From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
The Merry-Go-Round was a Los Angeles quartet featuring 16-year old Emitt Rhodes (guitar). Originally a drummer in the Palace Guard, Rhodes and high school friend Gary Kato (lead guitar) formed the Merry-Go- Round in 1966. They soon recruited two seasoned players to complete the band: Joel Larson (drums) who was formerly of the Gene Clark Group and Bill Reinhart (bass), formerly of the Leaves and also the Gene Clark Group. As a natural songwriter, Rhodes' beautiful melodies and sparkling vocals drew quick comparisons to The Beatles and Byrds.
Their first two singles, 'Live' and 'You're A Very Lovely Woman', hit #1 in Los Angeles (both were minor hits nationally) and a debut, self-titled LP was quickly recorded and released to take advantage of the singles' local success. This album, impressive in its own right, is entirely comprised of original material. The song 'On Your Way Out' shows Rhodes skill with trippy vocal arrangements while the Byrds-like 'Had To Run Around' illustrates the band adept at folk- rock. The finely produced 'Time Will Show The Wiser' makes use of backwards guitar solos and 'Gonna Fight The War' is one of the earlier attempts at anti-war sentiment, but hidden in a straight pop song.
Their initial success saw the Merry-Go-Round making several TV appearances and touring extensively with bands such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Doors, Big Brother & The Holding Company, the Strawberry Alarm Clock and Jefferson Airplane. Despite their seemingly bright future, Rinehart abruptly left the band due to disagreements with management. Recording began on a follow-up LP and a stream of singles like 'She Laughed Loud' and ''Till The Day After' were released. 'Come Ride, Come Ride' is their most psychedelic song and, like much of their material from this time, borrowed heavily from The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's sound. Despite the quality of the singles, amazingly none charted, which caused their follow-up album to be put on hold.
A conflict between Rhodes and Kato over management finally caused the band to split up in 1969. After the breakup, their record label, A&M, finally released the long awaited follow- up LP, titled 'American Dream', but billed it as an Emitt Rhodes solo album. Rhodes then signed with ABC/Dunhill and began a promising solo career. 'Fresh As A Daisy' became a minor hit and his first self titled solo album won strong critical acclaim. After three solo albums, his career quickly burned out due to poor management and unrealistic demands by ABC/Dunhill, which were more than the young Rhodes could overcome. Luckily for fans, an excellent CD retrospective of the Merry-Go-Round titled 'Listen, Listen: The Definitive Collection' has been released on Rev-Ola Records. It includes their entire recorded output as well as a hidden track: an unreleased cover version of the Beach Boys 'California Girls' featuring Herb Alpert on trumpet.