The Merced Bands

The Merced Blue Notes

Formed in 1n 1956 in their mid-teens to back Roddy Jackson this seminal Merced band was one of the first multi-ethnic bands around.  They played a mix of blues, R&B, soul, and rock & roll.  That’s what the band played on its handful of rare singles, on an assortment of labels, between 1961 and 1966.

Merced Blue Notes












The Echoes

Another group from the Vince Lavery Productions “Galaxy of Stars”

After rehearsal at bob’s…

The Echoes Dec. 28 1965  At the Legion Hall.


The members of this version were:  Gary Shover, Gregg Gaffney, Bob Caywood, Danny Fretias and Greg Parley.  Notice the lace-up Daniel Boone suede shirts from Julio’s?



The Echoes










Anyone know who was in the New Breed? 

For updated information see The New Breed-The Eckos

The New Breed 1965

68 thoughts on “The Merced Bands

  1. Yup!!!!

    Timothy B. Schmit who ended up in the Eagles eventually.
    We used to go see them play often at the War Memorial Auditorium in Turlock of which I lived two blocks away.

    They were always awesome especially “Timmy” as he was known back then.
    As I recall Timothy B. Schmit could sing and play anything from The Beatles to James Brown and all points in between……….. exceptionally well.

  2. I beleive the New Breed members names were Timothy (B.) Schmit, Ron Floegel, and Tom Phillips, and George Hullin.

    Where did you get the pictures of the “Echoes”?

    Thanks for bringing back the memories.

    1. Thanks Gary. I knew about Timothy but drew a blank on the rest. I found a great video on youtube of green eyed woman. Will post a link here.

  3. I still would like to know where you found the pictures of the Echoes. I don’t remember them being taken. I have one of the posters for the New Breed / Echoes dance at the legion in dec 1965. I remember that dance.

    The group in the pictures was the 2nd Echoes. The first group were four quy’s stationed at Castle AFB just outside of Merced. We were Bob Ward (guitar), Bill Wellman (guitar), Terry Sinclar (drums), and myself on bass. We won a Castle AFB Talent contest and went on to the 15th Air Force Talent Contest. Vince Lavery managed that group also. We played the clubs on Castle AFB (Airmans and NCO) and clubs in Merced, Turlock, Atwater, etc. Bob Ward was discharged and the group disbanded. Vince then found Bob Caywood and I joined them. The name was changed to the “Echoes”.

    The group you reference disbanded, in 1966, when I was discharged and I moved back to my home state to go to college.

  4. I played keyboards for a rock group based in Atwater back in the 60s known as “London Fog.” We played a number of gigs for VJ in Merced, Los Banos and Gustine. In Merced, we opened for “Count Five” (Psychotic Reaction hit) at a VJ concert sometime in the late 60s. I’ve been trying to locate a copy of the flyer for that concert or any other flyer in which the London Fog played. Does anyone know how/where to locate VJ flyers/posters that might have this band? Thanks, Troy Burke

    1. Troy,
      I WILL get you a copy of the London Fog poster this next week….promise!
      I’m going to scan and send it the site as well. Take care
      Billy B

      1. Billy,
        That would be very cool to get a copy of that poster! I have looked and looked for the one black & white photo I have taken at a London Fog practice session, but have been unable to find. I do have one photo of me and a girl singer/guitarist from Sacramento named Nancy from the mid-70s. It was the last picture taken of me playing my beloved Farfisa organ! I’ll shoot you a copy sometime soon, just for fun. Also, at Eric’s memorial, Jimi Schriber’s wife took a photo of the remaining California “Fog” members: Jimi, John P and me. I’ve been trying to get a copy of that photo too. If I do, I’ll forward that to you as well. Take care bro’ Troy

      2. SMALL WORLD!! Nancy Ross and I were in a Christian folk-rock duet in the early 70s in Sacramento. Nancy was a talented song writer, who sang lead and played her guitar. I played keyboards and sang back-up. Troy Burke

  5. London Fog…wow. Forgot about that one. Was the Count Five show at the Italian American Hall? I remember that one and I suspect it was the only show they did in Merced. Thanks for jostling our collective memory.

  6. I think you may be right about the Italian American. I’ll ask vince if he remembers but I think it may have been a Go-Teen production that Vince was only marginally involved with.

  7. Yes they played at the Italo I was there and for some reason I remember it.
    Which means I was not supposed to remember it whatever.

  8. Now, this is a flash. The Ecko’s morphed into Sir Oliver Ecko V, and gave me my first gig as a bass player, as a sophomore in high school in, I believe the fall of 1964 or spring 1965. My old buddy from 4th grade, Gregg Parle, called me up one night and said, “I hear you play bass” after I had brow-beat a bassist froma local group to let me play his instrument at a party in Atwater after the band had already started “The Last Time” by the Stones. He finally let me have the bass, and I played the song fairly well, even though I’d never touched a bass up to that point. Somebody told Gregg they saw me play at this party, and the next thing I knew I was in Sir Oliver Ecko V with Gregg, Bob Caywood, Greg Gaffney, and a little rowdy singer…was that Oliver? Can’t remember…but the roman numeral V was because the band was a quintet.

      1. Thanks, Carolynn, for filling in Danny’s name. Although Sir Oliver Ecko V was the only band I played in with Danny, my lasting memory is of his bubbling, fun, give-a-hoot personality, with a joke always around the corner. Perfect for a frontman.

  9. The picture of the “Record Rendezvous” building brings back even more great memories. The parking lot just to the right of the building was the location of “Battle of the Bands” promotions put on by the store and the local radio station. A DJ by the name of “Daddy Kool” would be the MC.

    The promoter would park a flat bed trailer in the lot. The trailer was used as a stage with the building as the backdrop. The bands were to play for a period of 30 minutes. If my memory is correct there would be 2 to 3 bands at each event and each band would be expected to perform twice a night. The performance was always on Thursday evenings. The Battle went on until all Bands were eliminated.

    The original Echo’s were eliminated on the second round of the Battle in the spring of 1965.

  10. The picture of the “Record Rendezvous” building brings back even more great memories. The parking lot just to the right of the building was the location of “Battle of the Bands” promotions put on by the store and the local radio station. A DJ by the name of “Daddy Kool” would be the MC.

    The promoter would park a flat bed trailer in the lot. The trailer was used as a stage with the building as the backdrop. The bands were to play for a period of 30 minutes. If my memory is correct there would be 2 to 3 bands at each event and each band would be expected to perform twice a night. The performance was always on Thursday evenings. The Battle went on until all Bands were eliminated.

    The original Echo’s were eliminated on the second round of the Battle in the spring of 1965.

  11. Mike
    Really cool website. Just thought I’d send along a few things this evening but will write at more length soon.
    Record Rendezvous moved to the (I believe) 600 block of 17th Street (I refuse to call it Main Street) in the mid 70’s. It was in what I think was the original Montgomery Wards building that later held a clothing store before Jack Woods and the gang moved down there. I remember buying a bunch of Vox guitars from them in the early “80 before I opened Waldo’s Guitars in Merced, which I moved to Hollywood in June of ’86.

    My brother, Marv, who played drums in Crystal Syphon after Andy Daniel left, worked for me at Waldo’s until he became too ill. Unfortunately, he passed away in early 1999, as did my sister, Rita, who many people in Merced knew from the Merced scene.

    Crystal Syphon is currently working with a small record company here in Minneapolis (where I am currently living) to release our original studio recordings, as well as possibly some of our live performances from the Fillmore in the late ’60’s. Final details are still getting finished, but as of now, it is planned as a limited edition vinyl record with possible downloads of selected songs on i-tunes or other online sources, We have recently found some live recordings of Boogeyman, which Crystal Syphon morphed into in ’70 or early ’71, and some of this material may also eventually be released, as may be the one 45 that Boogeyman recorded.
    Anyway, thanks for your work on this site and I will be in touch again soon

    1. Bob:

      I remember Waldo’s well. On Carol Avenue right? Man, you had some vintage gems. Sorry to hear about the passing of Marv & your sister.

    2. Hi Bob
      Loved reading the post. You may not remember me, I went to school with Marvin, always had a safety pin on his zipper tab🤗 Saw Dave Sprinkle at a wine tasting and of course they were playing crystal syphon . Small world, hope life is treating you well.

    3. Dave Spinkel is a real estate agent in Coarsegold! I met him again after the 70’s at a wine tasting! The music that was playing was Crystal Syphon!

  12. Re: My start as a bassist, referenced above.
    The bass player I brow-beat to let me play my first notes on the bass was Rob Cox, and the band, I believe, was the Rhythm Dukes, with the great Jim Morton on lead guitar. My apologies…I can’t remember the other members of the group, but the Dukes were a great little Atwater/Winton high school dance and party band.
    -Les Lizama

      1. Jimmy –
        You are, as expected, too humble. You have no idea of the young, budding guitarists you inspired. We were all infected with the nature of the electric guitar, and the new music, amplified by the British Invasion, that was coming our way. At such an early age you had an ability to stroke the neck of a 6-string electric with a grace and precision that we all admired. It’s okay to be the “stuff” of inspriation for others…we have all been inspired, AND been the inspiration of, others. It’s how the art form, and any art form, evolves. Enjoy your celebrity, however modest you perceive it to be, dear friend! -Les

      1. Thanks for the helpful correction, Wally…”The Dukes.” with David and Vern additionally on guitar and drums. I was talking with Rob Cox’s brother, Rick, recently, and, rest his soul, the most lingering memory of Rob, and that night in 1964 proved it, was that Rob was truly one of the nicest, sweetest, and most easy-going guys ever to pull on a pair of Levi’s and a strap on a Fender Bass. We miss you, Rob! -Les

      2. My favorite Merced band.., Of course they were I got to mess up every practice they had.. Me and Walter Trindade were the official little brothers of the band… I being David Morton

    1. Lez…I doubt you will remember me, but I have a vague recollection of that party…I certainly remember this will be the last time was a very popular garage band cover at the time! I also played it at KYOS when I was DJing there…with Daddy Cool, Georger Wright Ross McGowan and me, John Griffiths

  13. Great up dates to the. 60’s The Vicounts was started in 1961 in Merced, with Bob Birdsel on lead guitar, Bob Cole on bass, Julio Guera on guitar, Tom Clarkson on guitar and founder Nelson Crabb on drums.The Vicounts played KC dances at OLM, Livingston High, Oakdale High School, Mariposa High schools and Los Banos Legion Hall.

    The Pendletons started in Los Banos with Frank Clark lead guitar and Mel Soares. They took on Merced musicians; Nelson Crabb on drums, Buzz Buttled, keyboards, Rich Hogan played bass. They had a 1928 black hurst they played on in the 1965 Los Banos May Day Fair playing covers of Beach Boys, Stones, Beatles Etc. They played at Gilroy Civic Auditorium, The Red Vest Club, Cabrillo College, Circle Star Theatre and in June 65 they got contract to open as house band at The Las Vegas Teen Beet Club. The Pendletons get to Vegas and the TB club had permit issues and was not open yet. They got a 2 week gig at the Silver Dollar casino. It was like a scene from the movie The Bules Brothers. They opened with land of 1000 dancers to Wipe Out etc. The primary country western patrons got hostile and the Pendletons played Raw Hide for a hour and a few Orbison songs and they were asked to leave. Art Leon a Vegas producer hired The Pendletons to do a production show with 8 girl dancers. It was called Go Go Galore and was like Shindig. Del Web Casinos bought the show and we opened for Don Rickles at the brand new show room and Sahara Tahoe Casino. Bing Crosby, Bon Newheart, and the cast of the tv show : Surf Side 6 were at the casino grand opening. The Pendletons returned to las Vegas every 2 weeks to play at the Whiskey A GO Go, Then the Flamingo, The Mint, The Sahra and Castaways. After 8 months of good money, Nelson. Crabb had his draft notice updated and he returned to Merced and Merced College. He got a contract to play Castle Air Force Base Airman’s club every other Friday and playing Yosemite National Park Curry Camp on alternate Fridays. Crabb formed The Why 4 to play the contracts. The Why 4 was made up of: Bill Robinson on keyboard and vocals, BoB Cole on lead guitar, James Carmack on Bass an Nelson Crabb, on drums. The Why 4 was together from 1965 to 1967. In 2007 The Why 4 and members of The Vicounts got together to do a OLM High School reunion. From that great gig , The Why 4 was re started with Bill Robinson returning to play keyboards,vocals and lead, Jeff Todd to play lead guitar and vocals, Chris Dodsun on bass guitar and Nelson Crabb on drums. The Why 4 is going just as strong as performing at county fairs, casinos and public and private concerts. The Why 4 has played the big Atwater July 4th Fireworks Show Concerts.

    Nelson Crabb.

  14. wow.this website is.too much fun. I recall around 1970 a bunch of us going to the Legion Hall to see John Lee Hooker…unfortunately a few of us was unfortunate because when we got there there were all latino’s hanging around. We went up to the ticket counter…and it turned out not to be JL Hooker, but, Ray Camacho and the teardrops..whoops!
    A more bizarre night at the Merced Drive in I could not imagine..oh well…

  15. Mike, this is awesome…..Great memories… You are right about guitars that I wish that I still owned… This is really cool. Thanks…

    1. Hey Bob cometta,How are you this is Douglas Ring I don’t know if you remember me I lived across the street from Tim Daniels and Mike Pratt anyway good to see you’re still Kickin

      1. Many years ago when I was a kid working at Luds auto parts in Merced, this was when George hardy and Ted manning were working there, there was a doug ring working there that had a beautiful blue Chevy nova, I am curious if this is the same Doug ring?

  16. Amazing website, a lot of old familar names here. As a person that was born at castle AFB back in 1953, and started at atwater high in 68, graduated in 71, names like jim hurley, erisc rasmmussen, rick jackson, dave wilson, russel duncanson, jim walsh, troy burke, the band a tear and a smile, the DJ daddy Kool from KYOS, the legion hall in merced, jimi schriber, and a host of others that I am sure will surface here soon, it makes me smile when i see a website about the music and bands of merced. Oh yeah, I was the one that had the very cool old WW@ radar truck that from time to time would haul some of the band equiptment for ARABY, dave wilson and russel duncanson played in that band. I used to live in the old duplex on 22nd and O street that rick jackson used to live in, right down the street from billy tayor back when he used to work at walters cameras with ed groth. I have been in Seattle since 79, its the very cool hip san francisco I can afford, no fog at night, very clean air, amazing jazz and blues scene here as well. Check out KPLU 88.5 on the dial, you can get it on line as well. Feel free to respond to FYRTRUC@AOL.COM, or for messenger.

    1. Dennis!
      I recall in HS you driving around in that olive green oversized military vehicle…haha..
      Good to hear youre still around..and cheers!

    2. Dennis, good to hear from you. Dang, I remember the radar truck. First time I saw it, you and Marc B. came by with it (Miss Marc!) Truck Sure came in handy.

  17. Thanks for the helpful correction, Wally…”The Dukes.” with David and Vern additionally on guitar and drums. I was talking with Rob Cox’s brother, Rick, recently, and, rest his soul, the most lingering memory of Rob, and that night in 1964 proved it, was that Rob was truly one of the nicest, sweetest, and most easy-going guys ever to pull on a pair of Levi’s and a strap on a Fender Bass. We miss you, Rob! -Les

  18. As I have remained very active in the world of music for many years, every time I hear some of the new great bass players, it saddens me to think that Marc Blythe isnt here to really appreciate the new high tech gear and just how funky, funky can be now. The tragic way Marc’s life was cut short, even now at 60 years old, it still gets to me that he isnt here to jam with us all. I remember him at the old club Joaquin with his AMPEG clear plexiglass bass back in the middle to late 70’s just tearing it up, some times with buzzy buttles on the drums, it was amazing.

    Now when I hear players like Rhonda Smith, or Brian Bromberg, or Victor Wooten, I always think of Marc Blythe and how he was way ahead of his time. Still, with this amazing blog site, we that were spawned in the hot dusty little mud puddle that was the old winton-atwater-merced area, can still contribute our dazed and confused memories and keep the smiles going.

    I just returned from being in New Orleans for this past week and was celebrating new years 2013 in french quarter of NOLA. There is a great community radio station there called WWOZ, 90.7 on the dial. Its proof that the big old demon of clear channel cant kill great music. You can stream it online 24/7. We never turned it off, and if you miss the old days of the original KSAN in san francisco back when the founder , the larger than life TOM DONOHUGH was alive and the station played full album sides, then this station will really make you smile. We have a killer community radio station here in Seattle that is KBCS, 91.3 and its streamed 24/7 as well. Check out the stations I have listed, us older hippy types that are true tye dye left wingers that still love to rock and roll and jam and have a creative side that is reflected in music, only now there is great music from places like africa, chile, columbia, cuba, tibet, turkey, the entire planet that is also great music to dance to, or to drive fast and take chances, either way, its all good!!!!!!!!!

    The 41 WW2 radar truck is still in my moms pasture out in winton, and all of you will be glad to know, nothing has changed, I own some other vintage rigs here in Seattle, such as a cool 46 international firetruck, a 1966 international travel all ambulance and a very cool rare 1947 dodge model D-24 three window business coupe, only 3000 ever made, only 35 known to exist, took me 13 years to find mine, and I drove it home from Chicago to Seattle on its original flat head 6. My daily driver is a restored 68 chevy suburban, and my pick up truck is a 68 chevy 3/4 in the same colors of the 68, I used to drive whenI I worked for Luds Auto parts back when they were in business across from the old John Roth Chevrolet, I can see you all smiling if you can remember the killer buxom blond (@)(@) that used to work there that was named Nannette Fogel. Anyway, on that happy note, be well to all, and a happy new year to all as well, may 2013 be a good year for us all.

    J. Dennis Hicklin

  19. Wow, Dennis….you kind of summed it up. Yeah, I miss Marc…was great bass & guitar player. Marc was my best friend back in those days. I’m not sure if we actually played in a band together, but we sat in a bunch & recorded alot. I recall his audition in Fresno with Timo Lane & Symphonic Slam. That lead Marc to a gig in Canada for quite a while. Now that I think about it, probably need to drive by the pasture & look at the old radar truck. LOL

  20. Just a heads up to all of you out there that can remember. The end of a special era has happened. History has another page to consider. On sept 15th, 2013, my step dad passed away at 80, hey, he had a great long life no doubt. A few days before that, a phone call came to me from out of the universe, seems a person named walter silva had tracked me down via the web and was interested in my 41 GMC k-18 signal corp panel truck. ( RADAR TRUCK ).

    Long story short, its like the truck new that it had better get its act together, or it was going to be hauled off for scrap because of my step dads passing, the property was in short order going to be sold. It had not moved since 1971, it was asleep but its spirit was still very much awake indeed!

    Walter bought it and she is going to be restored and the cool thing is, that walter and his GF will be moving from san jose to washington state in a few years and I will be able to drive the rig again. I originally paid $350.00 for it and i sold it to him for $600.00, because she had not moved or ran since 1971, but I was wise enough to drain the water back then and squirt oil in all of the clylinders so that the vintage GMC 270 6 cylinder engine would not be ruined.

    In the glove box walter found a speeding ticket I got in atwater by ralston park for going 40 MPH in a 25MPH zone, he was shocked that anybody could get a speeding ticket in such a rig, fast times in the park indeed from long ago!

    The property of my step dads estate is out at 7243 MERCEDES AVE. WINTON California, 95388, about 3 miles outside of winton in the country side. This property is unique in the sense that when my dad was alive, he built a very cool steel ware house that is 90FT long X 50ft wide X 37ft tall, with clear span engineered steal beams, with cement floor, electricity, and a 12ft X 12ft rollup door at either end to allow a 40ft rig to drive through and enough room to turm the rig around in the pasture. Somebody that wants a cool place to live with a very cool steel warehouse to work on cars or for a collector of cars and such to have a big dry space to work on cars will love this place. Its currently listed with local realestate people, so check it out. On google, the aerial shots still show the truck in the pasture, but I assure you, she now lives in san jose and is being taken good care of by a dedicated person that really wanted the truck.

    I hope all that read this will have a great new year in 2014.

    J. Dennis Hicklin
    206 227 2503

  21. Hello, my name is Bob Macias and I recognize a lot of names here. I graduated from Atwater High in 70 and still live in the area (Merced). I recently started collecting vinyl from local bands. I just came across a 45 of a band called the Jim Schriber Band . Found it at a local antique shop. I was wondering if it the Jim Schriber from this area ? The songs are – SUGAR and Crazy Man. Also , I remember my first wife’s brother (Jim Mooney) used to sing with the band A TEAR and A SMILE a few times. My sisters brother in law was John Fox who played with BOOGEYMAN . Anybody have a 45 of BOOGEYMAN they want to sell? I remember riding around in Bob Greenly’s green panel Chevy back in the day. Love this site.

  22. Yeah, the Legion Hall in Merced hosted some pretty awesome concerts “back in the day” (The Doors, Quicksilver Messenger Service, etc.!) Troy

  23. Hello…My name is Joey D and I’m working on a cd of 1960s garage bands from Stockton, Modesto, Merced and other small towns in that area. I have already released a double cd by Stockton band Wildwood and Sacramento band New Breed. Also, Alec Palao (Ace records in the UK) and I are working on a book of 1950s & 60s erly 70s Northern Ca, bands. I’m looking for master tapes of released 45s and unreleased songs from that period for my next release. If anyone can help me out with leads, tapes or memorabilia it would be great! Please feel free to call me at (916) 428-9656 in Sacramento. Thanks…Joey D

      1. Oh Wow, I’ll get Alec Palao Ace Records to come with me so we can interview some bands. Still hoping some bands will contact me with memorabilia and hopefully master tapes for my upcoming Modesto, Stockton, Merced area 1960s compilation. Thanks for the tip.

      2. I’m looking for the name of bands that played in atwater California at any point during February through May of 1970. Specifically April of 1970. I believe they played at a place called the Empire Lounge. If you by any chance have any names I would love to know them.

  24. Hey Douglas Ring…. of course I remember…. It is fun to read thru this stuff… A lot of great memories…. Hope you are doing well….

    I am Still Kickin…just not very high 🙂


  25. Just returned from Fresno – I was there from June 16, 2019 to July 9, 2019 – – many of the peace and social justice advocates held a 50 year “gathering” of students and activists throughout the Central Valley. We had a five hour session in the Unitarian Church. To all of you who contributed to my expenses I will be forever thankful. It was truly a memorable “gathering.”
    Love to hear your memories and thoughts on “V.J. Dances” in Merced from 1964 to 1969.

    1. Hi is this VIncent J. Lavery?
      My father Douglas Fishel was Assistant Station Manager at KYOS, he worked there from 1965-1967, then we moved. I loved going to the dances at the American Legion Hall, I was a sophomore at East Campus in Merced High. What a great place to live! Great times!
      Please e-mail me back if you can, sorry I didn’t know about this reunionI would’ve attended, loved VJ and all the fun he brought to us tweens in Merced!

      1. Hi Janine. No i am not him but he frequently sees the site. Be well. Michael kennedy

  26. Hello this is Vincent Lavery – presently living in Ireland.
    Love to hear from you with your memories and questions – Vincent A.K.A. “V.J.” Productions. Incidentally I am certain that “The New Breed” and “Brown Eyed Girl” was the first recording group to appear in The Legion Hall in Merced. Could be wrong but I do not think so.

  27. “Go-Teens” was a promoter from Sacramento – He lined up “Love” to play in the Modesto Concert with “Them” and “The Grass Roots.” Vincent

  28. I was in a band called the Rhythm Knights Gary Boyer R.I.P drums,Buzz Buttles Bass,Eddie Rodriguez guitar and yours truly Samuel Smart keyboards we played at Castle AFB I sure miss these guys like they say back in the day 🎼🎼🎹🎹🎹

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