Dennis Wilson’s Drum Sticks

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In August of 1965, just before Danny and the Elegants started their 3-year run at Hollywood Park, our agent booked us as the starting band for the Beach Boys at Washington Collesium in DC.  We were all very excited, not knowing what to expect, so we got there early to check the place out.  When we arrived, a then star, Jimmy Jones (Handy Man; Good Timin’) was already there.  He and his backup group were scheduled to perforrm just before the Beach Boys.  Unfortunately, his group was stranded at an airport in California and couldn’t possibly make the gig.  He and the shows producers were having a heated discussion about that fact when we walked in.  When we identified ourselfs upon request, we were asked if we knew Jimmy’s songs. ” We know some of them”, we replied,” but since we’re here we ‘re willing to rehearse all day with Jimmy if needed”.  Well, they took us up on it and our place in the show was moved to right before the Beach Boys – first we would play as the Elegants and then as Jimmy Jones backup band.  In doing so we usurped the place of a group named the British Walkers, who were very popular around the DC area.  Anyhow, the British Walkers played first and then up we went, as Danny and the Elegants. It was unbelieveable!  Girls were screaming and throwing jelly beans at us on our way to the stage.

Once on the stage, we noticed that Dennis Wilson’s drums were already set up, and that Dennis had about 200 drum sticks on the top of his bass drum.  Our drummer Wally’s drums were set up right next to them, so close that he could reach out and touch them.  He could also reach out and touch Dennis’ drum sticks.  As we played, the girls screamed louder and louder.  We weren’t that good but the audience had come to a rock concert.  They would have screamed and applauded for anyone!  We had seen Beach Boy concerts before and knew why Dennis Wilson had so many drumsticks – he would throw them out into the crowd, who would go for them much like a baseball fan at a ball game goes for a ball hit into the stands!  Wally couldn’t resist it.  Before it was all over, he must have thrown 50 sticks or more out to the screaming crowd – all courtesy of Dennis Wilson!

After Jimmy was through, we all left the stage, walking between security guards who had their arms linked, to hold back the screamimg, lunging girls.  We were pelted with even more jelly beans than when we took the stage.  God – we were stars!!

We felt like real stars for about 24 hours.  The concert had happened on a Friday night.  On the very next night, that same agent that booked us with the Beach Boys, had us booked at the Taneytown, MD county fair, where we played on a rickety stage set up next to the ferris wheel, with a loud callopie going  OM-PA-PA, OM-PA-PA.  Lots of farmers in overalls staring at us like a spectator stares at animals in a zoo!

Riches to rags. huh?  We were, however,  inspired to learn a bunch of  Beach Boys songs, which is what got us the gig at Hollywood Park!

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One Response to “Dennis Wilson’s Drum Sticks”

  1. A Lesson in Humility « B'Jam Says:

    [...] of 1965, a couple of weeks after our rise and fall from stardom (see the previous blog, “Dennis Wilson’s Drumsticks“), Danny and the Elegants did a live Saturday night audition for George Mihalos at Hollywood [...]

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