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Led by guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Steve Thomas, The Todes quickly became the top band in the state of Utah where their song "Good Things" was a "major hit" and spread quickly throughout the West, airing on several Top 30 radio stations.  The band performed over 30 original songs.  Unfortunately, coincidental happenstances kept The Todes from reaching greater heights. 

Prior to The Todes, Thomas had played lead guitar with The Plaidsmen and after formed St.Thomas Axis.
Todes: Danny Murphy (behind left), Steve Thomas, Dan Doty and Danny Davis (on the speaker)
...'Good Things' by The Todes (sounds) as if they have arrived straight from inside the dark, brick-walled corridors of a club on the Strip such as Bido Lito's." - Domenic Priore, Riot On Sunset Strip: Rock'N'Roll's Last Stand In Hollywood (2007)
Steve Thomas Recalls The Todes
 
The Todes were based out of Provo, Utah. Formed in early winter of 1965, the band members were all students at Brigham Young University (BYU).  Steve Thomas (from Escondido, California), the lead guitar player and lead rock vocalist (who later wrote and was the lead singer on ‘Good Things’) organized the band with Dan Doty. After looking desperately for a bass player, Dan (from Georgetown, Ohio) suddenly “found the pocket” and switched from rhythm guitar (which he had played in The Plaidsmen with Steve) to give the band a punchy bass guitar and harmony vocals. Danny Murphy, a high school student and the youngest member of the band and the only Provo, Utah native, gave the band the solid dance rhythm on drums. Danny Davis (from Denver, Colorado) was also lead singer adding dancing and athletic antics to create an outrageous stage presence with rock and blues standards like, ‘I Got My Mojo Workin.' However, his superior vocal renditions of cover tunes like ‘Unchained Melody’ added to the versatility and popularity of the band. Bill Jemison played keyboards. Still the band was struggling to meet Steve’s requirements for a solid rock and rhythm and blues dance base sound. Then, as fate would have it, Bob Jetter, who started at BYU on the “block plan” sometime around late October, coincidentally moved in as a roommate with Steve in a student housing apartment. Jetter had just left a North West regional tour with the lead singer and lead guitar player on the rock classic smash hit ‘Louie, Louie.’ He’d formed a branch of The Kingsmen. Steve Thomas reports, “Bob was wild on stage and taught the band to move on stage with Paul Revere and The Raiders style choreography. How Bob managed to end up at straight-laced BYU still amazes me to this day.” Bob’s funky “organo” keyboard coverter and his amazing punchy keybord rhythms and solos brought an anusual sound to the band. Jetter, Thomas, Doty and Murphy made that band rock, while Davis added melody and voice. And that was the beginning of The Todes.  
 
When Jetter left the band in early ’66, Mike Hart (from Redding, California) was added at keyboards.  By the beginning of 1966, The Todes were competing in the rock scene statewide in Utah with bands like The Holden Caulfield, The Barracudas and The Remnants (which included David Donahoe, who later recorded 'Good Things' with the Todes). Steve's brother Al was The Tode’s regular, long-term drummer, but he was on active duty in the military and could only play occasionally. He just missed being able to be with the band in Los Angeles at the time ‘Good Things’ was recorded.

Steve Thomas and Dave Donahoe Recall 'Good Things'   
 
At the end of the school year, in May of 1966, Davis left the band, and David (Dave) Donahoe (from Richmond, Virginia), a solid rock lead vocalist, was added as lead singer.  Donahoe also sang harmonies and played a punchy rhythm guitar, reinforcing the band's solid dance rythyms. Dave had joined the band days before The Todes left Utah for a trip to Los Angeles, where The Todes recorded their hit ‘Good Things’. (Just a week before joining the band, Dave had recorded with The Remnants. His harmony vocals and rhythm guitar were on both 45rpm disc tunes.)

Good Things’ was recorded in Los Angeles in the early summer of 1966.  Steve wrote and sang lead on the song, and the entire band helped arrange it. By the time of the recording, Steve had already written over 30 songs (including ‘Heartbreaker’, ‘You! You!’ and ‘You’d Better Go’, which were being saved as possibilities for future album cuts and possibly for the “next” planned single). The group decided against recording one of his originals for the B-side of ‘Good Things’ because they didn’t want to “waste a tune” or confuse radio disc jockeys and program directors with two tunes. Instead, they chose to “put their money” on ‘Good Things’ and at one point even considered featuring it on both sides.  Eventually, it was concluded that a jam instrumental was a “quick and dirty answer” to a B-side (and it also helped work around the fact that available recording time was an issue). In addition, an instrumental would allow the The Todes room to show off - and to “rock out a bit” so that potential fans would know they could rock out and jam as well as any group. The band always incorporated at least one 8-bar blues jam in each set.

Interestingly, Steve had initially thought of naming the B-side cut ‘69 Degrees Below Zero’ but then thought again that such a name could be interpreted as being “too sexual” and might turn some Utah listeners off. Instead the band estimated the number of grooves that would be on the 45rpm and used that as the title. The result was ‘137 Grooves Below Zero.’ The jam began with a harmonica solo that Donahoe worked up in the men’s room while the rest of The Todes worked out the other parts of the song.  Donahoe had never played harmonica at gigs in The Todes (or with any other band), didn't own a harmonica, and had only casually ever played a harmonica. However, the band wanted to have variety in the instrumental with each member playing a lead on the record for the sake of history and partnership. 

‘137 Grooves’ was recorded in less than an hour and was not considered a real tune by the band.  As the group was packing up their equipment while listening to the tune, they were goofing around by kidding each other with back and forth banter as they listened to a replay of the song.  Somehow, the engineer was able to record all this banter, which explains the noise in the background of the music. That’s Steve’s and Dan’s voices really hamming it up.

The Todes' record received strong airplay and was a Top 5 or higher hit in Utah - not just in Provo. The single was played in Hollywood at the Hullabaloo Club on Sunset Blvd., on radio in other western states, and the band was really considered up and coming.  But, just as it seemed they’d hit the “big time,” Paul Revere and The Raiders released a song titled …‘Good Thing.’  Within a few days thereafter The Todes’ record label went bankrupt and informed the group that they no longer had rights to their music.  “We could have sold more records, but we couldn’t get them printed to sell,” griped Steve. Obviously, the band’s recording momentum had completely been stopped. (Steve likes to say: “If I only had known back then what I know now, we would have handled that whole thing way differently! But the fact was, we just kind of gave up!”) The band did continue to play and evolve and became very popular in Utah. In the ‘70’s, after Dave Donahoe left the band, Steve, Dan and Al became a “power trio with dynamics and variety” and recorded an audition tape at Hollywood Sound Recorders – over 30 original tunes were recorded and the magnetic tape survived to be digitized and is currently in their library, including an acoustic, first-time played and recorded of an original that became the band’s theme song, “Like a King.”  

David Donahoe recalls: The small record company that put out the Todes' record had another name, and a few artists.  I don't recall the level of success of their other artists, but there had been some success at least regionally with some of their records.   When we went there to record, my rememberance is that they said they could not use their "regular" label for our record because of some lawsuit or legal entanglements that were in process.  A few months later they told Steve they had declared bankruptcy, so that was probably what was going on at the time, but they did not tell us that.  Anyway, they asked us to come up with a name for the record label.  I don't recall who came up with it - Steve, Dan, or the record company guy (I think it was Steve or Dan) - but we decided on "Emanon" which is "no name" spelled backwards.

The Todes (November 1965-1966)
Steve Thomas – lead guitar and lead vocals and choreography (November 1965 until now)
Dan Doty – bass and harmony vocals and choreography (November 1965 until 1999)
Danny Davis – lead vocals and choreography (November 1965 until summer of 1966)
Danny Murphy – drums (November 1965 until summer 1967)
Bill Jemison – keyboards (October 1965 until November 1965 – not shown in any photos. “Bill, send me some photos!”)
Bob Jetter – keyboards (“organo”) and harmony vocals and choreography direction (November 1965 until Spring 1966 – not shown in any photos. “Bob, send me some photos!”)
 
The Todes (1966-67) – The “Good Things” Recording Band
Steve Thomas, Dan Doty and Danny Murphy  
Mike Hart – keyboards (Spring 1966 until summer 1967)
Dave Donahoe – rhythm guitar and lead vocals, and harmonica on 'Good Things' (June 1966 until August 1967; formerly of The Vectors and The Remnants)

 
The Todes (1967-69)
Steve Thomas and Dan Doty
Ralph Geddes – keyboards, drums and guitar (formerly of The Vectors with Dave Donahoe, after summer of 1967, approximately)
Al Thomas – drums and vocals (intermittently)

Media
Todes - 'Good Things'
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Todes - '137 Grooves Below Zero'
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Todes - 'Heartbreaker' (Unreleased)
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Todes - You'd Better Go' (Unreleased)
Todes: Danny Davis, Mike Hart, Steve Thomas and Dan Doty
Todes: Mike Hart, Danny Davis, Steve Thomas, Danny Murphy and Dan Doty
The Plaidsmen
In 1964, during his sophomore year at BYU, Steve Thomas started playing lead guitar for a group called The Plaidsmen. They wore madras plaid jackets (their name sake) and played Chuck Berry-style rock (many of the songs played also by The Vectors), because no one in Provo played horns (Thomas was used to an R&B horn section, being from the San Diego area). Dan Doty played rhythm guitar, and Dan’s cousin, Tim Guymon, played bass guitar and sang lead vocals. Jerry Solberg was The Plaidsmen’s piano player with a still unique sounding Wurlitzer piano (Jerry was later of The Remnants). The Plaidsmen would love to say that they “competed” with The Vectors, but that was probably in their own minds.  "The Vectors were by far the best liked group that played in the BYU area - and they were a lot better looking!" reports Steve.  "In fact," Steve recalls, "Tim Guymon told us he was not going to be in a band the next school year because he could never be as good as The Vectors."  As planned, The Plaidsmen disbanded for the summer break from BYU in the summer of 1965.

The Plaidsmen To The Todes
In the fall of 1965, Thomas was three weeks late returning to BYU because of personal and family issues. Thomas’ stepdad wanted him to go into the U.S. Army in spite of the fact that the Viet Nam War was on the rise. Thomas decided to stay in California and just get drafted. But, due to a minor health issue, he returned to BYU. Doing so qualified him for a “student deferment” and allowed him to stay one step ahead of the draft for the duration of the war (unwittingly, by getting married and then by having children). All this drama put Steve in the last week of “late registration” at BYU.

By this time Solberg had already joined up with a new band, The Remnants. According to Thomas, Solberg had “found a lead singer (named) Jerry York, with a "pretty boy" voice. While he had vibrato, and could sing a melody, he didn’t have much endurance in his voice, and all I could sing was ‘Gloria’ by Them. Solberg decided to keep the Remnants without me.”  When reminiscing with Dave Donahoe years later, Thomas learned that Ed Barner, who had managed The Vectors (Dave's band), was also managing and was actively deciding who would be in The Remnants).

Thomas was left to form a band on his own. It took several months but he eventually scraped together a few musicians and made the slow, sputtering start until Bob Jetter became a member of the band.  At this point, Bob Jetter became a member of the group that now featured original tunes by Steve Thomas...and was now known as The Todes.

The Plaidsmen (November 1964-June 1965)
Tim Guymon – bass guitar and lead vocals (and the backbone of the band)
Dan Doty – rhythm guitar and vocals
Steve Thomas – lead guitar and harmony vocals (only when permitted)
Jerry Solberg – Wurlizer Piano and Vox organ and some vocals
Bruce Knowles – drums

Plaidsmen: Dan Doty, Bruce Knowles and Jerry Solberg
Plaidsmen: Jerry Solberg and Steve Thomas
Plaidsmen: Tim Guymon, Dan Doty, Bruce Knowles, Jerry Solberg and Steve Thomas
Plaidsmen: Top (Dan Doty, Bruce Knowles and Tim Guymon); Bottom (Jerry Solberg and Steve Thomas)
St. Thomas Axis (Summer of 1969)
Steve Thomas – lead guitar and lead vocals (summer of 1969 until now)
Dan Doty – bass and harmony vocals and choreography (summer of 1969 until 1999)
Al Thomas – drums and vocals (intermittently and permanently from fall of 1971 until now)
Clair Call – keyboards and vocals (summer of 1969 until fall of 1971)
Dale Bunkers – drums (summer of 1969 until fall of 1971)

Todes Gallery
Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas
David Donahoe
David Donahoe
Buzz Minson
Buzz Minson
Mike Hart
Mike Hart
Dan Doty
Dan Doty
Mike Hart and Buzz Minson
Mike Hart and Buzz Minson
Dan Doty
Dan Doty
The Todes
The Todes
Buzz Minson, Steve Thomas and Dan Doty
Buzz Minson, Steve Thomas and Dan Doty
Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas
David Donahoe
David Donahoe
The Todes
The Todes
David Donahoe
David Donahoe
Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas
Mike Hart
Mike Hart