From: Rialto, CA, USA
This Los Angeles area garage band formed in 1964 as the Precisions, originally playing mostly surf instrumentals. It didn't take long for them to get caught up in the British Invasion however and began heavily covering those bands including The Beatles, Kinks and especially the Rolling Stones. It was also around this time that the group changed their name to the Bushmen to better reflect their new, harder-edged sound. Original members included Steve Hoard (lead vocals, harmonica), Allen Henninger (lead guitar, backing vocals), Wayne Gondos (rhythm guitar), Tim Wagner (bass) and Brent Cartwright (drums, backing vocals).
In early 1965, the band began recording demos at San Bernardino Valley College, which stemmed from Gondos' older brother Al who worked in the Audio-Visual Department there and gave them access. Not long after, Wagner left the fold and was replaced by Hoard's younger brother Dave (bass) who was only 14 years old at the time. They then received a phone call from a KMEN radio station disk jockey who invited them to play and compete in a "Battle of the Bands" competition with the first place prize being a slot on the bill to open for the Byrds and their idols the Rolling Stones at an upcoming concert they were playing in San Bernardino. The Bushmen practiced feverishly over the next couple of weeks, which paid off when they were declared the victors, and on May 15, 1965 fulfilled their dream by opening for both bands at the Swing Auditorium in front of 3,000 screaming fans. The group was suddenly in huge demand around the local area and even acquired a manager, Mrs. Jimmie Burns, who was the wife of a very successful orthodontist, ran in the Hollywood entertainment industry social circles and was able to swing them a deal with Jerry Hibbs' Hiback Records. This relationship got the band funding and access into various studios to record demos of the songs they had written and been playing live. It was also around this time that the band shortened their moniker to the Bush and then released their debut single ('Feeling Sad And Lonely' b/w 'Got Love If You Want It') in late 1965. The 45 became a huge local area seller and peaked at the #8 spot on both the KFXM and KMEN radio station charts, and remained on the KMEN Top 30 board for almost three months.
The spring of 1966 saw the the group issue a followup single ('Don't You Fret' b/w 'To Die Alone'), with both sides being produced by Kim Fowley and the promo being an outstanding Kinks cover featured here on TWOS. As a side note, it has been reported that the Hiback label sent the record to Ray Davies of the Kinks and when he listened to it during a radio interview, he hated it so much that he threw it out the window! The band then added Greg Eckler (guitar, backing vocals) as a sixth member because he had great pipes and the ensemble was looking to bolster their vocal harmonies. The Bush then returned to the studio to record a third 45 ('Who Killed The Ice Cream Man?' b/w 'I'm Wanting Her'), which was issued in late '66. The A-side was a novelty song that was actually about the Vietnam War and became another local area smash, hitting the top spot on KMEN and the #3 spot on KFXM. Ironically, prior to the record's release, Henninger received his military draft notice and had to be replaced by Glenn Hellman (lead guitar). This lineup continued into the spring of 1967, but couldn't hold it together so they decided to call it quits.
Artist information sources include: The liner notes written by Mike Stax within the band's compilation CD titled Got Bush If You Want It! and the book, 'Fuzz, Acid, and Flowers Revisited' by Vernon Joynson.
Don't You Fret
(Original 45 Label: Hiback HB-104, A - April, 1966)