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Chosen Few
Top: Warren Wilson, Ralph Loconto, Ernie Groom; Bottom: Roger Michaud, Jim Lawler

Roger Michaud Recalls The Chosen Few

My Start in Music

I started in music at six years old.  I came from a musical family where most everyone played an instrument.  I took classical and modern piano lessons until 13.  Music was pretty much a personal pleasure until The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan.  That was it for me, as well as many others I suspect.  I thought I would have better luck as a guitar player, so I picked up the guitar; being left handed, it was a battle.  Thank God for The Dave Clark Five.  The Vox organ in that group saved my career.  My best friend started backing me up on ice buckets that served as drums.  We found a local bass player and of course added a sax and lead guitar.  The average age of the band was 14.  We called ourselves The Moon Dawgs.

Our first gig was a fraternity party at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.  Considering that we knew eight songs, the repertoire was a bit slim to keep a college crowd going - especially considering they were being entertained by 14-year old kids who had to find a guitar player for that gig that was old enough to drive and had access to a car.  Worse yet, the drums were actual skins that could only fit in the trunk of that car.  And, the trunk wouldn’t close.  It poured all the way to Waterville, so you can imagine what the snare and toms sounded like. When the fraternity put a hold on the $95 check that we were paid that night, it was a huge blow to any musical aspirations I had.   Our first gig ended up in a lawyer’s hands.  

Determined, we continued to hone the music and the act and our first big break came in 1964 when we won the battle of the bands event sponsored by the Police Athletic League in Lewiston, Maine.  This was a big deal because Lewiston was a mill town, much like Liverpool, England, and there was an edge to the place and the musicians were extremely good and very competitive.  Such legends as Lenny Breau, voted world’s top Jazz Guitarist by Playboy Magazine for a number of years, dominated the music scene.  After the win in the battle of the bands, we were regulars at the PAL Hops, which really were legendary.  The average crowd numbered over 1,000 every Friday night.  It attracted great acts, and The Moon Dawgs were always a headliner.  

The notoriety got us a recording contract and in 1965 I recorded four songs for Kama Sutra Records, which was a division of Atlantic.  It was a pretty exciting musical moment because I recorded after Bobby Vinton and before The Rolling Stones made their first U.S. recording in the same studios.  The songs made it to the Cash Box and Billboard charts and of course were regional hits.  This inspired touring opportunities and we opened for The Kingsmen, The Dave Clark Five, Freddie and The Dreamers, and toured Canada summers as headliners in a number of venues.  

St. Mike’s as a Cauldron of Musical Development

Upon graduation from high school, I decided to attend St. Michael’s College in Vermont.  I entered in 1966 with an eye to spending four years skiing.  I was invited by a schoolmate from Maine (who also attended St. Mike’s) to audition for a band that had been started on campus.  The group was called The Chosen Few.  I remember going into the basement of Ryan Hall in the first few weeks of the Fall semester and seeing Ralph Loconto, Warren Wilson, Jim Lawler, and Ernie Groom.  I think there was great chemistry from the start.  It certainly was more fun than school.  By the time I got there, the band already had been named.  I think that Ralph, Jim, Ernie and Warren, had been aggressively developing the band and they needed a keyboard player so I just sort of fit in.  That meant hauling the Hammond C3 with Leslie from Maine to Vermont.  My father was the appointed hauler and our Moon Dawg trailer served him well.  Once I had my keys, The Chosen Few really had a distinctive sound.  Jimmy developed quickly as a drummer and Ernie played both sax and bass so we had some interesting combinations.  I think that everyone evolved quickly as musicians.  The band got better in a hurry and we kept working on our sound.  I was always looking for a grittier sound from the Hammond, and found that a small perforation in the Leslie speaker and old tubes just seemed to sound better.  

Out of the Basement

The battle of the bands in Burlington was a real catalyst.  The crowd was mesmerized by Warren’s presence as a front man.  When he sang “In the Midnight Hour” it was Jim Morrison before Jim Morrison.  Warren really laid it all out and most bands were pretty laid back compared to what we were doing. The other bands seemed more polished and their outfits were uniform. With us, it was rag tag and stage energy.  It was an explosion, just sheer excitement and the crowds really reacted.  It wasn’t just the music; it was the energy we created on stage.  Jimmy didn’t just keep the beat; he beat the drums, and the rest of us were really into the music song by song.  The Chosen Few never just went through the motions.   I really can’t remember who else was on the stage that night because it didn’t matter.  We had our own college crowd and since no one in Burlington knew us, it was just great playing for our St. Mike’s buddies, but mostly for ourselves. 

After the win at the battle of the bands, we became pretty regular at college functions.  That included St. Mikes, UVM, Trinity, The Red Dog, and fraternity parties for a variety of colleges.  I do remember playing for a prom or high school function at Rice High School in South Burlington, but we were pretty nasty for a prom band.  There was nothing sweet about our repertoire.  We were well received at a club in Rouses Point, New York, and I remember a gig in Albany driving all night through a snowstorm to get home.  

The Take Over 

I remember that we were asked to play at the Take Over in Burlington, which was a teen club.  This provided us with a relatively steady gig, but as I recall there was no alcohol, so we really had the teeny bop crowd who were starting to spread their wings.  It did help establish our presence in the Burlington area, and Yancy Stillinger was a pretty good promoter for the band.  Yancy asked us to record and of course that sounded like a great opportunity.  I remember coming home to Maine for a weekend break and writing music for the recording session.  I wrote “Get In On Life” and “JTB” over that weekend and thought they were a pretty good combination for a 45, which was the format at the time.  I had been writing music for a number of years, but this was the first original music for The Chosen Few.  At the time, covering alternative groups and being leading edge covering new artists was the way to gigs.  The originals were only as good as the air time they received, so “Get In On Life” did allow us to use that original material, but the covers were still the road to success.  

Recording “Get In On Life” and “JTB” was pretty interesting.  We had an 8-track recorder, which may have been my Ampex 8-track, or Yancy’s equipment - I really don’t recall, and we recorded at the Take Over Club.  It was primitive by all accounts.  The hall had an enormous echo to it and of course the song was recorded with everyone playing on the count of four.  I don’t recall how many takes, but it was an all day affair.  Once the single was released, the first time I heard it on the radio, I cringed because I knew that we were much better than the recording sounded.  Again, however, I think it’s the fact that the emotions came through, and the technical deficiencies were overshadowed by the fact that our college buddies and groupies could associate themselves with the “Few” being on radio.  

As I recall, the radio stations played the life out of this record and it was certainly a popular local hit.  However, because it was late in the school year, we really never followed it up and the Take Over Club crowds started dwindling, so Yancy’s appetite to do another session was more than likely diminished.  I don’t know how many records were actually sold but I know that we ran out of the first publishing.   Because of the end of the school year, I returned to Maine, and I believe that the rest of the group played clubs in Lake George, New York that summer.  The Chosen Few returned for another year and we continued to gig in the area.  I remember that we played more clubs that year.

Following the summer break of that following year, I remember coming back to St. Mike’s and found that the band had new players.  It was renamed Lime Cirrus and featured musicians from UVM.  The music had shifted and The Chosen Few had moved on in life.

Chosen Few 45 Picture Sleeve

From the April 15, 1967 Saint Michael’s College student newspaper The Michaelman

“Chosen Few” pick to click

The Chosen Few, a hard-rock singing group at St Michael’s have just waxed their first record “JTB”, the WDOT pick to click this week.

On the flip side of the record is “Get In On life.”

Roger Michaud, freshman organist, wrote and sings the lead of “JTB”. “Get In On Life” is sung by sophomore vocalist and teenybopper heart throbber Warren Wilson.

Other Members of the group are sophomores Ernie Groom, bass guitar, Jim Lawler drums and Ralph Loconto, lead guitar.

"Get In On Life" (written by Roger Michaud)

Verse 1

You just live a simple life

Well, you don’t do nothin’ new

You’re wonderin’ where the good times are

Well, they’re right in front of you

Stop bein’ a front, get in on the fun

Come on now, girl, get in on (love) on (love)

Verse 2

You’ve been told that there’s only one way

And that’s by livin’ by the rules every day

If you keep on livin’ like that

You’re going to die like the rest of the pack

Break free, let go! Let everyone know

You’re not going to be a number in socie (ty) in socie (ty)

Guitar Solo

Awwww! (Ernie Groom)

Instrumental Bridge

All right, work it on out! (Roger Michaud)

Verse 3

Break free from your daddy’s hand

Go out and find yourself a man

And never mind what the people say

You’re going to be better off someday

For speedin’ up the pace, getting’ into the race

Oh, oh, oh, oh, this thing called (life) called (life) called…

Note: "Get In On Life" is available on the Cry For Atlantis CD, available from Dionysus Records.

The Chosen Few’s Schedule from 1966-68 (Compiled with commentary by Will Shade)

First appearance of The Chosen Few with Roger Michaud on Saturday September 24, 1966 at Trinity

Saturday October 1, 1966 Saint Michael’s College sophomore dance

Saturday October 15, 1966 Phi Sig Ep fraternity

Saturday October 22, 1966 Air Society Dance

Saturday November 5, 1966 Saint Michael’s College sophomore dance

Thursday November 10, 1966 Battle of the Bands 3rd Annual Burlington Jaycees – previous winners included The Thunderbolts – 1st Place Memorial Auditorium Burlington, VT (ad for this includes The Shades, The Sinners, The Defenders)

Saturday November 12, 1966 Crown & Sword Dance

Friday November 18, 1966 opened for Syndicate of Sound and Left Banke at Memorial Auditorium

Saturday November 19, 1966 Heineburg Club

Friday December 2, 1966 opened for Aches ‘n’ Pains (formerly The Thunderbolts) at Memorial Auditorium (45 minute set)

Saturday December 3, 1966 Phi Sig Ep fraternity

Friday January 13, 1967 Rice High School Dance in gym 8-11 p.m.

The Take Over Teen Club, located at117 St. Paul Street, Burlington, VT was operated by Yancy Stillinger

Friday January 27, 1967 Take Over Club 8-11:30 p.m.

Saturday January 28, 1967 Chosen Few on WCAX Channel 3, CBS affiliate in Burlington, VT

Saturday January 28, 1967 Tutorial Dance

Sunday January 29, 1967 Take Over Club 6-9 p.m.

Friday February 3, 1967 Take Over Club 8-11:30 p.m.

Saturday February 4, 1967 Take Over Club 8-11:30 p.m.

Tuesday February 7, 1967 Jeanne Mance Dance

Wednesday February 8, 1967 Heineburg Club 1 ½ hours

Saturday February 18, 1967 Take Over Club

Tuesday February 21, 1967 WDOT Battle of the Bands at Memorial Auditorium. 1st Place. The Bushmen 3rd place. Chosen Few played “Taxman” with “ah, ah, Mr. Wilson" chorus eliciting applause from undergrads. Bushmen played all originals, including their Paul Leka (future Lemon Pipers and Steam producer) produced 45, “Nobody’s Child” b/w “Grey Eyes Watching” and another Steve Blodgett original, “Motorboat.” Brave, but foolish and thus trounced

Friday February 24, 1967 Winooski High School, 60% of gate

Friday March 3, 1967 Take Over Club

Saturday March 4, 1967 South Burlington High School

Monday March 6, 1967 Take Over Club

Friday March 10, 1967 Take Over Club

Saturday March 11, 1967 Heineburg Club

Wednesday March 15, 1967 Touch of Teens Fashion Show

Friday March 17, 1967 Jeanne Mance

Saturday March 18, 1967 – cut record at Take Over Club. Played regular set that night as well

Friday April 7, 1967 Take Over Club

Saturday April 8, 1967 Rice High School

Tuesday April 11, 1967 Record Out!

Friday April 14, 1967 South Burlington High School 8-11:30 p.m.

Saturday April 15, 1967 Take Over Club

The Saxony Lounge, Rouses Point, NY was owned and operated by Marc Chapman, ex-Mike & The Ravens/Thunderbolts drummer.

Sunday April 16, 1967 Saxony, Rouses Point, NY

Tuesday April 18, 1967 Chosen Few show at Memorial Auditorium 50% of gate

Friday April 21, 1967 Winooski High School

Saturday April 22, 1967 Winooski High School 8-12 p.m.

Sunday April 30, 1967 Saxony

Friday May 5, 1967 Rice High School

Saturday May 6, 1967 South Burlington High School

Friday May 12, 1967 Winooski High School

Saturday May 27-Tuesday May 30, 1967 Lake George, NY

Summer Break

Friday October 6, 1967 Take Over Club

Saturday October 7, 1967 unnamed fraternity

Friday October 13, 1967 Take Over Club

Saturday October 14, 1967 Take Over Club

Friday October 20, 1967 Take Over Club

Saturday October 21, 1967 Take Over Club

Sunday October 22, 1967 Saxony

Saturday October 28, 1967 Take Over Club

Sunday October 29, 1967 Saxony

Sunday November 5, 1967 Saxony

The Red Dog in Burlington, VT was operated by Jack DeBrule, who used to own The Cave, home to the second version of Mike & The Ravens in 1963. The Red Dog was home to The Thunderbolts throughout 1964-1965.

Monday November 6, 1967 Red Dog

Friday November 10, 1967 Heineburg Club

Saturday November 11, 1967 Saint Michael’s College

Monday November 13, 1967 Red Dog

Tuesday November 14, 1967 Red Dog

Wednesday November 15, 1967 Red Dog

Thursday November 16, 1967 Red Dog

Friday November 17, 1967 Red Dog

Saturday November 18, 1967 Red Dog

Saturday December 2, 1967 Phi Sig Ep fraternity

Friday January 12, 1968 Bolton Valley ski resort

Saturday January 13, 1968 Bolton Valley ski resort

Friday January 19, 1968 Bolton Valley ski resort

Saturday January 20, 1968 Bolton Valley ski resort

Friday January 26, 1968 Bolton Valley ski resort

Saturday January 27, 1968 Phi Sig Ep fraternity

Saturday February 3, 1968 Bolton Valley ski resort

The Hullabaloo in Burlington and Barre, VT were two clubs owned and operated by Rob Roy, former manager for The Thunderbolts and from 1964-1968 managed The Vistas.

Friday February 9, 1968 Hullabaloo in Burlington

Saturday February 10, 1968 Bolton Valley ski resort

Friday February 16, 1968 Saint Michael’s College junior dance

Saturday February 17, 1968 Bolton Valley ski resort

Sunday February 18, 1968 WDOT Battle of the Bands at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington, VT. 1st Place for the third time in a row.

Friday February 23, 1968 Hullabaloo in Burlington

Sunday February 25, 1968 Saxony

Friday March 8, 1968 Hullabaloo in Burlington

Friday March 15, 1968 Hullabaloo in Burlington

Saturday March 16, 1968 Phi Sig Ep fraternity

Friday March 22, 1968 Hullabaloo in Burlington

Saturday March 30, 1968 South Burlington High School 8-11:30 p.m.

Friday April 26, 1968 Hullabaloo in Burlington

Saturday April 27, 1968 afternoon picnic in NY

Saturday April 27, 1968 Hullabaloo in Barre

Friday May 3, 1968 Winooski High School

Saturday May 4, 1968 South Burlington High School 8-11:30 p.m.

Roger Michaud's first band released a 45 on the PAL (Police Athletic League) vanity label. It was later picked up by Karate (but certainly was not in league with the Chosen Few's 45). Michaud's French-Canadian surname was changed to the more palatable and Anglo-friendly Lewis since he was from Lewiston, Maine. The local PAL used to host teen shows featuring regional bands, amongst them The Moon Dawgs and the legendary Euphoria's Id.