From: Mount Prospect, IL, USA
This Chicago area garage-psych ensemble formed in 1964 as the Shadows, but soon extended their name in early 1965 after learning about the popular U.K. band that shared the same moniker. All of the founding members; Warren Rogers (lead guitar), Roger Spielmann (rhythm and lead guitar, vocals) Norm Gotsch (rhythm guitar), Tom Schiffour (drums), Jim Sohns (vocals) and Wayne Pursell (bass), were from the northwest Chi-Town suburb of Mount Pleasant and attended the high school there that still goes by the nickname "Knights". Later in '65, the group went through several lineup changes, the first with Pursell being replaced by Joe Kelly (bass), who then took over lead guitar responsibilities, switching instruments with Rogers. Gotsch was then drafted into the military and replaced by Jerry McGeorge (guitar, vocals). Throughout this time period, the band gigged tirelessly around the area, honing their skills and growing in popularity.
In mid 1965, the group got its big break when they opened for the Byrds in downtown Chicago, catching the attention of local Dunwich Records producers Bill Traut and George Badonski as they performed a searing version of Them's 'Gloria'. It wasn't long before the outfit signed to the label and recorded 'Gloria' as their first single, which was released in December of that year. An interesting note about the Knights' version is that they slightly changed Them's original lyrics from "she comes to my room, then she made me feel alright" to "she called out my name, that made me feel alright", which allowed it to be broadcast on local AM radio, unlike the original version which had been banned from the airwaves. The record shot up the local charts to #1 and then peaked at #10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It also hit big in Canada and was eventually distributed all around the world by Atlantic/Atco. At around this time, the Knights had also become the house band at the Cellar, which was owned by their manager Paul Sampson, in the neighboring suburb of Arlington Heights.
To capitalize on the success of 'Gloria', an LP was issued in the spring of 1966, garnishing the same title as the song. A follow-up single from the album (a cover of Bo Diddley's 'Oh Yeah') was then released a few months later which became a minor hit in the U.S., reaching #39 on the Hot 100. In the fall of 1966, the band issued a follow up LP (Back Door Men), which includes 'Bad Little Woman' (charted at #91) and the outstanding Eastern tinged instrumental 'The Behemoth'. Towards the end of the year, another single was issued ('I'm Gonna Make You Mine') and made it to #90 on the charts. Also at around this time, Rogers split and was replaced by David "Hawk" Wolinski (bass, keyboards).
As 1967 came around, the band saw their popularity on the decline and started to splinter with Schiffour leaving, first being replaced by Bruce Bruscato (drums), who was one of their fans, and shortly thereafter by Tom Morris (drums). The original band fragmented further when McGeorge departed for H.P. Lovecraft, while Kelley exited to front his own blues band. Wolinski also left the fold to form the Bangor Flying Circus with Schiffour. By mid 1967, the only original remaining member of the Shadows of Knight was frontman Sohns, who, through simple default, inherited the band's copyrighted name and legacy. To close out the Dunwich years, a final single (the outstanding 'Someone Like Me') was issued in the late summer of '67.
In 1968, Dunwich divorced itself from the Knights, selling all of their original master tapes to Atlantic Records for $1.00. Sohns then recruited all new members Woody Woodroff (lead guitar), Dan Baughman (guitar), John Fisher (bass) and Kenny Turkin (drums), and relocated to New York City, where they signed with Buddah Records. The group then recorded and released the single 'Shake' (co-written by Joey Levine of Ohio Express fame) on the Buddah subsidiary Team label, which eventually climbed to #46 by the end of the year. At around this time, Turkin was replaced by Paul Scarpelli (drums). It should be noted that also at around this time, without the Knight's knowledge or consent, an updated version of the original version of 'Gloria' titled 'Gloria '69' was released by Atlantic/Atco, which includes new bass and guitar tracks overdubbed by Chicago natives Peter Cetera (later of Chicago) and Jim Donlinger (later of Aorta).
As 1969 came around, Sohns had hoped to take the Knights in a British power-rock direction, but Buddah steered them towards a more commercial orientation, pairing them with bubblegum groups such as the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the Ohio Express while on tour. With the modest success of 'Shake', Buddah's production company Super K took ahold of the band's reigns, issuing two more 45s (the first of which includes the excellent B-side instrumental 'Taurus', written by Jeff Katz and Jerry Kasenetz - Ohio Express and Captain Groovy And His Bubblegum Army) and a self-titled LP. Unfortunately, none of the records were commercially successful prompting a departure from Buddah/Super K and an ironic contract with Atco, where Sohns and Fisher co-wrote and released a final 45 ('I Am The Hunter' b/w 'Warwick Court Affair') in the summer of 1970. It should be noted that for this record, Woodruff had been replaced by Jack "Hawkeye" Daniels (lead guitar). The group continued to play into the early 70s, but eventually called it quits. Sohns eventually returned to the Chicago area where he continued to perform under the Shadows Of Knight moniker until his unfortunate passing in 2022.
Artist information sources include: The book, 'Fuzz, Acid, and Flowers Revisited' by Vernon Joynson.
Someone Like Me
(Original 45 Label: Dunwich D-167, A - August, 1967)
(Original 45 Label: Super K SK-8, B - June, 1969)