Home By the Years Where Are They Now? More Other Stuff Guest Book Contact SONGLIST (January 1968)  SET ONE 1.   Scratchie – from a Mel Tormé song, “I’m Comin’ Home” 2.   Bend Me, Shape Me – American Breed 3.   Mercy, Mercy, Mercy – the Buckinghams 4.   I’m a Man – Spencer Davis Group 5.   Gimme Some Lovin’ – Spencer Davis Group 6.   Guantanamera – Pete Seeger 7.   Mellow Yellow -- Donovan 8.   Little Ole Man (Uptight, Everything’s Alright) – Bill Cosby 9.   Love Potion No. 9 – the Searchers 10. Sock It To Me, Baby – Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels  SET TWO 1.   Bill Davis – instrumental intro 2.   Got To Get You Into My Life – the Beatles 3.   City of New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie 4.   It’s a Beautiful Morning – the Rascals 5.   Music To Watch Girls By – Andy Williams 6.   Tell Her No – the Zombies 7.   The Letter – the Box Tops 8.   Happy Together – the Turtles 9.   She’d Rather Be With Me – the Turtles 10. My Girl – the Temptations 11. Reach Out, I’ll Be There – Four Tops  SET THREE 1.   Sweet Soul Music – Arthur Conley 2.   Shake, Rattle & Roll – Bill Haley and the Comets 3.   Knock On Wood – Eddie Floyd 4.   Hold On, I’m Comin’ – Sam and Dave 5.   Mustang Sally – Wilson Pickett 6.   Stand By Me – Ben E. King 7.   Stagger Lee – Lloyd Price 8.   Land of 1000 Dances – Wilson Pickett 9.   (In the) Midnight Hour – Wilson Pickett
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years, it is the power of music – and specifically, it’s power to ease difficult and intense times.  I remember the events directly following the N.Y. Trade Centre 9/11 tragedy and how the world fell silent for two days.  There was talking and reports and noise and pictures, but there was no music.  Then on the morning of the third day, I awoke to hear the British Royal Guards playing the American anthem from London, England – something they had never done before.  And by early afternoon, CNN was showing a group of black women singing down in the southern U.S.  And from that moment on, the world began to heal. I suppose it is the intense and changeable times of the late ‘60’s that brought out music that stays remembered nearly a half-century later.  It is hardly coincidence that the music and the events of this period both stay current and loved nearly two generations later.  And for a group of high school kids trying to make their way through a business that is difficult at the best of times, early 1968 must have looked immense.  But they were determined and they worked hard.  And through the early part of the year, not only did they continue to work on their show, but they spent a great deal of time building the promotional part of their band.  One of the Aldershot High School students was approached by Vuk Kovinich (the band's leader) and she soon became the president of the Brass Union Fan Club. ”He came to my house one day and asked me to be their Fan Club president”, she told me, recently.  “I was very shy in school and was rather thrilled that he would ask me to do this. When they played at various clubs we would go to hear the band. They even had groupies that followed them everywhere.” And the band used things like this for full effect to promote themselves locally.  Every month, they typed up a newsletter (shown to the right) and passed it out to their new ‘fan club’.
Top 30 Singles of 1968 1.   Hey Jude - The Beatles 2.   I Heard It Through The Grapevine - Marvin Gaye 3.   Love Is Blue - Paul Mauriat 4.   Love Child - Diana Ross &The Supremes 5.   Honey - Bobby Goldsboro 6.   Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay - Otis Redding 7.   People Got To Be Free - The Rascals 8.   This Guy's In Love With You - Herb Alpert 9.   Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) - John Fred & His Playboy Band 10.  Woman Woman - Gary Puckett & The Union Gap 11.  Mrs. Robinson - Simon & Garfunkel 12.  Who's Making Love - Johnnie Taylor 13.  Hello I Love You - The Doors 14.  Tighten Up - Archie Bell &The Drells 15.  Young Girl - Gary Puckett & The Union Gap 16.  Harper Valley Pta - Jeannie C. Riley 17.  Those Were The Days - Mary Hopkin 18.  Little Green Apples - O.C. Smith 19.  The Good, The Bad And The Ugly - Hugo Montenegro 20.  Bend Me, Shape Me - American Breed 21.  Cry Like A Baby - The Box Tops 22.  Magic Carpet Ride - Steppenwolf 23.  Green Tambourine - The Lemon Pipers 24.  Midnight Confessions - The Grass Roots 25.  For Once In My Life - Stevie Wonder 26.  It's A Beautiful Morning - The Rascals 27.  Spooky - Classics IV 28.  Abraham, Martin And John - Dion 29.  Stoned Soul Picnic - 5th Dimension 30.  Chain Of Fools - Aretha Franklin
The band's two resident trumpet players, Cliff Hunt and John Willett, the newest member of the band.
Darrell Nameth (sax) backstage with bass player, Mike Thornton, the other member to join the band in '68.
By 1968, the band was playing regularly.  And as they gained popularity and became more serious with what they were doing, more personel changes were to come this year.  Probably the one of greatest interest to me, personally, was the addition of John Willett on trumpet.  John was a Hamilton boy and the cousin of Cliff Hunt, the other trumpet player in the band.  John and I attended the same music classes at Southmount High School and he would call the band’s attention to me when the band needed to replace their trombone player, the following year.  John replaced Bill “Wheels” Magee, one of the Brass Union members who chose another career path for himself and went on to a very rewarding life outside the focus of music.  I’ll be telling all these stories later on in a “Where Are They Now” section – a section that from what I’ve learned so far, promises to be very interesting, indeed. The other change came later in the year when the band’s bass guitarist, Dave Baylis (the band’s resident ‘comedian’), decided to move on and pursue a rather lucrative career in one of the medical fields.  He was replaced by Mike Thornton, another Hamilton musician. ************************************************************************************************ Meanwhile, as the boys worked on their music, vocals and choreography, early ’68 had Dick Citroen (the band’s manager) working behind the scenes himself, doing his part.  Baseball caps weren’t really in fashion at the time, and t-shirts were mostly tie-dyed, but with the band’s input, he completed their first professional “Promotional Package”.  It was a 9 by 12 folder that opened up from the centre (pictured, above right).  When opened (picture below), there was a blue flap across the bottom that could hold pictures or any other promotional items.  This is what he took out into the area to sell this 9-piece group of high-school kids.  There were a few bands during this time who understood the value of promoting their product.  The Brass Union was one of them.
Brass Union February Newsletter  On December 30th 1967, the Hamilton Spectator published the results of the “DISCOSPEC” Pop Poll, which included a section for ….”Best Hamilton-based Vocal Group”.  As you will have read in that paper, this section was the most exciting race for top place, and the Spectator staff had to re-count the votes many times as there was such a close tie between the leading three groups!  The final outcome was…. 1st..Jameson Roberts Blues Band               2nd..Roots of All Evil               3rd.. THE BRASS UNION!  The Boys all wish to send their thanks to all their loyal fans for voting them into third place.  Maybe all you guys and gals out there who forgot to mail your votes this year, will remember to do just that in the next Poll… as the Hamilton Spectator was so pleased at the enormous response, that they will be running another “DISCOSPEC” Pop Poll next December!  *********************************************************************** January has been an exciting month for the Brass Union, as they have been working continuously and having terrific receptions everywhere.  Their best show to date was definitely at Waterloo Lutheran’s Winter Carnival, where ARTHUR CONLEY was guest artist with the BRASS UNION.  It was such a fantastic show by both Conley and the Brass Union that the capacity crowd of 2,000 just couldn’t be satisfied!  Arthur is quoted as saying….”Whenever I play again in Canada, this group is the only group I want to sing with!”  Mike, who you all know is at Waterloo Lutheran University, is now walking around the campus on Cloud 9!!!!!  ********************************************************************** Two days after the Conley job, the Boys played at the Sheraton-Connaught Hotel in Hamilton, for the McMaster Thaleia Society Formal, which was a resounding success!  Then the following night, they played at the “Castle” in St. Catherines, where Public Relations man, Ronn Metcalfe, heard them play a blaster!!!!  Mr. Metcalfe and Dick, the band’s manager will very shortly be combining to promote the BRASS UNION on a national scale.  So watch out for fireworks in publicity! ********************************************************************** Another item of note is the fact that MARSLAND ENGINEERING will be using the BRASS UNION for advertising the P.A. Systems etc.  This is a big break for the Boys, as I’m sure many of you will realize. ********************************************************************** FORTHCOMING DATES: Saturday, February 24th:  Waterloo University              Formal at Caesar’s Forum, Waterloo (closed)       Saturday, March 2nd:Fraternity for Westdale at              Fischer’s Hotel. (closed)       Friday, March 15th: Legion Hall, Burlington. (private)                 Friday, March 22nd: Club Shade Blue, Dundas (open)       Friday, March 29th; Seaforth District High School              Formal (closed) ********************************************************************** JOHN WILLETT … “THE FRIAR” JOHN WILLETT, A COUSIN TO CLIFF HUNT, IST HE NEWEST MEMBER OF THE UNIT … CAME TO US FROM THE “CLASSICS” … BEETHOVEN WE NOW LEAVE TO SCHROEDER … A TREMENDOUS CLOWN … WHEN HE’S ON STAGE WATCH OUT … JOHN PLAYS TRUMPET AND CORNET.  DAVE BALAN … 20 YEAR OLD DRUMMER … PLAYED WITH MANY GROUPS IN THE BURLINGTON AREA … A REAL POWER-HOUSE OF A DRUMMER … PLAYS DRUMS WITH “KID GLOVES” … FOR REAL … LOOK FOR THEM … A GREAT BILL COSBY FAN  “IGOR BAYLIS” … “IF THIS GUY EVER DECIDES TO QUIT MUSIC HE WILL PROBABLY BECOME ONE OF THE GREAT COMEDY ACTORS OF HIS TIME” … A MERCILESS MIMIC … A TREMENDOUS WIT … OH YES, HE PLAYS BASS GUITAR AND IS 18 YEARS OLD  MIKE LANSBURY … 21 YEAR OLD VOCALIST WHO IS FAST BECOMING THE MOST DYNAMIC YOUNG STYLIST ON THE SCENE TODAY … WITH HIS BRAND OF GOOD LOOKS … WOW!!  PAUL SCOTT … OUR 21 YEAR OLD “STRONG SILENT TYPE” … PLAYS TROMBONE … ONE OF THE FEW BARITONE VOICES ON THE ROCK SCENE … ANOTHER COUSIN, THIS TIME TO MIKE LANSBURY.  LENNIE BLUM … IS A MULTI-TALENTED 17 YEAR OLD … KNOWN AS “THE BOY WONDER”.  LENNIE IS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE BEST LEAD GUITARISTS IN THE BUSINESS TODAY … IN ADDITION HE PLAYS ORGAN, BANJO, PIANO … AND WAIT FOR IT … GLOCKENSPEIL  “BRICE” WILSON … 17 YEAR OLD RHYTHM GUITAR, ALTO SAX PLAYER … A BIG HIT WITH THE “YOUNGER SET” … A BORN COMEDIAN WHO WITH LENNIE AND IGOR POSE A TRIPLE THREAT TO THE SANITY OF THE WORLD  CLIFF HUNT … WHAT CAN YOU SAY … DARK, HANDSOME … BLOWS OUT OF SIGHT HORN FROM BASIE TO BACH … PLAYED HIS TRUMPET ALL OVER THE STATES … SINGS WELL … ENOUGH I CAN’T TAKE IT!!!  DARRELL NAMETH … 19 YEARS OLD … PLAYS TENOR SAX … WITH LENNIE BLUM HE HANDLES MOST OF THE GROUPS ARRANGING.  KNOWN AS “DUDE” OF “THE TEDDY BEAR” … IS AN ACCOMPLISHED AND VERSATILE MUSICIAN.  AS WELL AS PLAYING ALL THE SAXES HE ALSO PLAYS PIANO, ORGAN AND ACCORDIAN.
In the spring of 1967 a group of musicians got together to perform in a high school variety show … The show was a success … They decided to stay together and try to make it in the “GREAT WIDE WORLD” of show business … and thus without any great drama the “BRASS UNION” was formed …  The “Brass Union” is a “NEW IMAGE”, rock/blues group … Nine individually excellent musicians … Plus showmanship and a lot of good looks … Featuring trumpets, trombones, saxophones, and flugel horn in their line up, they manage to create an overwhelming big “STUDIO” sound that is gaining a huge following all over Ontario, from Windsor to Ottawa and beyond.  At a recent series of concerts the stage was invaded by enthusiastic fans, both male and female.  Some wanted to touch their particular favourite, others just to dance on stage with the group, in the hope that they could become part of the intense atmosphere of pleasure and excitement that is generated by the “Brass Union”.  “We play and sing; music excites us and gives us a high and happy feeling and we try to communicate this feeling to our audiences.  Judging by recent reactions we are beginning to achieve this and if anyone wants to jump on stage and do their thing it is O.K. with us.”  This is the feeling of the “Brass Union” so there’s your invitation … go to it … do your thing with the …  “BRASS UNION”
Inside the folder, there were two regular ‘enclosures’ – in addition to any other promotional items that would be included – one, a picture of all the guys in a collage form, with short bios printed on the back in blue (shown above and to the right).  The other was ‘group shot’ of the band with a ‘news-release-style’ description of the band written on the back (shown below). It is rather comical reading the results of this work now, but back in 1968, the concept of promotion and publicity was still in its early stages for rock bands.  And with Dick Citroen’s knowledge and input from years of experience in Britain, the Brass Union was at the leading edge in these things around the Southern Ontario area.
Above:  Apollo 8 To the right:  The Democratic National Convention Chicago -- August 26, 1968 Day & NIght
To many, 1968 is known as the ‘Year In Between’ – the year between the '67 Summer of Love and the ‘Woodstock Summer’ of '69.  But for the events around the world, in North America and for the new band, Brass Union, 1968 was anything but ‘in between’. For North Americans, the year started overseas, as the North Vietnamese launched their Tet Offensive – a turning point in a war that was causing so much trouble everywhere in the world.  In March, U.S. soldiers massacred 347 civilians at My Lai, which just escalated more violence and protests in North America.  But there was other violence in other parts of the world as well as Russia invaded Czechoslavakia and students rioted in Paris.  We lost Martin Luther King in April, gunned down in Memphis.  Senator Kennedy was fatally shot in Los Angeles in June.  And with the rise of protests and the Black Panther movement in the U.S., 1968 was a tumultuous year, indeed.  The summer brought riots to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago as Mayor Daly’s police forces battled protesters.  Even the ’68 Olympics in Mexico City were not immune as a Black power salute was seen on television worldwide as U.S. gold and bronze medalists, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their arms in protest during a medal ceremony. But things were not all doom and gloom in 1968.  The year saw NASA launch Apollo 7, it’s first manned Apollo mission, followed the same year by the successful flight of Apollo 8, with Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders being the first people to orbit the moon.  Dr. Christian Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant in 1968 and it was the year that the Aswan Dam was completed in Egypt.  Jacquie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis and ironically, the first Big Mac was sold at McDonald’s, the same year that the First Philadelphia Bank installed the first automated teller machine in the U.S.  The 'instant' society had arrived.  Closer to home, Canada elected their new Prime Minister, a man named Pierre Elliot Trudeau. On the music scene, Janis Joplin’s album Cheap Thrills was so successful that she left Big Brother and the Holding Company to launch a solo career.  Beatles George and John were in India studying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which brought far-eastern religions to worldwide prominence.  Jane Asher broke her engagement with Paul on live TV and Cythnia Lennon sued John for divorce after Yoko One announced she was having John’s baby [d'uh!].  And the Beatles released their first album under their new Apple label, ‘Hey Jude’.  The Stones put out their R & B album, ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ and Cream’s last album, ‘Wheels of Fire’ became the first album to ever go platinum.  Johnny Cash did his legendary performance from Folson Prison in January, and the Grammy for best R & B single went to Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”, a song recorded just 3 days before the fatal plane crash that took the lives of Otis, his manager and four members of his band, the Bar- Kays in December of year before.  And finally, the rock opera ‘Hair’ opened on Broadway in 1968.
Mexico City Olympics, 1968 Prague, Czechoslavakia, 1968
Left to right:  John Willett, Bruce Wilson (in the back) and Cliff Hunt
Back, left to right:  Dave Balan, Dave Baylis Front, left to right:  Mike Lansbury, Paul Scott and Darrell Nameth on saxophone
Yes, 1968 was a busy year for the Brass Union.  The very successful show with Del Shannon and the end of last year was followed rather quickly on January 24th, with a similar show, backing another of the top acts of the time, echoing his famous opening line:  “Do you like good music?” ”The next “star” we backed up was Arthur Connelly, who billed himself as Otis Redding’s protégé”, said Cliff Hunt.  “He had one hit called “Sweet Soul Music” but it was a world-wide hit and we did a show with him at the University of Waterloo. We were supposed to do another one backing up B.J. Thomas “Raindrops Keep Fallin’On My Head”, but for whatever reason, the dates fell through.
The band played solidly all year, moving from the usual High School and local gigs, to surrounding universities, city events and gigs throughout Ontario.  The pictures shown above is of the band at one of their typical shows.  You can see the stages that the band carried with them in the picture – the short blue-curtained ones for the four horn players (two to each side of centre stage), the red-curtained ones for the rhythm and bass guitarist and the large, yellow-curtained drum stage. Another of the big accomplishments of 1968 for the band was their first studio work.  Dick got the boys first into ARC Sound in Toronto and then into the Toronto RCA Studios.  At RCA, they recorded three songs:  “Vertigo”, a band original number, and a ‘cover’ of the Spencer Davis hit “I’m A Man” and another cover song.  I’m still searching if there are any remaining copies of this work, but after 40 years, it is unlikely. The band continued to play regularly throughout the area all year.  “I can’t remember exactly where my first gig was with the band, they all flow together after a few decades”, said John Willett, recently, “But I remember that it was way up north – the Soo (Sault Ste. Marie), or Thunder Bay, or something like that.”  By the end of their second year, the band was beginning to do the ‘Northern Ontario Tour’ that so many bands were doing back then.  It only took a few of those trips, pulling all their equipment in trailers behind cars to show the need for something better.  By the end of the year, the band had either purchased their first ‘trucks’ or were in the process of doing so.  I’ll show a couple of pictures of them in the next year’s page.
Above, one of the many promotional pics of 1968  Top Row, left to right:  Cliff Hunt (trumpet), Dave Balan (drums) Middle row, left to right:  John Willett (trumpet) Mike Lansbury (vocals), Darrell Nameth (sax) Next row down, left to right:  Bruce Wilson (guitar), Paul Scott (trombone), Dave Baylis (bass) Front:  Len Blum (guitar)
I don't have an exact location, date or source on the newspaper clipping to the left, but it is in 1968, and judging by the description, I would say that it has been taken during one of the band's shows behind the Burlington City Hall during the summer.  The only problem with doing this story has been stirring 40- year-old memories and tracking down pictures and clippings about the band during a time before the internet and digital cameras.
But as the year rolled along, the shows continued, they’d been in the studio, and the promotion was pretty much in place, Dick Citroen’s job became less and less necessary.  “I also represented a number of other British and Canadian variety acts and I was never interested in being a booking agent, which was what the band needed now”, said Dick.  “I was only interested in the management part of the business, showing them how to present themselves, showing them basic stagecraft, marketing and promoting the band as an entity.”  So in late 1968, the band sat down with Dick and they agreed to part ways.  But Dick had left his mark on the band.  I still recall the advice I got from one of the band members as I played one of my early gigs with the band during the following year:  “Never go out into the crowd during breaks.  Because you’ll never be able to live up to what the audience believes you to be.”  Or, as Dick told me himself recently:  “When you’re on stage, you never play to the front row of people.  You’ve already ‘sold’ those people.  That’s why they’re in the front row.  You look back, three, four rows.  Those are the ones you focus on.”  Those are the types of things that Dick left with the band as they moved into their third year.
More from the 1968 Brass Union songlist