The Shadows of Knight

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The Shadows of Knight
The band in 1966. Top, from left: Jerry McGeorge, Warren Rogers, Joe Kelley. Bottom from left: Jim Sohns and Tom Schiffour.
The band in 1966. Top, from left: Jerry McGeorge, Warren Rogers, Joe Kelley. Bottom from left: Jim Sohns and Tom Schiffour.
Background information
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
GenresGarage rock, blues rock
Years active1964–present
LabelsDunwich, Radar, Team, Sundazed, Rhino, Atlantic, Atco, Collectables, Wicked Cool
Associated actsH.P. Lovecraft, Bangor Flying Circus, Madura
WebsiteShadows Of Knight Official Facebook
MembersJim Sohns
Jerry McGeorge
Jeff Millar-Sax
Michael Weber
Past membersWarren Rogers
Wayne Pursell
Norm Gotsch
Tom Schiffour
Joe Kelley
David "Hawk" Wolinski
Bobby Messano

The Shadows of Knight is an American rock band from Chicago, Illinois, that plays a version of British blues influenced by their native city. When they began recording in 1965, the band's self-description was "the Stones, Animals and the Yardbirds took the Chicago blues and gave it an English interpretation. We've taken the English version of the Blues and re-added a Chicago touch," to which rock critic Richie Unterberger commented: "The Shadows of Knight's self-description was fairly accurate."[1]

History[edit]

1960s[edit]

Initially formed in 1964 as simply the Shadows, the band learned in spring 1965 of an existing British group, the Shadows. Whiz Winters, a friend who worked for their manager, Paul Sampson, in his record shop, came up with the name "The Shadows of Knight" to tie into the British Invasion in music of that time, and because all four of the band members attended Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, whose sports team had the name the "Knights".[2]

They released three albums in their first five years of existence. Founding members included Warren Rogers (lead guitar), Roger Spielmann (rhythm and lead guitar/vocals) Norm Gotsch (rhythm guitar), Wayne Pursell (bass guitar), Tom Schiffour (drums) and Jim Sohns (vocals).[3] Sohns was 16 at the time.[4] During 1965, Joe Kelley was recruited to play bass, replacing Pursell.[3] Kelley swapped bass and lead duties with Rogers in late 1965 - at the time of the "Gloria" recordings. Guitarist and vocalist Jerry McGeorge replaced Norm Gotsch in late 1965 after Gotsch was drafted into the U.S. military.[3] David "Hawk" Wolinski, who later worked with Rufus and Chaka Khan, replaced Rogers on bass in late 1966.[3]

After performing in and around Chicago's northwest suburbs in 1964 and 1965, The Shadows of Knight became the house band at The Cellar in Arlington Heights, Illinois, owned by Sampson.[3] They attracted more than 500 teenagers every Saturday and Sunday at the "Cellar" for more than six months until Sampson began booking other bands, giving them a break. A recording of a Shadows of Knight performance at The Cellar was released in 1992 by Sundazed Records as Raw 'n' Alive at the Cellar, Chicago 1966!.

A performance in support of the Byrds at Chicago's McCormick Place in early summer 1965 attracted the attention of Dunwich Records record producers Bill Traut and George Badonski. During that show, they performed "Gloria" by Van Morrison's band Them. The band signed with Dunwich shortly thereafter and recorded "Gloria" as a first effort.[3]

Released in December 1965, "Gloria" received massive regional airplay. The band had slightly altered the song's lyrics, replacing Morrison's original "she comes to my room, then she made me feel alright" with "she called out my name, that made me feel alright" after influential Chicago station WLS had banned Them's original version. This simple change overcame the prevalent AM radio censorship of the era and got The Shadows of Knight's cover version of the song onto the playlist of WLS, which had censored the original.[5] The single reached the No. 1 position on the radio station's countdown, as well as on local rival WCFL. On the Billboard national charts, "Gloria" rose to No. 10. The secondary publication Cashbox ranked "Gloria" as high as No. 7.[6] In Canada the song reached No. 8 on the RPM Magazine charts. "Gloria" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A.[7]

The Shadows of Knight soon released the Gloria album, followed by the Back Door Men LP, in the summer of 1966.[3] Subsequent singles included their version of the Bo Diddley song "Oh Yeah" (which reached No. 39 nationally), "Bad Little Woman" (No. 91), and the powerhouse "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" (No. 90). However, none of these releases approached their initial commercial success. Failure to find a winning follow-up to "Gloria" handicapped the band's earning power and led to its disintegration. Tom Schiffour left the band in spring 1967, first to be replaced by a young local fan of the band, Bruce Bruscato. He was subsequently replaced by Tom Morris. The original band fragmented further when McGeorge departed for acid-rock band H.P. Lovecraft,[3] while Kelley left to front his own blues band. Hawk Wolinski also left the band to form Bangor Flying Circus with Schiffour and guitarist Alan De Carlo. Schiffour was later replaced by drummer Michael Tegza, also of the (by then-defunct) H.P. Lovecraft.[citation needed]

By mid-1967, the only original member of the Shadows of Knight remaining was vocalist Jim Sohns, who, through simple default, inherited the band's name and legacy.[3] Contrary to claims Sohns owns the band's name. The band name is now solely owned, via trademark registration (trademark numbers 5529482 and 5255086).[citation needed] Roger Spielmann quit the band in 1967 in order to avoid the Vietnam draft, and currently lives in Canada.[citation needed] In 1968, Dunwich sold the master tapes to its Shadow of Knight recordings to Atlantic Records for one dollar. Sohns then moved the band from Chicago to New York, where it signed with Buddah Records.[2] Sohns had hoped to take the band in a British power-rock direction, but the Super K record label pulled them into a more commercial orientation,[3] pairing the band with bubblegum groups such as the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the Ohio Express on tour. In 1969, the second generation Shadows of Knight released "Shake" on Buddha's short-lived subsidiary Team Records;[3] the track eventually climbed to No. 46 (No. 37 Canada, December 1968). That same year, without the band's knowledge or consent, the unsuccessful update "Gloria '69" was released by Dunwich.[3] It consisted of new bass and guitar tracks overdubbed by Peter Cetera (later of Chicago) and Jim Donlinger (a member of Aorta), both Chicago rock veterans.[citation needed]

"Shake" and its B-side, "From Way Out to Way Under" were actually recorded by Sohns and a number of studio musicians, on the understanding that a Shadows of Knight reassembled by Sohns would record the follow-up album. That album, Shadows of Knight is today regarded as a distinct recording oddity, being an attempt to mix punk and bubblegum music.[8]

1970s–1980s[edit]

The four years after the breakup of the original Shadows was a dark creative period with little financial success. The band's repertoire consisted mostly of pop cover songs, which allowed them to survive by playing clubs. The second iteration of the band consisted of John Fisher, former lead guitar of the Glass Menagerie, on bass, Woody Woodruff and Dan Baughman on guitars, and Ken Turkin on drums. Turkin was replaced in early 1969 by Paul Scarpelli, and in 1970 Jack "Hawkeye" Daniels replaced Woodruff on guitar. The band's lineup remained the same for two years, and it recorded "I Am the Hunter." John Fisher was replaced by Jorge Gonzales on bass in 1971, who was subsequently replaced by John Hardy the next year. He was then replaced by studio bassist Don Ferrone.

Over subsequent decades, Sohns fronted varying incarnations of the group on the oldies circuit. He also spent a period of time reflecting on his future in the music business, choosing to become the road manager of the band Skafish from 1978 to 1980. He would join the band to sing "Gloria" as the band's encore.

1990s[edit]

Commencing as of the 1990s, the Shadows of Knight enjoyed a resurgence in public interest, in significant part due to the 1998 release of their first two albums, in remastered form, by Sundazed Records. In 1992, Performance Records (aka "Donewitch" Records) released The Shadows Of Knight - Live, Featuring "Gloria". This was a previously unreleased performance recorded live in Rockford, Illinois, in 1972. The performance featured Lee Brovitz on bass (later of Blue Angel)[9] and Paul Roy on guitar. As one reviewer[who?] noted in relation to the album, "If you subscribe to the theory that the '60s actually survived a couple of years into the 1970s, then this is a prime slice of 1960s garage punk."[citation needed] The album is also noted as containing "a wonderfully blistering guitar-laced extended version of Willie Dixon's 'I Just Want to Make Love to You'", which is nearly twelve minutes long.[10] Also in 1992, another live recording, Raw 'n' Alive at The Cellar, 1966, was released by Sundazed Records. As noted by Richie Unterberger, "This is one of the very few live garage band tapes from the mid-'60s of relatively decent sound quality (considering the standards of the era). The song selection of this set should also please fans of one of the most famed '60s garage bands, captured here at a club in their home turf of Chicago in December 1966."[11] In 1994, Rhino Records released Dark Sides: The Best of The Shadows of Knight. Unterberger had mixed feelings about this collection, particularly in view of the absence of "I Just Want to Make Love to You".[12] "I Just Want to Make Love to You" was included in a 2005 Atlantic release, Rhino Hi-Five: The Shadows of Knight, a five-song EP that also included "Gloria" and "Oh Yeah".[citation needed]

2000s[edit]

In 2006, the Shadows of Knight headlined Little Steven's cross-country "Underground Garage" tour with The Romantics. The Shadows also joined Cheap Trick's Halloween show ("Cheap Trick or Treat"), along with guest appearances by members of the Romantics and the Charms. This performance was subsequently televised on VH-1 Classic. At shows on the 2006 tour, they were joined onstage at various times by Rick Mullen (of Van Morrison, Commander Cody, Don McLean), Vince Martell (Vanilla Fudge), Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge), and members of The Romantics. Also in 2006, a CD of new material, A Knight to Remember, was released co-produced by Bobby Messano and Lee Brovitz. Messano played all of the guitars and assisted with background vocals on the album. The music on A Knight to Remember, which contained a reworked version of "Gloria", has been compared to that of The Sonics.[citation needed]

In 2008, the band toured as part of "The Psychedelic Shack Tour", which also featured a re-formed Nazz, Vince Martell and, on occasion, Henry Gross. Also in 2008, a new CD was released, Rock 'n' Roll Survivors, containing a further reworking of "Gloria".

2010s–present[edit]

As of 2015, Sohns still carries on the legacy of the Shadows of Knight and performs many shows annually.[citation needed]

Joe Kelley died on September 1, 2013, after a brief battle with lung cancer. He was 67.[13]

On August 20, 2016, the surviving members of the original lineup of The Shadows of Knight reunited and performed in concert for the first time in 49 years.[citation needed]

On May 27, 2020, classic-era members Jimy Sohns and Jerry McGeorge teamed up with producer/musician Michael Weber to release their first new single together in 53 years, "Wild Man."[14] On November 6, 2020, the record, along with its B-side remake of "I Ain't Got You", was released on Steven Van Zandt's Wicked Cool Records and debuted the following week on Sirius XM's Underground Garage as 'Coolest Song In The World'.[citation needed]

Band members[edit]

Current
  • Jim Sohns – vocals (1964–present)
  • Jerry McGeorge – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1965-1967, 2016, 2020–present)
  • Michael Weber - lead guitar, backing vocals, drums, keyboard (2014–present)
  • Jeff Millar-Sax – percussion, backing vocals (2012–present)
Past
  • Hawk Wolinski – bass, keyboards (1966-1967, 2015, 2016)
  • Tom Schiffour - drums (1964-1967, 2016)
  • Joe Kelley – lead guitar (1965-1967)
  • Warren Rogers - bass, rhythm guitar, vocals (1964-1966)
  • Norm Gotsch - rhythm guitar (1964-1965)
  • Wayne Pursell - bass (1964-1965)

Discography[edit]

Singles[15][edit]

Year Title US
Hot 100
US
Cash Box
Album Label
1966 "Gloria"
"Dark Side"
10 7 Gloria Dunwich Records D-116
1966 "Oh Yeah"
"Light Bulb Blues "
39 -- Gloria Dunwich Records D-122
1966 "Bad Little Woman"
"Gospel Zone"
91 -- Back Door Men Dunwich Records D-128
1966 "I'm Gonna Make You Mine"
"I'll Make You Sorry "
90 -- Non-album single
Back Door Men
Dunwich Records D-141
1967 "Willie Jean"
"The Behemoth"
-- -- Non-album single
Back Door Men
Dunwich Records D-151
1967 "Someone Like Me"
"Three For Love"
-- -- Non-album single Dunwich Records D-167
1968 "Shake"
"From Way Out To Way Under"
46 60 Non-album single Team Records 520
1969 "My Fire Department Needs A Fireman"
"Taurus"
-- -- Non-album single Super K Records SK8
1969 "Run Run Billy Porter "
"My Fire Department Needs A Fireman"
-- -- Non-album single Super K Records SK10
1970 "I Am the Hunter"
"Warwick Court Affair"
-- -- Non-album single Atco 45-6776
2020 "Wild Man"
"I Ain't Got You"
-- -- Non-album single Wicked Cool WKC-69012-1

Studio albums[edit]

Year Title Label
1966 Gloria Dunwich Records 666
1966 Back Door Men Dunwich Records 667
1969 Shadows of Knight Super K SKS 6002
2007 A Knight To Remember Bassic-Lee Music

Live albums[edit]

Year Title Label
1992 Raw 'n Alive at the Cellar, Chicago 1966! Sundazed Records SC 11013
1992 Live! (In Rockford, IL. 1972) Performance Records DONE 5CD
2015 Live 1966 Sundazed
2018 Alive in '65 Sundazed
2020 50th Anniversary Reunion Concert Giving Shelter

References[edit]

  1. ^ Unterberger, Richie. Biography of The Shadows of Knight at AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-04-25.
  2. ^ a b Biography of The Shadows of Knight; Classicbands.com.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Sixties Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 399. ISBN 0-7535-0149-X.
  4. ^ See Biography of Jimy Sohns; Skafish.com.
  5. ^ The History of Banned Rock and Roll; Classicbands.com.
  6. ^ Cash Box Top 100 5/14/66 Archived 2010-02-02 at the Wayback Machine. Cashboxmagazine.com (1966-05-14). Retrieved on 2012-11-10.
  7. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 212. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  8. ^ As described by one reviewer, "It was supernatural. As well as crudely produced and swept into a schizoid zone all its own where it barked and drooled while trying to behave. Which it did—badly. It is one of the most incorrigible displays in a space and time renowned for incorrigibility. The album is a catalog of first takes, mistakes, outtakes, and every-other-kinda-takes as well as how NOT to produce a record; let alone one to rescue a diminishing career with some semblance of a return to form. But as far as providing true con-o-sewers with enough fuzz, junk, kicks, and yucks for its half an hour duration, it scores a big time punk 'f***, yeah!' Although not zackly up there with the likes of Basic Blues Magoos (let alone The Litter’s far more consistent Emerge) it is strange, unique, and nonplussing-as-f*** enough to earn laurels galore from those starved for more rama-lama-fa-fa-fa from the twilight zone twixt garage, heavy Rock and points beyond (Namely: ‘people like me’ as Jim Sohns once sang in his usual gutsy, adenoidal, and succinct manner.)" See Review of Shadows of Knight by "The Seth Man"/"The Book of Seth", October 1, 2008; Headheritage.co.uk.
  9. ^ A band formed in 1980 that featured Cyndi Lauper, prior to her international success as a solo artist.[citation needed]
  10. ^ Leggett, Steve. Review of Live Featuring Gloria at AllMusic. Retrieved 10-10-08.
  11. ^ Unterberger, Richie. Review of Raw 'n' Alive at The Cellar, 1966 at AllMusic
  12. ^ "More easily available to North Americans than the British Edsel best-of, but not necessarily an improvement. Adds some tracks from both the original lineup and their unimpressive, more pop-oriented singles from the late '60s, and has more comprehensive liner notes, but also omits a few decent covers that are on the U.K. compilation, particularly their smoking, over-the-top version of 'I Just Want to Make Love to You.'" ~ Richie Unterberger, AllMusic, as reprinted in MP3.com; the original review appears to have been deleted at allmusic.com.
  13. ^ "Joseph J. Kelley Obituary". Legacy.com. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  14. ^ Kotal, Kent (2020-05-27). "Forgotten Hits: It's Another FORGOTTEN HITS EXCLUSIVE!". Forgotten Hits. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  15. ^ Many Shadows of Knight singles were released multiple times with different B-sides. Chart lists original issues only.

External links[edit]