LeROY & HIS ROCKIN’ FELLERS (1961) – Travel 57 years deep into the past in our ‘Way-Back Machine!

by admin

Imagine …  it’s 1960 again!  A much gentler, kinder, more innocent time.  The concerns that beset us the most were:  the heartbreak of acne, Elvis’  military haircut, the loss of  Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper, then Little Richard‘s fleeting retirement from rock’n'roll to enter the seminary at Alabama’s Oakwood College, and there was Jerry Lee Lewis’ marriage to his 13-year-old cousin!  The really, really bad guys in school – back then – didn’t pack pistols or sell drugs.  They … uh …  cut classes, tossed spit-balls, and sneaked a smoke out on the third-floor fire escape!

 … and this, yes this thug, reflected the future of America???  That’s pitiful!  Downright frightening!

   Enter stage-left:   LeRoy & His Rockin’ Fellers!  . .

George Biddle,  Ken Hipple,  Bill Dougherty,  John Cupani,  and  LeRoy Schappell,  just prior to our first recording session at “Sound Plus Studios”.  John did not record with us, although we would have had him in a heartbeat, but he was a year behind us, with still a year to go when the rest of us graduated and moved out onto the road.

Following our second recording session at Cameo-Parkway studios, in Center-city Philadelphia  PA, The Rockin’ Fellers  hit the road to promote our new 45rpm single, “River Nile”, b/w “The Unfinished Fifth”  (Cameo C-194, above and below),  performing live nearly everywhere we went.

 The New Earth Band MP3 - Supper Time Click here to listen to “River Nile” - have mercy! and please remember, this is 50 years old, for goodness’ sake!  >>  01 River Nile

GWB4

George Washington Biddle IV

MARINA DEL REY, CA – George W. Biddle, a staple in the racing community and master shipwright, has died.  He was 71 years old.  Biddle passed away April 18, 2015, in Baldwin Hills after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in July 2014.

“He was just the most passionate man I ever met,” said longtime friend Kathy St. Amant, who sailed with Biddle for the last 15 years.  “Sailing was everything.”

Biddle was known throughout the boating and racing community not only for his talent in woodwork and at the helm, but also for his ability to teach women the ins and outs of the sport.  Many a novice stood at the helm of his boat, Prometheus.

“His thing was to bring people into racing; he was a very large advocate for women sailors,” St. Amant said.  “George trained many sailors into avid, experienced racers,” she said.  “It was just who he was.”

Biddle put many women at the helm, and operated under an open boat policy on Wednesday nights where he welcomed women sailors on board. 

Born on January 23, 1944, Biddle served as a coxswain in the U.S. Navy before traveling, and eventually making his home in Marina del Rey, where he lived aboard his Hunter 35.5 Prometheus.

“He was racing his home every time he went out there,” said Tom Kennedy, who crewed with Biddle several times in the last five years.  “To do that well in a cruising class is pretty phenomenal.” 

Kennedy and St. Amant, who served as co-skipper, crewed with Biddle on his last Newport to Ensenada race in 2009. 

Biddle was an active member of the South Coast Corinthian Yacht Club and South Bay Yacht Racing Club.  He was also a past member of the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club.

The highly skilled wood worker operated his business in Marina del Rey, specializing in custom boat interiors.

Biddle won the Marina del Rey to San Diego Race four times, took First in Class in the 2011 Newport to Ensenada race and was awarded several other trophies and wins throughout his racing career.  A GoFundMe page was launched for Biddle, where he received an outpouring of generosity and kind words for the beloved racer.  The sailing community, friends and loved ones helped raise $12,100 for the sailor’s medical and living expenses.  Prometheus was also sold to help cover the costs.

“Everybody loved George,” Kennedy said. “He was really, really easy to sail with.” 

Biddle is survived by ex-wife Lynn McKinley and his son, Tyler Biddle. A ceremony at sea took place June 13, 2015 at South Coast Corinthian Yacht Club.  (Courtesy of  The Log, California’s Boating and Fishing News.)

In a class of his own, drummer Bill Dougherty truly was ahead of his time, and was far more talented and musically mature than the generic rock’n'roll drummer coming out of the 1950′s.  Are you still out there, Billy Doc? 

LeRoy & His Rockin’ Fellers  covered the Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey area, up into Northeastern Pennsylvania and then west into Reading and Berks County.   Making guest appearances at record-hops and commercial radio station disc-jockey dances, we played twice most evenings!  It was absolutely wild and we were just 17!  Typically, it was:  set up and play around 8p, then tear down, pack up and drive to the next appearance by 9p or a bit later, set up, and play again.  Usually at the conclusion of the second performance, we could relax, enjoy refreshments, and schmooze with the guests.   Rosemary Ray, where are you now?

We appeared with acts such as Danny & the Juniors (“At The Hop”), Little Caesar & the Romans (“Those Oldies But Goodies Remind Me of You”), Curtis Lee (“Pretty Little Angel Eyes”), Johnny Madara (“Vacation Time”), The Flares (“Foot Stompin”), and many more that have now slipped our geriatric minds!  Our manager was Jimmy DeKnight (born Jimmy Myers), who was Bill Haley & His Comets‘ manager a couple of years before we came along.   Mr. DeKnight proved a tad too slick and wiley for us innocents to keep up with his “fast-shoe shuffle”!

The last waltz for The Rockin’ Fellers  was (above) at West Philly’s “Chez Vous”George Biddle on guitar; drummer Bill Dougherty; Ken Hipple on alto sax; that’s singer Carole Ann Stevens behind us; and LeRoy on guitar.  By that time, George had already enlisted in the US Navy and Ken was prepared to go off to college, so Billy Doc and LeRoy went home and sought “real” jobs for a while!

Recently, we were delighted to learn from Sheridan, Wyoming cowpoke Big Dave Tourison that syndicated newspaper columnist Jerry Osborne, whose “Mr. Music” column focuses on the music and the artists from those dusty, hallowed halls of yester-year, has written a really nifty piece on LeRoy & His Rockin’ Fellers, and their Cameo Records 45-rpm single, River Nile”.  Osborne’s article was released for publication the week of January 24, 2011, and also appears on his most-entertaining and informative “Mr. Music” website,  for the benefit of those whose hometown newspapers may not carry his syndicated column.

Click on the link below  for Jerry Osborne’s “Mr. Music” site, that’s jam-packed with 11 years of archives!    To view that particular LeRoy & His Rockin’ Fellers  piece,  just move to the bottom of the file, where you’ll find the “Archives” section, and search for his January 24, 2011  article on LeRoy & His Rockin’ Fellers  and River Nile”.

   —>>    http://jerryosborne.com/mr.music.htm 

   

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