Ahh... It is so easy to look south to Miami-Dade and come away as bandits with these "genre" lists. While it is true that there always seems to be a larger pool from which to pick from down there, the current state of affairs in South Florida's music has made the actual pin-pointing slightly more difficult with many bands nowadays sharing members across county lines.
Back in the '60s and '70s, things were a little clearer, and Broward and Palm Beach counties had some serious homegrown talent. Some of these outfits were one-hit or regional wonders and many, thankfully, managed to record for posterity. Many didn't. There are a handful of compilation discs out there and online conservationists who have kept some of that music alive.
As always, this is not an all-inclusive listing, but rather a demonstrative grouping of some of the best talent these counties enjoyed in the '60s.
10. The Blues Messengers - "High Wednesday (I'll Stay with You)"
Recorded at Allen's Studio in Fort Lauderdale, this psych outfit, given to the harder elements of the genre, was by all accounts, short-lived. And with this one track, it has insured some degree of longevity with it routinely appearing in Florida comps archiving the era.
9. The Birdwatchers - "Girl I Got News for You"
Quite possibly originally from the Daytona Beach area, the Birdwatchers would eventually be based out of Fort Lauderdale and be managed by former '50s pop idol Gary Stites. At some point Stites made the move to vocalist of the band and, with a streamlined outfit, bill itself as Gary Stites and the Birdwatchers.
8. The Fewdle Lords - "I Know"
The Fewdle Lords' lone single, "Farewell to Today and Tomorrow"/"I Know" is one of those elusive Florida records that are, as one liner note in a comp puts it: "hideously rare." Leave it, of course, to the Guru of Florida Music, Jeff Lemlich, to produce a well-kept copy for compilation purposes.
7. The Minority - "High Flyer"
The Minority was a Broward County outfit that shared membership with the Birdwatchers, the Busy Signals, and Magic. This single was originally released by the Hyperbolic record label in 1969.
6. The Tasmanians - "Baby"
Why weren't the Tasmanians bigger? Led by Robin Thompson (who'd eventually work with Springsteen's E Street Band), the Tasmanians were Palm Beach's premier garage punkers with a defiant racket worthy of Ralph Nielsen and the Chancellors and the other great unsung heroes of the proto-punk era.
5. The Mor-Loks - "Elaine"
The Mor-Loks had two different lineups and two different 45s released unto the world. Both good with similarities and differences -- one fronted by Sammy Hall and the other by Bill Lynn. At one point managed by Gary Stites, the Mor-Loks' version 2.0 are pictured at the top of this piece as they enter the MCA building to sign with Decca Records.
4. The Generation Gap - "Plastic Faces"
The Generation Gap were a West Palm sextet that enjoyed three recordings with its first one, released on the Century label (known for its weird penchant for recording choruses and high school marching bands apparently) and two more of varying quality in the late '60s.
3. The American Beetles - "Hey Hey Girl"
The American Beetles made zero effort to hide their influences. From Palm Beach, this outfit was formed by Bill Ande and Dave Hieronymus. It had a pretty successful career locally and the aforementioned pair went on to work with the Tasmanians and Razor's Edge, as well as on technical/production duties with many other local bands from the '70s to today.
2. The Busy Signals - "The Losers"
The Busy Signals from Fort Lauderdale had a couple of 45s on the Marina and Freshman Records labels. The A side to this particular single, "I Don't Know" was a local hit for Steve Alaimo. Short-lived, its records are fairly common and affordable if you're looking for an easy-on-the-wallet place to start looking for your collection.
1. Mark Markham and His Jesters - "I Don't Need You"
Mark Markham and His Jesters, regardless of wherever life and music might've taken these guys after the recording of this single, will carry the cultural significance of being among South Florida's original proto-punk bands. True '60s garage punk, Markham also has the musical spiritual connection to another South Florida underground legend, his cousin Charlie Pickett. It is a small world after all.
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