The Rondels

married with two children. He kept working at music but never had any solo records released. He would do studio work with us occasionally, and he and Jimmy also worked every weekend for a recording studio in Boston backing up songwriters who wanted to make demos. We remained close friends and it was only a matter of time before we would all be back together again. Actually other changes were happening too. Eddie Grispi got drafted into the US Army so we needed to find a new drummer. Jimmy's girlfriend at the time (and his future wife) was in a singing group called The Hi-Fi's and their drummer, Lenny Collins, really impressed us. One day I asked Lenny if he would rehearse with us sometime. He did and from that rehearsal I realized we could reach another level of playing our music with this group of musicians. Lenny was a great drummer, Jimmy was excelling at lead guitar and, together with Ray's amazing saxophone playing, we were becoming a real strong band. We decided that it was time to move on from The Rhythm Rockers and one night we were trying to come up with a new name. Rondel was a word that I had read in an ancient history project at school and so I suggested The Rondels and everyone else said okay.

"The Rondels played a broad range of music as all of us listened to radio a lot and we would learn to play the hits. It didn't matter if it was Fats Domino, Ricky Nelson, Sil Austin, Chuck Berry, Jorgen Ingmann or the Everly Brothers, each of us had our own favorite artists but as a group we stayed very open when it came to what we would try and experiment with creatively. We would listen to a lot of records at rehearsal and one day we spun The Ventures' Perfidia and Lullaby Of The Leaves. While we were playing around with the tunes I realized that we had one element that The Ventures didn't have, the saxophone. Our versions sounded so different but yet it was competitive with a group that was having hits. We decided that we would search for a song and try The Ventures approach but with our sound.

"Ray was very familiar with a lot of the great standards and was always playing these wonderful melodies. One day he started playing this song that caught my ear, it turned out to be Greensleeves. Jimmy jumped in with some guitar leads, Lenny put this kind of cha-cha beat to it and a few hours of rehearsals later we had a great arrangement that sounded like something The Ventures might do but couldn't. A month or so later we went into Ace Recording and recorded a

version of the song. After listening to it about a hundred times I called Bugs Bower in New York. Most of the labels in Boston at the time were not looking for instrumental groups. The two Boston artists that were having success were Freddie Cannon and vocal group The G-Clefs so, if you didn't sing, forget it. I knew we had to go to New York if we wanted to get a deal.

"It just so happened that Bugs had very recently produced a hit by Brian Hyland called ltsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and he was looking for records for his company Republic Music. I sent him the demo of Greensleeves and he called me a few days later very excited and asked me if we would come to New York and go in the studio with him as producer and, of course, we said yes."

Greensleeves had its origin in sixteenth century England, but more recently UK vocal trio The Beverley Sisters had scored a US Top 100 hit with the tune in 1956. The Rondels went to New York and re-recorded Greensleeves at Regent Sound and once it was done they looked at each other and said: "Shit man, it sounds great! Lennie recalled: "Bugs changed the arrangement around a bit, had us do some backing vocals and altered the title to Shades Of Green. Two weeks later he called and said that we had a deal for the track with Amy Records."

As Greensleeves was in the public domain it meant that Bugs' company Republic Music could publish the number with label owner Sammy Kaye shown as the writer, so not only would Republic own the publishing and the production but the record company owner would pick up the composer's royalty. As Lennie reflected: "It would be lucrative for them but it was also lucky for us just to get the start. Bugs asked me if we could go into the studio in Boston and cut a B-side.

"We had been working on Back Beat No. I for a while. In fact we had recorded a version of it which I hated during the same session we cut Greensleeves. I knew we could do it better. After the success of Sandy Nelson's Teen Beat and Let There Be Drums we decided that it was going to be the track that we would use for the flip side as drums were featured quite prominently. We went back to Ace Recording in Boston and I believe we put down Back Beat No. 1 after getting the sounds together in one take. Strangely enough I played lead on it and Jimmy played rhythm. We also tuned Jimmy's guitar down an octave and he overdubbed bass. I was playing a Fender Strat.

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Article written by Dave Burke of Pipeline Magazine www.pipelinemag.co.uk