Barry Winslow, who is the lead singer of the group The Royal Guardsmen, known for this one. We’ll also check in to see what Toby Bow is up to these days in Texas and where his career has taken him since his massive hit by Angel Baby.
But first let’s get started with this one. I received an email a while back from Greg in Terry Hills in New South Wales telling me that he and his nine-year-old daughter, Aviva, spend hours together singing a song Seasons in the Sun. Greg asked me if I could find the songwriter, Terry Jacks, because he was interested to hear what had become of him. So I searched and eventually discovered the owner of Regenerator Records in Vancouver, Canada, who, because of Terry’s ill health, was willing and able to relay this incredible story.
0:02:37 – Speaker 5
Hello everybody from Vancouver, Canada. I just spoke to our good friend Terry on the telephone and he sends his best wishes to everyone and he’s very excited and slightly overwhelmed at the amazing reaction to the release of his new music.
0:02:51 – Speaker 3
Yeah, i want to talk to you about that, but tell us first off why we’re talking to you and not to Terry.
0:02:56 – Speaker 5
Well, a number of reasons. Terry. Number one doesn’t even have a cell phone, so he doesn’t do digital. The biggest issue, though, would be that few years ago, he suffered a very bad stroke and then, just as he almost recovered from that one, had another really bad stroke, but he has come back like a champion. His speech is affected by it, but not his wit or his personality. But, yeah, he’s had some very bad health issues, but I’ve known him as a public figure, of course, all my life. I do remember as a teenager. One of my favoruite songs was Concrete Sing.
0:03:34 – Speaker 4
I heard some music being played today. I heard a song, but the words went wrong. It didn’t matter to me anyway. Some people really don’t care what they say. I started looking to the sky today because it’s so big and it’s so far away. I’ve got too many things inside my head. I wish I could be up there instead. No one is meant to be living here in a concrete scene. Everyone, including me, wishes he could be set free.
0:04:27 – Speaker 5
I’ve known him since 2008 and we set up an agreement to release all his music. That’s just the Terry Jacks’ music. He was also involved in sand dwellers. They had two recordings, but he had a really good called The Chestnut.
0:04:40 – Speaker 3
So from The Chestnut Larry. He then went on to join a group with his soon to be wife, susan Jax. That group was called the Poppy family right.
0:04:49 – Speaker 5
That’s right. They met on a Canadian national TV show called Let’s Go The early. Guess who were the house band on there?
0:04:58 – Speaker 3
The most popular song there is the Poppy family, which went to number one in Canada and number two in the US called Which Way You Go, and Billy Terry had actually written and produced that one.
0:05:08 – Speaker 5
Yeah, absolutely right. It was Which Way You Go. and Billy was the first number one song recorded in British Columbia.
0:05:38 – Speaker 6
Billy loved you, billy, and all this time I thought you loved me, billy, and you were mine. I’m gonna miss you, billy, and know I’m trying. I’m hurting so badly I can’t help crying.
0:06:15 – Speaker 3
Well, of course, it wasn’t long after that that we get to Seasons in the Sun, which everyone everywhere in the world knows. Terry Jax for.
0:06:23 – Speaker 5
Yes, so Terry had heard Seasons in the Sun as a younger man, the version done by the Kingston Trio, a folk revival group from the United States. To hang down your head, tom Dooley, guys, they had done a version of it and Terry had had heard it anyway. You know what I think that could be a big hit if I change it a bit. And so he had that on his mind. It was actually written by a gentleman from Brussels named Jacques Burrell and he said Terry eventually sat down and there’s a photograph in the in the collection of Terry and Jacques Burrell sitting down and had Jacques Burrell, of course, very pleased because the royalties came pouring in as Seasons in the Sun became an enormous worldwide hit. It’s still incredibly powerful and listen to today.
Jacques Burrell wrote it actually, he said as it’s, the original version is called Le Morribond, which is the death, and it is about a father saying goodbye to his son. Jacques Burrell told Terry Jacks that he actually wrote it in a brothel in Paris. Really, it is that too much information. The lyrics were translated by a guy named Rod McEwen and all Rod did was literally take the lyrics and translate. He didn’t add to them or subtract, he was just a translator, but it ended up that on the version of Seasons and the Sun that got released originally on Bell Records, the writers are Burrell indeed, he wrote it and McEwen. Now, let’s keep in mind, all he did was translate it. So Terry knew the song was going to do something. There’s an interesting side story to it in that The Poppy family had opened up for the Beach Boys in Vancouver and they got along incredibly well.
0:08:08 – Speaker 1
I’m picking up good vibrations. She’s giving me the excitations I’m backing up good vibrations. She’s my mind Excitation. Good, good, good vibrations. She’s my mind Excitation, good vibrations. She’s my mind Excitation. She’s somehow closer now, softly smile. I know she must be kind.
0:08:45 – Speaker 5
Famously. Brian Wilson got into some issues and he was not able to be the great producer he had been And he was spending time in his bedroom and wouldn’t leave his room. So the Beach Boys asked themselves who can we work with If Brian can’t do it? who can we work with? Al said what about that guy in Vancouver, Terry Jacks, who really has some interesting sounds with the Poppy family And we hear he’s a good producer. So they went great. Terry flew down to Los Angeles and worked with the Beach Boys in Brian’s home studio. Terry said I think seasons remember that song by the Kingston Trio. I think it could be a great hit. You know Terry recorded a version of Season’s of the Sun with the Beach Boys.
0:09:34 – Speaker 3
Have you ever heard it?
0:09:36 – Speaker 5
No, was it ever released? It was never released. Until last year The Beach Boys released another collection of kind of rare music and it’s on that And if you think Terry’s version is a bit maudlin’, you should hear the Beach Boys.
0:09:49 – Speaker 1
They’re pretty much in tears, i do a meal. My trusted friend. We’ve known each other since we were nine or 10 In our tent. Together we climbed hills and trees, learned to love, and ABC skinned our hearts and skinned our knees. A do of me, and it’s hard to die When all the birds are singing in the sky. Now that the spring is in the air, pretty girls are everywhere. Think of me and I’ll be there. We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, but the hills that we climbed Were just seasons out of time. We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, but the hills that we climbed Were just seasons out of time.
0:10:45 – Speaker 5
Brian was not too pleased with this guy coming into his house and now working with the Beach Boys. Terry says you remember Brian Wilson coming down in his bathrobe and playing organ one day One evening. He says they got a phone call from the engineer saying Terry, we’ve got to make a copy of the song because Brian wants to cut it up with scissors. So they quickly made the only existing copy of the song and Terry came with the tape for it. But apparently the tape was not cut up because this re-release was done with the multi-track tape so he didn’t get to cut up the tape. So it was very hard.
And Terry came back and he says I almost had a nervous breakdown because of the pressure and so it ended up never been recorded. So he still had this in his heart. This is going to be a huge hit. He assembled the best studio musicians around and he rewrote and re-envisioned the song. Instead of it being the original father talking to his son, he envisioned it as people who were in love and the lover was dying and it immediately took on a whole new emotion.
0:11:54 – Speaker 3
I’m shocked that the lyrics of that song referred to death at all. As a teenager didn’t seem like a sad song to me.
0:12:01 – Speaker 5
Absolutely. It’s kind of a joyous thing that it comes off, but if you really listen to it, then it’s hard to die. Goodbye, michelle. It’s hard to die when all the birds are singing. This guy.
0:12:11 – Speaker 4
Goodbye to you, my trusted friend. We’ve known each other since we were nine or ten. Together, we’ve climbed hills and trees, learned of love and ABC, skinned our hearts and skinned our knees. Goodbye, my friend. It’s hard to die When all the birds are singing in the sky. Now that the spring is in the air, pretty girls are everywhere. Think of me and I’ll be there. We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, but the hills that we climbed Burge of seasons out of time.
0:13:02 – Speaker 5
Terry had changed the lyrics of the song so truly he deserved to be instead of Rod McHugh and he deserved to be the lyric writer of the song, and because he lost out on likely millions and millions of dollars that went to Rod McHugh.
0:13:17 – Speaker 3
That was an easy gig for Rod McHugh, wasn’t it?
0:13:21 – Speaker 5
Yeah, it was good, though you know it would take him a half hour to translate to Skrillex and shoot it out. I don’t know. It became a worldwide number one sensation that in the course of one year, sold 13 million copies. One year, A phenomenon.
0:13:36 – Speaker 3
Amazing. I’m chatting with Larry Hennessey from Regenerator Records. Larry, what do you think the appeal of that song was? Why did the world just snap it up like they did?
0:13:45 – Speaker 5
I think it goes to the story. Everything is about the story. Do you know there’s a German version of it.
0:13:51 – Speaker 3
I didn’t know that.
0:13:52 – Speaker 5
Yes, they flew Terry over to Germany with the mixed background on a real thrill tape and somebody had translated it into German. They sat him in the studio with a bottle of schnapps and a big plate of very tasty sausages and bread and they coaxed him line by line to sing it in German. It’s become a German drinking song, like an Oktoberfest song.
0:14:39 – Speaker 4
The night has forgotten our world. The world is an ugly thing. That’s what we hear, that’s what we see. It’s actually infuriating. In the golden age, there’s a sense of loneliness.
0:15:01 – Speaker 3
Maybe you’ll be better if you don’t go to the hospital. Terry, of course, went on to produce for a lot of people after that, didn’t he? As you said, he was as good as a producer as he was as a songwriter. So I know that he produced a couple of songs for the very famous Nana Muscuri, one of which was Scarborough Fair, and he also produced a top ten hit there called Country Boy, named Willie, for a band called Spring. I know that his friendship with Al Jardin also lasted a lifetime, probably ten years ago or so. Now they released a version of Don’t Fight the Sea that he’s recorded with all of the Beach Boys as well as the late Carl Wilson who sang lead vocal. Is that correct?
0:15:45 – Speaker 5
That’s correct. Back to when I first met him. You know he would pull out his CD Masters and he said wait till you hear this. It has Carl Wilson singing on it a version of Don’t Fight the Sea and at that point since it’s been re-released all the Beach Boys sang on it. But the original version has only Carl singing. And after his period of great success he became considerably reclusive and then he became an environmentalist.
He basically said saw it all. He bought himself a boat. He called it Seasons in the Sun. He spent 30 years going up and down the coast of British Columbia and he became very concerned with what he was seeing in the water dumping of chemicals into the ocean. He started a group called Environmental Watch. That was his focus for 20 years or more.
0:16:29 – Speaker 3
Why did he leave music behind?
0:16:31 – Speaker 5
Because he became disenchanted with it. He saw the machine only wanted more of that and he didn’t want to give more of that.
0:16:38 – Speaker 3
What an amazing story about singer, songwriter, producer and environmentalist Terry Jax. Thank you to Larry Hennessey for filling us in, and thank you to our listeners, greg and Aviva, for asking to find out more about Terry since Seasons in the Sun. Let me tell you there’s a whole new collection of music from Terry that’s just been released too. It’s called Remember Me, and it’s a whole bunch of songs that, until now, terry has always felt were just too personal to release. He is one of them. Going once, going twice, going gone, going, going gone, and we do wish Terry Jax all the very best. Stay tuned up. Next we meet Baldi Silver, also known as Toby Bow.
0:18:01 – Speaker 2
This is A Breath of Fresh Air. With Sandy Kay, it’s a beautiful day.
0:18:08 – Speaker 3
Thanks for hanging in. I love having you here and I want to remind you that if you have someone you’d like me to interview for you, just send me a message through the website www.abreathoffreshair.com.au. Now. You may not know him by the name Baldi Silver, and you still may not know him by his stage name, toby Bow, but Ashley from a suburb of Houston in Texas emailed to see if I could find out what happened to his favourite 70s band. Here’s the result of my search Toby Bow is not your real name. Toby Bow was the name of the band. Tell me why I’m confused.
0:18:47 – Speaker 7
Then, after my Angel Baby in 1978, the song went all the way to number one and it became really, really popular. The band was made up of five other Texans. None of us had ever been out of Texas before I mean, none of us had ever been left home before And when they moved us all up to New York it was like the movie The Buddy Holly Story. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that movie. I did. They wanted us to stay in New York all the time And a couple of the band members just could, not, did, just could not relate to the city.
I could, i loved it, but that eventually broke up the band. So after the first album, the record label was gonna drop us as an act And they said look, you guys are in breach of contract as we pay you a lot of money to do three albums. Since you balled a silver that’s me Since you co-wrote the song and sang lead on it, we’d like to make you Toby Bow, because a lot of cities and especially a lot of places abroad, they think Toby Bow is one fellow And when they asked me to if I could take on the name and pursue the next following two albums or drop the whole band. I said, no, i’ll take it.
0:19:51 – Speaker 3
So you’ve been known as Toby Bow since then.
0:19:54 – Speaker 7
I’ve been Toby Bow since the second and third album. My second album was 1979. And my third album was 1980. And on both records it says balled. A silver is Toby Bow.
0:20:05 – Speaker 3
Does everybody call you Toby?
0:20:07 – Speaker 7
Yes, most people do. Even my friends that I grew up with call me Toby, And I’m constantly trying to remind them. you know, that’s just the stage name, but I’ve just got tired of just saying that. I just let it go, you know.
0:20:18 – Speaker 3
And what did your parents have to say about that? Oh, well.
0:20:22 – Speaker 7
My parents have since passed away, but in the early 80s. But they loved it. You’re to them. You know my family. We grew up very poor. I lived down here in South Texas, and so to them any accolades was wonderful.
0:20:36 – Speaker 3
Right, they lived to see you successful with that first hit.
0:20:40 – Speaker 7
Yes, they were very, very proud, that lesson book.
0:20:43 – Speaker 1
We’ve got trouble. Something’s just not right. Just this morning you cried about. last night You said that something’s bound to break. this time, what’s breaking is my heart. I can read between the lines. It’s tearing me apart. You’ve got to leave it on your mind. But your mind, angel baby. Yes, your mind, angel baby.
0:21:30 – Speaker 3
Well, your mind Angel baby For the rest of the night. Toby, you said you grew up in South Texas. How did the band Toby Bo come about in the first place? What was its genesis?
0:21:48 – Speaker 7
Well, myself and the co-writer of my Angel baby, we’ve been friends since we were little kids. He lived in the neighbouring town And we grew up together because we had a garage band, just a little band that neighbourhood kids are playing at our girlfriend’s parties, and that evolved into a real rock and roll band And we actually became very, very good. So about 1975, we’d exhausted all the avenues down here in South Texas. We kind of planed out and we weren’t getting any better, so we decided we moved to the big city. Now in Texas the big cities are Houston, austin, dallas and San Antonio. So we picked the closest ones, san Antonio, to where the Alamo is, and so we moved up there and we were playing locally. And, lo and behold, one night we had a bunch of musicians and roadies from the band Kiss. I was made for love with you, baby.
0:22:44 – Speaker 1
You were made for love with me And I can’t get enough of you, baby. Can you get enough?
0:22:54 – Speaker 7
of me, can I? They heard us and they were real impressed And they asked us if we could give them a tape and they were going to show it to the management company and they let us know. Well, we were very skeptical. You know, we get a lot of that And when you’re in a band and playing roadhouses, people always come up and want to manage you. But lo and behold, it was true. They called us back, they moved us all up to New York And they put us immediately into the star-making machinery, the factory. They taught us how to dress, They taught us how to move on the stage, they taught us the biggest thrill of my whole life. And, lo and behold, it paid off.
0:23:28 – Speaker 3
Like a fairy tale.
0:23:30 – Speaker 7
It was just like a fairy tale And I got to meet the guys from Kiss. The management company also managed Billy Squire, Billy Idol, Kiss and a bunch of actors, So we were all in a star-struck.
0:23:41 – Speaker 3
I can imagine, And you were really young at the time too.
0:23:45 – Speaker 7
I was 21. I would just turn 22 when I left home. And it’s just like Charles Dickens once said it was the best of times. It was the worst of times You know, god is such a comedian The minute that we found out that we had to move to New York, my girlfriend got pregnant. She didn’t get pregnant, why helped? But I mean, can you imagine the gold ring right there for me to put my finger and pull on it? And then all of a sudden I have. You know, most of the time, most acts will say no, i can’t go. My wife’s pregnant, i’m going to have to get married, we’re having a family. But my wife couldn’t be more supportive. She would not hear of it. She said no, you’re going to take it And I’m going to take care of everything. We’re just going to stay in touch. The rest is history.
0:24:28 – Speaker 3
So tell me about that. 1978 hit My Angel Baby. You said you co-wrote that, and of course that really set your world on fire then, didn’t it?
0:24:37 – Speaker 7
It was amazing. We were signed to RCA Records in the States. We toured all over the world. The record didn’t chart very well until many, many years later when it came back as an old piece because of satellite radio. We went to Portugal with the average white band, bonnie Tyler and Toby Boat. For some reason we were the big hits of those three bands and everywhere we played we were like the headliners.
0:25:32 – Speaker 3
But, toby, how did you come to write My Angel Baby, and what were you writing about?
0:25:36 – Speaker 7
Well, my partner and I was one of those lonely nights, like I said, in New York. The rest of the band had gone out to explore the city and go down to the village, listen to music And my partner and I we were doing all the writing. He always had a guitar in the hotel room. I heard him strumming these beautiful 50s style nostalgic chords And then, before I knew it, he was already singing the melody to the chorus And he asked me to say can you help me with some words? And, sandy, 10 minutes later I said couldn’t have been more than eight or nine, 10 minutes tops. The entire song was written. It’s a very simple, simple song, but it was one of those, oh my God, we were just bouncing ideas back and forth and it didn’t take longer than 10 minutes. It was done And we weren’t going to record it for Toby Beau because the rest of the album we were trying to be like the Eagles, you know soft country rock, and this song was very 50s, very nostalgic.
So we thought, well, maybe we can get some mother band like maybe a blues band or a rhythm and blues band, like Last Night in the Pips or somebody like that, and maybe they could record it. But when we played it to the label who had signed us they said no, that’s your hit. So we went to England to record the album. We had the engineer and producer for the group Queen, because we were going to record in Los Angeles or New York. He said you know, for the price that you’re going to pay to put the band in hotels and then rent a studio and then rent the equipment and everything, i think I can do it cheaper. If we fly the boys to England, we’ll rent a studio and a house together and we’ll live there for a month and we’ll just concentrate on the recording. No distractions, no nothing. And that’s how we got to that.
0:27:55 – Speaker 3
That must have been an incredible period of your life.
0:27:58 – Speaker 7
I was so changing. You know, First of all I couldn’t get used to the food for about two weeks, And then now I love it.
0:28:04 – Speaker 3
No, you don’t love English food. No one loves English food.
0:28:09 – Speaker 7
I had to learn now, because that’s all they had. What were you eating? We were eating well, you know, the fries with meat and arm and fish and chips. Fish and chips was the closest thing we could get to fast food. We were just small town kids. We didn’t know when we had a chef and he would cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had four housekeepers.
It’s a really big manor house. It was owned by the band 10CC Remember that band 10K? Of course They owned this manor house and it was owned by Richard Branson back when he was just starting his business And I think he owned record stores in England. It was an old manor house and right next door, a joining to the house, was this beautiful 24-track state of the art studio. So we couldn’t go anywhere except maybe to the neighbourhood pub And that was the whole evening because there was no distractions.
The fellas from Deep Purple John Lord the keyboard player he had a manor house right down the street. The fella from Bad Company he had a manor house a few miles down that they all used to drive up to drink with us in their tractors. I’ve seen these guys on my records and I’ve listened to them my whole life and I never imagined they were farmers. That’s just the way they grew up in the countryside. They’re driving up in their tractors with ponytail. It was just a dream come true. It’s been so long and these memories are so fresh. But sometimes I have to pinch myself because I’m thinking did I make this all up, or did I wake up from a dream or what, somebody? I’m going to chronicle all this down and write a book about it so I never forget it.
0:29:52 – Speaker 4
Baby, when I think about you, I think about love, Darling.
0:30:05 – Speaker 1
I don’t live without you and your love. If I had those golden dreams of my yesterday, I would have wrapped you in the heaven, But they’re dying on the way. feel like making love. Feel like taking love. Feel like taking love. Feel like taking love.
0:30:59 – Speaker 3
Feel like taking love to you, Toby. I’m still intrigued about the culture shock between what you’ve been brought up eating at home in Texas and what you’ve found to eat in England. Tell me more about what that chef made you do They never eat chicken.
0:31:16 – Speaker 7
They eat pheasants, which tastes like chicken but it’s a little more gamey. So us it was okay, we were just putting more sauce on it. And then one night we accidentally insulted him by asking him if he would make hamburgers for dinner. And he was so insulted But we said it really nicely. So I mean, all of a sudden we get these big gourmet burgers that are piled up like a pound and a half patty on top of two English rolls. Oh my God.
0:31:42 – Speaker 3
I guess you didn’t get any hot dogs either, right?
0:31:45 – Speaker 7
No, no, no, that was going way too far. That’s too American. We were just asking for more fish and chips. Fish and chips, they could put up any time.
0:31:53 – Speaker 3
And what about ketchup? Did they serve you that?
0:31:56 – Speaker 7
Oh my God, they hated that. We had to go buy a special ketchup And the milk. I love milk, i’m a big fan of milk. They don’t serve their milk cold, it’s like room temperature, and so I was having to stick these beautiful bottles of milk into the freezer where they kept the pheasants and the pig you know, the pork and then get it cold. They just kept laughing and I didn’t know if we were insulting them or we were like oh, come on, you know they knew better. They’re a good bunch of lads. They were so sweet.
0:32:22 – Speaker 3
Toby, tell me about where the name Toby Bow came from.
0:32:25 – Speaker 7
Where I live now on the Gulf Coast of Texas, there’s a tiny little island called South Padre Island And me and my partner, we used to be avid fishermen and we’d fish between these three shrimp boats the Toby Bob, the Toby Jan or the Toby Bow. We had a band at that point. We were doing heavy metal stuff and we were called Air, but we were starting to listen to music by the Eagles, by James Taylor, by Dan Fogelberg, by John Denver, and we were starting to change into more of that progressive country stuff that was happening in the early 70s. So I remember one day, whereas they’re fishing, my co-writer, he goes, you know what, that’s a great name for a band. And I went what? the Toby Jan? And he goes no, the Toby Bow.
And I said, well, that actually kind of sounds kind of different, you know, sounds very French. And so we tried it a couple of times and sure enough, it took off. We liked it and the audience liked it. So we always kept that name When the song came out. Mindful Baby. This is what gave RCA that idea to make me a solo artist. A lot of radio stations that were playing the record didn’t know it was a band, so they thought it was a top 40 hit by a guy called Toby Bow.
0:33:33 – Speaker 3
Because you weren’t even called the Toby Bow, were you? It was indeed Toby Bow.
0:33:38 – Speaker 7
It wasn’t called the Toby Beau. That would have saved it. You’re the first person who ever said that, and that’s a brilliant idea. I wish we’d have thought about it 50 years ago.
0:33:48 – Speaker 3
Toby, the second album that you put out actually scored another Hot 100 single with the cover of John D Loudermilk. Then you can tell me goodbye, didn’t it?
0:33:57 – Speaker 7
That’s right. You know what? The band started the album off the second album, the record company come down and give a listen. They hated all of it. And that is when my best friend and co-writer that’s when he quit and he broke the band up. So a couple of weeks later, that’s when the record company said look, you guys have to finish these records or you’re in breach of contract.
0:34:15 – Speaker 3
So Toby finished the album off on his own, with Jimmy Buffett’s producer and a group of session musicians.
0:34:22 – Speaker 1
Kiss me each morning for a million years. Hold me each evening by your side. Tell me you love me for a million years. Then, if it don’t work out, then if it don’t work out, then you can tell me goodbye. Sweeten my coffee with a morning kiss. Softened my dreams with your side After you’ve loved me for a million years.
0:35:17 – Speaker 3
The third album was also difficult for Toby. He was assigned songwriter Jerry Fuller, who’d already written several hits for Gary Puckett in the union gap as well as Ricky Nelson. Toby was skeptical, but it turned out wonderful.
0:35:32 – Speaker 7
I love the album We charted on one record. It was called, if I Were You, the English artist Lulu. She covered it too, didn’t do a lot of airplay was my least selling record, so that was my last record for RCA, despite this.
0:35:44 – Speaker 3
If Toby had his time again, he wouldn’t change a single thing. Today he’s still performing on the club circuit and is in hot demand on all these cruisers. Don’t go anywhere. We’ll be back in a sec to celebrate a milestone anniversary.
0:36:01 – Speaker 2
This is A Breath of Fresh Air. with Sandy Kay, it’s a beautiful day.
0:36:09 – Speaker 3
Welcome back. Can you believe it’s been more than 55 years since this song was released? The song is Snoopy versus the Red Baron, performed by do I need to tell you, the Royal Guardsman. The group was formed in Florida in 1966 and they started out like many groups playing at proms, dances and at local team clubs. At the time, charles Schultz’s comic strip Peanuts was at its peak of popularity. If you were around at the time, i’m sure you remember.
the unexpected focal point of that comic strip was Charlie Brown’s beagle dog, snoopy, who somehow evolved into less of a pet than a voice of conscience. One of the recurring themes was Snoopy’s fantasy exploits as a World War I flying ace trying to defeat Baron von Richterfin, also known as the Red Baron. Well, as the story goes, one night the Royal Guardsman was seen by a producer named Phil Guernhardt. He approached the band backstage and handed them the lyrics to Snoopy versus the Red Baron, with a note that said give it a military feel, hang on. how about I let Royal Guardsman guitarist and vocalist Barry Winslow continue this story? Barry Winslow, lovely to have you with me.
Oh dear how are you? I’m very well. How are you?
0:37:52 – Speaker 8
I’m still vertical, I’m still high, but oh lord.
0:37:57 – Speaker 3
Well, that’s a good way to be, isn’t it?
0:38:00 – Speaker 8
Yes, it is.
0:38:01 – Speaker 3
It’s over half a century ago that that Snoopy song came out. It seems like yesterday, doesn’t it?
0:38:07 – Speaker 8
Oh no, it was many lifetimes ago. It really was 1966. That was totally unexpected. We had no idea that that record would take off like that. We were very blessed and we thank everybody for it, but it was a shocker.
0:38:22 – Speaker 3
You were still at school at the time, weren’t you Barry?
0:38:25 – Speaker 8
Yes, I was.
0:38:26 – Speaker 3
Tell me a little bit about how the song came about for you.
0:38:29 – Speaker 8
We were basically a garage band like everybody else was, and we had made ourselves a little bit of a following because we really tried hard to have good vocals and copy records like they wanted to hear them. We wound up down in Tampa and this guy, phil Grunhardt at the time, comes out and sends us a note. He wanted to talk to us about a song. So we got with him and he told us the gist of the song. So here’s these six guys, you know, trying to copy the Beatles and all that great stuff of the 60s, and They hand us this tune. That was pretty much a novelty song, you know the D&D 2030 melody And we thought, oh Lord, but at least maybe it was a record deal, you know. So next thing, we know we go down and cut this thing and we did it just as hokey as we could believe me And they loved it.
0:39:16 – Speaker 1
After the turn of a century, in the clear blue skies over Germany came a roar and a thunder. Man had never heard like the screaming sound of a big warbird Up in the sky. A man in a plane buried bottom right up in Washington’s name. 80 men tried and 80 men died. Now they’re buried together on the countryside. 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or more. The bloody red bear was rolled off the score. 80 men died trying to end that spree of the bloody red bear of Germany. In the nick of time a hero arose, a funny looking dog with a big black nose. He flew to the sky to seek revenge, but the bearin’ shot him down. Cursor’s fired again. 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or more. The bloody red bear was rolled off the score. 80 men died trying to end that spree of the bloody red bear of Germany.
0:40:36 – Speaker 3
Within a couple of weeks the Snoopy song broke on a Chicago radio station that started playing it every hour, then every half hour, then every 15 minutes. By early 1967, the song peaked at number two in the States and crossed the Atlantic to the UK where it climbed to the number eight spot. The Royal Guardsman was suddenly thrust from a hobby band into the world of major rock and roll. You must have been so shocked.
0:41:05 – Speaker 8
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I mean, i’ve always loved the cartoon and especially Snoop. I’ve always loved the dog. Little did we know that he would become a superstar. The amount of records it sold was just unbelievable to us.
0:41:18 – Speaker 3
You must have gone through a period of being recognised in the street. I know you were still at school when the first Snoopy came out. What sort of reception did you get You become famous overnight.
0:41:29 – Speaker 8
Yeah, literally It was really amazing because most all the kids we were close to in our school they just thought it was really cool. You know they’d hear it. Oh, we just heard your record on the air, you know kind of thing Which when we went out and started doing concerts, that just scared the other love and the other out of me. All these people screaming and hollering, what do you mean? I mean you know we’d go on stage and people are screaming and hollering and just hooping it up and cheering for us and stuff, and I keep looking around behind me. I said who’s on stage? You know what’s going on here?
We finally realised then we were something in somebody’s eyes now And we were just a bunch of kids that you know loved to play music. It took a long time to get used to it. I’ll tell you, the biggest thing was when we I think it was in the right before Thanksgiving of 67, when we recorded and released Snoopy’s Christmas, which was my favourite of the bunch Oh dear, that thing took off like a rocket and it’s had about 55 years of legs. You know it’s been going a long time.
0:42:25 – Speaker 3
I read that it was the number one requested song in New Zealand and in Canada and that it still sells really well.
0:42:32 – Speaker 8
Yes, it’s amazing. And when you talk about being blessed and honored to have that happen, i never dreamed it. That thing was awesome, just humbled, believing, really humbled.
0:43:08 – Speaker 1
With ice on his wings, Snoopy knew it was strong. Christmas bells, oh Christmas bells, rang up from the land, Asking for the peace of all the world and the thrill to land.
0:43:30 – Speaker 3
Snoopy’s Christmas topped the seasonal charts. What do you think it was about those Snoopy songs?
0:43:36 – Speaker 8
I think, because first of all it was totally different than what was going on. I think it struck like maybe a little emotional chord. Snoopy was pretty lovable, but he didn’t take any stuff and he stood for what was good and what was right. I think that messed with people’s emotions a little bit. They really enjoyed it And the cartoon was basically out and about. People read about it, but it was very small at the time And when the record pops, man, his stuff took off.
0:44:02 – Speaker 3
Did you manage to keep your feet on the ground or were you swept away with it all?
0:44:06 – Speaker 8
No, actually I stayed pretty well planted. I enjoyed meeting the people. A lot of times we’d do a concert and especially like we were traveling with Tommy James and Sam the Sham, We did a big package tour with them.
0:45:09 – Speaker 8
We each had different times. we went on depending on what city we were playing in. So if we had done our set, we’d go back to our dressing rooms. I’d get in my city and come out and meet the people. That’s what I love to do, and I kept getting in trouble for it. They kept saying you can’t do that. I said what do you mean, man? These are the people who put us here. Why can’t I say hi, it was crazy, it was really nuts.
0:45:30 – Speaker 3
You were pretty tightly controlled. Actually, Sam the Sham is a friend of this program.
0:45:35 – Speaker 8
Really, that’s awesome.
0:45:37 – Speaker 3
As happy as Barry sounds, the band wasn’t. The Royal Guardsmen wanted to be taken more seriously. They issued a series of non-Snoopy singles, all of which flopped. But the band wasn’t quite through with him just yet. Snoopy for President put the World War One flying ace in the race for the White House. The original version featured a spoken introduction by the Red Baron mentioning the then current presidential candidates for the 1968 election. Unfortunately, bobby Kennedy was assassinated just days after the record had already been shipped to stores. Later, processings eliminated that spoken intro and the song failed to climb any higher on the charts. The Guardsmen followed up with a fourth album, but by this time they were firmly branded as a novelty act and the groups split up late 1969. Barry, are you still living off the proceeds of Snoopy today?
0:46:56 – Speaker 8
Oh, do we want to talk about truth? Let me tell you, just like most other bands of the late 60s, we were ripped. It was a common theme. We were ripped from the record company and the producer. After my first three-year contract with them, as a band’s first three-year contract, i told them I had enough and went to work on trying different things to make a living on. It’s pretty sad, but it’s true.
0:47:26 – Speaker 3
In 1976, after a few years of living a civilian life, the original members got back together and played club dates for another three years before disbanding again. Barry, there was another song that was written by Dick Holler that you guys were going to sing. It was called Abraham Martin and John. It’s a pretty awesome song, but you didn’t get to sing it.
0:47:49 – Speaker 8
No, we didn’t. It was basically chosen once again by the hours. That be They. Let Dion D’Amici have it. You know, more power to him. I met him at that time. I did the demo on the song and asked if we could do it. I said it may help us break away from the puppy a little bit and establish it as a you know, as a band. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. So once again I go looking for work and pulling benches on airplanes and do whatever I could do to make a living.
0:49:19 – Speaker 3
The song Abraham, martin and John was a tribute to those involved in the battle for civil rights, namely Abraham Lincoln, martin Luther King Jr and John F Kennedy. It had been written by the rocker Billy singer Dick Holler, who also wrote Snoopy vs the Red Baron, and originally sung by Dion, who had just recovered from heroin addiction. The record company had hoped that this song would be Dion’s comeback, and they were right It did re-establish Dion in the music business. The Royal Guardsmen, meanwhile, were left as a two-hit wonder.
0:49:58 – Speaker 8
Yeah, basically it was two-hit wonder for real. Like I said, the Christmas record has had legs for 55 years because there’s always new years actually hearing both songs, but at Christmas time especially.
0:50:08 – Speaker 3
And you’re not making any money out of Snoopy’s Christmas, the more it sells too.
0:50:12 – Speaker 8
No, hon, i’m just a poor little country boy, we’re alive. But yeah, that was part of the deal that the way they crookedly got around paying us anything. They were pretty clever. And unfortunately, the man that was the head of that, Gerhard, he died here just about three years ago. He actually shot himself, which I feel bad about. But he did it to a lot of other people too. He did it to a lot of folks.
0:50:39 – Speaker 3
It was definitely a common theme. What a shame, but at least you left your mark on the world. Nobody will ever forget Snoopy and the Red Baron and Snoopy’s Christmas. So for that we thank you and congratulate you, barry Winslow. it’s been an absolute delight chatting with you.
Oh, it absolutely doubled that for me. I really enjoy it and I love you guys. Thank you so much for inviting me. Bye-bye.
If you’re wondering what Barry Winslow is up to today, he experienced an epiphany in 1992 and has devoted himself to Christian music ever since. He and his wife, Tina, now minister together. He also spends time as a scale model, helicopter enthusiast and photographer, and that’s thanks to Lauren in Auckland, new Zealand, for asking us to chase up Barry Winslow. That’s all I’ve got for you today. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show. If you have, i’ll be looking forward to being back in your company again Same time next week. Take care of you, won’t you? Bye now.