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Cory Wells & The Enemys


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Cory Wells & The Enemys

Without question, one of the truly great Sunset Strip groups in the 1960’s was The Enemys.  Although they eventually became house band for the Whisky A-Go-Go, recorded a handful of singles, appeared in the cult classic film Riot On Sunset Strip, and had several high profile television appearances (including an unforgettable guest starring role in an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies), they’re mentioned today as only a footnote in the illustrious career of future Three Dog Night founder Cory Wells.

Considering Wells’ later success, it’s surprising that the history of his earlier band had not yet been completely documented.  Wells, however, recently contacted and offered to provide a bio on some of his very early musical adventures, including his first venture to Southern California and the eventual gestation of the band that would become The Enemys.  

We’re very excited to present Wells’ recollections – along with rare photos from his personal collection – in this exclusive bio of one of rock and roll’s most enduring personalities.

Cory Wells & The Enemys

By Cory Wells


My music career started in 1960. I sang with African-American kids that I worked with at different places. It was the Doo-Wop style of music. 


I (later) played on the east coast in Buffalo, New York in a bar called Lulu Belle’s. I played with a band called The Vibratos. In 1964 Gene Jacobs, the brother-in-law of the guitar player, wanted to take me to Southern California to be discovered.  He promised he knew people and (said) that he would have us working at a club called Panza’s Lazy Susan. Mike Lustan, the guitar player, and his new wife, drummer Dave Treiger, Gene and his wife and two children and I all headed for the land of milk and honey. We had three cars: Mike with his family in one car; Gene and his family in another car; and Dave and I in Dave's car.


It was an adventure for me. We stopped in St. Louis and we all wanted to go out and hear some music. There was an area in that city called Gas Light Square. There, in a small bar, I heard a woman singing like no woman I had heard ever before. She was great and had one hell of a voice…but more on her later. 


After a long six days of driving we arrived in Southern California. Being young and all excited we raced to see who would get to the Sunset Strip first. But, not really thinking, we lost the others and now we (as the Buffalo Springfield had done) got lost in a big city and didn't know where the others were. All we (could do) was drive up and down the Sunset Strip for two days looking for the others. We found them driving on the opposite side of the road in the opposite direction. They were looking for us as well.

We were staying in hotels at the time and we needed full-time residence. While we lived on Sunset Strip (for a few weeks or so) we went out at night to see other bands. There was a hot club on the strip called The Purple Onion. It was jam packed with people and a great band was playing. It was Pat and Lolly Vegas. They later in the ‘70's became Red Bone.  It was a very exciting time for me and I wanted so badly to perform. It was a matter of finding a place to live. 


The three of us - Mike, Dave and I - stayed in a one-bed room bachelor’s apartment on Laurel Canyon and Burbank. Mike’s wife stayed with Gene and his wife and kids.  The next day we all needed to find a job because money was being used up fast. We begged Gene to take us to the place he told us about – Panza’s Lazy Susan. It turned out to be a piano bar and had never had a band play now we had to find work. It was the beginning of the bullshit lies by Gene but he did get us out to California and I guess that is worth something. 


In the downtime with no work, we needed to find a bass player and put an ad in the paper and at music stores’ bulletin boards. A blonde hair surfer looking guy came to us and said he played bass. This fellow's name was Cal Titus and he played a stand up big band bass. We told him this would not do and asked him was he willing to play an electric shoulder bass. He agreed and we started practicing all kinds of songs - everything from old love ballads, Beatles’ songs and surfing tunes (which I hated).

We were all on our last $25.00 when the drummer and I went in the middle of the afternoon to look for a place to work. We walked into a bar called The Rag Doll on Coldwater Canyon and Victory Blvd. I think it's called Filthy McNasties now.  We went in, sat down and had a beer. It was dark inside and a bartender was washing out glasses. We asked if they had live music and he told us they did, every night except Monday. We asked if he auditioned other bands; he said, “yes”. I asked when, and he said, “right now”. 


Dave I ran out that door like people on fire. We got to the apartments screaming that we had a possible gig.  We went back with the whole band, set up and played for about 45 minutes. When we were done, we asked if he liked what he heard. He said he did.  I asked if we had the job and he said we did.  When Dave asked when we could start, he said tonight. Wow!  We knew then that we could stay in Southern California longer.


We played the Rag Doll for three months (maybe longer?). It was packed every night.  We did big business there. Gene started to bring in other club owners to hear us.  One of them was the manager of Ciro’s on the Sunset Strip. It was a high-class nightclub where the Sinatra’s and Martins worked in the day of big entertainment. Now it was a Go-Go club of sorts. After the Whiskey A-Go-Go got hot with Johnny Rivers everyone jumped on the bandwagon. The craze at the time was A-Go-Go this and A-Go-Go that. Go-Go dancers were the rave and every club had one or two. We went in to see what was happening.

At The Whisky A-Go-Go
At The Whisky A-Go-Go

A little known band was playing there with their following of fans. They had just released a record that was starting to make noise. The song was "Tambourine Man" and the band was The Byrds. I met and talked to a cat named Dewey Martin who was a local guy that just got the job as drummer for The Buffalo Springfield. That was a big deal in those days.


The bands that are now the “Classic's of Rock” were just working in small dumpy bars at the time and everyone was looking for that big break. There was electricity in the air, and you could feel like something was about to bust wide open.


The Beatles influenced an entire generation of musicians. Everyone wanted to be British. We put on phony British accents to impress people and girls. The British Invasion was in full swing. Down the street in a club called the Crescendo Cleopatra and Caesar played. That was Sonny and Cher, of course. 


It was a slow grind to go from one club to the next. We worked in a club not far from the Rag Doll called The Palomino Club and that was half rock and half country. We played The London Fog on the Strip, The Red Velvet on the Strip, Gazzari’s on the Strip, and The Action on Melrose. Not all the clubs were on the strip and in Hollywood.  We also worked at Danita’s in the valley, as well as Cinnamon Cinder on Ventura Blvd. and Oil Can Harry's.


This was only the tip of the iceberg of events that when on in my music life.

1. Sinner Man / Say Goodbye To Donna (Valiant V-714 May 1965)*
2. Glitter & Gold / Too Much Monkey Business (MGM 13485 1965)
3. Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go) / My Dues Have Been Paid (MGM 13525 1966)
4. Mo-Jo Woman / My Dues Have Been Paid (MGM 13573 1966)
* as Cory Wells & The Enemys