The Scott Richard Case rose to local prominence when their single of "I'm So Glad" became a hit. The fact that it was a hit at the end of July, 1967 (when Detroit was burnin' down at the hands of half its population) may have something to do with why they haven't had one since. The single was recorded about a month or so after the group was formed. Jeep Holland was their manager then and the single was put out on his A2 label.
The Quackenbush brothers, Glenn and Gary on organ & guitar respectively, and drummer E.G. Clawson had formerly been in a band called the Fugitives, which was managed by Dave Leone (presently head of DMA, a management/ booking agency). They had even done an album called "Friday Night at the Hideout". (The Hideout was one of a chain of small teen clubs around Detroit at the time.) Scott Richardson, the band's vocalist, had formerly been with the Chosen Few, a significant early band in three respects. First, because they were one of the few bands with a lead singer; second, they opened the Grande Ballroom with the MC5, and in Scott's own words, "We had the trade secret in those days, like right after the Stones first appeared. We would listen to all the British groups who were relatively unknown, and we'd do all their tunes and cop all the styles." Pretty clever for 16 year old kids. (Ron Asheton, Stooge guitarist, also came out of this band.) Both bands were heavily influenced by the English bands-the Who, Stories, Pretty Things, Yardbirds, Pink Floyd.
So, it's not at all surprising that when Richardson, Clawson and the Quackenbushes, plus Robin Dale and Steve Lyman, got together as the Scott Richard Case to do a single, they covered the Skip James' tune "I'm So Glad", before the Cream's surge of popularity in the U.S. The Scott Richard Case was taken into the unofficial "school of rock and roll life", taught exclusively by Jeep Holland, who was officially their manager. "He was also our good friend," said Richardson. This was during the period of the small clubs in Detroit, and the Grande had just been open for several months. Richardson remembered the small clubs: "The Hideouts were great clubs. We would play three or four sets a night, a hundred and fifty songs. We also played the Roostertail (Detroit's only 'real' nightclub, on the Detroit River) and the Mount Holly teen dances. We were deep into the entire scene at that time, and we were having a great time as far as popularity and stuff."
"Also, when we formed the band," added Clawson, "the stipulation was that this would be our full-time work, because different people were going to college and stuff. So we decided to drop everything and just do this, and the only thing I can say is that as time progressed we got more serious about what we were doing." This first stage in the development of the band was described by Richardson: "Our repertoire consisted of all the best rock and roll songs that we liked by everybody. We did a version of the Supremes' "When That Lovelight Shines" and we did every Stones song in existence." But, as they became more serious about their music, they came into their own style, which is part of the reason for their graduation from Jeep's "school" and the breaking off of their managerial relationship with him. "He wanted to exercise artistic control more and more strongly," said Richardson. "So, with Pete (Andrews, the SRC's present manager) it would be more a matter of we were in control of ourselves artistically and he (Andrews) would handle the business aspects. Also, at the time Jeep was managing God knows how many bands. We also wanted somebody devoted just to us, because we were full-time musicians and we wanted a full-time manager," added Glenn Quackenbush.
After the band split from Jeep, they incorporated with Andrews and changed their name to SRC, because they didn't want emphasis on any individuals within the group. From that point on, the SRC's music and other activities became a total corporation effort, and Andrew's managerial functions and public relations work grew to become one of the most together set ups in the Detroit/Ann Arbor rock communities. Shortly after the name change, the band met John Rhys (the producer of the SRC's first two albums), who in turn introduced them to Herb Adler, vice-president of Capitol Records' publishing company. No one's clear just how it happened, but shortly thereafter they signed a contract with Capitol records. Their first album was released in the fall of 1968 and enjoyed strong local sales, but did little outside of the Midwest.
Soon after the release of SRC (November 1968), the SRC made their first personnel change. Al Wilmot (formerly of the Thyme, a germinal local band that was also the starting place for Jimmy Optner of Catfish and Ralph Cole of Lighthouse) joined the SRC to replace bass player Robin Dale. Wilmot related some interesting ideas and observations about the music of SRC: "E.G. called me one night out of the clear blue and asked me to join the band. I couldn't believe it 'cause I always had liked them and had been deep into their music. SRC music is usually a rock and roll rhythm, but it's more metaphysical than most rock and roll. I had always noticed a mystical quality about the music. Its like the difference between the Stones and the Who. The Who use their imaginations a lot more in rock and roll. The Stones play easy rock and easy blues cause that's what they play. SRC is more like the Who on that line of comparison. It's thought out rock. You have to push your mind to new limits to create it. It's scary ... like Edgar Allen Poe music. There's a lot of groups that are scary just for the effect. SRC music is like between easy rock and roll and scary music."
"We got Al Wilmot at the right time," recalled Richardson, "'cause he fit right into the group perfectly. We'd known him for a long time on a professional basis and we had been brother bands with the Thyme at the A2 organization. The Thyme were going through changes 'cause they couldn't decide whether to go to college or play, and Al had already decided he wanted to be a full-time musician so we snatched him right up."
Then, during the first stages of recording the second album, the band began going through more changes; a tightening up of schedules and getting deeper into and more serious about their work and about being a band. They asked Steve Lyman, who was the second guitarist, to leave. They've been a five-piece group ever since. The second album Milestones, was released in March of 1969 and despite virtually no promotion by Capitol, made the Billboard & Cashbox charts and sold about three times as well as the first lp. This enabled the band to get out and play outside of the Midwest. The album even got a substantial amount of airplay in Europe (London and Amsterdam) about the same time as the MC5's first album was being played over there. The response was significant enough for EMI (the giant British Corporation which owns Capitol) to pick up the album for release over there.
One important appearance was the SRC at the "Toronto Pop" festival last June. They received standing ovations both days, but almost more significant was their attitude the entire weekend. They voluntarily played at a spur-of-the-moment street dance the night before the festival, and did a 3 a.m. set at the Rock Pile (used the first night of the festival as a place to crash) after spending the entire day at the festival grounds, sticking around to see other groups and just generally having a good time, instead of disappearing the moment their set was finished, like most groups did. Maybe that's part of what makes Detroit bands different.
Even while gigging around the country, the SRC retained their community consciousness and helped produce the first "Detroit Pop" Festival, a festival at Saugatuck over the Fourth of July weekend, besides playing at many of the free concerts held on Sunday afternoons in Detroit and Ann Arbor. "We really became aware, after appearing on both coasts, that the Detroit/Ann Arbor scene is tremendous. Like there's so many more active musicians and seemingly there's just no comparison with the rest of the country," testified Glenn Quackenbush. "The music potential that exists in this area hasn't really emerged, yet," added Scott, "But, it's on the verge of that now. Artistically, I don't think there's a great wealth of great material that's been produced, but it's definitely yet to come. This is really a young scene. Even age wise, our ages and the ages of the MC5 and the Amboy Dukes and all are a generation completely removed from the ages of the musicians say on the English scene."
"I think people outside of the Midwest are getting prepared," added Clawson, "Like, I think they're expecting it to happen. It's just a matter of time. And the people here....last summer, playing all the pop festivals and free concerts, you could see all those people out there who felt part of the whole thing. The people were like trying to achieve something better to make the whole thing more of a cormmunity type thing. All the trivial little bullshit things that had been built up in the past were beginning to get knocked down. It's just a really great feeling."
At the end of the summer of 1969, the SRC toured the west coast. It was a disappointing tour and not overly successful, for various number of reasons including the entire attitude of west coast audiences towards music and especially Detroit music. The tour put the SRC through changes, musically and personally, and on their return they changed guitarists. "It got to the point," explained Richardson, "where we couldn't completely carry on with Gary (Quackenbush). It was like another plateau that we were building up to. We'd been to San Francisco, and we'd learned some things and gotten it into our heads what our next level of working would be. We began reorganizing our program to take care of the mistakes we'd made before and didn't want to make again. We just had to make another step and he couldn't make it with us. But it wasn't because of a flip out from a motorcycle accident, like many thought."
So guitarist Ray Goodman stepped in and played with the SRC for six months, during which they recorded their third Capitol album, Travelers Tale. The recording of this album was one of the major events in the careers of the SRC. "We finally have an album package that we're satisfied with and a sound on record that we're extremely satisfied with," said Glenn Quackenbush. Besides using a new guitarist, there were other major changes in the production of the album. "We used orchestration for the first time. It was a major change for us because, besides gaining Ray, we had taken a step forward technically and we had a lot more capabilities and a lot more things to work with, and working with an orchestra is completely different." The SRC used thirty strings, five French horns and the guidance of 22 year old composer and Stockhausen freak Bob Boury for one cut on the album called "The Offering". "He (Bob Boury) took our ideas and incorporated them with his and did the actual writing of the parts, because we don't know exactly how to do that," explained Glenn Quackenbush, "we were surprised at the average age of the musicians. We expected them to be a lot older, but a lot of them were younger than us."
"Actually, we were scared," admitted Richardson, "like, because they were classical musicians and like they're..." "They're not really exposed to rock and roll, or more or less any pop music things,", broke in Clawson, who played violin himself for years and turned down a position in the Detroit Symphony in order to become a rock and roll drummer. "But, it worked and we were surprised on both sides," said Richardson, "we recorded the whole thing in one day, which is amazing. They came in and had enough technical knowledge to just sit down and play their parts."
Except for "The Offering', the entire album was arranged and produced by the entire band, and engineered by Clawson and Glenn Quackenbush. And they recorded all the tracks at their own studio and took them to GM studios in Detroit to do the mixing. "Our time schedule was tight," said Richardson, "We got Ray at the end of September and bought the machine (an eight-track recorder) in October. We didn't even have all the material written, but we just started. We worked a 9 - 5 schedule every day, writing and recording and we finished the album on December 19." The SRC are fairly unique, especially in this area, in that they did have complete artistic control over the album and that they had the facilities to do it with. But that's what they've been working for.
"The studio was started over a year ago," said Quackenbush, "and we just kept adding to it. We want to be totally responsible for our product." "That way," added Scott, "we can't say anybody else fucked up." The SRC have recently moved into a large home outside of Ann Arbor, with a huge garage-type building that they are presently converting into a professional studio. "Eventually," added Richardson, "we'd definitely like to offer our services and studio to other groups at a reasonable rate. But that's quite far off." "It's not equipped right now for other people to come in and use it. The studio is just set up so that we're the only ones who know how to run it," added Clawson.
Although Travelers Tale was artistically satisfying, Ray Goodman turned out not to be the guitarist for SRC, and vice versa. In February, Goodman left to play with Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and the SRC asked Gary Quackenbush to play with them again. "It was sort of like a baseball trade," joked Richardson, "Everyone got what they wanted and everyone's happy." At any rate, the album's getting airplay on a lot of Midwestern radio stations, the band will be playing both the Boston Pop Festival and Wintersend in Miami and they're back in the studio working on another single. It looks like their newly developed sense of political/community consciousness is going to lead them to play a series of benefits for The Conspiracy, around the country. SRC, at this point, looks more together than ever.