What follows is my interview with the Spades' drummer John Kearney
from 1/31/03. John is now a history teacher for Houston Community
John, I have been trying to find information about the Spades for years...
One of my weak points in my own life is dates, which is a bad way
to be for a historian, but when I saw that the recording dates on the Zero records were 1965 -- both in the same year -- that surprised
me. It seems like they were eons apart.
Yes, only about seven or eight months separate those two singles.
Right, but in my memory, it was a grand evolution. Which makes it problematic on exactly when I linked up with the Spades.
Can you reference when you started playing music?
It was a strange time period where there wasn't much to do unless
you were either in athletics...or in athletics. My mother was the
music teacher at Porter Junior High School in Austin. She ended up
teaching me, Roky (Erickson), George (Kinney), a whole host of others
there. And so, she and my dad were always pressing me to play an
instrument. I don't know why I eventually decided that was a good
idea. I took a notion to the drums -- I wish I would've done piano,
because that's what my mother played. But something about the drums
appealed to me.
I had bought through Sears their cheapest model snare drum, and one
cymbal. And had mostly just been playing along with records. And I
guess I had mentioned to some of my friends that I was picking
around on the drums.
Was this prior to the Beatles, or...
It's immediately prior...this is still the age of the guitar bands.
Instrumental bands: the Ventures, the String-a-Longs.
Okay, I guess through talk of the high school grapevine at William
B. Travis High School, my friend Jimmy Bird -- who will later be in
the Golden Dawn -- mentioned to me that he and a friend of his named
John Shropshire just wanted to jam, and would I mind drumming along?
Which I did -- God knows what it must have sounded like. But
remember, at this time, there's nothing that's really gelled. It's
harder to sound amateurish when you're in an art form that...no one
really knows what it is. (Where) there's no form and no rules. It was
fun, and that was the major element of my attraction to music. The
comradeship and the fun.
At any rate, about a week or so later, Shropshire calls -- and I
knew he was with a group called the Spades. There's only like five
bands in Austin. (Laughter) One of them I knew was the Spades. The
top of the groups was a number called Butch Yant (sp?) and the Deeds.
Their drummer (was) a guy named Rusty Weir, and I believe their
guitar player was Johnny Richardson. They were impressive to watch.
Rusty Weir was a great drummer.
So the Deeds later became the Wig?
Well, Rusty joined another old timer named Benny Rowe. But there's
very few bands. The Spades had had some sort of falling out with
their drummer. I never knew what it was, but Shropshire asked if I
wanted to do a gig with them. It was at a Catholic youth church
group in East Austin. That's all I remember.
This was around 1963?
In my mind, it was my freshman year (in high school), which would
have made it '62 or '63. In my mind, this is an enormous period of
time. And in reality, gosh, it could have all been in a year or
two. It seemed like the band was a long thing, and in reality, I know
it could not have been.
John Shropshire had a magnificent voice. Not the raw energy thing
that Roky will have, but a trained, good, beautiful singing voice.
It was his misfortune that that became less popular than the raw
dynamic of rock and roll. And then two cousins, Jack Roundtree, who
played the leads, and his cousin, Ernie Culley, who also played
So you had three guitarists?
Three guitarists, because the electric bass...the bass, period, was
just questionable. First of all, they weren't sexy. So, it just
looked square to stand there with one. The electric bass itself
looked good, but the amps couldn't hold it. They could've held it
for a jazz club, but very quickly I was learning that rock and roll
was not (equatable with) sedate, beatnik-style jazz clubs -- it was
going to be a large, crowded, hoppin' affair. And the amps would
blow. I don't care if it was Ampeg, Fender, or what. So it was
questionable whether we even needed one -- whether they would catch
on or not. It sounds funny, doesn't it?
Well, there were actually many bands in the early sixties who
didn't include a bass. So what you describe was not exclusive to Austin at
all. What other bands from that early period do you recall, besides
I'm sorry, but that's the only one that sticks in my mind. Does the
name Charlie Hatchett ring a bell? He was like a freelance lead
player. I would bump into him, because sometimes you'd get calls
from somebody just throwing a band together for a frat gig.
It's amazing to think that so little was happening musically in
Austin at that time.
It was because there were so few gigs. The club scene was virtually
nonexistent. We will more or less make the Jade Room into a rock
scene, coming from a very ossified, alcohol-oriented jazz club.
There was the Jade Room, the New Orleans Club, but they didn't want
They catered to kind of a sophisticated, adult clientele.
That's what they were shooting for. The only other option was the
frat gigs. I learned very quickly from the other members of the
Spades that part of our job was: after school, we took our business
cards and went around to every fraternity, saying, "Hello, we're
from the Spades, we're open for hire for your parties. This is our
card." And that's how we eventually drummed up work. The frat gigs
were about the only thing happening.
So for a while you played with three guitars. Eventually, I
believe you said that Ernie Culley decided to take up the bass.
After the Beatles came out. The Beatles shake everything up,
including me. We were all very excited. Especially since, aside
from their own songs, they were doing the same licks we were doing --
Chuck Berry, Little Richard, 1950s-style R&B. And, apparently Ernie
decided, "Okay, it's going to be the bass, whether the amps blow or not."
And we're holding our own in the scene, until at one point Jack
Roundtree, our lead player, decides he's had enough. His quitting
throws a monkey wrench -- "Where do we go from here?" Well, in the
meantime, I learned that friends of mine, that I didn't know had
any interest in rock and roll music, had in fact been working on it.
One of them will be George Kinney. Another one will be a drummer
named Mike Pankratz. The third one is Roky.
Now, you knew all of these guys in Junior High?
Oh, yeah. We meet in seventh grade, because a common friend of all
of ours named Mitchell Howell brings to school an album called Bo
Diddley in the Spotlight.
Why did he bring it school?
I don't know. He was going to show it to somebody. We're all in my
mother's music class. No one knew what to make of it, except for
me, Roky, and George. We said, "Man, you know who Bo Diddley is?" And
from that point on, there was always that dim connection.
So you'd heard of Bo before that...
Oh, yeah. We had moved from Houston to Austin in 1959. There was a
lot more radio to listen to (in Houston). So I'd been exposed to
it. How Roky and George were exposed to it, I have no idea. We were
just misfits in a generation of misfits. Often we'd stay up late
listening to Wolfman Jack out of Cuidad Acuna, and another guy out of
Nashville named John R. And I can't remember the radio station.
That would have been WLAC.
Okay. But we share this. Anyway, Roky and I go to the same
Episcopal church. We're alter boys together. So we know each other at
school, we know each other at church, and we hang around sometimes.
And when we do, music is a major deal.
What was your impression of Roky's mother, Evelyn, in those days?
Oh, a beautiful woman. Certainly devoted to her children. She was
an artist, I guess, in her heart. The house, I just can't describe
it -- dogs, cats, crap all over. I'd spent the night with Roky --
we'd be up late watching Dracula movies. And I remember his dad
coming in reeking of alcohol. He'd stand there looking around with
the most disgusted look on his face.
Was he always called "Roky" for as long as you knew him?
Yes. He had it when I met him. He had it in the seventh grade.
So, you knew Roky and George, but you didn't know they were
No, not really. I knew that Roky had this talent to seemingly, at
will, just approach an instrument and plunk out something. But he
liked to do humorous twists on popular tunes. I guess I never took
However, it is at William B. Travis High School they have a talent
show. I wish I could remember the year. And the Spades played. Both
Shropshire and I are going to Travis. We're the top bill, but much
to my surprise -- much to everyone's surprise -- the act after us
is Roky Erickson and a drummer named Joe Bierbauer (sp?). And Roky
just blew everyone away. He had an electric guitar and a harmonica.
And he did some number, I think it was a Howlin' Wolf number. I can't
swear to that, but (it was) one of those old rhythm and blues songs
that really gets you jumping. And, Roky, for all of his pluses and
minuses, whenever he performed, he hit it 110 percent in those
No one was expecting this.
No one expected it, including me. And we'd been buddies for a
couple of years at this point. They just said, "Okay, the next act is
Roky Erickson and Joe Bierbauer." And Roky has this horrible, old
Sears amp, and a very cheap electric guitar, and both of them look
like they have been dragged through the mud for years. The amp
rattles, but it doesn't matter. When Roky hits his singing and then
blows into his harmonica, it just electrified everybody. Including me!
So when Jack Roundtree says he wants to leave the Spades,
Shropshire says, "Why don't you ask Roky if he wants to sit in?"
That's kind of the way you do it. You don't ask anyone outright. He
did, and it worked. He wasn't the same quality of a lead player as
Jack was, but with Roky it was the energy. Just the raw talent and
Well, we can probably estimate the date of this fairly well, since
the first Spades record (which doesn't feature Roky) dates from
April, 1965.The guy who put the record out had the good sense to
put the estimated release date on the label. So the talent show must
have occured around that time, since school would have been out in
Yes, it would have had to've.
By the time Roky joins, we have our itenerary down. We are working
frat gigs on a regular basis. We are playing, on a regular basis,
such gala events as the Luling "Watermelon Thump" (an annual
festival held in the small town of Luling). We played that every
But the major event after Roky joins is: there is a city-wide
Battle of the Bands held at the Palmer Auditorium. It was put on by
KOKE, the Top 40 rock station. So we enter, and everyone else enters.
All the other bands. The Deeds had broken up, but new bands had
popped up. And when we go on to our spot, we're on this huge stage in
this huge auditorium for the first time. We start in, and none of us
can hear the others. I cannot hear anything. They can't hear each
No! Unless you have monitors, you can't hear in a situation like
At that time, I believe most places didn't have stage monitors.
Oh, it's a nightmare -- except Roky never seems to acknowledge, or
notice, that that is the case. And he continues to do that 120
percent, blasting performance. And when we got off the stage, I
just wanted to take a knife and cut my throat. And so did Ernie and John Shropshire. It had to have been the worst performance given by the
Spades in our entire existence. But Roky's performance was so
electrifying, no one notices that we don't know what the hell we're
doing. And after that, our bookings almost tripled.
Well, were you awarded the...
No, we don't win shit. (Laughter) We're lucky not to be potato'd
off the stage. The winner was a group called the Baby Cakes. Chuck
Bacondi was the singer. They win, and they are indeed a good band.
But we were the ones who get all the bookings, and it was purely
because of Roky's performance. This was not a band effort.
Now, when Roky joined the group, he played lead guitar?
Yeah. When the lead (break) would come, we'd all look at him, and
he'd do something. It probably wasn't much. Roky can play lead, but
I don't think he ever wanted to. Whatever it was, it got us through.
One of the stories that's always been told -- and I was hoping you
could confirm its veracity -- was that when Roky went back to
school in the fall of '65, he was told to cut his hair, refused to,
and was thrown out.
So that's a true story.
At that time, he was still with the Spades. And although the Spades
had started to play the Jade Room on Thursday nights before Roky
(joined), I'm telling you, after this flop at the Battle of the
Bands, they can't seat 'em at the Jade Room. So, by the time school
starts back up, Roky's musical career is looking up.
It becomes obvious at that point to him, and everyone else, that
he has a career in music.
And that's the point that it's building to. It's fun sleeping with
her, but are you going to marry the music or not? And with Roky, it
was a done deal. John and Ernie had different ideas. I didn't know
what the hell I was doing (career- wise), but I could sense the end
of something was happening.
We skipped over the Spades records, and I wanted to discuss that.
How did you get in with Gary McCaskill and Zero Records?
I think that was done through Ernie. We could tell that having a
booking agent could be a big help, but there just weren't any. You
had guys who would try it for a summer and then go on to something
else. McCaskill was at least trying. Like I said, there wasn't a
lot to do. He would get us gigs like at "OU Weekend," which was
always great and a lot of fun. It would happen in Dallas, whenever UT
was playing Oklahoma University. Whatever frat we were playing for,
they would rent hotels, or blocks of a motel. We played one gig up
there with Roky, one gig without.
Gary comes up with this record label, Zero. In fact, behind his
back, we call him "Captain Zero." I guess (he called it that) because
there's a big, round hole in the middle of the 45.
And you recorded the first one at Austin Custom Recording Studios
in downtown Austin?
Yeah, I want to say almost at 5th and Congress. It was in downtown.
My mother had recorded a piano piece there.
You recorded just these two songs, "I Want a Girl" and "Do You
Want to Dance"?
Yes. I think Gary was able to get it played on KOKE once or twice,
but if it ever sold, I had no idea. He also arranged the recording
session at TNT (in San Antonio).
I don't know why he chose TNT for the second record, because the
Austin studio had a much more professional set-up. They were
recording to RIAA standards, and so forth. I don't think TNT even
knew the RIAA existed.
The main thing I remember about TNT was having to move the drums
back and forth, towards and away from the single microphone, so that
the balance (mix) would be right.
A very crude mixing style.
Yes, but in my memory, that's how it was done. Roky had to stand a
certain distance, and the other instruments had to be distanced.
Why did Roky choose the name "Emil Schwartze" for the record's
Roky liked funny names. He liked to tell stories. He was very into
Jonathan Winters, would later become very into Lenny Bruce, Lord
Buckley -- storytellers, in essence, comedians of the beat era.
Funny names appealed to him, and he considered that a funny name.
At what point did you add "You're Gonna Miss Me" and "We Sell
Soul" to your repertoire?
Pretty close to the time of the recording. Roky had, when he came
in, a great itenerary of James Brown/Chuck Berry/Little Richard. He
started to work in Bob Dylan, too. But those (originals) were his.
Did the second record get any airplay or notice?
Not any more than the first one. (Laughter) Maybe played a couple
of times on KOKE.
What's interesting is that it was released almost simultaneously
with Roky's departure from the band.
Yes, very close.
It was pressed in late November, 1965, and then Jim Langdon wrote
in the Austin Statesman on December 1 that Roky had left the band.
Yes, that's about right.
Well, that helps explain why the record is so rare -- because the
band didn't exist when it came out.
And I had no idea how many copies were pressed, or what happened to
On the record, there are two guitars, bass, and drums. Does Roky
play lead guitar?
Yes, he does.
John Shropshire on rhythm guitar, Ernie on bass, and you're on
Yes. And the backup (vocal), that would be Shropshire, too. The
voices, I guess, that's John and Ernie, and possibly a guy named
John Ely. He was a friend of Roky and me, and Roky liked him a lot,
so he wanted him to play tambourine and do backup singing. He didn't
stay long (in the band), but he was there.
We did our last, wind-up gigs (at that point). One of them is in
San Antonio in a place so strange, I still wonder if it exists. It
was in the basement of some hotel. We played, and after us, a
flamenco troup, headed by a woman named Rosita Fernandez, played.
What blew my mind was that they liked us. I was sitting there just in
awe of them.
What kind of an audience was this for?
God only knows. Like I say, it's almost a Fellini-type of scene in
my memory. And then, the last gig is at the Jade Room. I remember
that we were still trying to wear the maroon blazers in the Spades.
And I called John and Ernie, and told them, "Guys, tonight, just wear
what you want." And everyone seemed to understand that that was the
signal. So we all showed up dressed however we felt like. Had a
great gig, and that was it.
I've never seen any of the guys (after they broke up). I hung out
with Roky as long as I could. I think 1969 was when we had our
break. But Ernie, John, and Jack, McCaskill, I see them in dreams...and
often wonder where they are, how they are, and if they are.
People that never saw Roky have to go by the recordings. That's too
bad, because I'm not sure that he was ever recorded well. But the
(stage) presence and the intensity is just indescribable. And it
would spark like chain lightning the rest of the group members, and
out into the audience.
Kind of like James Brown, actually.
Very similar. And of course, when we were younger, we would go see
You know, Roky acted at the Austin Community Theater. I used to go
with him to the rehearsals. I remember he played Indian Joe in a
production of Tom Sawyer. And when Indian Joe chased Tom and Becky
around the cave, what Roky would do is chase them, but jump off the
stage, and run before the first row of the audience. They'd all shreik, and then he'd jump back on stage. No one told him to do it.
It was just natural. And it electrified the performance -- took it
beyond something that was just on a stage, and indeed his musical
performances did the exact same thing. He craved seeing (audiences)
happy. In my opinion, that's what drove Roky. He had a talent to
make people happy, and he loved to do it.
I'm sure when you knew Roky growing up, you would've never dreamed
that this guy would end up in a mental institution by the end of
Well, not any more than the rest of us. You know, there's still
debate among the old-timers over whether Roky's crazy or not. But
Roky always wanted an easy path. That was part of the trouble with
his talent. For all appearances, it looked like he never practiced
guitar...that he just picked it up. Or piano. In hindsight, we know
o one does that. No matter how talented, he must have spent many
long hours practicing.
But he always gave the impression that it all came natural?
Yeah. There was never talk of, "I'm taking music lessons." But it
seemed to come easy to him -- things that the rest of us worked and
worked for weeks and months and years. It seemed like, for him, it
just happened. That can be good, but it can be bad.
My best memories of the group, oddly enough, were not the club
gigs --they were the frat gigs. Where everyone's just blasted, and
hopping, from the ceilings on down. And Roky's just loving it.
At these frat gigs, would you play in the living rooms, or...
Often times. And some of their houses were big. Sometimes they'd
rent a party barn outside of Austin, sometimes a hotel. That's where
the money was, but it was also hoppin', because they'd get so
intoxicated. You couldn't play it loud enough and you couldn't play
it fast enough -- it was just one huge area of gyrating, laughing
bodies. Which is, you know, what music is supposed to produce -- at
least rock and roll. In my mind.
The Jade Room was Thursday nights, and then (frat) bookings were
Friday and Saturday nights.
Places like the Jade Room were different from other night clubs in
Texas at that time in that they were drinking establishments, but
they allowed teenagers inside. All ages were permitted, but you
couldn't drink unless you were 21. I think maybe that was unique to
Oh, yeah. They just weren't as anal (as night clubs are today). And
really, for the most part, unless you played the fool, no one
really cared if you were under 21. I remember going to an Italian
restaurant named Caruso's with Roky -- I must have been 15. We sat
down, and they were taking our orders, and the waitress asked Roky
what he wanted to drink. He said, "I want a beer." The waitress
didn't even blink. So when she got to me, I said, "I want a beer."
(Laughter) We were obviously underage. We were with a group of
adults, but no one cared.
Well, there was no fear of having their liquor license revoked or
going to jail for serving alcohol to minors.
No, or corrupting youth, or any of that stuff. It was an obvious
family-style atmosphere, and no one cared.
So, at places like the Jade Room, would it be primarily a teenage
It was an older crowd when we got there. Somehow, the frats started
showing up. And then, I guess the major event in the story, was
when the hipsters show up. And this is Tommy and Clementine Hall,
Powell St. John, Charlie Pritchard, then Stacy (Sutherland) and John
Ike Walton. And Benny Thurman. You couldn't ignore Benny Thurman. You
knew as soon as he walked in the room.
I remember watching them as they came in. We could recognize them
as other musicians. I don't know how -- I guess because they were so
There's a famous quote from Roky where he says something
like, "These three cats walked into the room and they had an aura
Well, they did. That's as good a way to put it as any.
So, you had never met any of them prior to that night?
No. That's why, when they came in, it was so noticeable. This is a
meeting of worlds.
It was immediately apparent that these people were not frats.
No, they're not rednecks, they're not...we don't know what they
are, except we realize they're other musicians. They watched us play,
and they were digging it. I wanted to see what they thought.
So Roky decides to go with these other guys.
Yeah. It was the correct choice. The Spades were outgrowing
whatever it was we were in. High school was ending. It was time to
make decisions, you know.
Did the band continue after Roky left?
No. No, the band was over. We could feel it was -- no one wanted to
say it. There was never a group meeting. I think he imparted it to
me, because he and I were very close. Ernie had already mentioned
that he wanted to go to medical school. And Shropshire just became
disenchanted. Looking back, I wonder if it wasn't a real blow to
him, to be displaced as the vocalist.
Well, when Roky joined, did he also start doing all the vocals, as
Well, Shropshire would sing his traditional...we all had to sing at
least one song. That was the rule, because an amp was going to
blow, a string was going to break, God knows what was going to
happen. We all had to be prepared to sing a song. But with Roky there
was really no competition, and it probably proved very disenchanting
to John Shropshire, in retrospect.
Tommy Hall is a case in himself. He was on to what was going on. He
had a much more cosmopolitan picture of what music is about to go
Well, anybody who would apply an esoteric word like "psychedelic"
to popular music in 1965 was definitely someone with a precient sense
of pop culture.
Yeah. And it's real. That much of his persona is very real. And
it's very infectuous. He has a grand vision and it's going to improve
the world, this is the avenue, and he's going to be there with it.
And Roky was completely taken by him?
Oh, yeah. We all were. Even Stacy and John Ike and Benny, you know,
that are hardcore redneck types. Of course, they only swallow what
they want to. But he's not that far off the mark, as you know in
hindsight -- things are about to change. And, with all the talent
they were able to assemble, it's a tragic story, in my opinion.
Were you still in high school at this point?
No, I graduate about the time the Spades break up. I graduate a
half-a-year late. Probably because of all the screwing around I was
doing with the Spades. I remember, the last day of school, it
actually snowed in Austin.
Did you join another band?
Well, I tried to fit in with the Elevators awhile. There wasn't
anything for me to do. John Ike Walton was a fantastic drummer.
They never should have flossed that guy. He contributed more than I
think they realized.
I tried working up a group with George that will become the Golden
Dawn after I leave it. Jimmy Bird, Bill Hallmark, Tom Ramsey...it's
another case of: they make good after I leave. (Laughter) I can't
remember what we called ourselves.
What do you remember about the Elevators' early shows at the Jade
Oddly enough, at their first couple of gigs, they weren't well-
received. I remember one person turning to me and saying, "Listen
to that shit -- bring back the Spades."
What was your impression of the electric jug?
Tommy Hall's personality was such that it wouldn't have mattered if
he'd played a comb with his armpit. He was going to be on that
stage. And oddly enough, like Roky, the others were capable of
projecting an incredible stage presence, as well -- and that included
Tommy Hall. When Tommy first talked to them, as the Lingsmen, he was
going to play bass, and Benny Thurman was going to play violin, at
which he was very proficient. Later, he breaks the news to them that
he's going to play jug, because he had been in the jug band circuit.
He was convinced that this was the link between beat/folk and rock
At the Jade Room with the Elevators, was it a teenage audience,
The Jade Room and the New Orleans Club were geared for the 40-45
year old crowds that wanted to hear some smooth jazz while they had a
martini and talked to their date. It was a hard transition to make.
Marjorie Funk was the lady that owned and managed the Jade Room.
She at least had enough insight to see that one scene was tapering
down, and another scene was kicking in. The only thing they had at
the Jade Room was one of these big glass balls that would turn around
and throw light everywhere.
A mirrored ball. That was the extent of their "light show."
That was the extent of any sort of night club light show (at that
Did people dance to the Elevators?
Well, that was a problem. They danced to the Spades like crazy. It
was dance-oriented music. Occasionally, the Elevators would play
places with go-go dancers, and they would complain that they just
couldn't pick up the beat.
What did you think when you heard the Elevators' version
of "You're Gonna Miss Me"?
Oh, I thought it was an improvement.
What did you think of "We Sell Soul" being reconsituted as "Don't
Well, "We Sell Soul" was never my favorite. I was proud of Roky,
because that was the first effort, that I knew, that he'd written a
song. And with the frat crowd, it got them hopping. It's transition
into some sort of psychedelic message...I don't think it went well.
And to this day, when I listen to that album, I'll skip over that
Was "We Sell Soul" supposed to be an advertisement for the band?
It was Roky's song, but in the feeling of comradeship that the
Spades had -- it was a group effort, always -- he used the term "we."
So he had written it as "I Sell Soul"?
That's more appropriate. It was never discussed, but Roky's as
socially minded as anyone else. At that time, he felt a real hunger
to please. I can't accent that strongly enough, because that's my
memory and impression. He just loved to see people happy. He paid a
high price for that. I've always considered that ironic.
What happened to you after the pre-Golden Dawn band?
Well, after the Golden Dawn, I had my first child, and I had to get
to work. Worked all sorts of bizarre jobs, but couldn't make up my
mind, whether I wanted to try to get back into music, or settle
down. It's a hard decision for a young man. And since I was so
unsettled, my marriage was not good, and my wife Susan and I would
separate for long periods. And as soon as things would get rocky and
we'd separate, I'd say, "Shuck the job," take the last paycheck, buy
a snare drum, and try to get back into the music scene.
At a certain point, you played in a band with Bill Miller. How did
you meet him?
I can't remember, but I think he probably called me and said he was
looking for a drummer. He and Tom McGarrigle. I was very impressed
with both of them, but our lives just weren't together -- at least
mine was not.
Well, you were a couple of years older than them, I think. Was
Bill already playing the autoharp at that point?
Yes, he was on the autoharp, he was writing prolifically...the
problem, I think, was, like I say, my life wasn't settled. And
Bill's music requires a lot of practice. He was into changing tempos.
And I've never liked that, because it screws up the people dancing.
And it takes a lot of practice if you're going to do it right. It
would've taken us years to have perfected even a small part of it.
But I always respected his talent. A great guy.
He remembers playing here in Houston with you with his band
We may have.
He remembers playing at Jubilee Hall, which was the old church
that had earlier been called La Maison.
Oh, I remember La Maison. But I remember playing there with the
Misfits. I don't remember doing it with Bill Miller.
When did you play with the Misfits?
This was after the Spades had broken up, and I was just taking
gigs. Tommy and Stacy had been to Houston, and apparently had met
Pete (Black) and James (Harrell). I came down on a whim with their
(Elevators') manager. His name was Jim Stalarow. We stayed at the
home of a guy I still know, named George Banks. The Misfits'
drummer couldn't make the gig at La Maison, so I sat in with them
This was the church location?
No, it was an old grocery store.
Yeah, Jim Stalarow was the guy who told Gordon Bynum about the
Elevators. Bynum was the guy who put out "You're Gonna Miss Me" on
Contact. I still don't know where Stalarow heard them.
He just appeared at Tommy and Clementine's house. I was living
there with them. My wife and I lived upstairs from them at that house
on 38th. Suddenly, (Stalarow) was just there in the kitchen. Talking
How did you come to live with Tommy and Clementine?
My wife had already left home, and I was supporting her there in an
apartment in Austin with my winnings from the Spades gigs.
(Laughter) And probably out of sympathy for her, Clementine
said, "Well, we have an upstairs room."
Note: The interview had to end at this point.
THE SPADES DISCOGRAPHY/SESSIONOGRAPHY
Early 1965. Austin Custom Recording Studio, Austin, Tx. Engineer:
JOHN SHROPSHIRE, lead vocal/rhythm guitar; JACK ROUNDTREE, lead
guitar/backing vocal; ERNIE CULLEY, bass/backing vocal; JOHN
(A) I Need a Girl (G. Mac-J. Shrop.) ZERO 10001
(B) Do You Want to Dance?
Note: Label contains notation, "Rel. April 12, 1965."
Prob. November, 1965. TNT Recording Studio, 1422 W. Poplar, San
Antonio, Tx. Engineer: Charlie Cole
ROGER "ROKY" ERICKSON, lead vocal/lead guitar/harmonica; JOHN
SHROPSHIRE, rhythm guitar/backing vocal; ERNIE CULLEY, bass/backing
vocal; JOHN ELY, tambourine/backing vocal; JOHN KEARNEY, drums
(A)TSS651118B You're Gonna Miss Me (Emil Schwartze) ZERO 10002
(B)TSS651119A We Sell Soul (Emil Schwartze)
Note: ZERO 10002 was repressed circa 1975-76. These later pressings
have white labels and matrix numbers C-10002-A/B. Original
pressings have gray labels and the TSS (Texas Sound Studios) six-
digit matrices, indicating mastering dates of November 18 and 19,
Emil Schwartze = Roky Erickson.