Lost Northwest Treasures: The Wailers – “Road-Runner”

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Our Lost Treasures record this week is a Northwest classic from Tacoma garage band The Wailers.  “Road-Runner” is the 1959 B-side of their biggest hit “Tall Cool One”, both instrumentals released on Golden Crest Records. This is not the same song written & performed by Bo Diddley, but an original written by founding members Richard Dangell & John Greek. Formed by 5 high school friends, the group was originally called The Nitecaps.  The mostly-instrumental group recorded several singles but most of these failed to chart outside of our regional stations, in spite of a national appearance on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand”.  Although Portland group The Kingsmen had the big hit with “Louie Louie”, it was actually recorded & performed by The Wailers first, although again, it failed to make any waves outside of the Northwest.  The group’s personnel changed at various times & briefly included a female vocalist,Gail Harris.  The live album “The Fabulous Wailers at the Castle”, recorded in 1961, has been described as “undoubtedly one of the most influential albums in Seattle rock & roll history”.  Continuing to perform live as well as recording, the band added a trio of girl backing singers, known as the Marshans. The group notably made a big impression on a young Jimi Hendrix.  The Wailers also helped launch the career of The Sonics.  The band split up in 1969, by which time Kent Morrill was the only remaining original member. Morrill, Dangel and “Buck”Ormsby, with other musicians, reunited as The Wailers for occasional concerts from the 1970s onwards.  Their final gig was a 1979 reunion show.  Many of the band members have since passed away over the last 15-20 years, but The Wailers are etched in the memories of many Pacific Northwest residents who attended their numerous dances & shows here in our region.  Start the final weekend of 2019 with some solid grooves from one of THE ultimate Northwest garage bands & thanks for pointing your browser to Puget Sound Media!

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Mike Cherry

Author: Mike Cherry

retired broadcaster: on-air, MD, PD, asst PD, Prod Mgr, IT, station technician/engineer, pioneer Internet webcaster, station installation/maintenance; 12 years in commercial radio, 17 years volunteer in campus/community radio in B.C., Alberta & Wash. Amateur radio operator & "DXer" specializing in AM night-time DX, short-wave DX/listening & remote SDR DXing/listening

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