The following pics, info and memorabillia courtesy Jack Garrett
L-R: Tommy Redd, Ronnie Vaughan, Ronnie Couch, Ben Vaughan and Sammy Moser
The Individuals – South Boston, Va
Tommy Redd/Bass Guitar
Ronnie Vaughan/Rhythm Guitar
Ben Vaughan/Lead Guitar
True garage band: practice in the basement
Early shot of the group
Few groups that recorded one 45 on an obscure label nearly 45 years ago can boast of a following that includes fans worldwide. But the internet has made this a small world and has elevated a garage band from a tiny town in Southside Virginia to cult status among garage band aficionados.
The town is South Boston and the band is The Individuals.
The band started as a four-piece combo in the basement of drummer Ronnie Couch's home in 1964. The original line-up included Couch, lead singer Glenn Meadows, bassist Tommy Redd, and lead guitarist Ben Vaughan. Meadows would later leave the band and the group would supplement its sound to include Sammy Moser on organ and rhythm guitarist and vocalist Ronnie Vaughan. Mike Oakes would replace Moser on keyboards at a much later date.
They were originally known as the Rhythm-Makers, due to the band's predilection for rhythm and blues music. Couch and his friends had an affinity for R&B and started jamming in his home. As word of the sessions grew, more people would stop by Ronnie's house to listen. The guys soon realized they were on to something.
The band graduated from basement practice sessions to the stage with their first performance at the American Legion Hall in Halifax County on March 25, 1965.
But styles changed and so did the group. With a new attitude and a newfound affection for the music of the British Invasion, the Rhythm-Makers became The Individuals.
And while they were just one of a million garage groups to organize in the wake of Beatlemania, The Individuals were one of the few to go beyond covering current hits and incorporate original material in their act. The songs were penned by Couch, Redd and newcomer Ronnie Vaughan.
The Individuals found steady – though not very lucrative – work at bowling alleys, dance halls, night clubs, and as the supporting act for recording artists who performed at venues like the Danville City Auditorium. Engagements included a shared bill with Danville's Soulmasters at the T-Bird Country, dates at an old school converted to a dance hall known as the Oak Level Club in Halifax County and for the Liberty 4-H Club, Hupps Mill Bowling Alley in South Boston, the Skylark Club on Rt. 86 in North Carolina, and a three-day stint in 1967 on the main Grand Strand Stage at the Halifax County Fair.
Their fee was a modest $75, which barely covered the cost of guitar strings and drum sticks when split five ways. But Couch says they just loved playing, and "if we got paid, that was fine, too."
Johnny Cole, whose father owned local radio station WHLF, recalls the band performing at his school, Halifax Elementary. Instead of spinning nursery rhymes from a phonograph, The Individuals played "Get Off Of My Cloud" live as the kids walked from number to number, in hopes of winning the cake walk when the band stopped in mid-stride. While just a child, Cole remembers the moment as if it were yesterday.
By 1967, the band had grand aspirations and decided it was time to cut a record. Frank Koger worked a day job in the electronics department at K-Mart in nearby Danville but also moonlighted as a local record mogul, recording gospel, country, bluegrass, soul and the occasional garage band from Virginia, West Virginia or the Carolinas.
The deal was struck and the band agreed to pay Koger $250 to record, press and distribute 500 records. The Individuals would sell 200 though local department and five and dime stores like Leggett's, Rose's and J.J. Newberry's. Koger, who had connections in Nashville, agreed to distribute the remainder to radio stations across the country.
The band entered Koger's "House of Sound," a tiny studio off Old Piney Forest Road in the summer of '67 to record two originals: "I Want Love" backed with "I Really Do" for Raven Records. Both songs were written by bassist Tommy Redd. The A-side was an straightforward, uptempo rocker with solid drumming, a raving vocal and Moser's organ featured prominently in the mix. The flip side was slower with a fuzz guitar, no chorus and a brief spoken recitation near the end.
Raven 2018 was released in August of 1967. The record received heavy airplay over WHLF in South Boston, boosted by Al Mapes, a blind deejay who featured the disc on his "1400 Club" show. "I Want Love" also made the playlist of a radio station in Brookneal, Va. WYPR in Danville picked up the record and even had the band in the studios on Industrial Avenue to promote the song.
Ironically, the version of the b-side that appears on the single is actually an outtake. There was a mix-up when the master tapes were sent off for pressing and an alternate version of "I Really Do" was substituted for the take preferred by the band. Since none of the master tapes recorded by Koger have been located, that version is believed to be lost.
The band sold every copy and Couch still has the $108 invoice for a second pressing of the 45.
The group remained popular in the region, playing with other local bands like the Soulmasters. Couch recalls one local gig around this time at The Danville Fairgrounds, home of the popular WDVA Barn Dance and a staple for country acts working the chitlin' circuit. The Individuals were booked to play on a bill with several top soul bands. It wasn't until the day of the performance that The Individuals realized they were the only white act on the bill. Undeterred, the band simply switched gears and reverted to their rhythm and blues roots, playing a 30-minute rendition of The Fantastic Johnny C's "Funky Broadway" that brought the crowd to their feet.
Home recordings from the period show a variety of styles ranging from the Buddy Holly-ish original "Come Back," to a cover of James Brown's 1959 hit, "Try Me." The band also put its stamp on other current chart hits including "Pushin' Too Hard," "96 Tears," "Mustang Sally" and "Little Black Egg."
Another original composition, "The Fire Is Out," was planned as the follow-up to their initial release, but the song was never recorded and no rehearsal tapes of the song have been found.
Around this time, The Individuals shared a bill at the Danville City Armory with several local bands, including he Purple Haze Publication and Light Show, an aggregation led by Danville musician Truxton Fulton. Couch says the performance was an eye opener for The Individuals, who immediately gravitated to the psychedelic sounds that dominated AM radio during the summer of love.
A radical shift in style followed, from their straightforward delivery of current hits to electrified interpretations of album cuts from groups like the Shadows of Knight, Yardbirds and the Blues Magoos. Couch's record collection helped introduce the band to the new sounds. He explains that while they would cover the hits – like "Gloria" – the group also incorporated obscure album tracks like the Shadow's "Back Door Man," "Bad Little Woman" and" I'll Make You Sorry," along with the Magoo's arrangement of "Tobacco Road" and a version of "Turn On Love Light" that paid homage to Van Morrison's group, Them.
Recordings from this period show the change in styles, complete with fuzzed and phased guitars and vocals that give the band a sound of "organized distortion."
As 1968 dawned, the band seemed poised for success. The group had a record under their belt; Ronnie's dad, H.B. Couch, had taken over management of a band that now billed itself as "The Individuals: Electric and Blues Combo Recording for Raven Records;" and the group had made arrangements to buy all new Vox Super Beatle amps through Southern Music in Richmond. The order was later canceled.
The first pressing of their debut single had sold out and more copies were ordered, and the band was rehearsing "The Fire Is Out" as the intended follow-up.
But it was not to be. Within weeks, The Individuals were no more.
Couch blames the break-up on "raging hormones." It seems a girlfriend of one of the members found herself pregnant. He left the band and the remaining members packed up their equipment and called it a day.
Reflecting on the break-up four decades later, Couch laments that they should have just found a new guitarist and soldiered on. But they were young and didn't consider recruiting a replacement.
Still lanky, lean and long-haired nearly 45 years after the fact, Couch has a youthful swagger that belies his true age. And while the disappointment in his voice is obvious, he remains stoic about the fate of The Individuals. Reflecting on those heady days of the late sixties, Couch says the group "might have made $3,000,000, but then again we might not have gone anywhere; we'll never know."
Liberty Club Dance/First Business Card
Bowling Alley Gig
1966 American Legion/Second Business Card
TBIRD or ARMORY
Record Receipt/Oak Level Club
Nov. 1967 at the Danville City Armory with Mike Oakes on organ.
the following is from Garagehangover