Doughboys
Although formed in 1965, The Doughboys’ popularity has undergone quite a resurgence during the past couple years.  In addition to recording an excellent new CD, Is It Now?, the group has been promoted by Little Steven on his radio program, appeared in the pages of Goldmine and other music periodicals, and performed many successful performances at venues throughout the northeast.  While updates on the band’s current whereabouts and activities are available at either their Web site or their My Space page, 60sgaragebands.com had the opportunity to address two areas that are of primary interest to us: TV/film appearance by the band and their recordings.  In addition, we’re very pleased to be able to present 8mm home movie footage when the band was known as The Ascots, filmed in 1966 by friend Dave McCartney. 

Special thanks to Nancy Heyman for coordinating the interview, for providing the photos and for securing the footage, and to Richard X. Heyman and Mike Caruso for answering our questions.

Richard X. Heyman
Mike Caruso
60sgaragebands.com (60s): Where was the Ascots footage filmed? 
Richard Heyman (RXH):  The footage was filmed at the Park Hotel Annex, which was a large auditorium across the street from the Park Hotel in Plainfield, New Jersey.  The Ascots (later The Doughboys) began holding our own concert/dances.  We would rent out halls and put posters up around town.  One interesting side note:  Tickets to this show were oversold and the police came onstage and said we had to stop because there were too many kids, which resulted in a riot.  The place got trashed and the band had to pay for the damages.  Those were the days!

Mike Caruso (MC):  The Park Hotel annex had a capacity of two hundred and we packed in several hundred. The video was shot right before the fire marshals and the police stopped the music and ordered everyone out!  My dad got sued for exceeding the two hundred capacity.  Interesting note: WERA Radio was adjacent to the Annex, and our future manager Barry Landers was a sports broadcaster there, next to the hall. I used to go to the studio with my dad when Barry interviewed and promoted his basketball and baseball teams, years before Disc-O-Teen.

60s: How did The Doughboys land the appearance on Disc-O-Teen?
RXH:  We were all aware of Zacherley’s Disc-O-Teen.  We would watch it on UHF Channel 47.  It was like a local American Bandstand.  Our manager at the time was Mike Caruso’s father.  I believe he made the arrangements for our first appearance.  We used to hire a bus so all the fans from Plainfield could go to the show which was broadcast from Newark.  We played the show many times but I don’t recall the exact number.  My recollection of John Zacherley is very positive.  He was extremely charismatic and friendly, down to earth with the young teenage crowd and never acted like he was above us.  Of course he had a hilarious and wacky sense of humor and a style that was all his own.

MC:  My father knew Barry and got us on.  He rented buses to bring our fans to the show.

60s: What about The Clay Cole Show?   Did you appear more than once? 
MC:  I believe Barry Landers got us on Clay’s show.  We were on two times.

RXH:  We performed on some rock and roll music show that was filmed in Pennsylvania.  Later, Myke, Mike and I appeared on the Upbeat show out of Cleveland under the name Cool Heat in 1969 and 1970.

MC:  We did a show in Allentown at Dorney Park.

60s: How did the band land the opportunity to record the Bell singles?
RXH:  The Bell Records deal was part of our prize for winning the battle of the bands contest on Disc-O-Teen in ’66.

60s: Did the band perform any of the four single sides either on TV or during live performances?
RXH:  Yes, we did the singles on Disc-O-Teen and at our live shows.

60s: 'Everybody Knows My Name' was also recorded by The Four Seasons.  How did the band come to the song?
RXH:  The producers of our Bell singles were Steve and Jerry Jerome, who had produced The Left Banke’s two hits ‘Walk Away Renee’ and ‘Pretty Ballerina.’  They came up with the songs we were to record.  No one in the band had started writing songs yet.
Richard X. Heyman's autobiography, Boom Harangue, is available for ordering at his Web site.  The book covers all aspects of his lengthy and successful musical career, and features several recollections of his Ascots and Doughboys days.  Below is a hilarious sample chapter detailing snapshots of The Doughboys' years, highlighted by an unforgettable encounter with one pissed off Beach Boy...
The Doughboys on the Set of Disc-O-Teen
Disc-O-Teen was a music TV show that broadcast weeknights out of Newark, New Jersey. It aired on Channel 47, which was a UHF channel. I believe UHF stood for Unstoppable Horizontal Flipping, at least that's how it looked on our TV. The host was a ghoulish character named 'Zacherley'. Every night was Halloween with Zacherley, camping it up in his vampire outfit and shadowy make-up, which was a carry over from his days of hosting horror movies on TV here in New York. He also happened to be an extremely sweet and gracious man, always willing to take a minute or two to chat with the kids before, during and after the show.
 
Occasionally a famous group appeared on Disc-O-Teen. One night The Doors were on and Jim Morrison decided to be a mute during their interview with Zacherley. Every question was greeted with stony silence and a blank stare into the camera. At least it wasn't radio. Zacherley, ever the good sport, caught on and turned it into a comedy routine, leaving the sullen singer looking simply silly.
 
The show featured a live studio audience of teenagers frugging to the latest pop hits. A different group from the tri-state area performed each night in a year-long battle of the bands contest. The Ascots, appeared on Disc-O-Teen several times as part of this competition.
 
Not every band took to the post-British Invasion mentality. As a matter of fact, I recall the majority of local groups who participated in the contest as more 'greaser' than, for lack of a better term, de-greased and long-haired. One particular band from a town in North Jersey had the requisite matching tuxedo jackets, probably in brilliant blue or putrid purple (though I couldn't swear to it since the show was broadcast in black and white), and enough hair oil among the four members to rival the Exxon Valdez. They actually performed a rarity -- an original song. This was something even the Ascots didn't possess in their arsenal at the time. So one of the guitarists from this slicked-backed-coiffed aggregation steps up to the microphone, and in perfect Jersey greaser-ese proudly announces 'now we're gonna do a song I made' as if he built it in shop class.

Media
The Ascots at the Park Hotel Annex, Plainfield, New Jersey (1966)
The Ascots sailed through the first round into the semi-finals, and then came the big day, the showdown with the two other bands who'd made it to the final finals. We had an ace up our collective sleeves for this ultimate occasion. You see, the day of the show, 'Paint It Black' by The Rolling Stones hit the shelves of Gregory's Music Store in Plainfield and our guitarist Willy was there to snatch it, rush it over to my house on Kenyon Avenue, like a severed limb to be reattached, with the team of musical microsurgeons, The Ascots, assembled to perform the delicate operation and join it to our repertoire. This may not sound like much to you, but believe me, it was an impressive and bold move. The song wasn't even on the radio yet, nobody had heard it, and we were going to perform it live on TV. A coup. We could have even claimed it was a song we 'made'. After deciphering the code of Mick Jagger's mumbling, we tackled the weird eastern neo-Hindu music, ran through it a few times, hopped in our VW van, and dashed up to Newark for the broadcast battle.
 
Lo and behold, The Ascots won the Battle of the Bands Contest for 1966. First prize was a recording contract with the prestigious Bell Records. A few weeks after our grand victory, the Ascots went into New York's Bell Sound studio to cut our first record. The producers of our recordings were known as The Jerome Brothers, who had hit with the Left Banke's 'Walk Away Renee' and 'Pretty Ballerina.'
 
No one in the band had written any songs -- I don't think it ever crossed our minds. We were happy playing the Stones, Animals, Yardbirds and Kinks songs that were topping the charts in those days. So it wasn't a surprise that we were given a song by the producers to record. The shock was that the song we were asked to lay down as our debut single was a little ditty with the none-too-promising title 'Rhoda Mendelbaum'. Even I at fourteen knew this was a lost cause. We did what we could to toughen up this slice of lame-osity. Mike Scavone gave it his best garage band sneer, and Mike Farina played a cool guitar riff. They put Willy on a rented harpsichord and then they subsequently added a string section, much to our astonishment. Mike Caruso on bass and your's truly on the drums just did our usual bump and grind.
 
In The Studio
Around this time, we changed our name to The Doughboys (the World War I type, not the Pillsbury). My father drove us into the city to look for Doughboy uniforms. It's amazing to think how in 1966 you could go into a dozen or more vintage clothing shops in the East Village and find authentic World War I Army uniforms. Today, all that's left in the so-called vintage stores are tacky, mile-wide-lapel-ed sports coats from the 70's that nobody wanted in the first place. We each purchased a Doughboy jacket, a pair of spats, and a hat. Why we did this and why we thought it was a good idea completely escapes me, though let me go on record right here by saying, it wasn't my idea. I think it was our over-ambitious new manager's. When we won the battle of the bands on Disc-o-Teen, the show's director decided he wanted to manage us.

We had a VW van and I quickly learned how insane the other Doughboys were. We traveled to and from the city several times in the course of recording our two singles for Bell. On these trips Mike Farina and Mike Scavone thought it was fun to take a page from a newspaper, crumple it up, light it on fire and throw it at whoever happened to be driving. One particular return trek, we let Mike Caruso's younger brother Frank drive the van. Frank did not have a license, was not even old enough to have a license, and barely knew how to drive even if he had had a license. While speeding through the Lincoln Tunnel's narrow lane, Frank bounced the van off the wall a few times while I prayed in horror. Mike Farina felt this would be an ideal time for a fireball fight. Flaming newspaper balls were being hurled back and forth between the front and back of the van. When he got tired of that, he'd put his hands in front of the driver's eyes just because...I knew then I was way out of my league in the insanity department. Ah, good times. It's amazing any of us are here to talk about it.

At The Fun House
Performing at a Dance
Live at The Hullabaloo Club
Live at The Hullabaloo Club
When the dubiously titled 'Rhoda Mendelbaum' was released to an unsuspecting world, we hoped nobody would notice how ridiculous the song was and maybe we'd even have a hit and become famous. Nope. They noticed.
 
We struck a little deal with WMCA, the New York-based AM station. If we would play their WMCA Good Guys shows every weekend while the record was out, they in turn would give us airplay. Which they supposedly did. I never heard it, but some people say they did. There'd be about fifteen acts on the bill, with everyone sharing the drums and amps to perform their latest release plus two or three other numbers. The whole Good Guys shows experience was well worth the shlepping to and around the far reaches of New York's five boroughs, for we got to play with some fantastic acts. We shared the stage with Neil Diamond singing 'Solitary Man' with only his acoustic guitar for accompaniment, The Music Explosion, The Syndicate of Sound, The Fifth Dimension, The Tokens, fellow Jerseyans The Critters, Terry King & The Pack, Fontella Bass, and so many others.
 
We also opened up for The Beach Boys, whose current single 'Good Vibrations' was doing a tad better than 'Rhoda Mendelbaum'. Also on the bill were The Buckinghams, who had a string of hits to their credit. We of course opened the show and we wanted to make a big impression with our final number 'Bo Diddley'. Mike Scavone was a fine drummer in his own right, so for our big closer, I'd come up front with my floor tom, and Myke (as he spelled his name at that point) would play a second floor tom. We both used a pair of maracas to pound out the 'Bo Diddley' beat. For some reason we had forgotten to bring the other floor tom, so we asked the Buckinghams if we could borrow their's. When they refused, we mustered up the courage and had the chutzpa to ask The Beach Boys if we could use their drum. To their credit they said yes, and we went on to do our set. As planned, I went up front and Myke grabbed hold of the coveted borrowed tom. So here we go. Now you have to realize we were what has become known as a 'garage band'. We played raw, savage R&B-tinged rock'n'roll. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bo Diddley beat, it is a relentless barrage of wild shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits mania. At least that's how the Doughboys saw it. Our mission was to drum the song into submission. Usually the maracas would shatter before too long and the legs on the floor toms would loosen from the intense vibrations. As expected, halfway through the number, the two drums collapsed under the pressure, and Myke and I sat on them as if riding on a pair of bucking broncos.
 
We were hitting the last notes of this mayhem when out from the wings of the enormous stage, seemingly out of nowhere, The Beach Boys' drummer Dennis Wilson stampeded into Myke Scavone. Before anyone can even utter fun fun fun, Dennis is throwing punches and wrestling down our front man to the floor. The curtains haven't even closed yet. Members of the audience have that look of astonished horror and bewilderment for that moment before the curtains came together. Then all hell broke loose. The two of them are in full street fight mode. The suntanned Californian and the tough East Coast Italian. People from both camps pry them apart. Again, my fourteen-year-old eyes and ears are in shock. It was bad enough that one of the headliners had started a rumble on stage in front of thousands of people, but I was completely disillusioned by the fact that Dennis Wilson, famous celebrity, was screaming at the top of his lungs 'You goddamn sonofabitch motherfucker, ya fucking bastard piece of shit', etc. I couldn't believe it! I mean, I had no idea that famous people knew those words, used those words and would be yelling them at my good friend Myke Scavone. Dennis Wilson, for Christ's sake. I had his picture on my wall. I've seen him on TV. Tell me it isn't so. This can't be happening. The capper was, and I'll never forget these words from the middle Wilson brother -- 'It's bands like you who ruin it for us.' With that, Dennis was restrained by his people, and the two warriors were dragged back to their respective corners. The Doughboys packed up their equipment in a daze. We found out later that Dennis was in a bad mood because his brother Carl was about to be arrested for draft evasion, and they apologized and went on to give a spectacular concert, Dennis' floor tom being a little bit worse for wear.

Doughboys Gallery
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