Ask The Info Dude


Dear Info Dude,
I have a two part Frank Zappa question for you. First, what was the name of Frank's first band? Was it The Soots or was it The Blackouts? I'm arguing with a fellow Zappa fan over this and I think it was The Blackouts, and that The Soots came later. OK, part two: We are all familiar with the famous incident in Montreux, Switzerland in which the club that The Mothers were playing in 1971 burnt down during their performance due to "some stupid with a flare gun", inspiring the legendary Deep Purple song "Smoke On the Water". The question: What song were The Mothers playing when this all went down?
Mike McClure
Third Lake, IL

No problem. The answer to your first question is: You are both wrong. Frank Zappa's first band was The Ramblers, an outfit led by one Elwood "Junior" Madeo. Frank was the drummer in that group. Elwood fired Frank because he felt that Frank was playing too loud and hitting the cymbals too much. Now, on to part two: Frank Zappa and The Mothers were indeed onstage at the time that the flare gun was fired and caught the roof of the Montreux Casino on fire. The song they were playing at the time was "King Kong", specifically the organ solo.

Hey Info Meister!
Not many are going to know this one, so I'm going to ask you to see if you truly are The Info Dude. What did David Bowie say when he proposed to his first wife Angie?
Jim S.
Somewhere in Ohio

What's this?? A test? Normally I'd just give a question like this the file 13 treatment, but I'll humor you, just this once. (And, because I happen to know the answer, haw-haw!) David's proposal to Angie was: "Can you handle the fact that I don't love you?" Now, Jim, who's your daddy??

Dear Mr. Dude,
A few years back, I was in a piano bar in New Orleans. The piano player was also a trivia buff and would introduce songs by relating some tidbit of information about the song, i.e., how it was written, by whom, etc. Before playing "Summer Breeze", he mentioned that Seals and Crofts once worked with "The Sledge-O-Matic Man." He didn't elaborate, but I figured he had to be talking about Gallagher, the comedian. What, if any, is the connection between Seals & Crofts and Gallagher? Are they friends or was Gallagher in their band or something? I know that one of them was in The Champs at one time (the band that had the hit "Tequila" in the late 50's.) Any ideas? Tony Stewart
Lafayette, IN

Hey ya, Tony,
Actually, one Leo Gallagher Jr., aka "Gallagher" (yes, the famous smasher of fruits and vegetables with his huge sledge hammer), used to be Seals and Crofts road manager. How about that! And you're right, Jim Seals and Dash Crofts were indeed members of The Champs, with Seals on saxophone and Crofts on drums.

Dear Info Dude,
Who were The Archies? I used to watch the characters (Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Veronica, Betty) on the Archie cartoon show back in the ‘60s, and I still have some of the 45 rpm singles that used to come attached to cereal boxes. Remember those? They were actually pressed vinyl that was glued to the cardboard box. All you had to do was to cut them out and play them! Anyway, I was wondering who the actual group was that did the recordings. A friend once told me that he'd heard it was the Doors, because the Archies didn't have a bass player either! At least, it didn't LOOK like they had one. Reggie seems to be playing 6 string guitar like Archie's. I knew that was BS, but never know. Do you?
Sandy Camacho
Nashville, TN

Hey Sandy,
The Archies were a fictional band made up of studio musicians under the musical direction of Don Kirshner (The Monkees) in 1968. Ron Dante, the lead vocalist for The Cuff Links, was the singer featured on almost all of The Archies' recordings. When they needed a female voice, they used songwriter Toni Wine, who at one time wrote songs at the Brill Building with Gerry Goffin (who recently passed away), among others. Andy Kim, who had some success on his own with "Rock Me Gently", and "Baby I Love You", was also involved, having co-written their biggest hit, "Sugar Sugar", which was the Billboard #1 Pop Song of 1969. This is the only time in history that a fictional band ever placed a song at #1 in the charts. They released their last single, "Strangers in the Morning" in 1972.  And yes, I do remember those cardboard cereal box records. I had a few myself, but I always carved the center hole out wrong so the record would wow and flutter. Remember those terms?

Hi Info Dude,
The group Procol Harum is a favorite of mine. Being a drummer myself, I especially love Procol drummer BJ Wilson's work. Until recently, I'd always thought that he was the group's original drummer, but a friend tells me that there was another drummer, Bobby Harrison, before him. I did not know this before! Was that Harrison's drumming on "A Whiter Shade Of Pale"? It sounds like BJ Wilson to me! What's the story here?
Mike Talley
Bristol, WI

Actually, neither of those two are drumming on "A Whiter Shade Of Pale". The band's producer, Denny Cordell, replaced Bobby Harrison with session drummer Bill Eyden. Cordell didn't think Harrison's style was right for the "feel" he wanted in the song. Despite the song's huge success, Bill received only the going rate of 15 pounds, 15 shillings for his work on the song. Procol's regular drummer, Harrison, received 10,000 pounds (as did all the rest of the band members) even though he never lifted a stick! Interestingly, Harrison left the band soon after and was replaced by BJ Wilson, who remained the band's drummer until they broke up in 1977. His last recorded work was in 1985 on Procol singer Gary Brooker's solo LP, "Echoes in the Night". Wilson died in 1990.

Dear Info Dude,
What was the earliest known number one hit record?
Mike Barnes
Evergreen, CO

Record charting began at least as early as 1890. Most historians think that the numbers were more hype than reality, though, not always reflecting actual units sold. Sales people would often inflate sales figures to generate interest for retailers. However, the first number one hit ever recorded, whether truly accurate or not, is "Semper Fidelis", written by John Phillip Sousa and recorded by The US Marine Corps Band, circa 1890.