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Five Americans

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Five Americans
The Five Americans in 1967
Background information
Also known asThe Mutineers
OriginDurant, Oklahoma, U.S.
Years active1965 (1965)–1969 (1969)
Past members
  • Mike Rabon
  • John Durrill
  • Norman Ezell
  • Jim Grant
  • Jimmy Wright

The Five Americans was a 1960s American rock band, best known for their song "Western Union",[1] which reached number five in the U.S. Billboard chart and was their only single to chart in the Top 20. In Canada, they had three in the Top 20.


The Mutineers formed in Durant, Oklahoma (Southeastern State College) in 1962.[2] The band members crossed paths at the university, and began performing a repertoire of Bo Diddley and Duane Eddy standards within the campus. In 1963, the band recorded their debut single, "Jackin' Around", in Dallas, Texas, an instrumental which received extensive airplay in their college. The British Invasion influenced The Mutineers to include Beatles numbers to their repertoire, a change in outfitting, and a slight emphasis to vocals.[2][3] However, their most impactful acquisition was their utilization of the Vox Continental electronic organ, a later highlight of the group's sound.[4] While in Dallas, the band achieved prominence playing as a frequent attraction in a venue called The Pirate's Nook. There they came to the attention of Abnak Records, whose president John Abdnor took the group under his wing.[2] Shortly thereafter, the band identified themselves as the Five Americans.[5]

For a short while after their five top singles "I See The Light", "Western Union", "Sound of Love", "Evol - Not Love",[6] and "Zip Code" were released, they toured. However, their manager, Jon Abdnor Sr., owner/president of Abnak Records (and Bankers Management and Services Insurance Co.), was allowed control of their finances. After Abdnor's death in 1996, all rights to their songs should have reverted to the group, but Sundazed Records bought the original tapes. The Five Americans are now receiving their share of the sales and publishing royalties.[citation needed]

"Western Union"[edit]

In a March 1967 interview that appeared in Michael Oberman's "Top Tunes" column in the Evening Star newspaper (Washington, D.C.), Norman Ezell, guitarist for the group, explained how they came up with "Western Union." "Mike Rabon, our lead guitar player, was just fooling around with his guitar when he came up with a unique sound," Norman said. "It sort of reminded us of a telegraph key. That's when we decided to write 'Western Union.'"[7]

Break-up and the deaths of band members[edit]

The Five Americans broke up in 1969, after several singles only scraped the Billboard Hot 100 ("7:30 Guided Tour" stalled at #96) or missed the chart entirely ("Virginia Girl" managed to "bubble under" at #133, while a new version of an earlier hit, entitled "I See The Light '69", couldn't even manage that).[8]

Mike Rabon had a successful touring career afterwards, released two albums that sold well[clarification needed] and played guitar for the Tyler, Texas, pop group Gladstone, whose "A Piece of Paper" reached number 45 in October 1972. He later returned to college, acquired a master's degree in public school administration, and worked in the Oklahoma school systems for 28 years. Rabon married Cara Beth Whitworth in 1979. He died on February 11, 2022, at the age of 78.[9]

John Durrill, the keyboardist, who wrote "Dark Lady" for Cher and "Misery and Gin" for Merle Haggard and was also a member of the band The Ventures,[10] now lives in Los Angeles; as of 2024, he is the group's only surviving member.

Bassist Jim Grant died from a heart attack on November 29, 2004, at the age of 61.[10][11]

Norman Ezell (guitar and harmonica) became a teacher and minister in Northern California.[10] He died of cancer on May 8, 2010, at the age of 68.[12]

Drummer Jimmy Wright (born James Thomas Wright on December 2, 1947) left the music industry to become a freelance photographer. He died at Texoma Medical Center on January 30, 2012, at the age of 64.



  • I See the Light (BB No. 136) – HBR HLP-8503 (mono) / HST-9503 (stereo) (1966)
  • Western Union (BB No. 121, CB No. 66) – Abnak ABLP-1967 (mono) / ABST-2067 (stereo) (1967)
  • Progressions – Abnak ABLP (mono) / ABST-2069 (stereo) (1967)
  • Now and Then – Abnak ABST-2071 (1968)[2]


Year Single Chart positions Label Album
Hot 100

1965 "Show Me"
b/w "Love, Love Love"
ABC-Paramount 10686 Non-LP tracks
"Say That You Love Me"
b/w "Without You"
- - - Abnak 106
"I See the Light"
b/w "The Outcast"
- - - Abnak 109 I See the Light
1966 "I See the Light"
b/w "The Outcast" (re-release)
26 41 18 - HBR 454
"Evol-Not Love"
b/w "Don't You Dare Blame Me" (from I See The Light)
52 68 41 - HBR 468 Progressions
"Good Times"
b/w "The Losing Game" (from I See The Light)
- - - HBR 483 Non-LP tracks
"It's You Girl"
b/w "I'm Gonna Leave Ya"
- - - Jetstar 104
"I'm Feeling OK"
b/w "Slippin' and Slidin'"
- - - Jetstar 105
b/w "Sympathy"
- - - Abnak 114 Western Union
"If I Could"
b/w "Now That It's Over"
- Abnak 116
1967 "Western Union"
b/w "Now That It's Over"
5 7 3 35 Abnak 118
"Sound of Love"
b/w "Sympathy"
36 31 20 Abnak 120
"Zip Code"
b/w "Sweet Bird of Youth"
36 55 50 89 Abnak 123 Progressions
"Stop Light"
b/w "Tell Ann I Love Her" (from Western Union)
132 Abnak 125
1968 "7:30 Guided Tour"
b/w "See Saw Man" (from Western Union)
96 Abnak 126 Now and Then
"No Communication"
b/w "The Rain Maker" (from Progressions)
- - - Abnak 128 Non-LP tracks
"Lovin' Is Livin'"
b/w "Con Man" (from Progressions)
- - - Abnak 131
"Generation Gap"
b/w "The Source" (Non-LP track)
- - - Abnak 132 Now and Then
1969 "Virginia Girl"
b/w "Call On Me" (Non-LP track)
133 - - Abnak 134
"Ignert Woman"
b/w "Scrooge"
- - - Abnak 137
"I See the Light '69"
b/w "Red Cape"
- - - Abnak 139
"She's Too Good to Me"
b/w "Molly Black"
Abnak 142


  1. ^ Jim Dawson; Steve Propes (2003). 45 RPM: The History, Heroes & Villains of a Pop Music Revolution. ISBN 0-87930-757-9.
  2. ^ a b c d Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 869. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  3. ^ James, Gary. "Gary James' Interview With Mike Rabon Of Five Americans". ClassicBands.com. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  4. ^ Bruce Eder. "The Five Americans - Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  5. ^ "Five Americans". Classicbands.com. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  6. ^ Ironically, the Five Americans' first four hit singles all charted higher in Canada than they did in the US.
  7. ^ Pore-Lee-Dunn Productions. "Five Americans". Classicbands.com. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Brief History". Thefiveamericans.com.
  9. ^ "Obituary for Michael Lee Rabon | Prater-Lampton-Mills & Coffey".
  10. ^ a b c Heckmann, Paul. "Music : MIKE RABON, THE FIVE AMERICANS". MemoriesofDallas.org. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  11. ^ "The Dead Rock Stars Club : July To December 2004". Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  12. ^ "The Dead Rock Stars Club : January to June 2010". Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Five Americans Chart History - Billboard". Billboard. Retrieved January 29, 2017.

External links[edit]