It was during that summer of '65 that the band morphed once again. This new version of the group consisted of Willie (vocals), Dane (rhythm), Ronnie (switched to bass), Doug (drums), and Harvey Criswell was added as lead guitarist. The band's name was changed to "The Rogues" and John Criswell (Harvey's father) became the group's personal manager. After a solid month of rehearsals, "The Rogues" played their first gig in August 1965.
Moose Vosberg owned a popular teen club in the Tampa Bay area called the "Eldorado Showcase". Moose (a gifted promoter) took somewhat of an interest in the Rogues future. He worked for a time as the groups self appointed business manager in a sort of tandem situation with John Criswell.
One fan tells this story: "The first time Vosberg ever saw the boys play was an audition they played for him. I was standing right next to him and when the band got through doing their songs, Moose turned to John Criswell and said, 'If you'd get rid of that singer, you'd probably be okay.' We all know that "singer" was the famous Willie Metts -- the rest is history."
In any event, when the Rogues were first booked into the Eldorado Showcase, Vosberg built up the band's introduction to the point that he had the girls screaming and the band being accosted for autographs.
It was also Vosberg who thought that, with the success of the British invasion, it would make the group more popular if they were from some "foreign" country. And so was born -- "The Canadian Rogues", never mind that none of the guys had ever even been to Canada. It is interesting to note in the newspaper articles from '65-'66 (linked below), that the hype ran freely and the boys were born in a variety of places.
During the fall of 1965, Moose got the guys their first recording session at Charles Fuller Productions studio in Tampa. The Canadian Rogues debut single, Have You Found Somebody New b/w You Better Stop, charted locally on WLCY radio in August 1965. Both tunes were written by Harvey Criswell and Willie Metts and the single was released on the Fuller label. It was also during this relationship that the song Snoopy and the Red Baron was offered to the group and nobody is quite sure who actually passed on the song that went on to become an international hit for the Royal Guardsmen out of Ocala, Florida. In the summer of 1966, John Criswell, along with his brother who lived in Macon, Georgia, brought the Canadian Rogues to Atlanta for a recording session at Master Sound Studio. All in all, the band would record six sides at Master Sound: Keep In Touch b/w Oop-poop-a-doop which was first released in 1966 on the Texas based, Charay Records, and again on Detroit's Palmer label in 1967; Run and Hide b/w Love and Dreams released on the Paris Tower label; and their last release, Do You Love Me b/w a cover of the Motown hit Mickey's Monkey on the Rogue Records label in December 1967.
Some of the above vocals and overdubs were recorded at Lowery Music Studios and the band signed a booking agency contract with Lowery Music who promptly put the guys on a tour of southeastern night clubs and lounges. Lowery also handled, among others, Tommy Roe, Ray Stevens and The Classics IV.
The Canadian Rogues backed up Neil Diamond, Brenda Starr, Glen Campbell, the ShangriLas, and the Tokens. They played on shows with the Hollies, the Beau Brummels, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, and Spirit. They appeared in a summer movie (no one can remember the name of it), the TV show, "Summer Focus" in Jacksonville, and numerous benefit appearances including shows for the Heart Fund, the Cancer Fund, a Retarded Children's Home, etc., etc.. They toured from Florida, north to Indiana, and west to Texas.
During the late Fall of 1966, Ronnie Harrell left the group to get married and was replaced by Rob Mansfield, who played bass and some keyboards (Dane usually played bass when Rob was playing keyboards).
The group toured into 1968, when the pull of family obligations drew Dane back home and Willie had to lay off because of some throat problems. A remnant of the band headed for California but were lost track of.
The Rogues would then lay dormant for the next 18 years.
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