Let me tell you about what has become a dream sequence from my earlier life. I was once a semi-famous rock star, and me and my buds could have had it all. Timing is everything, or in this case, the end of everything. My memory is really spotty on these years (1966 through 1969), so if anyone has corrections PLEASE let me know.
For those who have read this page before, Dale Haynes' son found this website in June of 2005, and Dale contacted us. So, "The First Titan", who had been lost to us for so many years, is now found! (The rain stops, The clouds part, Choirs of Angels burst into chorus, and there is great rejoicing throughout the land)
If you have problems downloading the audio files or receiving the audio streams, send an email to email@example.com
It began on a Sunday evening at WJHO radio in Opelika, AL, where I was working nights while attending pre-engineering classes at Auburn University (don't look for me in one of their graduating classes. . . I never did. That's another story.) Four young men showed up at the door of the station to talk with anyone they could find about recording their new band. They were all seniors in Auburn High School, and were looking for a way into the music business.
These guys (calling themselves "The Road Runners") were:
Clem Echols -- bass guitar
Dale Haynes -- lead guitar
Jimmy Smith -- drums
Mike Warlick -- rhythm guitar
THE ORIGINAL TITANS -- circa 1966
Mike Warlick  --  Dale Haynes  --  Jimmy Smith  --   Clem Echols  --   Grady Moates
I'd never done any live music recording, and WJHO had abysmal equipment, but after some earnest talk from these guys, I told them to come back the next Sunday night with their equipment and we'd see what we could 'cut'. The tape from that night is amazing. You'd not believe how bad these four songs were. As awful as these are, there's nothing like being complete. However, you shouldn't hear these early songs 'til you've heard the later stuff, so access to the early files is at the bottom of the page (sneaky, huh?).
Anyway, a couple of weeks go by and these guys show up again, this time with a different request. "We've thought about it," Dale said, "and we need a manager. You've been good to us, and we hoped you might take the job." Well, I knew about as much about managing a band as I did about recording live music, and I really didn't have the time, but these guys were really nice, and I liked'em, so I said, "Sure, why not."
This is where it gets weird. The very next week, the first big Monkees hit was released and sailed right up to the top of the charts. It was unique, in that it had an electric organ in it. I called these guys up and told them that organ in Rock music was the coming thing, and they needed to get one and learn how to play it. Well, they didn't have any money, and I had a brand new "Master Charge" credit card 1 (at 19 years old), so I ended up going to a music store in Columbus, Georgia, and buying an "ELKA Combo Compact" organ. More about it later.
We spent the next few weeks trying to teach one of the guys how to play some basic riffs on it, with no luck. After a while, one day somebody said, "Well, you seem to know how to play the damned thing, why don't you just play in the band?" Now, I'm a Methodist preacher's kid, and had hair about as long as a toothbrush at the time (1966), so this didn't seem like a good idea to me. Also, my mom had tried in vain to teach me piano (I think I'd had first year piano three times and just couldn't get past simple triads and single-note tunes), so I really wasn't any good at all. It all came down to the fact that I'd bought this thing, and I had to make the payments on it, so it had to earn it's keep, so all of a sudden I found myself in a rock band. I don't remember when the name changed to the "The Titans", or whose idea it was.
DALE was our goof-ball. No matter what was going on, he seemed to always be able to make us laugh about it. Fast leads were a little out of his reach, 'cause his fingers were just a little too fat to fall on just one string on the fretboard at a time. He was always laughing about it, even though he tried as hard as he could.
MIKE was our Paul McCartney. With his straight, bowl-cut hair, he even looked a lot like Paul, and the girls just loved him. Really steady on rhythm guitar, he was our best harmony singer throughout the band's life.
CLEM was the tallest of us, and a really lovable kinda guy. He was greatly missed when his draft number came up to serve our country.
JIMMY was the cuddly-cute one, dirty blonde hair and a face only a mother could love, but it seemed that every night after the show, some young lady would feel all motherly and Jimmy would have company in his motel room.
NOBODY ever went to my room after a show. ( sigh )
One interesting thing is, we worked really hard on the arrangements, and because of my radio programming background we had one thing going for us that most of the other local/regional bands didn't: that's right, Timing. I insisted that once a set started, the music just couldn't stop. One song led into another, then into another, with no stopping. "People don't want to applaud," I said, "they want to dance. Give them a chance to stop and they get bored." I think that, in the beginning, this is the main reason we got hired. And man, did we get hired. Fortunately, we were in a real party town at a time when everybody really partied. We became a regular at Delta-Tau-Delta fraternity, and before long some of the sororities started to hire us. Oh, and we were cheap, too. At the time, I think we were playing for $250 a night.
Another interesting thing is that we had early access to a lot of good music to cover. Since I was a DJ at the local Top-40 station, I got boxes of new records from all the record companies every week. I remember once, when we had just gotten invited to participate in a 'battle of the bands' in LaGrange, Georgia, and had only a week to prepare. Five days before the event, a box came in from ATCO that contained the new BeeGees record "To Love Somebody". No one had ever heard this song. Within 2 hours of it's arrival at the station, I had all the lyrics and chord changes on paper, and was working on an arrangement. Within 5 hours, we were practicing that arrangement. The other thing I insisted upon with the band was that when you finally got all the way through a song without a mistake, you had only just begun to practice. We wouldn't quit 'til we had been through it at least 6 error-free times. That weekend, out of 12 bands, we came in number one. I'm convinced they thought that song was our composition, and the 4-part harmony was convincing. We weren't the best band there, we just had the best 'flash'.
To save money, we built our own speaker cabinets, covering them with Naugahyde. Using the leftover material, I sewed vests for us all to wear on stage (imagine me and a sewing machine), which we are wearing in the "Original Titans" photo above. The cabinets were dimensioned to perfectly fit the back of our van (given to me by my father), making a flat surface 18" below the ceiling of the van that was perfect for spreading out sleeping bags.
Time passed, and the band changed. First, Clem Echols went into the service, leaving a void in bass, and we found Ken Buxton who filled in for a time. Later, Dale Haynes left the band, and we had a couple of lead guitar players (can't remember the names) 'til we found Rick Garner. Actually, Rick found us, playing at a fraternity party at Delta Sigma Phi, where he was newly pledged. He told us we sucked, brought a guitar down from his room and played a tune or two with us, and then suggested that we needed a lead guitar player and he might be interested. Soon after that, Ken Buxton decided to move on, and we found Glenn Marsh to take over on bass. That was the beginning of the second phase of The Titans.
Glen Marsh   Bill Andersen
We tightened up, sounded pretty good, and were playing all over the South. I'd ditched the ELKA for a Hammond B-3 organ, and had become three times the keyboard player overnight. That instrument just pulls the music out of you. We were becoming very popular, primarily because our repertoire was mostly rock/pop at a time when most other local/regional bands were doing R&B/soul. I had started "DA Promotions Presentations" (my DJ air-name was Dick Allen), and I had us playing weekend gigs at places like Lake Geneva, Alabama, a really cool roller-skating rink built out over a lake, with a roof over it. It had walls only up to about waist-high, and the roof was held up by 4x4 wood columns, but the entire area from waist to ceiling was open to the water with no glass. I remember that one of the other bands playing that circuit was the Allman Brothers before they put out their first album. When prom season came around, we played at proms as far away as Frostproof, Florida (where they insisted that we wear tuxedos, which was weird with us playing all the hard-rock-tinged pop that we were into). We did every Sunday night at Gunter Air Force Base N.C.O. club in Montgomery. They loved us.
Here we are at the Frostproof, Florida, High School, setting up for the prom date in our spiffy tuxedos. We made very little money on this show, and what little we made, we blew on driving the rest of the way to south Florida to see what it was like down there. Somewhere I've got pictures, and if I find them, I'm gonna blackmail the rest of the guys with them. :-D
One of the neat things I remember about this time was how much our sound was dependent upon Rick's playing. He had a Vox "Ultrasonic" hollow-body guitar with a built-in wahwah control right over the bridge that he played with the heel of his hand. Rick's amp in the beginning was a Carvin. Later in the band's history, we all had Peavey amps (through some kind of factory/artist mutual marketing deal). Rick's Peavey was the "Vulcan", which at the time was one of the best lead guitar amps short of Marshall that money could buy. Some of the leads that guy played were transcendental. Everyone in the band was now singing, and the harmonies could burn the paint off a wall at 20 paces. Our "never stop playing" attitude had blossomed into some three-song suites with carefully arranged transition bridges that really got folks excited.
We once did a two-week engagement at "The Old Dutch", a well-known rock club at Panama City Beach, Florida. After the first show we went running on the beach for an hour, and all of us woke up two days later with really bad bronchitis. It was the funniest thing, seeing bottles of Chloraseptic all around the stage, with us spraying our throats 2 or 3 times an hour just to keep going. We packed the place, though. Mondays off, but 2 shows on Saturdays and Sundays, for a total of 8 shows a week. I'm surprised we survived it.
Well, my time at WJHO came to an end when Jack Smollon (the manager, who had been like a second father to me) and I had words and I bailed. I was offered a job in Starkville, Mississippi, at WKOR (the King of Rock, near Mississippi State University) and Jimmy Smith decided that he just didn't want to leave Auburn. The rest of the guys packed up and moved to Starkville with me, and we all lived in a 10x40 house trailer in Clayton Village, Mississippi. Even though we missed Jimmy, our new drummer Bill Andersen was quite good, and we spent a great deal of time practicing and working on arrangements. During our first weekend with Bill on drums, we were running through songs we had all done in other bands and working out arrangements so that we could get a repertoire together quickly, and the 7th song we worked up was "Love Is A Beautiful Thing" by the Young Rascals. Our arrangements by this time were very spacey/free-form, and this one turned out so good that we decided to try to record it. It was Spring break at MSU, so we broke into several of the other trailers and 'borrowed' mattresses off the beds to put up against the walls in the trailer to deaden the space, and made a mono recording on a 2-track Ampex PR-10, bouncing back and forth and adding layers of sound. By the time we had bounced 4 times, the audio quality on the first take was deteriorating, so we had to stop. I now have only a 3rd generation copy of it: Stream "Love Is A Beautiful Thing" - Download "Love Is A Beautiful Thing". That's me singing lead, and I did the vocal arrangement, while Bill did the instrumental arrangement.
Bookings were going well through the Spring semester, but it was a brutal summer, with no gigs for the band at all. I was barely able to pay the rent with the money I was getting from WKOR, and the guys paid for food by painting house numbers on curbs all around the area. If you remember seeing a green oval on a curb with white numbers that glowed when your headlights shined on it, back in 1969 in northeast Mississippi, The Titans probably painted it.
During this summer of 1969, Rick wrote a song, "Sanctimonious", and we actually bought time at Ed Boutwell's recording studio in Birmingham, Alabama, to record it. Ed was just getting started, and his multi-track was a 4-track Scully deck. Once again, our arrangements were way past the equipment we were using, but we recorded on tracks 1,2, and 3, mixed them down to 4, then recorded again on 1, 2, and 3, and mixed the 4 tracks down to a 2-track and added stuff as we mixed. It worked out OK, but that night, while we were performing at a club in southern Alabama, someone broke into our van (with a concrete block through the windshield) and stole the master tape. Later, Bill went back to Boutwell Studios and remixed the 4-track, but the mix I have here doesn't have the added instruments from the final take. This is also a third generation tape, the master has long since been lost:Stream "Sanctimonious" - Download "Sanctimonious". The lyrics to "Sanctimonious" were decades ahead of the times and drew a lot of criticism then, but these days with the Catholic priest scandals and the televangelist scandals, this tune may be 'right on time'.
The lineup in the last days was:
Bill Andersen -- drums, vocals
Rick Garner -- lead guitar, vocals
Glenn Marsh -- bass guitar, vocals
Grady Moates -- keyboards, vocals
Mike Warlick -- rhythm guitar, vocals
You can't get a bunch of talented people working together this closely without internal conflict. We certainly had our share. Each of us remembers the night we broke up a little differently, but it ended like this: one guy picked up a glass Coke bottle, broke it across a concrete block, and chased another guy out the door of the mobile home. Four hours later, we found him sitting in a poolside chair at a motel about two miles away at 3 AM. Fearing that this kind of thing could turn into something tragic, I broke the band up. This was three weeks before Fall semester started, with a string of dates lined up. Timing.
Some of us tried to put together a new band to play the fall dates, but with only three weeks to prepare, it was a failure. No one's heart seemed to be in it, and our new drummer, while quite adequate for your regular run-of-the-mill 4/4 stuff, couldn't play things like Cream's "Badge" with intricate timing. There's that word again. We played out our dates and everyone went home. Of all the original members, only Mike Warlick stuck it out all the way through to the end. The last few months were not fun for him, I could see the disappointment in his eyes. Quietly doing his job, he was the glue that held us together for as long as his dream looked possible.
And that, as they say, is almost that, but not quite. Two weeks later, I got a call from a record company that had received a tape of "Sanctimonious". The offer they made was very tempting. They would take over booking the band, they'd guarantee to at least double our nightly rate, all we had to do was show up and play. Oh, and a free studio session to re-record "Sanctimonious" with a producer, and record several new tunes. I had just met the woman who would later become the mother of my only child, and I just said, "No, thanks," and hung up. Timing.
For all I know, they had hired Todd Rundgren to produce/engineer the session. From my perspective, now more than thirty years down the road, I can sense a full Auxiliary Fuel Tank, Solid Rocket Boosters begging to be lit, and a clear, calm sky. Sometimes two totally-different branches of your life lie before you, and the choice comes down to flipping a mental coin. The one thing I know is that "this" branch has been great in a lot of ways. I feel no regret, but I do admit to a fair amount of curiosity about "that" branch.
So, for those of you who have been patient, and still want to hear the early stuff, here it is: Stream "Four Roadrunners Tunes" - Download "Four Roadrunners Tunes".
Coming soon, "Where are they now?"
Now that Dale has hooked up with us, maybe REAL soon (heh)