Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Lemon Fog - The Psychedelic Sound Of Summer (1967-68)

 Enter Chris Lyons, who was recruiting musicians at Clem's Music in Houston for a new band he was forming. Danny Ogg showed up at the store, and Lyons asked him to join -- Ogg agreed on condition that Timmy Thorpe, who had just gotten laid off from work, play bass. Lyons agreed, and by that weekend, the Pla-Boys, as they were known, were playing their first gig, at St. Regis College for the Arts. It was there that they were seen and heard by Ted Eubanks, an avant-garde composer on Houston's mod scene, who caught The Pla-Boys' act, which consisted mostly of covers of such garage greats as Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and ? and the Mysterians. Eubanks liked the way they played more than what they played, and immediately approached them after the show. The band liked his suggestions, and he began putting original numbers into the group's sets. He also changed their image from clean-cut, matching suits to psychedelic, including beads. In a matter of weeks in 1965, they went from being the Pla-Boys to The Lemon Fog, who quickly became recognized as one of the more formidable bands in Houston.

The group's lineup soon shifted as Timmy Thorpe was dropped and Danny Ogg moved to bass, with Terry Horde taking over the lead guitar spot. They won a local battle of the bands, and, with help from producer-songrwriter Jimmy Duncan, were approached by Orbit Records with the offer of a recording contract. Only three singles were ever issued on the group by Orbit, although they recorded many hours' worth of demos under Eubanks' direction -- he handled most of the songwriting, alternating with Duncan. The best of these was "The Living Eye Theme," also known as "The Lemon Fog," which reached number eight on the regional and local charts in the Houston area. The group was a major draw there and in the Houston area, and made many television appearances promoting their singles.

Their sound, initially typical garage band-dance material, had advanced by leaps and bounds. Some of their songs resembled the folk-rock of the Byrds or the Beau Brummels, while their playing was closer in spirit to the complexity of Moby Grape, with lots of unexpected twists in the guitar and organ parts, and interesting harmonies. Personality conflicts eventually doomed the band, despite some extraordinary music to their credit. Egos clashed, and the use of drugs hampered the talents of one member, and in 1970, Eubanks was cutting records as a solo artist, which heralded the group's disintegration.

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