A story of the Teddy Bears, a Garage Band from Jacksonville, FL in the mid 1960's
"The Beginning"
In the 1960's this scene was repeated thousands of times in dens, bedrooms, and garages throughout the country. Our evolution started with a garage band called "Terry and the Tornados".
With Don Richards on drums (a borrowed set of "white sparkle" Pearl's), Tommy Edwards on rhythm guitar, Terry Smith on lead guitar, (both playing Silvertone 5614 Les Paul Copy's), and James Williams on rhythm with a Kay guitar, we practiced for the Callahan, Florida High School talent contest about 1964. It's not clear who used the Gibson amplifier, but the poor Kay amplifier was probably severely overloaded with 2 guitars and a mike. We thought it sounded great no mater how distorted.

Notice the mike on a boom--recording studio style--the best that Allied and Lafayette Radio (remember their great catalogs?) had to offer, or at least that we could afford.

The next challenge was to prove we had talent--in front of everyone.

Terry and Tommy's Silvertone Guitar's

Jame's Kay Guitar

James's Kay 705 Amplifier

A true garage band before the name was coined; we even played in an actual garage. Terry (wearing a hat) had borrowed his brother's Fender Stratocaster guitar and amplifier (Tan Band Master) that leaned back...how cool was this! By the way, we did win the talent contest. We didn't know if it was talent, or maybe we had just stunned the audience because we were actually playing the instruments and not just pantomiming to a record or tap dancing or reading a poem.

After months of practice and playing at different dances and parties, the Mustangs (we had changed out name) parted ways because of artistic differences.

James and Don had tasted the blood of performing and liked it, but they needed two replacements if they wanted to keep doing this band stuff. They would have to look farther than Callahan. because the only other two people in their tiny town that could play guitar had split. As it happend they had been playing at a teen center in Callahan, and Hal Shaw from the north side of Jacksonville was working at the concession stand. He had just started taking guitar lessons. They asked him if he was interested in playing with them and if he knew of another guitar player. Yes, he did, a friend down the street, Al Duckworth.

The first gig for the newly formed band was on New Years Eve 1964 at the Lyons Club in Callahan. Notice the new/used set of "white sparkle" Ludwig drums, now with the addition of a floor tom.

Our loyal fans, all 13 of them, wondering why they had payed 50 cents to hear a band that could manage to stretch 5 songs out for a 3 hour dance, but the place was heated. What more could you ask for in January.

"The Teddy Bears"

How did that name come about? Not long after the new band was formed, Don got a call asking if they could play at a dance, and what was their name because it was going to be announced in the local paper. Up until now they had not used a name. Don looked around while on the phone and spotted a small teddy bear and thought it would do for the moment. Well, the name stuck and besides the girls liked it, and that’s what counted.

This time on stage--a real stage--and with more songs.

Al Duckworth playing lead with a Harmony guitar and Silvertone 1484 amplifier, Don Richards with his Ludwig drums, Hal Shaw with a Silvertone base guitar and Silvertone 1483 amplifier, and James Williams with a Kay guitar and Kay amplifier.

Al's Harmony Guitar.

Al's Silvertone 1484 Amplifier.

Hal's Silvertone Base Guitar was #14 in the Sears Catalog. The cost was $79.95 for the guitar and $119.95 for the Base Amplifier.

Hal's Silvertone 1483 Base Amplifier.

Callahan, FL High School 1965

Al on lead with Hal and James having a good laugh about something...probably their white socks!

The Nahunta, GA Community Center 1965 was probably our first job out of state. Note the Electro-Voice Musicaster P/A speaker in a fiberglass enclosure on a tall tripod stand. This was powered by a 35 watt Allied Radio P/A amplifer and we used and assortment of cheep microphones. The base drum is glowing from a light Don placed inside.

35 watt Allied Radio P/A amplifier.

Dressed in Power Blue blazers, white shirts and black dickeys.

"Places to play"

Dances where held at venues such as Green Street, Southside, Tredinick, Woodstock Youth Centers and the Jacksonville Beach Band Shell, all run by the city in addition to numerous commerical teen clubs. Durring this time frame there was no shortage of bands or places to go for Jacksonville teens to dance year round.

Woodstock Youth Center December, 2005

Tredinick Youth Center building December, 2005

Somewhere early in their musical career with their first band, James and Don ventured to the "Tredinick Youth Center" and heard the Vikings for the first time. This was inspiration, just to be able to play at a venue like this and have kids dancing to the music you played.

The Bears had musical influence such as the Beach Boys, Beatles, Stones, as well as other RB, English, and West Coast groups but seeing the Vikings for the first time was just plain inspiration. By 1965 we had taken that inspiration and staked our claim!

The mid 60's Jacksonville. FL teen band scene was a breeding ground of garage bands populated with the likes of the Vikings, Tiny and the Surfers, Checkmates, Catalinas, Illusions, Four Plus One, Yo Yo's, Indecisions, Malibu's Deep Six, Love Ones, Castaways, Nutones, Daybreaks, Jokers, Emotions, Chances, Elephants, Four Crests, Swanks, Roulettes, Verberations, Froggs, Moon Spinners, Berkley Five, Cornonados, Luv Byrds, Livin Ends, Beachcombers, Echoes, King Beats, Holidays, Ravens, Soul Searchers, Torkays, Components, Four Chances, Squires, and the Teddy Bears, to name a few.

Jacksonville, FL newspaper clippings of mid 60's dance venues.

Jacksonville, FL newspaper clippings of mid 60's dance venues.

Jacksonville, FL newspaper clippings of mid 60's dance venues.

We were booked to play high school proms and other type dances in addition to "teen centers". Somerwhere along the line, at a prom in South Georgia, we started giving away small stuffed teddy bears. It seemed to fit in well, and the girls loved it.

The Teddy Bears playing at Jones College on the South Side of Jacksonville.

St. Marys, GA July 1965

The rapidly evolving Teddy Bears at the St. Mary's Community Club for a dance.

James upgraded to a Gibson Firebird III and Gibson Invader amplifier.

Hal now has a Fender Jazz Base and Gibson Atlas IV base amplifier.

Al upgraded to a Fender Jazzmaster.

The P/A now consists of at least one new Electro-Voice microphone.

Yes, the name is offical....the base drum proves it, complete with a bear head.