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SRC Reunites 40 Years Later

This weekend, a Detroit band that broke up about 40 years ago will reunite. SRC was part of the Grande Ballroom scene in the late 60s and early 70s that made an impact locally and internationally and then disappeared. WDET’s Rob St. Mary takes a look at the band, yesterday and today.

(click the audio link above to hear the story)

More than four decades later, Scott Richardson says when SRC was together it was during a time of great revolution as young people protested against a war and in favor of civil rights.

“That particular moment in history for music and culture was just unique and it was incredibly intense.”

For Richardson the intensity started in 1965. That’s when he put together his first band. It was called The Chosen Few. Richardson sang while James Williamson played guitar and Ron Asheton played bass. If those names sound familiar it’s because Williamson and Asheton both went on to create the sound of the Stooges with Iggy Pop.

After a short time together, The Chosen Few broke up. By 1967, Richardson had met a local concert booker who was also the manager of noted Ann Arbor music store Discount Records. Jeep Holland set Richardson up as the front man for a band called the Fugitives. The band changed its name to the Scot Richard Case and recorded its first single, a cover of a Skip James blues song. “I’m So Glad” became a local rock radio hit.

“I’m So Glad”

But Richardson says it was at that point that the band’s next evolution really began.

"The Chosen Few would be like high schools sports, the Scot Richard Case would be like college sports and SRC would be like pro sports. If that makes sense?"

"Black Sheep”

By 1968, SRC was one of the biggest bands on the Grande Ballroom scene. The band shared bills with local acts like the MC5 and the, then Psychedelic, Stooges as well as international acts like The Who and The Rolling Stones.

In the spring of 1968, SRC was being eyed for a record contact. Capitol Records was interested but so was Pete Townshend. The Who guitarist became a fan of SRC after sharing the stage with them several times. Townsend was so interested in signing the band to his newly formed Track Records label that he sent one of his managers from England to the band’s communal home in Ann Arbor.

Richardson says the manager brought two demos for bands Townshend was producing and played them for SRC. One was by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

“Fire”

And the other was by a guitarist who had yet to be unleashed on the public.

“Hey Joe”

His name was Jimi Hendrix.

“So, the choice was go to England, have Pete Townshend produce you and wait for a national distribution deal or sign with the biggest rock and roll record company in the world, which was Capitol, who had the Beatles.”

Richardson says ultimately, SRC signed to Capitol Records because they felt the label could get them out faster in America. By November 1968, the band’s self–titled debut was released.

“OneSimpleTask”

The on-line review site All Music Guide says of the self-titled debut album by SRC: “With the twin leads of Gary Quackenbush and Steve Lyman, the distinctly church-like psychedelic Hammond of Glenn Quackenbush, and the angelic (and anglophile) vocals of Scott Richardson, SRC is a distinctly acidic album unlike anything else from the Detroit scene.”

Oakland Press music writer Gary Graff agrees.

“You know Detroit rock and roll really of that period, especially, is really know for the grungy… the Stooges, the MC5, the early Bob Seger… even the Mitch Ryder… really in your face “kick out the jams” type of stuff and SRC was a little more cerebral, a little more psychedelic, more “progy”, in a way. It was a different animal… but in a lot of ways was the kind of band that could only come from this area as well because it did pull together so many different kinds of strains.”

One of those strains was a definite classical influence. The B-side of their first single on Capitol was a piece by Edvard Grieg.

"Morning Mood”

On the band’s second album, Milestones, another Grieg piece was included.

"In the Hall of the Mountain King"

Ray Goodman was one of the SRC’s guitarists back in 1969.

“I think that’s mainly Glenn. He had classical training… Glenn was the keyboard player, the organist, in the band. He and his brother, Gary, came up with some of the phenomenal signature lines of the songs that really hold to this day. Gary’s pioneering use of feedback was way ahead of its time. That was their signature sound.”

That signature sound was also a product of the band’s increasing control over its recordings. Over time, the SRC decided to use the advance Capitol Records would give them to book studio time to record to build their own recording studio instead. That was rare 40 years ago due to the high costs involved. The band eventually turned their Ann Arbor home into a recording studio.

"A New Crusader"

For example, SRC’s third album was recorded on equipment they purchased from various sources including a used multi-track recorder on which Motown had produced “Stop in the Name of Love” a few years earlier.

John Orlich grew up in the Detroit area and became a huge fan in his teens in part because of SRC’s signature sound.

“Most bands at that time were just kind of frat party rocks bands… but the SRC or Scot Richard Case as they were known back then, when they got up on stage they just commanded… they just totally commanded complete participation.”

About 40 years after seeing the band for the first time, Orlich wrote a book about his fan experiences called “SRC: Wizards Deeply Missed”.

“The SRC came upon the scene as kind of these mystical figures that kind of launched into this stellar warp drive to present their unique message which was combined with their visuals.”

"Street Without a Name"

By the band’s third album in 1970, called “Traveler’s Tale”, SRC had faced several line-up changes and failed to sell as well as Capitol Records expected. So, the label dropped them. Before the band completely dissolved though SRC released one last record, a single on Motown’s rock label Rare Earth. “Out in the Night” was released in 1972 under the name Blue Scepter. SRC’s Scott Richardson.

“We didn’t have the full support of the record company to promote the record… so; the third album didn’t do as well as the first two. And then, what actually happened is what happens to a lot of people… we really didn’t have the management, the national sized management we would have required in order to take the next leap up.”

After SRC dissolved, several of its members joined other bands or left Michigan. Ray Goodman played with Mitch Ryder as well as other bands. The Quackenbush brothers – Glenn and Gary – also played with several other acts. Then, sadly, over the past 30 years or so several band members – Al Wilmot, Richard Haddad and E.G. Clawson - have passed away.

As for Scott Richardson, after SRC ended his old band mate Ron Asheton called him from England. Asheton was in London working with David Bowie as the sessions for Iggy and the Stooges Raw Power album. Richardson headed to London and did backup vocals on Bowie’s “Pin Ups” record and on tour. Richardson says he hoped Bowie would produce him as a solo artist but when Bowie’s management changed and it looked like he was through producing other artists Richardson headed back to the States. Eventually, he ended up in Hollywood, became a script reader for Warner Brothers and had a hand in producing several films in the late 70s before writing his own scripts. Richardson now lives outside Nashville.

"Exile"

As for SRC, the band’s albums continued to be passed around by people who enjoy psychedelic rock and what some would call “proto-progressive” rock. Among the groups well known fans is Peter Gabriel who says as he was forming his band Genesis the first SRC record was played so often that he wore out the grooves.

Then about a year ago some of the former band members started to talk about a real SRC reunion. Some band members had played together over the years but Richardson had not been involved. As for Richardson, he says there are two reasons for the reunion both are springing forward naturally.

“One is just simply an age issue. If we didn’t do it now… who knows? We’re in our 60s. And the other one is that pop culture is circular and everything goes in a large circle and there is tremendous amount of interest in that time period and the music that came out of it now.”

"Refugeve"

Fellow SRC member Ray Goodman says even though it’s been 40 years, don’t expect some kind of nostalgia show, they still know how to rock.

“Nobody wants to see a bunch of sour, dower old guys phoning it in… but I can guarantee you that’s not what’s going to happen on the 25th of June. You’re going to see some mature versions of SRC that are still at the peak of their powers and can actually play. You know, it’s never going to be like it was in the 60s but it could even be better.”

"Daystar"

SRC returns to the stage at the Magic Bag in Ferndale on Saturday night. Additional reunion shows are planned for later this summer.

I’m Rob St. Mary – WDET News.

For more information: http://www.srcwebsite.com/