Super Band left to right – Bob Yeazel, Jimmy Greenspoon, Myron Pollock, Roger Bryant, Ron Morgan
“SUPERBAND! Is a many-faceted Whirlwind of Music. SUPERBAND! Is something resembling an electric Marvel Comic-Book with Serious Soul, Intent and Sound. SUPERBAND! Contains: Jim Greenspoon – pianist, Robb Yeazel – guitarist, Roger Bryant – bassist, Myron Pollock – drummer and Ron Morgan – guitarist.” So said Carol Sterkel in a 1966 press release about the Denver group Super Band. They recorded a vinyl 45 that year on local label Capricorn (no relation to the later Southern Rock label) “Acid Indigestion” b/w “I Ain’t Got Nobody” which qualifies as a forgotten sly ode to LSD and the hippy culture. The 2007 Gear Fab CD Psychedelic States: Colorado In The 60s collected some obscure singles by long forgotten late ‘60s Colorado acts including that song.
They often played at the Exodus, a popular Denver club at 1999 N. Lincoln (now the location of a light rail line and parking lot). Ron Morgan (Alameda High School alum) drifted in and out of the band and at the time these photos where taken there, he was not present.
Perhaps their most important show was opening for The Charlatans and Quicksilver Messenger Service at the hippy club The Family Dog at 1601 W. Evans (Sept. 15, 1967).
Pollock: “We did mostly original material as Yeazel was a very talented writer.” While the band may be long forgotten, the interwoven and convoluted story of how the members became involved in the groups Beast, The Electric Prunes, Sugarloaf, Three Dog Night and The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band is where it gets interesting.
The late Bob Markley was a wealthy playboy who back in the ‘60s saw allying himself with a rock and roll band as a way to ‘meet’ young women (a habit that eventually got him in to huge trouble). He hooked up with the band Laughing Wind (that included Shaun and Danny Harris who moved to California in 1962 from Colorado Springs) changing their name to The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. Their first album Volume One came out in 1966 on the small Fifo label to little notice. Markley next secured the group a recording contract with Reprise where they released their second album, the confusingly titled Part One in February of 1967.
Ron Morgan prior to being in Super Band had been in Denver band The Wild Ones (he is second from the right in this photo)
After (or during) Super Band he took his prodigious guitar talents to California and joined in recording with The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band for Part One. What is confusing about this is that record came out early in 1967 yet Super Band was still playing dates at least in to September of 1967. Morgan contributed the song “Smell Of Incense” (with dubious co-writing credit by Markley) for their third record, the 1967 LP Vol. 2 (Breaking Through).
Released as a single it didn’t chart, but it was heard by a Texas band Southwest F.O.B. (containing future stars England Dan and John Ford Coley) who did manage to hit in ’68 with a shortened version of the song (#56 on Billboard).
The WCPAEB’s next LP Volume 3: A Child’s Guide to Good and Evil didn’t chart in 1968 but is today considered a classic by fans of obscure psychedelia.
Moving from band to band seemed to be a habit for Morgan who was lured to play guitar in 1968 with a new group backing a trio of singers calling themselves Three Dog Night. The keyboard player was Jimmy Greenspoon who had previously been in an early ‘60s band with Michael Lloyd from The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band before moving to Denver in 1966 and joining Super Band. In this photo, Morgan is at top left and Greenspoon top right.
Morgan only lasted a few months (replaced on guitar by Michael Allsup) before leaving to join The Electric Prunes as the music of Three Dog Night was too structured according to his brother in a later tribute and didn’t have room for much lead guitar playing. (**Note that in Chuck Negron’s autobiography Three Dog Nightmare, however, the reason he gives for Morgan leaving was that he was fired for either stage fright or taking drugs. “It was very weird. We started singing and when it came time for Ron’s guitar solo he forgot to play. But that wasn’t all. At one point I remember turning around and Ron wasn’t even there.”) Three Dog Night of course became a hugely successful act (“Joy To The World”, “Mama Told Me Not To Come”, etc.). Greenspoon continued touring with them till 2014 when he was diagnosed with cancer (he passed March 11, 2015 at the age of 67).
The Electric Prunes were a Los Angeles garage rock band that scored in late ‘66/early ‘67 with “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)” and “Get Me To The World On Time”.
By their third Reprise label LP (Mass In F Minor), writer/arranger David Axelrod was brought in to revitalize their sound and hopefully pump up sales figures. Axelrod, however, envisioned a complicated record with religious meanings sung in Latin and Greek which likely wasn’t going to sell millions of Electric Prunes LPs to kids. On this record the Prunes had a hard time doing the music and were augmented by Canadian band The Collectors (who later became Chilliwack). Original singer James Lowe was the only Prune to appear on all the tracks. The song “Kyrie Eleison” was the most notable tune on that LP also appearing on the soundtrack to the movie Easy Rider albeit in a different version then the original on Mass In F Minor.
While it had some small success, this essentially put an end to the original band (till a many decade’s later reunion). Legendary engineer/producer David Hassinger (The Rolling Stones) owned the name Electric Prunes at this point and to record the follow-up LP he and Axelrod needed a new band. Manager Lenny Poncher also handled Hardwater, (who Colorado’s The Astronauts had become) and member Rich Fifield suggested that Denver act Climax would fit the bill nicely to become the new Electric Prunes.
Climax was singer/drummer Richard Whetstone (Thomas Jefferson and Cherry Creek High alum), organist John Herron, guitarist Mark Kincaid and bassist Bob Brandenburg. Whetstone had previously been in the Denver band Mayfield Spinning Wheel as shown here at The Exodus in Denver.
Regarding Climax, Whetstone said: “We were a club band and with the Hammond B-3 we could play music like Vanilla Fudge.” Their bassist opted out so Canadian Brett Wade came on board (at the suggestion of The Collectors) for the move to California and the promise of success.
For the 1968 LP Release Of An Oath (which also had religious overtones), only Whetstone from the band appeared supplying lead vocals over tracks played by the cream of LA session musicians (notably Carol Kaye-bass, Earl Palmer-drums, Don Randi-keys and Howard Roberts-guitar). Whetstone was not a fan of the concept at the time but sang it. “Fortunately I could read music from my time in voice choir.” Listening now, there are elements of what would become progressive rock with the orchestrations and complex arrangements.
While not a success, some of the songs were used by rap artists some 40 years later including Rakim on his 2009 album The Seventh Seal that sampled “Holy Are You” on his song of the same name. As a side note, Whetstone confirmed that he doesn’t get any royalties from the samples as he is only the singer. At least he gets the satisfaction that a new generation of listeners gets to enjoy his work – likely more than did when it first came out.
The final Reprise studio Electric Prunes LP was Just Good Old Rock and Roll (1969) and saw Whetstone’s vocal and drum work joined by the rest of Climax – Mark Kincaid (guitar) and John Herron (organ) with Brett Wade (bass).
Two thirds in to recording the album Herron took his Hammond B-3 and walked. He and Rob McLerran (a later 60s member of The Astronauts) recorded a 1971 Uni LP and Boondoggle & Balderdash.
Herron later played sessions for acts like Flo & Eddie plus worked with Rick Vito (Fleetwood Mac) and many others. Tragically he died in a car wreck July 11, 2003 just three days after his 59th birthday. Ron Morgan came in on guitar from his stays with Three Dog Night and The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band to add mind-blowing lead guitar to finish the Prunes’ last Reprise LP. Following the end of The Electric Prunes, Whetstone and Wade departed for Canada where they formed the group Stallion Thumrock and recorded an album for A&M in 1972.
Whetstone returned to Colorado entering the world of real estate plus taking up photography. Over the years he has done album design and some musical work for artists like Roy Delaine Moore and Little Joe McLerran. In addition to album reissues, there are two fine box sets of Electric Prunes music, a straight five CD release of all their records titled Original Album Series and a much deeper dive in to them on Then Came The Dawn (Cherry Red Records). Ron Morgan passed away in 1989 at age 44.
Drummer Myron Pollock had bounced around the Denver music scene notably with The Galaxies.
After Super Band he moved for a time to California and played live with The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and a later version of The Standells (“Dirty Water”) when original drummer/singer Dick Dodd left in 1968. Pollack felt his drumming had gotten much better. “I took taekwando to get stronger and it helped my leverage.” When he returned to Colorado later that year, he was asked to join a new outfit to be led by old north Denver friend organist Jerry Corbetta who had played drums in a late version of The Moonrakers, a legendary ’60s Colorado band.
Corbetta had earlier been organist with Denver ’60s band The Brambles.
As kids, Corbetta and Pollock had met at the music section of the pawn shop GI Joes where they bonded over drumming. Pollock, who had been studying to be a graphic designer after graduation from North High, had no clue Corbetta was an accomplished organist till he was asked by Jerry to help him start a new band. They augmented the group with some of the cream of Denver musicians in guitarist Bob Webber (The Moonrakers), and bassist Bob Raymond (The Soul Survivors) who became Chocolate Hair.
They recorded demos which ended up forming most of their debut LP on Liberty.
The label was uncomfortable with the name so they became Sugarloaf after the Boulder area mountain. Pollock, however, left the band in Sept. 1969 before the name change and the original drummer from The Moonrakers Bob MacVittie came on board to record the last track for the album which became the hit single – “Green-Eyed Lady” (#3 in 1970).
After leaving Sugarloaf, Pollack continued in music with groups like Orange and The Daily Planet. He did a one off singing stint on the psychedelic rarity “(What’s Happening At) The Psychiatrist” for well-known Denver producer Dick (Dik) Darnell. As a lark, for his young daughter, he named the session as by Big Bird & The Steam Shovel. That incredibly rare single was also on the local Capricorn label.
For the second Sugarloaf LP, a new player was added to bring more songwriting to the band in former Super Band guitarist Bob Yeazel. Spaceship Earth (Jan. 1971) was not as successful as their first LP. Yeazel supplied the minor chart hit “Tongue In Cheek” (#55).
A few months later Air Force vet and Colorado musician Bobby Pickett from Maul & The Cutups joined to make them a sextet (and fifth in the band with the name Bob).
He left the following year and played sessions plus ultimately forming the band Detective with ex-Yes keys man Tony Kaye, Steppenwolf guitarist Michael Monarch and singer Michael Des Barres (with Jon Hyde on drums).
Prior to Sugarloaf, Yeazel formed the group Beast with future Barnstorm and Elton John bassist Kenny Passarelli who recorded an LP on Cotillion records (1969). Kenny then moved on and former Super Band bassist Roger Bryant joined for their second album (1970 on the Evolution label) – also confusingly titled Beast.
Yeazel didn’t stick around in Sugarloaf for long and moved around musically. At one point in 1971 he and Bryant recorded music as Diamondhead that was shelved at the time. This music finally did get released on CD (with cuts also by Brother Sun) in 2006 by Gear Fab.
As an aside, the Brother Sun tracks along with Yeazel also included drummer Bob MacVittie and some organ work by Jerry Corbetta on a couple of the tunes. Yeazel passed away in Florida June 9, 2016 at the age of 69. After leaving the Colorado music scene, drummer MacVittie moved to Arkansas and pursued restaurant management. He was replaced by Larry Ferris as Sugarloaf recorded a third album I Got A Song (1973).
Sugarloaf essentially broke up in late 1974 but was resurrected by a hit in “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” (#9 in 1975) which Corbetta had recorded with mainly session players (though Pollack believes he was the drummer on the hit version). Raymond and Webber rejoined for a last stab at the big time as Sugarloaf.
A live album came out many years later as Legends Live In Concert, Volume 15 from a 1975 show at Ebbets Field, a small legendary musical club in Denver’s Brooks Towers at 15th & Curtis. After Raymond and Webber left again, Pollock stuck it out a bit longer helping Corbetta record a self-titled solo album on Warner Brothers.
Corbetta in the early ’80s was a performer and musical director with Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.
In the ’90s Jerry led a group called The Classic Rock All-Stars. They were an aggregation of musicians who would perform the hits their former bands had a la Ringo’s All-Stars. Corbetta was joined by Mike Pinera (Blues Image/Iron Butterfly), Pete Rivera (Rare Earth) and Spencer Davis (later replaced by Dennis Noda of Cannibal & The Headhunters).
Pollack went in to sales after his time in music was up. Webber became a respected aerospace engineer till his retirement and has maintained a recording studio as well. It is believed Raymond went cold turkey on music and worked in the telephone industry. Your Rock N Roll Dentist was honored to induct Sugarloaf in to the Colorado Music Hall Of Fame in 2012 at an outstanding Boulder Theater event also including KIMN radio, The Astronauts and Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids. Corbetta was diagnosed with Pick’s Disease in 2010 and went deeply in to dementia. He passed while in hospice September 16, 2016 a week shy of his 69th birthday. Raymond passed in Colorado February 11, 2016 at the age of 69. Pickett, Pollock and Webber reunited for one summer night in 2022 at the Wild Goose Saloon in Parker, Colorado with help from Denny Flannigan of The Moonrakers on organ (introduced to the raucous crowd by former ’60s KIMN dj Chuck Buell).
This was in celebration of a newly released limited edition Sugarloaf live vinyl record titled 1975.
They were joined by Raymond’s guitarist grandson (from the band Shiver) playing his grandfather’s old bass on “Green-Eyed Lady. Freddie Gowdy from Freddie Henchie & The Soulsetters helped out on vocals.
I do not know the ultimate whereabouts of bassist Roger Bryant however it is believed he has passed as well so please feel free to comment. This brings Super Band up to date where we salute these forgotten Colorado music pioneers.
With deep gratitude to Richard Whetstone and Myron Pollock for supplying some of the photos and their friendship.
A Listing Of Some Of The Main Characters (plus a simplified index of their bands):
Roger Bryant – Beast, Super Band, Diamondhead
Jerry Corbetta – The Brambles, The Moonrakers, The Half Doesn’t. Chocolate Hair, Sugarloaf, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, The Classic Rock All Stars
Bob MacVittie – The Moonrakers, The Vaqueros, Beggar’s Opera Company, The Classics, Sugarloaf, Brother Sun
Ron Morgan – The Wild Ones, Super Band, The Leather Souls, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, The Electric Prunes, Three Dog Night
Bobby Pickett – Maul & The Cut-ups, Sugarloaf, Detective
Myron Pollock – The Galaxies, Super Band, Big Bird & The Steam Shovel, Chocolate Hair, Orange, The Daily Planet, Sugarloaf
Bob Raymond – The Soul Survivors, The Vaqueros, The Esquires, Beggar’s Opera Company, Chocolate Hair, Sugarloaf
Bob Webber – The Moonrakers, The Vaqueros, Beggar’s Opera Company, The Classics, Chocolate Hair, Sugarloaf
Richard Whetstone – Climax, Mayfield Spinning Wheel, The Electric Prunes, Stallion Thumrock
Bob Yeazel – Super Band, The Leather Souls, Beast, Sugarloaf, Diamondhead, Brother Sun