From: Denver, CO, USA
This relatively obscure Denver band evolved out of the the Surfin' Classics in early 1964 when guitarist and frontman Doug Dolph was replaced with Denny Flannigan (vocals, keyboards, guitar) as they began moving away from the surf sound in favor of a harder, R&B groove inspired by The Beatles and the British Invasion. Other original members included Veeder Van Dorn (rhythm guitar, banjo, harmonica, vocals), Bob Webber (lead guitar), Joel Brandes (bass) and Bob MacVittie (drums). The name change came about when it was decided they needed a more "with-it" moniker after the group was matched up with another local area act called the Astronauts in a "Battle of the Bands" competition, so MacVittie suggested the Moonrakers after Ian Flemming's James Bond novel Moonraker, which stuck. The band cut their teeth gigging at local area 3.2% beer only clubs like the Galaxy, La Pitche and the Exodus, where the 18 year and older crowds were legally allowed to gather and drink. It didn't take too long however for the group to begin opening for headliners like the Dave Clark Five, Righteous Brothers, and even The Beatles when they played the local area Red Rocks Amphitheater to 50,000 screaming fans.
In 1965, the band scored a national record deal with the Tower label through their manager Roger Christian, who was well known for co-writing the Beach Boys' classics 'Little Deuce Coupe' and 'Don't Worry Baby' with Brian Wilson. The summer of '65 saw the group issue their first single ('I Was Wrong' b/w 'You'll Come Back' as the "Moon Rakers") with the A-side co-written by manager Christian. It was the Flannigan (misspelled Flanagan on the record) penned flip-side however that surprisingly became a huge regional smash, hitting the #1 spot one the KIMN Radio Hit Parade chart that fall. Also at around this time, the band helped promote and opened up for the Byrds for a show they played at the local area Lakeside Gardens Amusement Park Ballroom. Three more Tower 45s followed into 1966, but the group wasn't able to break nationally, prompting the record company to drop them that summer.
As the late 60s approached, the group took on a more psychedelic sound and bounced back with another nationwide record deal, this time on the Shamley label. Also at around this time, Webber and MacVittie left the fold to form Sugarloaf and were replaced by Randy Walrath (guitar, vocals, harmonica) and Bob Saunar (drums). An LP titled Together With Him subsequently followed in 1968, along with three supporting 45s into 1969. Along with the music being significantly more complex and lushly produced than their previous output, the album includes Christian overtones, with the "Him" in the title referring to Jesus Christ, supported by the band's cover photos taken within a church. The highlight on the record is the outstanding 'He's A Comin' My Way Lord' written by Van Dorn, which is featured here on TWOS. Unfortunately, none of the Shamley releases sold that well prompting Van Dorn to exit and briefly join the Poor. The Moonrakers then called it quits shortly thereafter with Van Dorn reuniting for a short time with MacVittie and Webber in Sugarloaf before forming his own band named Mescalero Space Kit with Rainy Daze alumni Sam Fuller and Kip Gilbert.
Artist information sources include: The book, 'Fuzz, Acid, and Flowers Revisited' by Vernon Joynson.