Tampa Bay Garage Bands


The Ravens

AL SCHWEIKERT ld gtr, vcls
TOMMY ANGARANO organ, vcls

1.(A) Reaching For The Sun/Things We Said Today (Boss 003) 1966
2. Calamity Jane/Now She's Gone (Rust 5123) 1968

The debut waxing by this Pinellas County, Florida quintet hit the stores in the Summer of '66. Reaching For The Sun is moody jangley folk-punk with yearning harmonies - this has resurfaced on Psychedelic States - Florida Vol. 2 (CD).

The second 45 features a couple more tunes from Al Schweikert. Bright 'n' breezy pop with an RKO-radio-blip intro and some fuzz is slightly marred by some brass. The flip is an introspective lovelorn ballad with keyboard doodlings. Calamity Jane was co-composed with Karl Lamp with whom Albert Schweikert also composed The Tropics' classic As Times Gone?

The Ravens were managed by A.J. Perry, who was 'the' regional concert promoter at the time. They opened for every major act that came to town during that time, including The Hollies, The Yardbirds, The Who, Hermans Hermits, Blues Magoos and Sonny and Cher.

As a founding member of The Ravens I have a few updates for you. . . . . . .

First, there is a whole incarnation of the band missing from the chronology. I have designated it "0" in the chart below, and noted all changes in red. The band began in -- I think -- 1965, with Brian, Mark, and TWO Rick Simpsons, differentiated by the nicknames "Rick" and "Thor" (redhead!). Practice was in a seaside rental cottage managed by Paul's parents (also musicians), and later moved to Mark's garage.

Richard Vincent Simpson wrote the -- how shall I put this delicately? -- "prototype" of "Reaching for the Sun", which was later refined and copyrighted by Schweikert/Orrick. Orrick, by the way, was Bob Orrick, who lived across Gulf Blvd. from me; Bob bought the van (which Al's father painted with The Ravens in huge red letters), and thus became our early manager and roadie. He also occasionally subbed on bass. Gigs at this stage were largely parties and small events (I recall playing on the roof of the gas station where Rick's father worked, shouting "Tire Sale! Kelley Springfield tires at bargain prices!").

At some point in -- I think -- 1966, Rick returned to Conneticut and Thor left the band. As I recall, these events were roughly coincident. Al Schweikert (four years older than the rest of us and driving a Corvette convertible) joined on lead guitar and became ad hoc leader by virtue of his 21-year-old "maturity" and forceful personality. John Hallenstein (not Howenstein) brought his Vox organ, and we were off. Gigs moved upward to the [name?] teen club in the St. Pete Armory promoted by Moose Vosburg, and then branched to Charlie somebody-or-other's The Spot nightclub in Tampa, as well as Moose's new [name?] teen spot in north St. Pete. Lots of frat parties, etc. too. We also became the opening band for a lot of big name acts. In addition to the ones you mention, I recall The Left Banque, Roy Orbison, and maybe Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts.

It was at The Spot that we were approached by Charles Fuller, producer of the Royal Guardsman records (Snoopy, et al). We ended up in the studio recording "Reaching for the Sun" (Fuller wrote the keyboard lead) and backing it with an instrumental version of "Things We Said Today" (because we had no other originals or suitable covers). We later lip-sync'd both songs on WFLA's (?) teen TV hour, certainly a highlight of my high school days!

The Ravens were never what I would call a "kindly" band. Lots of ego and tempers, and very high-school clique interpersonal relationships. I left the band in 1967 (I think), probably only days before I would have been pushed out in favor of Ken Spivey (not Beau Fisher).

All was quiet until earlier this year, when I got an e-mail from Rick "Thor" Simpson, still alive and well and playing in Florida. That triggered the nostalgia trip resulting in this message. I'm cc:ing Ric (yep, he's now Ric) in the hopes that he can add things, and that he might find all this history stuff fun (time heals all wounds, at least to some extent).

BRIAN EGAN bs vcls                                       0 A B
MARK MACONI ld vcls                                     0 A B C D E F
PAUL PURCELL drms vcls                                 0 A B C D E F
RICHARD "Rick" VINCENT SIMPSON ld gtr, vcls 0
RICHARD "Thor" SIMPSON rtm gtr, vcls            0
JOHN HALLENSTEIN keyb'ds                                A
AL SCHWEIKERT ld gtr, vcls                                A B C D E
CHRIS KRAWCZYN keyb'ds                                    B C
KEN SPIVEY bs                                                         C
BEAU FISHER bs                                                          D
KENT PEARSON bs                                                           E F
TOMMY ANGARANO organ, vcls                                            F
CHARLIE BAILEY gtr                                                            F

All the best,

The Ravens 1968-69

Picture above sent in by Kent Pearson -- Left to Right:
Albert Schweikert (guitar, now owns San Diego based speaker company, "Von Schweikert Research")
Paul Purcell (Drums- now fronts his own St. Pete band, "Rockin' Chair", singing and playing guitar)
Mark Maconi (vocals, now owns Marconi Custom Homes),
Kent Pearson (bass, now guitarist/singer fronting own band, East Coast Jam)

Copyright © 2004 By TEDD WEBB • All Rights Reserved