Shags

Forum Quorum

Peck's Bad Boys

Mott's Men

Chosen Few

Penetrations

Cory Wells & The Enemys

Dimensions

Prince & The Paupers

Green Fuz

Penetrations

The details we enjoy presenting most - of ‘60’s bands, teen clubs, battle of the bands, and 45 recordings – are, of course, only one part of a musician’s story.  While we try our best to record the details of a band’s personnel, and their recordings or gigs, we often times overlook the information that breathes life into what may have inspired a musician to begin playing an instrument, or of the "behind the scenes" relationships that encourage him/her to continue.  

Tom Hanley was a member of The Penetrations from Belton, South Carolina.  Many readers will instantly know his band's 45, and after reading his recollections you’ll now get to know him.  We’re very pleased to present his story in these exclusive recollections for 60sgaragebands.com.


Tom Hanley

Tom Hanley Recalls The Penetrations

First of all, please let me thank you, Mike Dugo (and Hans Kesteloo as well for getting us together), for the opportunity to be interviewed and to reminisce about the "good old days" with the band!  It is exciting to realize there are people out there, after so many years, who still have an appreciation and love for our style of music - the music of “‘60's garage bands". I will give my best effort to provide an accurate account of our band, The Penetrations of Belton, Anderson County, South Carolina, USA.  That was forty years ago and more, so I ask you and your readers to please keep that in mind, should my memory go astray or get "fuzzy" about some of the details.  I was a high school "teenager" then, and I turned 57 in June 2006.   I cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy, but I will endeavor to get it as near that as possible!

I also want to thank Steve Mitchell and Danny Kelly, two former band mates, for stirring my memory concerning a few details I had forgotten (or else had confused with some other memories), and for providing additional information about the local music scene as well.  I wish to thank Randy Fagg, a school classmate and cousin to another ‘60's artist whom we recorded with (viz., Milford Fagg); and a confidential source as well - for taking valuable time to search through their archives, and providing me with what turned out to be the most "elusive" information I needed to complete this interview.  I cannot say enough about how grateful I am to all those persons for their assistance.   

I am dedicating this interview to my mother, Frances Greer Hanley, who over the years has "told and re-told" stories about our band, even during times I did not care to hear about it!  No doubt though, her constant "re-telling" of our band's story helped keep many details fresh in my memory.  Mom turned "81 years young" on August 16, 2006 - and may God bless her with many more years to come!  I am dedicating this interview as well to the memory of my father, Lee Thomas Hanley (1917-1973); and to the memory of my son, Thomas Matthew Hanley (1969-1998).  God Bless.


L-R: David Powell (bass and vocals), Tommy Hanley (lead guitar), Steve Mitchell (rhythm guitar and lead vocals), and Blair Rice (drums)

Early Influences

From a personal point of view, I recall music influences from as far back as my early childhood  (i.e, the 1950's).  We lived in rural Abbeville County then, just a couple miles from the small town of Honea Path, South Carolina (Incidentally, the county town of Abbeville, South Carolina is where the movie Sleeping With the Enemy, starring Julia Roberts, was filmed.  That town is also known as "the Birthplace and Deathbed of the Confederacy".)  "Granny Greer" (Mom's mother) lived with us then, and I recall her taking us to a neighbor's house (the Campbell's) on occasion to listen to their well-worn Gospel and country-western records.  Granny had an old pump organ stored out in our little barn that I sometimes tried to play.  It was lots of fun "pulling out all the stops" above the keyboard!  Recently I saw an old pump organ similar to that in an antique store in Abbeville, and it reminded me so much of those bygone days!

My "Grandpa" Greer passed away in the '40's, so I never had opportunity to meet him.  He was a great grandson of David Greer, Sr., pioneer settler of Honea Path who emigrated from Ireland to colonial South Carolina in 1770.  Honea Path is situated largely on what had been his estate dating to about 1790.  Honea Path was originally chartered as "Honey Path", and believe me, there have been some "sweet honeys" that came from that little town! I think my Irish heritage (from both Mom's and Dad's sides of the family) plays a "genetic" role in my lifelong love for music, literature, and the arts.

Dad's brother (Uncle Harold) was a tent preacher, and he pastored a number of small Baptist churches over the years as well.  We followed him from tent meeting to tent meeting, and from church to church.  As a result, "old timey" Gospel music became a big part of my life very early on.  Songs such as "I'll Fly Away", "Rock of Ages", "Just Over in the Gloryland", "There is Power in the Blood", "That Will Be a Glad Reunion Day" (used in the film Open Water),  "Amazing Grace", and many others, are embedded in my mind and spirit, and in my heart and soul.  In my archives I have an old torn-and-tattered softbound songbook (copyrighted in 1946) that Uncle Harold used in his tent meetings.  What a treasure that is!

Grandpa Howard Pinkney Hanley and "Granny Sula" (Dad's stepmother) lived just a few miles from us in those days on an unpaved, "red-dirt" road.   Granny Sula's heritage included Cherokee Indian as well as Scots-Irish.  Her maiden name was McGaha and somewhere along the way someone said she was related to "Mac" McGaha, who played "fiddle" for Porter Wagoner's band.  (That would be the same Porter Wagoner who introduced Dolly Parton to the world!)  It is true that "Mac" originated from the Honea Path/Ware Shoals area, and returned home at least one time (in 1982) to perform at a local festival ("the Honey Soppin'"), where Porter Wagoner was featured as a "special guest".  I remember when Granny Sula sang "specials" with a trio or quartet at Uncle Harold's little country church near Honea Path.

They subsisted on a fifty-acre farm then, and Grandpa worked as a carpenter in the cotton mill when he wasn't working on the farm.  I have many fond memories of those days on the "family farm", especially at Christmas time!  One thing I remember well from those years was our annual family trip to visit Dad's uncle and aunts in China Grove, North Carolina.  "Uncle Brooks" Jordan had an acoustic guitar, and I would strum on it until it was so out of tune!  Not that I knew any difference!  Uncle Brooks was married to Grandpa's sister, "Aunt Eva".  Before moving to South Carolina, Grandpa had been a farmer in Franklin County, Georgia.  At least two generations of Hanley's before him had been born in Georgia as well.  Coincidentally, my adult daughter Lydia was born in Savannah, Georgia when we lived there (during my first marriage).

In March 1955 Dad moved us to Belton, South Carolina, where he worked, and where I started first grade. Dad finally gave in and bought a TV. At first we had two channels, black and white. Later, we had three channels, black and white.  Like every one else, we watched musicians and singers on TV, many from the Grand Old Opry.  My earliest guitar heroes included Merle Travis (known for writing "Sixteen Tons", made popular by Tennessee Ernie Ford); Chet Atkins ("Mr. Guitar"); and Hank Thompson (of "western swing" fame).  Joe Maphis became another great guitar hero of mine.  I may have heard gypsy jazz guitarist Django Rheinhardt as well (or some of his recordings).  At some point in time, I became a fan of guitarist Duane Eddy, and of his "twangy, boss guitar" sound!

Mom bought a small record player, along with a few vinyl 45's of artists such as The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly.  I still remember our sadness when Buddy Holly's plane went down in 1959, taking with him Richie Valens and J. P. Richardson, best remembered as "The Big Bopper".  In song that would become known as "The Day the Music Died".  Elvis was great too, but I liked the Everly's, Buddy Holly, and Ricky Nelson so much more!  One tune I remember from those days that really "bowled me over" for some reason was "Raunchy", an instrumental hit.  Another song that made an impression on me was that old tearjerker about "Laura and Tommy".  Poor Tommy!  He gave his all in a stock car crash to buy Laura a wedding ring!  However, I made it a point never to date anyone named "Laura"!

I remember when we "moved up" to a "stereo" record player (from Sears) and began to collect some "long-play" albums.  Dad really liked Loretta Lynn, and Mom was crazy about Jim Reeves.  In time, Lawrence Welk, Mitch Miller, and Perry Como specials became must-see TV shows at our house, as did The Ed Sullivan Show.  Mom really had it bad for Perry Como! One thing that amazes me now is how our two young children (ages eight and ten) will sometimes flop down on the floor and watch Lawrence Welk re-runs on PBS.  They speak of him as "the Bubble Guy".   I had a good mix of musical influences in my early life, and I am trying to pass that along to our children and grandchildren as well.

My wife Debbie is a New York City girl (born in the "Upper" Bronx).  Yep! "L'il Debbie" is my "Uptown Girl"!  We are both in our second marriage now, going on 12 years.  Growing up, Debbie also lived in Queens, and then at Bayshore, Long Island.  Her father did cabinetry work for a living then.  She fondly remembers that he once built cabinets for Perry Como, and had many opportunities to interact with him on a personal level.  I think that is a great memory!   Debbie is of Irish heritage as well, with a bit of "artistic Bohemian" tossed in there for good measure.  Her Irish roots are more recent than mine, and she recalls one set of grandparents who spoke with a lilting Irish accent!  Many of her extended family members live in the New York City area now.  We've had lots of laughs comparing her big-city childhood to my primitive "country bumpkin" days.  Her biggest laughs came from stories about our "outhouse", and from Granny Greer's method of  "cranking up chickens by the neck", in preparation for cooking them for Sunday dinner!

From the point of view of playing in the band, I think when the folk music craze came about (as was featured on the old TV show Hootenanny that traveled from college campus to college campus), a few neighborhood friends and I decided that we were going to form our own folk band.  I liked Peter, Paul, and Mary, as well as The Kingston Trio then.  Later, two friends, brothers Jackie and Mike Mills (who lived just down the street from our house in Belton) were further inspired on a family trip one time.  They came home totally excited about a band they had heard (although I cannot recall the name of that band now).  They had a copy of their record, one side of which was a song titled "Blonde Hair and Green Eyes". Man! Were those guys "hyped up"!  And soon I was as well.  They talked about the guitars, the drums, and especially "that big ole bass guitar"! We listened to that 45-vinyl record, over and over, until it was worn out.  Soon we forgot all about forming a folk band.  After that we wanted to be "rock and roll stars"!  And soon we forgot about Hootenanny as well.  In time, both Shindig and Hullabaloo would become must-see TV shows at our houses.

However, the "number one event" that truly inspired us to begin learning to play musical instruments, and in time put together our own band, was a stage appearance at school by an established Belton rock-and-roll band known as The Injections.  Their band members (all Belton High School guys) were:  Alton Campbell and Milford Fagg on guitars and vocals, Danny Kelly on piano and vocals (Danny covered the "bass part" on the piano as well), and Jackie Oates on drums and vocals.  I don't think those guys had a clue then how much they had inspired us with their stage appearance!  [Danny reminded me just recently that a girl from my class, Jacquelyn a/k/a "Jackie" (Milford's cousin), joined their band on vocals at times; and that The Injections made popular student "Little Arthur" Evans their mascot.] 

Two of our classmates, David Cox and Dwayne Bell, decided that they wanted in on the action as well, and from that point forward we set about in earnest learning to play musical instruments.  (Actually, Dwayne already played piano then.)  We agreed to rehearse together as a band, as soon as we learned a few drumbeats and guitar chords.  In time, our band became known as The Penetrations.  Today that band is remembered as just one of thousands of "’60's garage bands" from all across America!


Live at The Chicken Shack

The Tracettes

My friend Mike Mills had been learning to play drums (I think he had at least part of a drum kit then), while I was struggling night and day learning to play an acoustic-electric Kay guitar my Dad had bought for me for $40 (amplifier included, with one 8-inch speaker, as I recall) from a gentleman at the Five and Dime.  For some reason another school mate, Roger Fullbright, who headed up a fledgling band he called The Tracettes, asked Mike and me to join in. I think he was more interested in having Mike as a drummer than me as a guitarist.  But more likely, my dad's garage for a practice place was the real reason I was invited to join!  Roger played the guitar and saxophone, and he played saxophone in the high school band as well.  Fact is, all three original Tracettes played in the school band.

David Galloway played saxophone and another guy named Tim Cox played guitar for The Tracettes.  Tim had a (Sears) Silvertone guitar, with the amplifier and speaker built right into the guitar case.  Those things are a rare collector's item now!  We rehearsed until we had two songs "down pat", then Roger announced that a talent show was being held at the National Guard Armory in Belton. We entered and played both songs, one of which was "Singing the Blues".  That was the first song I learned to chord and to "pick out" by notes on guitar.  Katie, my 10-year old daughter, is learning to play that song, among others, on guitar now!

David Galloway wrote in my high school yearbook that year: "from the greatest Tracette to the worst"!  Well, I won't debate who was greatest, but he was absolutely right about me being the worst.  I was really bad on rhythm guitar back then!  I remember one time when the band was playing at a party in Honea Path, the other guys hid my electric guitar cord so it wouldn't be amplified.  Then, they sent me off on a "wild goose chase" all over the Honea Path "Mill Hill" in search of another one.  Meanwhile, they all played on!  I think that is really funny now, although I certainly didn't think so at the time!  During my little adventure around the "Mill Hill", I came across a couple of country bands, and I remember that being the first time I had ever seen a lap steel guitar (unless by chance on TV).  However, I never found a guitar cord that night! 

Mike and I had made a "vow" that we would learn as much as we could from Roger, David, and Tim, and then we would go back and carry on with our original plans to showcase our own band.  And as soon as we could play four more songs, we did just that!  Even though Mike and I played in The Tracettes for a short time only, Roger soon added replacement members and their band remained active in Belton all during their high school years.  He came from a musical family, and I think in time one or more of his brothers played in his band as well.  I am fairly certain they changed their band name at some point in time.

Although I never would have admitted it back then, Roger Fullbright may have been the most talented guitarist (at least among guys our age) anywhere around Belton.  I talked with Roger a couple of times when he was teaching guitar at Draisen's Music Store in Anderson, South Carolina, during the '80's.  He said that he had played guitar professionally on the club circuit for a number of years before teaching.  We talked about guitars we had owned in the '60's, and I remember Roger saying he regretted that he had not held on to his Hagstrom guitar (made in Sweden, as I recall).  His guitar of choice during the '80's was a Gibson Les Paul.

Sadly, Roger Fullbright passed away just a few months ago.  Sadly also, Mike Mills, the original drummer for Roger's band The Tracettes, as well as the original drummer for The Penetrations, passed away in 1999.  The last time I recall seeing Mike was in the early '70's.  I lost touch with him, and others as well, when we moved away from the Belton area in 1973.  However, Mom crossed paths and chatted with Mike on a few occasions in years following.  I shall always remember Mike Mills and Roger Fullbright as good friends, and as "comrades in music".  I am truly grateful for the opportunities we had to play together in "garage bands" during the '60's.

The late '90's became a heart-breaking time for me as well.  My son Matthew passed away August 17, 1998, from a rare form of pneumonia and complications thereof.  The doctors surmised he might have had an underlying connective tissue disorder as well.  He was 28 at the time.  Although Matthew never played in a band (during his earthly life anyway), he sang in his school chorus for a number of years.  During high school, he learned some "bass runs" on the electric bass, a few chords and notes on the guitar, and even experimented to some degree with a keyboard (synthesizer) that we had acquired in the mid-'80's.

For a few months in 1985, Matthew and his friend and schoolmate Mark Lee shared duties as part-time DJ's at WHPB 1390 AM, a local Gospel radio station in Belton.  (Coincidentally, that was the same radio station that debuted The Penetrations' records in '66, when the station aired a different format.)  I remember a couple times when Matt played records that he dedicated to me on the air.  One of my favorite songs then was country artist Verne Gosdin's rendition of "Blessed Jesus, Hold My Hand".  On a few occasions I visited with him at the station while he was "spinning records".  I have at least one cassette tape of Matthew broadcasting that miraculously survived a house fire in 1986 - a personal treasure indeed!  Much like his dad, Matt loved many genres of music - from traditional Gospel, to Christian contemporary, to popular music of the '80's.  I remember that Matthew's friend (and former co-DJ) Mark Lee sang the first song at his funeral - "Going Home".  We all miss Matthew dearly after these eight years, and we think of him every day.   

The Penetrations

The band that ultimately would be called The Penetrations started rehearsing together sometime in 1964, as I recall.  Our original lineup was: Mike Mills (drums), Jackie Mills (rhythm guitar), David Cox (guitar and vocals), Dwayne Bell (piano), and Tommy Hanley (yours truly, on lead guitar). At first, we agreed to call our band The Intruders, unaware there was already a Philadelphia "doo-wop" band by that same name from the early '60's, with a few hit records.  Our first public appearance was at a talent show at the old Belton High School auditorium.  We played "This Diamond Ring", as well as the instrumentals "Walk, Don't Run", "Wipeout", and "Pipeline", as best I recall.  Amateurs we were, but I think we were well received by the audience.  Then, almost as soon as that gig was over, David and Dwayne decided to leave the band.  I never really understood why they "opted out". 

Anyway, for quite some time afterward, it was just Mike, Jackie, and Tommy (i.e., me).  Somewhere along the way we decided to change our name to The Spirals.  (Frankly though, I cannot remember if we had been billed in the talent show as The Intruders or The Spirals - that was such a long time ago!)  Eventually we grew to five members again, and then changed our name to The Penetrations.  We succeeded in persuading David Galloway to leave The Tracettes and join our band on saxophone. We also recruited David Powell on electric bass ("bass guitar") and vocals.  And yes it is true, if you are counting; during the history of our band, there were three different guys named "David"!

We took our band's new name from a hit record called "Penetration", recorded by a west coast surf music band known as The Pyramids.  That tune remains a surf music classic to this day!  Their tune "Penetration" (patterned after The Chantays’ hit tune "Pipeline") made Billboard's top ten, and had a "bold sound" - our reason for choosing "The Penetrations" as our band's new name.  In time, we tossed around the idea of changing the band's name again when we began performing vocal songs; thinking we had outgrown a name based on an instrumental tune.  But we never came to an agreement on a more suitable name, and so we remained The Penetrations for the duration of our existence.

Early on, instrumental tunes written for guitars and drums (especially west coast surf music) dominated our play list.  We really needed a bass player during those early days, but our "volume" compensated immensely for the lack thereof.  To put it in very simple language: we were loud!  In time, we became fairly well acquainted with the Belton P.D., due to so many noise complaints.  We honestly thought we were the only band in the world known as The Penetrations.  I learned later however, there was a Columbus, Ohio band known as “The Penetrations”, during the same time period as ours, remembered as "Hillside recording artists" according to their website.  In addition, there was a '60's California band known as "The Penetrations" who, like us, played west coast surf music!  Tuscaloosa, Alabama was home to another popular band known as "The Penetrators", a variation of our band's name.  And later, in the '70's, a British "punk" band emerged, known as "Penetration".  The British group I think was the most commercially successful band with that name.


Live at The Chicken Shack

Out & About 

We played just about any gig we could get: parties, talent shows, sock hops, skating rinks, teen clubs, battles of the bands, etc. - anywhere guys of high-school age were legally allowed to play.  Once, while Dad was away in Rochester or Buffalo, New York on a car-buying trip, Mike and I had this brilliant idea to build a stage across the back of his garage where we could practice and "get the feel" of being on stage.  (Then again, it may have been Jackie and I who had that bright idea.)  Man! Dad was hopping mad when he came home and found that stage taking up a full one third of his garage!  But he relented and let us keep it there for a while.  As a result we played several impromptu concerts for the neighbors.  (I was in my first marriage when Dad and I finally ripped out that old scrap-wood stage!).  I recall a few occasions during The Spirals early days, when Jackie had to work evenings; it was just Mike and Tommy (me) playing at parties and similar gigs.  In time, as we grew back to our full complement of five members, and as our sound expanded and improved, it followed that we soon were offered more places and opportunities to play.

Most times we got along really well together (that is, for post-puberty, testosterone-charged, high school guys).  But then there were other times we did not, so that obviously had an effect on when, where, and how often we played together.  During a couple such "mad spells", we jammed with guys from other groups and even threatened to go our separate ways. I think most of us played our instruments to some extent outside the realm of The Penetrations anyway.  A good example was David Galloway.  He played saxophone in the high school band.  Later, as a senior, he headed up the stage version of the school band.  And I am relatively sure Mike "sat in" on drums with other bands at times.  Mike became a drummer for the Belton High School pep rally band as well.  I remember that I played guitar at times with a few adult musicians at our little country Baptist church between Belton and Honea Path. A guitar player there, Mr. Bill Lindsay, taught me several chord structures, chord progressions, and guitar "riffs" that he had brought over from his days in country music.  I recall a couple times when lead guitarists from other bands asked me where I had learned that, because they knew right away it had not come from "rock and roll" music!

I also jammed on a few occasions with some locally popular bluegrass musicians - in particular, members of The Simmons Family of Belton (they had members from Georgia as well).  In addition to guitar, I tried my hand at stand-up bass (or "bass fiddle" as it was known in bluegrass and country circles), and mandolin.  I learned more on "bass fiddle" than I learned on the mandolin.  However, I think it is safe to say I never became an "expert" on either instrument!  A neighbor, Mr. Leland Booth, had a steel guitar that I learned to play a bit.  It was a Fender, but I don't think it was a "pedal steel".  Truth is, I was a "closet" country musician of sorts even then, and I even wrote down a number of my favorite country songs in the back of our play-list book.  That never went over very well with the other members of The Penetrations, even though they would "indulge me" once in awhile and allow me to play an upbeat Chet Atkins tune or two - and, whenever requested, "Steel Guitar Rag".  With all apologies that may be due Huey Lewis and The News, it was not "Hip to be Square" around Belton and Honea Path in the mid-to-late '60's!

Essentially, as high school guys, we were pretty much limited to upstate South Carolina and to northeast Georgia.  The greatest extent of our "touring territory" I think was realized when we went out to Atlanta for two recording sessions.  Belton is about 130 miles or so from Atlanta by way of I-85 (or, about equidistant from Atlanta and Carlotte). And, "just purely by way of geographical reference", Belton is about 70 miles east of Athens, Georgia, from whence The B-52's and R.E.M., among others, would emerge in later years.  Oh yes, and by the way, Athens is home to the University of Georgia as well.  "Go, Dawgs!"

Influences

We were essentially an instrumental band early on, playing tunes made popular by (or covered by) The Ventures and similar bands. West coast surf music, and other tunes such as "Tequila", "Out of Limits", and "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" were included on our regular play list.  Rhythm guitarist Jackie Mills and I both played "dual-pickup" Fender guitars, and we used Fender amplifiers as well - of the tube-technology type.  Mike Mills kept the beat on his "red-sparkle" Slingerland drums.  He became quite popular early on for his version of "Wipe Out", and other tunes that featured drums.  Mike was wild about professional drummers Sandy Nelson and Gene Krupa!  Mike took some cues as well from John Broome, who played for a popular adult band in Belton.  One of John's band members was guitarist "Red" Gurley, as I recall.  At times we could hear their band rehearsing at John Broome's house, just a few blocks from where we lived.

As The Intruders evolved into The Spirals, and as The Spirals in turn evolved into The Penetrations, we decided we needed a "horn" in the band, which according to our way of thinking included woodwinds.  So, it was at that point in time that we succeeded in persuading David Galloway to join us on saxophone.  And soon, we recruited David Powell to play "bass guitar", and for his vocal talents as well.  By the way, I prefer to use the term "electric bass", because a "bass guitar" is not really a guitar.  A "bass guitar" is more related to the instrument known as a string bass, also known as a "stand-up bass", and sometimes known as a "bass fiddle".  But then, it's not a fiddle either - it's a "bass"!  Confused?  Me too!

Then, as we began to learn more vocal songs, David Powell and Mike learned to harmonize really well together.  The rest of us pitched in with such vocal "talents" as we had to offer. Songs by The Beatles and other "British Invasion" bands began to be added to our play list.  David Powell was a Beatles "junkie"!  But personally, for some reason, I liked The Dave Clark Five better then.  (Go figure that!)  David Powell may have been our first band member to realize just how talented The Beatles really were as songwriters and as musicians. The Rolling Stones, The Animals (and especially their cover of "House of the Rising Sun", an old song about a house of prostitution in New Orleans), Herman's Hermits, The Kinks, and numerous other British bands during that period influenced our sound.

And the American bands did as well.  One of our favorite songs to perform was The Beach Boys' rendition of "Long Tall Texan" (that was really a fun song, and we soon could get the entire audience involved in it)!  "Monster Mash" soon became another favorite song.  I learned to play Beach Boys' lead-guitarist Carl Wilson's rendition of "Let's Go Trippin'!", an instrumental surf music tune.  "Johnny B. Goode" was yet another one of our favorite songs then, as was Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman".  We often played "Memphis" by Johnny Rivers.  I was influenced by R&B guitarists Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley to some extent; and by Beatles' lead guitarist George Harrison, especially after we became a vocals band and added Beatles' songs to our play list.  Somewhere along the way we decided that The Penetrations would do well by learning to play the instrumental tune "Penetration", since that had been the tune from which we had derived our band name!  So we did, and "Penetration" became the band's opening theme song going forward. 

When Steve Mitchell and Blair Rice came into the group, the band's vocal capabilities expanded even more. Steve had an excellent stage presence (he still does, I saw him perform just recently), and he could belt out Beatles songs, harmonizing with David Powell - as well as songs made popular by The Byrds, Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Turtles, and numerous other bands.  Blair, on the other hand, introduced us to the Motown Sound (that is, in the sense of our learning to play that genre of music); and yes, of course, to James Brown - "the Godfather of Soul"!  He did a sensational rendition of some of James Brown's songs.  Blair proved to be an excellent drummer as well, covering a wide range of musical styles. Each of us enjoyed playing The Temptations' big hit "My Girl" then, a song we had learned for a talent show in 1966.

During that lineup ('66-'67), I bought a Gretsch Country Gentleman Chet Atkins signature guitar.  I pondered for a long time whether to buy the Gretsch, or a Mosrite "double-neck" that featured a twelve-string on top and a six-string below.  Both were relatively expensive guitars, so I had to choose just one.  (That one came out of my earnings!)  My fascination over the twelve-string guitar came about because of the popularity of folk-rock bands such as The Byrds then.  Perhaps the thought of constantly having to tune 18 strings was a deciding factor in favor of buying the Gretsch "Country Gent"!

Blair then owned a first class set of Ludwig drums, and Steve bought a sunburst Rickenbacker guitar (a beautiful instrument).  If David Powell ever had acquired a Hoffner bass like the one Paul McCartney played (as he fully intended to do), and if we had traded in our Fender amplifiers for Vox amps, we might have looked like a Beatles tribute band for sure then.  Minus the hair style of course, a trend never allowed by our high school principal, Mr. T. J. Bratton - better known (behind his back) as "Bear"!  When David Galloway returned to the band on saxophone (at some point after our summer '66 re-organization), that helped move us away from our "Beatles phase" to a certain extent - a fact some fans had taken notice of and commented about, though not always in a positive way.  


Penetrations Business Card

Local Scene

Belton was then and still is a small town.  Actually it had achieved "city" status during the early '60's when the population "swelled" to 5,000.  Belton is known "far and wide" as a "tennis mecca", and during the '60's was known as "The Tennis Capital of South Carolina".  Once during the '60's, a Belton High tennis player on the girls' team achieved a top-ten national ranking!   Blair Rice and his younger brother Billy (who coincidentally was a '60's guitarist) played on the high school tennis team as well.  [Incidentally, while Honea Path had the "honeys", Belton had the "babes".  And so did the Bronx, New York, let me add quickly!  Lest I end up sleeping on the couch even longer! (hah)].

Blair's family founded and then owned Blair Mills, Inc., a Belton textile company.  I take pride that I worked in their mill for a couple of months after high school, before reporting for active military duty.  I think Blair became third-generation CEO or Chair of the company before it merged with a company in Ontario, Canada.  Others of the Rice family (such as Billy, and their cousin Joel, who played with The Avengers band) have been and still are connected with the textile and garment industries.  My mom worked as a seamstress at Rice Mills, Inc., for a period of time.  Milford's mother, "Miss Blanche", worked at the same plant as a supervisor for many years.

For a town its size, Belton had its "fair share" of bands during the 1960's.  Before us, Belton had John Broome's and Red Gurley's band; then The Injections, the band that inspired us to form our band; then later, Roger Fullbright's band, The Tracettes; then our band, The Penetrations; and afterward, a younger band that emerged during the '60's, known first as The Emperors, and who later evolved into The Avengers.  (Likely, other Belton rock and roll bands came along after The Penetrations had left the ‘60's garage band scene.)  Blair had been drummer for The Emperors/Avengers early on.  Other members of that band (over time) that I remember were:  Ted Snipes (lead guitar), John Raffaelle (electric bass), Joel Rice (keyboards), Mike Timms (drums, after Blair), Keith Smith (rhythm guitar), Hal Shirley (electric bass), and Johnny Babb (saxophone).

My opinion is that "1960's rock and roll" was far more popular in Belton then, than was the music now known as "beach music".  I think that was true, even though Myrtle Beach boasted that beach music originated there - as did "the Shag", now the "official state dance" of South Carolina.  I think a preference for rock and roll was indeed the case with white high-school-age kids anyway.  As the British bands' influence began to diminish somewhat, Motown artists became increasingly popular in Belton, as they did in most other places.  And as I mentioned already, with Blair in our band, James Brown began to get his due respect among white Belton kids - as the "soul icon" that he was then, and still is today!

One has to keep in mind that until the '66-'67 school year (my senior year), the school districts were still segregated.  And full integration would require another several years.  So, it is impossible for me to say now how the African-American youth may have viewed the Belton music scene in the years leading up to integration in the school system.  My guess is that many of them probably preferred what is now called beach music to rock and roll.  I am a fan of a number of African-American music genres today - blues, reggae, beach, soul, and Gospel soul especially.  Their artists put so much energy and emotion into their music!  Incidentally, if there were any bands among Belton's African-American youth (or among adults for that matter) during the '60's, I did not know about them.  That would be an interesting subject worthy of research, if one knew just where to begin.

Before moving on, please let me point out that Belton has produced a couple of nationally known recording artists in recent years.  For example, jazz singer Loretta Holloway appeared with other nationally known artists over a period of years at numerous Las Vegas venues.  She has returned to Belton since then, and frequently performs at the Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville.  One has only to Google her name, and links to numerous websites will surface, providing lots of information about her very successful career in music and acting.  Another well-known Beltonian is Patti Hedgepath Lusk, who achieved success as a Christian Contemporary artist.  Information about her CDs and Christian materials can be found on her "Counterflo Ministries" website.

Teen Clubs

We played often at the "Teens-A-Go-Go" club in Anderson, home of The Blades. (Steve Mitchell recalls there being three different locations during its existence, but we only played in the downtown location.)  Later, an old movie theater in Williamston became a venue for local '60's rock and roll bands, and we played there a number of times.  It was more of a concert hall than a dance club.  The theater was owned by Mr. David Roberts, whose wife Mrs. Ruby Roberts was a teacher at Belton High School.  That theater is where we learned to play "Monkey Time" from a Williamston band (but whose name I cannot recall).  That was great!  Mr. Roberts projected images onto the big screen of some guy in a gorilla suit surfboarding, while the band played that song on the stage in front of the screen!

We played a similar venue in Piedmont, South Carolina.  (Steve remembered that being after Blair left the band, perhaps in early '67 when Steve's cousin Charles Couch took over drumming duties for us.)  I recall another old theater like that we played with an earlier lineup - in Hartwell, Georgia, I think.  Yet another immensely popular teen club back then was The Chicken Shack in Seneca.  It looked exactly like an old, run-down chicken house!  They used "black lights" (ultraviolet) and had a great atmosphere.   Bands waited in line for a chance to play at that teen club!  Seneca is just up the highway from Clemson University, so if we ever had a college fan base, that would have been a result of our playing at The Chicken Shack.

Soon after the reorganization of The Penetrations in 1966, my dad and Steve's dad became partners in The Teen Scene, our new home club in Belton.  I remember one time we held a charity event at our club (broadcast live on WHPB radio as I recall).  We invited bands from all over the area.  That event turned out to be a good thing for all who took part in it, and I think it likely was the largest crowd The Teen Scene ever experienced during its relatively short existence. There were a number of other teen clubs in the Greenville area, but then there were lots of other bands over there as well - and all looking for teen clubs to play in!   The best-known Greenville band in the '60's was The Bojax.  I do not remember our band ever playing at any of the Greenville teen clubs.

About 30 miles south of Belton is Greenwood.  I am guessing they probably had one or more teen club(s) around there then, in that Greenwood was, and still is, home to a '60's band known as The Swinging Medallions!  They were then, and still are, best known for "Double Shot of My Baby's Love", a really big hit for them.  Just recently, the eight original members of The Swinging Medallions got back together in Greenwood for a reunion concert, marking the 40th anniversary of their record topping the charts!  That great song was on the Penetrations play list as well.

By coincidence, The Penetrations first record was released about the same time The Swinging Medallions big hit "Double Shot" was moving up the Billboard charts.  Unfortunately, their incredible success was not "contagious" for us.  Could we have made the charts with our record?  I think one side had the potential to have made the local "major-market" radio charts (Greenville-Spartanburg), and perhaps other market charts as well.  The Bojax band had a few songs on the Greenville charts.  But The Penetrations did not have the marketing strategy to make that happen for us then.  So I suppose my rhetorical question - "Could we have made the charts with our record?" - will always go "unanswered", sad to say.


Battle of the Bands

I remember only two battles of the bands, per se, that we were ever in.  The first one, as I recall, was when we were a 3-member group (Jackie, Mike, and Tommy), then billed as The Spirals.  We entered the South Carolina Upper State Fair Battle of the Bands in the Greenville area that year.  A fairly large number of bands participated as I recall, from all over upstate South Carolina, and probably from beyond.  I didn't think we had "a snowball's chance in a South Georgia heat wave"!  But then, when the bands all had played their songs, and the results finally were announced, The Spirals had placed third in the overall competition!  Not one of us could believe that!  We didn't even have a bass player then, just drums and two guitars - and I am quite sure we played instrumental tunes only.  I think "Wipe Out" was one of several tunes we played at that first battle.  Our placing third boosted our popularity immensely. Lots more people began to take us seriously after that.  Of course, we certainly were not shy about publicizing just how well we had done.  By word of mouth, far and wide, to anyone who would listen!

The only other battle of the bands that I recall The Penetrations playing in was at the old Recreation Center in Anderson.  Now I thought that was "really cool", because Buck Owens and His Buckaroos had appeared in concert there not long before.  (I was a big fan of Don Rich, his lead guitarist; and I even learned to play "Buckaroo", an instrumental tune that had become their theme song.)  The Blades may have been host band.  The one thing we disliked about that event (and I think that was true with the other bands as well) was that we had to leave our amplifiers backstage and use those new transistor-technology amplifiers Fender had just come out with.  (That was a big marketing ploy for the benefit of the local music store that had the Fender franchise then!)  The amplifiers already had been set up on stage, but we had not been informed of that beforehand, and we didn't have opportunity to rehearse with that equipment.  During our performance I was not happy with the "settings" on the amplifier I was plugged into, and was very disappointed with its "tone"!

I remember we played several songs, one of which was "Kicks", a big hit for Paul Revere and The Raiders at the time.  (They are still one of my favorite bands from the '60's!)  Finally, when the competition was over and the results were announced, The Blades had placed first, and The Penetrations had placed second.  I do not recall which band took third place.  In a sense I think we were happy; but on the other hand we were disappointed as well.  We had entered that competition with the full expectation of taking home the first place prize!

Band Management

We "managed ourselves" for the most part, which probably accounted for a couple of brief breakups, and most certainly for the big breakup in summer '66.  All our parents were involved as much as they could be - encouraging us along with our music, while still giving us "charge of our own destiny" with the band.  Mom, Mrs. Mills, and all the other parents as well deserved gold medals for putting up with us for as long as they did!

Not until The Teen Scene club was established did we ever have a manager of any kind.  My dad and Steve's dad were co-managers of the band (to a certain extent anyway), as well as co-owners of our teen club.  They never made much (if any) money from either venture that I recall.  Nor did we, by the time we took into account our investments in instruments, amplifiers, guitar strings, drum accessories, transportation, gasoline (at a whopping 29 cents per gallon), and everything else that went along with being a "Band on the Run".  Even so, I always managed to have "spending and dating money" - a result, I suppose, of my playing in the band, as well as being an early morning newspaper route carrier.  (I existed then in a zombie-like state of sleep deprivation!)  The sheer love and joy of music, and the camaraderie as well, kept us all going for as long as we remained together.  


The Blades

We were friendly rivals with The Blades.  Anderson and Belton are about 10 miles or so apart.  I spent about as much time in Anderson as I did in Belton (in the summer time anyway) helping Dad with his wholesale used car business. The Blades were the home band at the Teens-A-Go-Go club - without a doubt the most successful teen club in Anderson County in those days.  I remember then it was in a long, narrow store building in the downtown area.  I think most all the guys would agree that their band boasted the best-looking front person of any band around in those days!  Her name was Vicki, and she was "easy on the eyes"!

The Penetrations were one of several guest bands at their club, and I think they played at our club as well.  As for how often we crossed paths, likely not that many times - because if they were playing at one gig, we usually were playing at another.  During early 1967 their lineup consisted of:  Vicki (lead vocalist); Gary Fellers (keyboards); Bill Harper (lead guitar); Roger Chasteen (electric bass); and Joey Tiller (drums).  There may have been some personnel changes for The Blades along the way, but I have no firsthand knowledge about that.  I was not that well acquainted with them on a personal level, although I think some of our other band members were.  They had a great '60's sound, that fact I do remember well. 

Recordings

Well, truth is, I think we owe our recording sessions to The Blades (to a limited extent anyway).  They were the first band from our area to record at Atlanta Sound Recording Studios, as best I recall.  Steve Mitchell thinks they may have recorded there on two different occasions; and based on record label numbers, I agree.  One of their songs, "Movin' Out", is included on the Beyond The Beat Generation play list as Gaye record # 3045, which would have been well after both of our recordings, if the number as documented is correct.  Obviously then, there should be an earlier recording with an earlier Gaye record number.  While I certainly do not remember all the details leading up to our first session, I think there were some discussions with their members about who to contact, and how to go about setting up the session with the studio.

I think the discussions probably involved adults (i.e., parents) as well, because recording at Atlanta Sound was no "freebie", even though it was far less expensive than big-name studios.  I recall that my dad and David Galloway's dad split the cost of our first recording session, and Milford Fagg paid the tab for the second session.  Typical sessions at Atlanta Sound ran into the hundreds of dollars even then.  It was an independent studio, best known for its Gaye record label.  The studio also offered a few other labels not so well known, and even allowed "emerging" artists to name their own demo label.  Atlanta Sound was rumored as well to have had "connections" with Dot Records - a major record label at the time.  Fact is, Atlanta Sound's best-known artists, The Nightshadows, recorded on both the Gaye record label and the Dot record label during the '60's.  Those Nightshadow's records are still selling today, believe it or not!

I think also we thought, "If the Blades can do it, then we can do it too!"  I do not mean that in a derogatory sense at all.  I think we thought of our bands as being equals on the local music scene then - and we certainly wanted to keep it that way. We didn't want them leaping "way out ahead" of our band.  We were in the same "league" - and we intended for The Penetrations to stay in the same league!  I had written a couple of "Silly Love Songs" along the way, so we all decided to "go for it" and record them.  And we did just that.  And as they say, "the rest is history"!

But then who in his right mind ever would have dreamed that some of the songs The Penetrations and The Blades recorded in 1966 would be on a 24/7/365 play list on an Internet stream radio webcast 40 years later - along with nearly 8,000 other songs?  And on a global scale at that!  Or, that those same Internet radio webcasts would be originating from Amsterdam, Holland, in Europe?  Or, that The Penetrations name would be listed on Mark Taylor's  '60's garage music website in Australia 40 years after the fact (there in connection with three better-known bands who also recorded on the Gaye label)?  Or, that Mike Dugo would have an interest in interviewing me about our band, to feature on his Chicago-based website, 60garagebands.com - that interview later to be archived on Hans Kesteloo's website in Amsterdam, Holland?!  Now all that is mind boggling, beyond my wildest imagination! It truly astounds me that there are still so many fans of  "60's garage bands" scattered all over Planet Earth in 2006.


“I Got A Girl” & “A Different Kind of Man”

Those sessions were "awesome"!  Especially for a bunch of high school guys like us, from a small town in South Carolina!  True, Jackie had already graduated the year before, but the other four of us (on our first record) were winding down our junior year (11th grade).  I was 16 then, just a month or so from turning 17.  I remember receiving a few birthday cards that year from girls in Honea Path, reminding me that I had promised them a copy of our record.  Well, after 40 years I still have those cards!  And I hope they still have those records!

The studio was not very far off I-85 as I recall.  I wonder at times if it may have been "paved over" since then, because I-85 today has widened to 12 and 14 lanes going through the "Capital of the New South".  Once inside we were given the "grand" tour. The studio was everything we had expected and more.  The control room was elevated over the studio area, with professional tape machines and all the other electronic equipment needed to "engineer" what would become 45-rpm vinyl records.  The studio had burlap and egg cartons on all the walls to reduce echo, and to keep any outside noise outside.

Studio owner, producer, and engineer Johnny Brooks soon informed us he intended to record the instruments on one track, and then overdub the vocals on a second track.  Not once had we rehearsed that way!  So, that was "a bit distressing" at first - to all of us I think!  Then we learned there was a separate area for the drums.  "Good grief!", I thought.  "Are we ready for this?!"  He had us do a couple of rehearsals and seemed quite impressed, even though he knew we were not professionals in any sense of the word.  I remember him saying, "Records like this do not have to be perfect; that's one reason the British bands are so popular now."  (Or words to that effect.)  I remember during that first session, whenever he was looking for something extra from us, he would spin into some of the dance moves popular then, to visualize to us what he was thinking.

Johnny Brooks was more than just a "recording engineer".  He was an "A&R man" in every sense of the word.  I remember that he asked us our thoughts about allowing him to play piano on one side of the record.  Wow!  I think if ever we made a mistake, it was over that!  To have had a studio musician of his caliber on that record!  Instead, we thanked him but declined, saying we wanted to keep it pure and simple - just us, The Penetrations.  How many records today by even the best-known artists have just their band on them?  Few if any!  Most artists today feature studio musicians on their records, including those who have regular professional road bands.

I don't remember how many "takes" it took, but the session went well into the night. With each take, we got it closer to what we wanted.  I remember Mike listening to the playback on those humongous studio speakers, and saying, "Just listen to that sound!"  I thought it was incredible as well. When we finally got the instrument parts "right", then we began adding the vocals.  "I Got a Girl" (Gaye 3027-A) was recorded to be the A-Side; however, Mr. Brooks knew from the start that "A Different Kind of Man" (Gaye 3027-B) was the better song, and he told us that.  He was right!  The B-Side got far more radio airplay when the record was released.  Mike and David Powell began to harmonize the vocals on "A Different Kind of Man", with the rest of us pitching in background vocals.  "I Got a Girl" was more of an "upbeat rock song", and so we all added background vocals on it.

"A Different Kind of Man" starts out with David Powell's electric bass, and then I come in on lead guitar.  Then it breaks into the vocals with the other instruments.  David Powell had borrowed John Broome's Kay electric bass, and that thing had such a deep, rich tone!  The opening lyrics on "A Different Kind of Man" are: "Be my baby, my love is true. Without you honey, I'll be so blue...." Then after each romantic plea in each verse, that "poor love-sick sap" promises in the chorus:  "Cause I'm gonna be a different kind of man; come to me baby, let me hold your hand!"  It was not sexual or suggestive.  "Just an old-fashioned love song, coming down in three-part harmony!"  (Well actually, in two-part harmony.)  The bass and guitar notes at the beginning of that song have a certain similarity to The Animals' song, "It's My Life".  But our notes are different, and they are original.

The opening lyrics to "I Got a Girl" are:  "Well, I got a girl, right over town (ah-ah-ah-ah) ... She's the kinda girl who won't put you down (ah-ah-ah-ah) ..."  I think it would be a safe bet to say now that neither of my two songs will ever be classified in the same league with Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire". But on the other hand, The Beatles did "okay" with the lyrics:  "Love, love me do.  You know I love you.  I'll always be true.  So pleeeeeeease!  Love me do!"  I suppose one should never "second guess" what the listening public will respond to when it comes to popular music!

I was billed on both sides of that record as songwriter.  However, the first chord progression on the B-Side had been the product of Danny Kelly.  And I wanted his name listed on that side of the record as "co-writer".  None of the others wanted that since he was not part of The Penetrations.  And so it wasn't.  How many songs and records are there out there from the earliest days of recording that do not give full credit to everyone who made a contribution to the writing of the song?  The number is incredible, and includes artists such as Buddy Holly, Lennon and McCartney, and a host of others.  In the extremely remote and unlikely chance our record ever should be re-released, I would insist that Danny Kelly's name be included on the "A Different Kind of Man" side as the co-writer (or at least be credited in the "liner notes"); even though it was limited only to the first chord progression on that song.  That is one small part of music history (obscure though it may be), and I wanted to set the record straight (no pun intended).

As for other instruments used on our first recording session, Jackie and I played our Fender guitars through our Fender amplifiers.  Mine then was a "Super Reverb", while his was a smaller model; but both amplifiers were dual channel, and both were factory-equipped with reverberator and vibrato (tremolo) options.  Mike played his Slingerland drums in his "own little room", and David Galloway played his tenor saxophone in yet another area of the studio.  All of our instruments were separately "miked" to the control booth above us, with Mr. Brooks mixing everything on the studio equipment.  "David G's" saxophone comes through well on both sides of the record.  His saxophone is featured on the "I Got a Girl" side of the record during a break in the lyrics.

After the session, we settled up the "business end", and agreed to have our record released on the studio's Gaye label.  Some have suggested the label name was connected with the legendary Marvin Gaye.  However, I recall Mr. Brooks telling us the label had been "named for his wife".  Still, I sometimes wonder if Marvin Gaye may have had some connection to the label (officially or unofficially).  The reason I say that is because the studio was doing its utmost to attract R&B/soul artists as well as rock and roll bands.  Marvin Gaye was then on the rise with his very successful career in Detroit, and was gaining popularity with black artists in Atlanta.  His name linked to a local record label (whether legal or pirated) could certainly have been a plus in attracting them (in my opinion)!  Anyway, knowing what I know now, from the successes of certain other artists on the Gaye label (The Nightshadows, Red Beard and The Pirates, and The Mondels among others), I think our band made the best possible choice available to us then.

As songwriter, I agreed to have the studio's "Margie Music Company" (affiliated with BMI) publish the songs we recorded.  Now, just in case anyone is wondering, I am still waiting for my first royalty check.  But, as they say, "the check is in the mail"!  Maybe it will be in my mailbox today.  If not, then maybe tomorrow.  Or perhaps the next day.

During the history of The Penetrations, "I Got a Girl" backed with "A Different Kind of Man" were the only two songs ever written and recorded by our band; except for the two songs we recorded with Milford, both of those songs written by him.  In that I wrote both songs on The Penetrations first record, released solely under the band's name, I suppose that made me their "primary songwriter". 


Alton Campbell (guitar), Milford Fagg, and Jackie (all members of The Injections)

Milford Fagg

After our first record had been released, and after The Penetrations re-organized in summer '66, Milford approached us about our being back-up instrumentalists on a record featuring a couple of songs he had written.  At that point The Penetrations had four members:  David Powell on bass, Tommy Hanley on lead guitar, Steve Mitchell on rhythm guitar, and Blair Rice on drums.  Steve and Blair had not recorded in a studio before that.

As I recall, Milford arranged the session with Johnny Brooks for studio time, and he paid for the recording session.  I remember Milford played my Fender guitar on at least one side of the record, while I played his guitar (a Gibson, I think).  Steve played a Fender guitar as well then, and together we played a "two-part rhythm" on the record.  Blair played his Ludwig drums in the "drum room".  Steve recalled that Milford brought along Larry Hudson to play his Vox bass through an Epiphone amplifier on that session, and that David Powell played piano.  I had long forgotten about that!

I think it is accurate to say we all were excited to have a part in Milford's recording experience.  And I suppose in a sense we can claim that we were a "studio band" - for at least that one session!  On the record label we agreed to be billed as Milford Fagg with The Penetrations.  Even during that recording session, we made certain to jealously guard our band's own identity.  At no time during the history of the band did we ever seriously consider being known by a name such as "John Doe and The Penetrations".

The songs were written by Milford, and they were:  "Do You Still Remember Me?" (Gaye 3031-A) b/w "Mr. Ivory" (Gaye 3031-B).  Milford's songs were released on Atlanta Sound's Gaye label, the same label The Penetrations had used for their first recording.  "Do You Still Remember Me?" (the A-Side) was more "mellow" than most songs on The Penetrations regular play list, while "Mr. Ivory" (the B-Side) was an "upbeat" song.  Not long after, Milford debuted his songs at a talent show at the old Belton High School auditorium, with our band providing instrumental backup for him there as well.  Of course, we performed several other songs strictly as The Penetrations band during the same talent show.  After Milford's record was released, he had charge of debuting it on the radio stations, but I remember we helped him get the record out there on the airwaves, for as much airplay as possibly could be derived from it.  After all, The Penetrations' band name was on the record as well, and we were intent on getting as much publicity as a band as we possibly could then – especially in view of our recent reorganization.

Truth is (and I did not know this until later in adult life), Milford and I are distant cousins, related by virtue of descent from the Ashley family of Honea Path.  (In fact, virtually anyone born in or near Honea Path has some connections to the Ashley family!)   Both of us are descended from Willam A. Ashley (1757-1830), Revolutionary War soldier, and from Thomas Ashley (1781-1830), Veteran of the War of 1812.  My descent is through my mother's grandmother - Polly Ann Ashley Moore.  Milford's descent comes through his father in the line of Elizabeth Ashley Mitchell.  The name Larry Hudson is in the Ashley genealogy as well; but I do not know if that is the same Larry Hudson who played bass on Milford's record.

I learned from my confidential source that Milford transferred from Belton High School to Anderson's T.L. Hanna High School for his senior year.  (I had been "baffled" over why his picture was not in the Belton High yearbook that year!)  I learned also that his parents paid out-of-district tuition for him to attend Hanna that year.  Later, Milford (and my source as well) became members of a group known as The Anderson Civic Chorale.  Milford also became minister of music at an Anderson church, and was involved in Christian vocal groups, one of which featured numerous former students from Belton High School.  One group Milford was connected with was known as The Christian Dimension.

In adult life Milford became an Anderson County Sheriff's Deputy.  I remember speaking with him on a couple of occasions during the time he was with the Sheriff's office.  My source explained that Milford developed cancer and responded to treatment, but that it came back sometime later.  I learned that Milford remained optimistic and upbeat until his final days, and that he displayed a genuine Christian testimony through it all.  (I will be honest.  It was not easy for me to keep my composure as I listened to Milford's story being told.)  Sadly, Milford Fagg passed away in October 1995, only a couple weeks after celebrating his 50th birthday.  I say truthfully that I always will be thankful for having had the opportunity to know Milford, and for having had a part in his Atlanta Sound recording session in 1966.

Other Recordings

There were no other recordings by our band, The Penetrations, than those two sessions at Atlanta Sound Recording Studios. [True, there were recordings by other bands elsewhere known as The Penetrations, but those bands and their records should not be confused with The Penetrations (South Carolina).]  I am not aware of vintage live recordings or old reel-to-reel tape recordings made during live performances.  If there were, I would dearly love to have copies of them!  No one has ever come forward claiming to have any recordings like that, to my knowledge.

There were no unreleased tracks made of our band in recording studios.  It is possible that the studio may have preserved the tapes of our unused takes made during both sessions, or of communications between the control room and the band.  However, Atlanta Sound Recording Studios, Inc., and Gaye Talent Productions, Inc., both were involuntarily dissolved as Georgia corporations on May 1, 1981.  And, so far as I have been able to determine, only God knows what became of their equipment, master tapes, and archives!  A rumor I heard in the early '90's was that they went bankrupt, and the IRS seized all their assets.  (Or perhaps it was the other way around!)  I have been unable to confirm that as truth, so for now I consider that to be nothing more than an urban legend.

We did appear "live" on radio on a few occasions, and were interviewed "live" as well when our records were released.  But I have no knowledge whether tapes were made of those appearances or interviews.  Radio station WHPB of Belton changed formats several times over the years, and then went out of business altogether a few years ago.  If such tapes ever were made, I have doubts they would have survived 40 years or more, considering the changes in format, personnel, ownership, tape quality, etc.  If any exist, I hope someone comes forward with them during my lifetime.


TV Appearances

The only TV program I recall from that era that booked bands for appearances was on WLOS, channel 13 in Asheville, NC. It was called The Bob Ledford Show, and was sponsored by Bob Ledford's Used Cars.  The host was?  You guessed it!  Bob Ledford!  He had some bands that were quite good, but then he had other bands that should have stayed home!  (Kind of like it is on American Idol and other TV shows of that genre today - minus the superstars of course.)

I wanted our band to appear on his show essentially for the sake of the publicity it would afford us.  But the other guys viewed Bob as a "mountain hillbilly" and wanted no part of it whatsoever!  So, I was shot down on our TV opportunity (either a good - or bad - decision as I think back on it now).  No home movie film footage of our band exists, as far as I know.  There were a few families in our community who owned movie cameras then, but I do not remember any of them making film footage of the band.  Fact is, even still photographs of our band are relatively rare.

Endings

There were a few temporary breakups when we would get mad at each other, and swear never to get back together again during our lives!  But soon we would forgive and forget, and go forward with even greater resolve. That's what had happened before we made the decision to go to Atlanta and make a record.  During that brief period a couple of us teamed up with Danny Kelly, and we played at the first sock hop held at the new Belton-Honea Path High School gymnasium.   Danny played keyboard, and I played lead guitar.  That much we both remember!

Danny thinks David Galloway was in that lineup as well.  Neither of us can recall for certain who was drummer.  I said Mac Waggett, but Danny thinks it was Benny King.  So for now, that remains an unsolved mystery.  If there were other regular members of our "sock-hop combo", I have long since forgotten who they were.  I do recall that gig turning into a jam session of sorts, and Blair Rice sitting in on drums on a couple of songs.  Other musicians from other area bands may have jammed with us as well that night.  In any event, it was great fun having been part of the first band to play at the first dance at the new school.  Not long after that, The Penetrations decided to get back together again before the school year ended - a decision that led to our going forward with the first recording session in Atlanta.

Then, not long before the studio released the first record, we broke up yet again (in summer '66)!  That occurred at Elijah Clark State Park, on the Georgia side of Clark Hill Lake (now known as Strom Thurmond Lake).  It would be purely speculative for me to offer a reason for that falling out.  All I know is, it was bad timing for sure, and it hurt me deeply!  The record was due out, and there we were, soon split into two different bands.  But in time, even that anger would go away.  David Galloway came back into the band at some point before the end of  '66.  I recall that Blair (our regular drummer then) and I went to bat for David - perhaps in part thinking we had begun to look and sound too much like a Beatles band.  After that, Mike Mills started coming into The Teen Scene club more often, and he sat in on drums for Blair at times.  Blair loved being down on stage with the microphone and cutting loose with his renditions of James Brown songs!

As for the final breakup in '67, I really don't recall there being one.  I prefer to think of that as a voluntary dissolution, in that David Powell, David Galloway, and I were weighed down with all the activities that went along with being seniors, and with our upcoming graduation in May of that year.  David Powell played on the school golf team, and was named most valuable player during senior year.  The golf team was away quite often during the spring months.  Several of us were steady dating as well, so that may have played a role. 

The prospects of the Vietnam War and the military draft weighed heavily on the minds of most able-bodied guys, and I was no exception to that.  A guy went to college, managed to get some other kind of deferment, or voluntarily enlisted in the service.  Or else he knew that he would be drafted in due time, and likely would be sent to the ranks of the infantry soldier!  Just before graduation, I enlisted in the National Guard in Belton and served one six-year enlistment.  But in January, 1968 (with the Tet Offensive going on in Vietnam, coupled with the capture of the Pueblo intelligence ship by the North Koreans), I thought for certain we were going to be mobilized and sent to bolster the U.S. forces in Vietnam!  In fact, that became a reality for almost 40,000 National Guardsmen and Army Reservists then.  Some band mates went directly to college after high school; but I did not begin college classes until fall semester, 1971.

The last big hurrah for members of our band who also were members of the Belton-Honea Path Class of 1967 (including a couple guys who had been band members at some point in time during the band's existence) came on Senior Class Night, May 5, 1967, and during a few rehearsals leading up to that.  David Galloway, David Cox, Dwayne Bell, Tommy Hanley, and two other class members - Benny King and Glen Cueman - teamed up for our final combo appearance.  In addition, Mike Mills made a drum solo appearance.  For some reason, the other senior, David Powell, was not present.  He may have been away with the golf team.

By amazing coincidence, four of the original five members of The Intruders/Spirals (the earlier versions of The Penetrations) were in that little concert!  It would be later in life before it dawned on me that we had gone full circle from our first public appearance at a Belton High School talent show, to our last public appearance at that Belton-Honea Path High School class night!  Steve Mitchell and Blair Rice both had yet another year of high school to go.  Music then was changing a lot, and bands were growing larger.  I think also we had grown weary of having to group and re-group so many times.  So that was that for the Penetrations.  I suppose one could say that we all just decided to "Let It Be"!


Today

Lots of things keep me busy today - chiefly, working to support my family.  I work for Glen Raven, Inc., best known for Sunbrella fabrics, the world's "numero uno" acrylic marine fabric, and known as well for having produced the fabric used to make the U.S.  flag planted on the Moon!  Most of my working life (even today) has been connected to some extent with logistics.  My responsibilities now are focused on global distribution of marketing materials; and I work in close association with the product development and corporate marketing groups.

I am married to Debbie now.  Together we have two children, Katie and Andrew, ages ten and eight respectively.  Though neither of us expected to have young children at this stage of life, they have been tremendous blessings to both of us!  In addition, we have Leah and Lydia, my two living adult children from my first marriage to Diane (from Belton); as well as Adam and Melanie from Debbie's first marriage to John (from Maine).  Between us we have six grandchildren:  Daniel, Valerie, Anna, Karina, Savannah, and Hunter.  Our immediate family members (that is, the three generations I have named) represent births from across eight U.S. states and two prefects of Japan!

Adam is career military (with over ten years service between the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Air Force).  He is married to Rumi, a native of Japan. Adam has been deployed to Iraq once, and is now on overseas duty (along with his family) in a NATO country on the Mediterranean.  We don't get to see them very often.  Melanie married Robert in February 2002 when he was a U.S. Marine.  Later, Robert was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq.  (Purely by coincidence, both Adam and Robert play guitar!)  Leah and her "beau" Terry have been a couple for nearly a year now.  Lydia married Ryan in January 2006.  Lydia is a registered nurse; as is Rumi, during times she is residing and working in Okinawa.  Ryan is moving up in food sales and management, Robert is working his way up with the Sheriff's Office, and Terry is doing the same with a major auto auction company in the Anderson-Greenville area.  So, our older children have very busy lives, and we are genuinely proud of them.  Professionally, Matthew (my son who passed away in 1998) was a computer engineer before his illness became known.

Katie is in her second year studying violin, and is doing extremely well with it.  She has shown lots of interest in the guitar in recent months, and has been transferring what she has learned on violin to guitar.  I think Katie may have the talent - and that certain spunk  - to go far with music!  In the '80's Leah focused on drums and guitar.  During the '90's Melanie, Lydia, and Leah all focused on dance.  Katie is involved in dance now and sings in the school chorus as well.

Andrew is becoming more involved each year with Special Olympics, as well as with school activities.  (He has mild learning disabilities.)  I think he wants to learn to play a musical instrument as well.   He told me just recently that Jimmy Neutron has a band, and that they practice in a garage, and that he wants to be in a band too!  Then he explained that just before their first concert, two of their three members quit the band.  Wow!  Even Jimmy Neutron has problems keeping a band together, it seems.  Now that certainly has a familiar ring to it! That episode of Jimmy Neutron I must see for myself!  Our "grands" have distinct individual interests as well, and we are encouraging each of them to develop a love for music and the arts.

After 25 years total service, my little New York Yankee wife Debbie retired from the food service industry, principally having been associated with Darden Restaurants, Inc. (a/k/a Red Lobster).  Debbie has lived in New York, Maine, Florida, and South Carolina over the course of her life.  I have talked about my high school years already, and obviously I did not know her then.  Debbie attended Bayshore High School on Long Island through the first half of her junior year. She graduated from Ellsworth High School, after her family moved to Maine.  Being of Irish heritage, Debbie and I both love Celtic music, including the modern Irish bands U2, The Chieftains, and The Cranberries.  Obviously, "Riverdance" and similar Irish productions have been well received at our "Irish-American" household. 

For me, being in the band was a fantastic experience!  Certainly not everyone in high school (then or even now) has had the "motive, means, and opportunity" to have played in a garage band; or to have experienced the clean high of playing on stage before a live audience; or to have experienced the thrill and excitement of recording in a real studio in Atlanta.  And then to have seen the finished product of the band's work on a 7-inch vinyl, 45 RPM record!  That was, and still is, a very real part of my life; and I think probably of the lives of the other band mates as well (although I cannot speak directly for them).  The thing about a band is, it takes each person in the group to make it happen.  Each member is an individual and brings his or her own unique talents, but they all still have to blend together to create a successful band.  An individual artist can go into a studio, rehearse with a generic professional studio band that he or she has never performed with before, and can make a marketable recording.  It doesn't matter what genre of music it is either.  But it is the individual artist who comes through on that record - not the band!  I know from having been a part of The Penetrations, it takes many long hours of hard work and dedication to succeed as a musician, and as a group.  Talent is a big part of it, but most successful bands are not made up of the most talented and gifted musicians and vocalists.  The talented and gifted persons turn into successful individual artists in most cases.  Playing in The Penetrations was not all fun and games, but I think we all had lots of fun just the same.

I am excited to see a couple of my former band mates still performing today!  In April 2006 I watched and listened to Steve Mitchell, now lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for The Wide Open Band of Anderson, South Carolina.  They are a hot group, very talented and energetic - and they back up an Elvis impersonator as well.  In addition to Steve, their members are: Richard Manley (lead guitar), Virgil Hardy (keyboard), Rick Crawford (electric bass), and Luther Hawkins (drums).  Jim Vicars appears as Elvis.  Steve said The Wide Open Band and "Elvis" have recorded a locally-produced CD.   Steve's sister Connie is married to "Elvis", and is featured as a soloist on stage as well.   Steve is also an avid collector of guitars and amplifiers, and frequents guitar shows throughout the Southeast.  He served in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he mastered the sport of karate.  He taught professionally at a well-known Anderson karate school for about ten years.  Today, Steve heads up the contract painting company that he and his dad established together.  In the '60's, before Steve became vocalist and rhythm guitarist for The Penetrations, he was a member of The Visions, an Anderson band.  Members of The Visions were:  Steve Mitchell (rhythm guitar and vocals), Richard Manley (lead guitar), Lawrence Campbell (electric bass), and Marty Ember (drums).

Also in April, I watched and listened to a band known as The Flashbacks who call Easley, South Carolina their home. I was not aware during that performance that their saxophone player is David Galloway.  Not until I visited their website did I realize that!  The Flashbacks play beach music, as well as rock and roll.  They have several CDs out there, meaning obviously they have spent time in a recording studio somewhere.  Members listed on their website are:  Buddy Culbertson, Paul Cook, David Galloway, David Blackstock, Larry Pope, Rob Cassels, Ron Davis, Mike Johnson, and one really good looking front person, Wendy Goodson!  Searching online, I discovered that The Flashbacks are featured as well on a multi-artist album from 2002, on which David Galloway is credited with playing saxophone.  David's wife Elaine (his high-school sweetheart) is a promotions agent for a number of bands in the upstate area of South Carolina.  Elaine maintains a website in connection with her agency.  So, congrats to both Steve and David "G". And congrats to Elaine as well.

Danny Kelly, former member of The Injections band of Belton (and briefly a band mate of mine as well in that un-named "sock hop combo" from '66), informed me recently that he has worked with the railroad for the past 40 years or so.  He has been, and is now, active as well with the railroad union.  During those same 40 years, Danny has continued to pursue his interests in music, having played with a few house bands in local clubs; then later having played with bands in his church.  He and his family still call Belton home.  He said that they are blessed with three adult daughters and eight grandchildren.  Their 11-year-old grandson is quite the "golf pro" already, having received a recent invitation to play in a prestigious tourney in Greenville.  Danny and his wife Cheryl (who grew up in my neighborhood) have been married for about 42 years now.

The last I heard, David Powell was still involved with golf as his life's work. In fact, at our 25th class reunion ('92), I recall that someone from the organizing committee mentioned he had been featured in Sports Illustrated at some time in the past.  (Even now I do not know the year or the issue, but I hope to find a copy someday.)  I talked with Jackie Mills a couple times over the years, and learned then he was working for a local company.  I recall that he said he still jammed with others on guitar, and even mentioned the tune "Gloria" as being one song they enjoyed playing.  (In fact, that popular '60's song was on our play list during the time our band was active).  I recall Jackie also talking about his military service.  I have mentioned already that drummer Blair Rice headed up Blair Mills, Inc. in Belton.

David Cox became a pharmacist, but in more recent years has become a homebuilder. Dwayne Bell is involved in building as well, and is a principal with Marsh/Bell Construction Co., known for its local commercial building projects.  I have heard others speak of Dwayne as being an accomplished pianist, and as having been active in church music.  Mike Mills has passed on.  Even so, his legacy as a drummer and as a vocalist remains.  His drumming and his voice will still be heard, so long as there is a copy of our 45 record "I Got a Girl" b/w "A Different Kind of Man" out there; and so long as there is an audience who will listen.  I have already covered what I do now.  But I will add, I still love playing the guitar, even though I haven't performed in public in many years.  Collectively speaking, I think it is safe to say that all the members of The Intruders/Spirals/Penetrations would agree with me that it was a great gig for as long as it lasted (or, for however long each member had a part in the band).  Thanks to each of them for allowing me to have been a part of The Penetrations band as well. 

Finally, many thanks again to Mike Dugo and his website for allowing me to take part in this interview.  Many thanks also to Hans Kesteloo for featuring a number of songs of local ‘60's garage bands (including The Penetrations) on his webcast from Amsterdam, Holland.  And many thanks as well to Mark Taylor for having documented The Pentrations name on his website in Sydney, Australia.   


Tommy Hanley

Band Development (as reconstructed by Tommy Hanley, with valuable assistance from Steve Mitchell and Danny Kelly)

Pre-Penetrations lineup of the Belton, South Carolina band first known as The Tracettes (ca. 1964)(Three future members of The Penetrations appeared in this early Tracettes lineup.  The Tracettes continued on as a band afterward with other lineups, and as contemporaries of The Penetrations band): Roger Fullbright (lead guitar, 1st saxophone, band leader), David Galloway (2nd saxophone), Tim Cox (lead and rhythm guitar), Mike Mills (drums) and Tommy Hanley (rhythm guitar)

Original lineup, as The Intruders and probably as the earliest edition of The Spirals, forerunners of The Penetrations (ca. 1964): Mike Mills (drums), Jackie Mills (rhythm guitar), David Cox (guitar & vocals), Dwayne Bell (piano), Tommy Hanley (lead guitar)

The Spirals, forerunners of The Penetrations (ca. 1964-1965)(This lineup was in effect during the band's appearance at the South Carolina Upper State Fair Battle of the Bands): Mike Mills (drums), Jackie Mills (rhythm guitar) and Tommy Hanley (lead guitar)

The Spirals, forerunners of The Penetrations (ca. 1965): Mike Mills (drums/vocal), Jackie Mills (rhythm guitar), David Galloway (saxophone), David Powell (electric bass / vocals) and Tommy Hanley (lead guitar)

Interim lineup, as The B-HP 'Sock-Hop' Combo (during a brief breakup of The Penetrations - ca. spring 1966) (No clear consensus has been reached regarding those who were members of this short-lived "combo".  Its only public performance was at the first dance held at the new Belton-Honea Path High School gymnasium in spring, 1966.  Hopefully in time all regular members and jam session participants can be identified): Danny Kelly (keyboards / vocals), Tommy Hanley (lead guitar / backup vocals), probably David Galloway (saxophone), probably Mac Waggett or Benny King (regular drummer), Blair Rice ("jam session" drummer / vocals), and other musicians from Belton-Honea Path area bands who took part during a "jam session" at this event.

The Penetrations (with exception of brief breakup in spring '66 - from ca. 1965 to summer 1966) (This is the lineup as The Penetrations appeared on their first Atlanta Sound recording): Mike Mills (drums/vocals), David Powell (electric bass/vocals), Jackie Mills (rhythm guitar/backup vocals), David Galloway (saxophone/tambourine/backup vocals) and Tommy Hanley (lead guitar/backup vocals/songwriter)

The Penetrations (ca. mid-summer and fall, 1966): Steve Mitchell (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), David Powell (electric bass/vocals), Blair Rice (drums/vocals), Tommy Hanley (lead guitar/backup vocals) 

Milford Fagg with The Penetrations (late summer 1966) (This lineup appeared only on The Penetrations’ second Atlanta Sound recording.  Features Belton vocalist Milford Fagg, former member of The Injections band of Belton; with The Penetrations providing instrumental back-up): Milford Fagg (songwriter, vocalist, session lead guitarist), Larry Hudson (session bassist), Tommy Hanley (session rhythm guitarist), Steve Mitchell (session rhythm guitarist), Blair Rice (session drummer) and David Powell (session pianist).  Background vocals on this record probably are Powell, Mitchell, and Rice)

The Penetrations (ca. fall 1966 - winter 1967) (Home band of The Teen Scene club in Belton): Steve Mitchell (lead vocalist/rhythm guitar), David Powell (electric bass/vocals), Blair Rice (drums/vocals), David Galloway (saxophone/tambourine/backup vocals) and Tommy Hanley (lead guitar/backup vocals).  Mike Mills, original drummer for The Intruders / Spirals / Penetrations, occasionally "sat in" on drums for Blair Rice at The Teen Scene club in Belton.

The Penetrations (from winter 1967 until final dissolution of the band in spring 1967) (Including appearance at the Anderson Recreation Center Battle of the Bands): Steve Mitchell (lead vocalist rhythm guitar), David Powell (electric bass/vocals), Charles Couch (drums), and Tommy Hanley (lead guitar)

"Farewell Concert" lineup / at Belton-Honea Path High School Senior Class Night (May 5, 1967) (Featured five former members of The Intruders /Spirals/Penetrations, and two B-HP Band musicians.  All were members of B-HP's first graduating Class of '67): Solo performance:  Mike Mills (drums); “Concert Combo":  Dwayne Bell (keyboard), David Cox (guitar), Tommy Hanley (guitar), David Galloway (electric bass), Glen Cueman (trumpet), and Benny King (drums).  David Galloway played bass instead of saxophone at this event.  "Senior Class Night '67" also featured numerous other members of the Belton-Honea Path senior class.

Compiled in August 2006 by:  Tommy ("Tom") L. Hanley, for 60garagebands.com.