We are going back in time to write about one of the most influential bands from the mid-sixties here in Los Angeles… The Standells. While the British invasion was in full force it was Los Angeles where American rock and roll was burgeoning. Other L.A. bands .. The Seeds, Music Machine and The Electric Prunes made L.A the epicenter for garage/psyche rock.. Even Sirius/XM has a channel devoted to the psychedelic sounds.
The Vietnam war and Civil Rights movement were in full force…If you look at the protesting today it has remnants to the years of lore. In 1965 The Standells ranked as one of the most pivotal bands of the “psyche” era. There wasn’t a high school Rock band in America that didn’t’ have “Dirty Water” in their repertoire They weren’t the type of band that had filled up every social gap, yet their songwriting lost little of its prescience in reflecting the emotional cadence of the decade’s bloom gloom!
Before I continue, let’s get one thing out in the open..Whether you loved, hated or have no idea what I’m talking about, the Standells would turn air into cottage cheese…It’s hard to think that this L.A. band had the gumption to write songs that reflected so much teenage angst. They were dark and looked like “they were bad-ass”! From their first single, “Dirty Water” they had become the proto-type for punk rock that came out of the early 70’s.They even opened for The Rolling Stones where they were capable of putting on one hell of a rock and roll show.. and to this day they continue playing live.
While in England..The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were performing Chuck Berry and Little Richard covers while The Standells moved away from the typical blues sounds. It became apparent that they were way ahead of the curve with songs like “Dirty Water”( which peaked at #11 on the Billboard singles chart) and “Sometime Guys Don’t Wear White”. Both written and produced by Ed Cobb.
It was Cobb’s bad experience in Boston that inspired “Dirty Water” .. Even to this day the song gets played by all the Red Sox and the Bruins sports teams… Throughout his producing and engineering career, Cobb earned thirty-two gold and platinum record and three Grammy Awards nomination.
Throughout the years they had many personnel changes.. The one constant is Larry Tamblyn who still lives in Los Angeles and we were able to get an exclusive interview… He talks about The Standells history and his insight for music’s future…
Rock Bands of L.A.com: As we all know the Standells were the biggest American rock band… Bands today have social media to promote themselves, especially with the pandemic… If you had social media in the 60’s how would you promote your band..?
Larry Tamblyn:I’m glad you asked me that question. Bands on social media requesting me to like their music pages have been rather bothersome. I know they have no other avenue to get recognition, but certainly trying to market your group to me under the guise of being a friend is rather irksome. I take friend requests on Facebook at face value. With every friend request I get, I list the conditions for or my friendship. Here’s what I say: READ CAREFULLY: Please do not ask me to like any FB pages, send me chain messages invite or add me to groups. Also uncheck me in any mass invitations that you send out. Even so, I get hundreds of such requests, and discard them.Back in the ‘60s we didn’t have such tools at our disposal. Instead, we spent much of our time visiting agencies and clubs, trying to be seen and heard. Fortunately, our persistence paid off. In today’s situation, I would advise such bands to make tapes of their concerts, even if at home – or I might add a garage. There are various social media sites where you can post these concerts. Also send them to small agencies who are looking for new talent. Sooner or later, we will get through the coronavirus and things will start returning to normal.
Rock Bands of L.A.Com:Explain what the music scene like during the mid 60s? Did you feel there was competition with? Other L.A. bands..eg. The Seeds, The Music Machine and the Electric Prunes? Are there any local bands you like?
Larry Tamblyn:Back in 1962, when the Standells were formed there really was very little competition. Most performers were not self-contained, and bands who played their own instruments and sang were practically unheard of. We were very lucky getting our first gig in a rather swanky club in Hawaii. After that, the Standells were playing in small nightclubs and bars up-and-down California. Bands like the Seeds, Music Machine, and Electric Prunes didn’t come along until the mid-sixties. By then, the Standells had paved the way for them. Before recording our hit record “Dirty Water” in late 1965, we already had quite a following from doing a number of appearances on TV shows like ”Shindig”, sitcoms like “The Munsters” and “Bing Crosby”, and the movie “Get Yourself a College Girl”. After our hit record, we did a great many more TV Shows and were featured in the movie ‘Riot on Sunset Strip”, doing the theme song.
Rock Bands of L.A.com:What are you working on now? Any current projects?
Larry Tamblyn:These past twenty years, the Standells have done a number of concerts throughout the United States and Europe. “Dirty Water” is the Official Winning anthem of the Boston Red Sox, played every time they win a home game. We’ve appeared there at almost every World Series home game. Over the years several members passed away and one quit the group. I have since taken over all of the lead singing. Several years ago, we were featured on the “Cornerstones of Rock” PBS TV special. I am now mostly doing solo concerts with backup bands, having performed last year at the Laguna Woods Performing Arts Center in Laguna Beach. We had a series of concerts lined up this year, but because of the pandemic all had to be cancelled. I have recently completed writing a biography titled “From Squeaky Clean to Dirty Water”, which we hope to have published by next year.
I want thank Larry for his time… great stories..