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So Many Times 45 (Vandan Records, Dallas, TX) | Picture of Me 45 (Sonobeat Records, Austin, TX) | How the Sweetarts Got Hooked Up with Vandan Records

"So Many Times" b/w "You Don't Have to Hurt Me" Vandan #609V-8195

Written by and Ernie Gammage. Recorded in Dallas, summer of 1966. Produced by Tom Brown and Gene Garretson

The first version of "So Many Times" was performed by the three-piece Chevelles from Austin with Ernie Gammage on bass, Dwight Dow on drums and Charlie Hatchett on guitar. The Vandan Sweetart cut featured Tom Van Zandt's Farfisa organ and a fuller sound. After the session, the producer, Tom Brown, brought bassist Pat Whitefield back to Dallas to overdub fuzz electric bass on the advice of a Dallas DJ who thought the cut needed a more distinctive sound.

"You Don't' Have to Hurt Me" featured a little studio trickery. A particularly good cut of the song was marred by a shaky ending. The engineer asked the band to play along with the song and punched in the last several bars seamlessly. This was the first time any of the band had heard of "punching in". The song was a nod to the lush vocal arrangements of the Beach Boys.

"So Many Times" Vandan #609V-8195 1966
"You Don't Have to Hurt Me" Vandan #609V-8195 1966
How the Sweetarts Hooked Up With Vandan Records
by Pat Whitefield

I met Tom Brown when I was doing some studio work in Dallas one summer. I was thrilled because he owned Vandan Records, the label on which "Wine, Wine, Wine" by the Nightcaps had been released. The Nightcaps were an integral part of my early musical education; they played junior and senior high school dances and sock hops for the schools I attended and, were often featured on Jim Lowe's show Cat's and Blues Caravan on WRR radio playing live in the studio.

I could not believe that Tom Brown could possibly be interested in any band that I was playing in or would want to record us. I think I introduced him to the Sweetarts in Dallas and he brought Gene with him. I don't recall Gene's last name. I remember recording "So Many Times" in the studio that was in downtown Dallas close to KLIF, the top AM radio station in Dallas. I think Ernie played bass on "You Don't Have To Hurt Me" , the flip side of the record. On my next trip up to Dallas, Tom and Gene contacted me and told me that they thought that "So Many Times" was a great tune, but that it needed something to make it more contemporary.

Where did the fuzz-box I used on the bass come from? I may have gotten it from my Dallas next-door-neighbor, Richard Borgens, who played guitar in the Briks or, perhaps, at Arnold and Morgan Music in Garland, Texas. I played my trusty hollow body Gibson bass through the fuzz-box for Tom and Gene and they immediately booked studio time for me to overdub the fuzz bass onto the record. As soon as I was done with the part and we all listened to the playback, the two of them were elated and felt that the song was now ready to release.

I was terrified about bringing the new version to the band, having done it without prior approval. Remember, I was the youngest by far (at that juncture in our youths) and always felt like I was on an extended probationary period with the band. I was sweating blood the first time I played it for everyone and, if my memory serves me, no one was too thrilled with the "elephant fart" sound that was now a permanent part of our band's first recording. In retrospect, Tom and Gene knew what they were doing and we did have modest success with the record.

Sonobeat owner/producer Bill Josey
"A Picture of Me b/w "Without You" Sonobeat #R s101, compatible stereo 45

Written and sung by Ernie Gammage. Recorded in Austin, Texas, at the KAZZ-FM radio studios in downtown Austin, spring of 1967. Produced by Bill Josey.

"A Picture of Me" was heavily influenced by both the Thirteenth Floor Elevators (lyrically) and the Beatles (musically). The psychedelic lyric and unique break time arrangement brought a new depth to the sound of the Sweetarts.

"Without You" had a more "country' feel, but was brought back to the garage by the Farfisa organ. This may be among the first songs ever to feature a bass instrumental lead (played by Pat Whitefield). Producer Josey nixed the "pick it Leon" shout just before the solo!

"A Picture of Me" Sonobeat #R-s101 1967, compatible stereo 45
"Without You" Sonobeat #R-s101 1967, compatible stereo 45

ANNOUNCEMENT The Sweetarts organization is actively seeking to license original Sweetarts songs for release worldwide. To preview some of this material visit the audio page. Interested parties please contact the Sweetarts directly through this website.