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Well here we are waiting for our last group of recording artists. They just happen to be another one of those obscure groups. But the song they’re going to record is really appropriate because I hope we can “mail” each other and keep in touch! And here they come now. It’s The Five Americans!
Five Americans was a 1960s American rock band, most famous for their song, “Western Union”, which reached number five in the U.S. Billboard chart and was their only single to chart in the Top 20.
The Mutineers formed in Durant, Oklahoma (Southeastern State College) in 1962. The band members crossed paths at the university, and began performing a repertoire of Bo Diddley and Duane Eddy standards within the campus. In 1963, the band recorded their debut single, “Jackin’ Around”, in Dallas, Texas, an instrumental which received extensive airplay in their college. The British Invasion influenced The Mutineers to include Beatles numbers to their repertoire, a change in outfitting, and a slight emphasis to vocals. However, their most impactful acquisition was their utilization of the Vox Continental electronic organ, a later highlight of the group’s sound. While in Dallas, the band achieved notoriety playing as a frequent attraction in a venue called The Pirate’s Nook. There they came to the attention of Abnak Records whose president John Abdnor took the group under his wing. Shortly thereafter, the band identified themselves as the Five Americans.
For a short while after their five top singles “I See The Light”, “Western Union”, “Sound of Love”, “Evol – Not Love”, and “Zip Code” were released, they toured. However, their manager, Jon Abdnor Sr., president and owner of Abnak Records and Bankers Management and Services Insurance Co., was allowed control of their finances.
After Abdnor’s death in 1996, all rights to their songs should have reverted to the original group, but Sundazed Records bought the original tapes. The Five Americans are now receiving their share of the sales and publishing royalties.
In a March 1967 interview that appeared in Michael Oberman’s “Top Tunes” column in the Evening Star newspaper (Washington, D.C.), Norman Ezell, guitarist for the group, explained how they came up with “Western Union.” “Mike Rabon, our lead guitar player, was just fooling around with his guitar when he came up with a unique sound,” Norman said. “It sort of reminded us of a telegraph key. That’s when we decided to write ‘Western Union.’”
The Five Americans broke up in 1969 and went their separate ways after their single “7:30 Guided Tour” stalled at number 96 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Mike Rabon had a successful touring career afterwards, released two albums that sold well, and played guitar for the Tyler, Texas, pop group Gladstone, whose “A Piece of Paper” reached number 45 in October 1972. He later returned to college, acquired a master’s degree in public school administration, and has been working in the Oklahoma school systems for 28 years.
John Durrill, the keyboardist, who wrote “Dark Lady” for Cher and “Misery and Gin” for Merle Haggard and was also a member of the band The Ventures, now lives in Los Angeles.
Bassist Jim Grant died from a heart attack on November 29, 2004.
Norman Ezell (guitar and harmonica) became a teacher and minister in Northern California. He died of cancer on May 8, 2010, at the age of 68.
Drummer Jimmy Wright (born James T. Wright on December 2, 1947) left the music industry to become a freelance photographer. He died at Texoma Medical Center on January 30, 2012, at the age of 64. (Geez, I guess our life spans ARE getting longer. So many musicians died in their 60’s.)
Believe it or not, I couldn’t find any info about this song. Everything I stumbled across was about “Western Union”. By the time ’67-’69 rolled around I was pretty much out of the love-sick, teenage angst age. Had gotten a full scholarship to college and was just ready to head out to life and have a good time. Getting married was the LAST bloomin’ thing on my mind! Then I met this guy named Arn and guess what happened! Yep, we got hitched, and the whole trajectory of my life changed. So here we are 46 years later and I wouldn’t change a thing. 🙂
So then! How about we exchange some addresses??? Then we can go have a bite to eat. Dinner’s on me for your putting up with reading these suckers all month! 😀
Picture Source: Wikipedia