Early band picture
Originally known as the Posmen, the Ocala, Florida-based sextet adopted theiranglophile moniker during the British Invasion, led by The Beatles and other Britishartists. The group was originally composed of Bill Balough (bass), John Burdett (drums), Chris Nunley (vocals), Tom Richards (guitar), Billy Taylor (organ), and Barry Winslow (vocals/guitar).
The Guardsmen's first single, "Baby Let's Wait", failed to make the charts, but their second offering, "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron", rode the Peanuts craze all the way to #2 in the Billboard Hot 100, remaining in the bestsellers for 12 weeks, with an eventual one million sale and a gold record from the R.I.A.A. in February 1967.
Snoopy, the Red Baron, and aircraft became recurring themes in their music, though they did have some chart singles on other topics, including "Any Wednesday", "I Say Love", and the Top 40 hit "Baby Let's Wait", a re-release of their first single.
The original group split in 1969, but a band with some replacement players continued for another year. Two compilation albums and the original albums (doubled up) have been released on compact disc. Tom Richards died in 1979 and Pat Waddell became lead guitarist.
The Royal Guardsmen made a comeback in December 2006, when they released a new Snoopy song, "Snoopy vs. Osama", which became a hit on The Dr. DementoShow. Rick Cosner has been the alternate drummer since 2006, substituting for John Burdett as needed. The current band performs regularly around the United States.
As if to prove just about any topic could become a hit song, the Royal Guardsmen made a career in the mid-60s out of writing about Snoopy, the dog in the Peanuts comic strip. The band, formed in 1966 in Ocala, Florida, USA, comprised Chris Nunley (vocals), Tom Richards (lead guitar), Barry Winslow (rhythm guitar/vocals), Bill Balogh (guitar), Billy Taylor (organ) and John Burdette (drums). That same year, under the management of Phil Gernhard, they signed to Laurie Records and recorded a novelty tune, ‘Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron’, which ultimately peaked at number 2 in the US chart in January 1967 and eventually reached number 8 in the UK chart that same year. Capitalizing on the debut’s success, they recorded further Snoopy songs - ‘The Return Of The Red Baron’, ‘Snoopy’s Christmas’ and ‘Snoopy For President’ - as well as other novelty songs. One 1967 single, ‘Airplane Song (My Airplane)’, was written by Michael Martin Murphey, who had his own US number 3 hit in 1975 with ‘Wildfire’. The Royal Guardsmen disbanded in 1968.
|1966||”Baby Let’s Wait” b/w “Leaving Me”||-||-||-||-|
|”Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” b/w “I Needed You”||2||8||1||8|
|1967||”The Return of the Red Baron” b/w ”Sweetmeats Slide”||15||37||7||-|
|”Airplane Song (My Airplane)” b/w “Om”||46||-||11||2|
|”Wednesday” b/w “So Right (To Be In Love)”||97||-||-||-|
|”Snoopy's Christmas” b/w “It Kinda Looks Like Christmas”||1[A]||-||1||1|
|1968||”I Say Love” b/w “It Kinda Looks Like Christmas”||72||-||-||-|
|”Snoopy for President[B]” b/w “Down Behind the Lines”||85||-||68||-|
|”Baby Let’s Wait” (Re-issue) b/w “Biplane Evermore[C]”||35||-||62||-|
|1969||”Magic Window” b/w “Mother, Where’s Your Daughter”||112||-||-||-|
|”The Smallest Astronaut[D]” b/w “Quality Woman[D]”||-||-||60||-|
|1972||”Snoopy for President” (Re-Issue) b/w “Down Behind The Lines”||-||-||-||-|
|1976||”Snoopy for President” (Re-Issue) b/w “Sweetmeats Slide”||-||-||-||-|
|1978||”Snoopy’s Christmas” (Re-Issue) b/w “The Smallest Astronaut[D]”||-||-||-||-|
|2006||”Snoopy vs. Osama”||-||-||-||-|
In 1966, six young men, most still in high school, from Ocala, Florida formed a rock and roll group with the goal of providing exacting versions of current hits in a live setting. They met with moderate success in a short period of time but the future held an unexpected twist. Their ticket to the big time appeared in the unconventional guise of a “funny looking dog with a big black nose”! With Snoopy in the mix, their rise to fame became an express elevator but it was not without a price. The record company wanted to keep them in the novelty mode for as long as hits could be milked out and attempted to make them as faceless as possible in a move that pre-dated The Archies by several years. This caused a constant state of turmoil as the group battled to express their true talents and break out of the manufactured image the record label had ingrained in the public. In the end it was a fate they would never completely escape but their friendship and loyalty survived the journey that is the true story of The Royal Guardsmen.
By Ed Tucker
C H A R T S
The Royal Guardsmen Today
Check out their website: Royal Guardsmen
Ed Tucker: The True Story of The Royal Guardsmen
Facebook: Royal Guardsmen
Check out thier tunes on Youtube: