Band members Related acts
- Dwight Gibson -- drums, percussion
- Johnny Gibson -- keyboards
- Ron Harste (RIP) -- bass
- none known
Rating: 2 stars **
Title: Johnny Gibson
Country/State: Toledo, Ohio
Grade (cover/record): NM/NM
Comments: still in shrink wrap
Catalog ID: 5739
Normally keyboardist Johnny Gibson's early 1960s recording career would fall a little bit outside of my spectrum of interest. For what it's worth, my interest was spurred by the fact Gibson's catalog was subjected to release on the tax scam Tomorrow label.
So here's kind of a quickie summary on Gibson's career. Inspired by the success of Toledo, Ohio's Johnny and the Hurricanes, high school friends guitarist Johnny Gibson, brother/drummer Dwight Gibson, and bassist Ron Haste put together the cleverly-titled Johnny Gibson Trio. Taking a page out of the Hurricanes' career plan, following some local success of the Toledo club scene the trio headed for Detroit where they signed with Harry Balk and Irving Micahnik's Twirl label.
The trio made their recording debut in 1964 with a cover of Bobby Darin's 'Beachcomber' b/w 'Swanky' (Twirl catalog number TW-1023). Produced by Dennis Coffey, the 45 sold well in their native Toledo and Detroit, leading Laurie to reissue the record nationally, in the process giving the group a hit that just missed the-top 100 charts, peaking at # 116. While that chart position may not sound particularly impressive, it overlooks the fact that The Johnny Gibson Trio were one of the first integrated rock acts to be signed by a major label.
Given their successes with the likes of Johnny and the Hurricanes and the Johnny Gibson Trio, by 1962 Balk and Micahnik had signed a distribution deal with Julian and Jean Aberbach's New York-based Big Top label. Over the next two years Gibson and company released a series of three follow-on 45s:
- 1962's 'Midnight' b/w 'Chuck-A-Luck' (Big Top catalog number #45-3088) # 76 pop
- 1962's 'After Midnight' b/w 'Walkin' On Down' (Big Top catalog number #45-3118)
- 1962's 'Ooh Poo Pah Doo' b/w 'Summer Holiday' (Big Top catalog number #45-3194)
The trio appears to have played together through the mid-1960s at which point business, creative, and personal issues saw them call it quits. Gibson relocated to California and seems to have disappeared. Brother Dwight moved to Toronto, Canada and still plays drums. I read a brief interview where he claimed to not having seen hit brother in over 20 years. No idea about bassist Harste's subsequent endeavors.
So on to 1977's "Johnny Gibson" ... Taxscam labels such as Tomorrow were infamous for releasing whatever they could get their hands on. In this case the label seems to have latched on to Gibson's early-1960s catalog, pulling together three of the four Gibson 45s (many penned by Balk and Micahnik credited as Tom King and Ira Mack). Missing in action was their sophomore 45 'Ooh Poo Pah Doo' b/w 'Summer Holiday'. So that left you to wonder about the other four tracks. While the album would have you think all ten tracks were Gibson efforts, it turns out the other four tracks were actually recorded and released by Max Crook under the name Maximillian.
- 1961's 'Greyhound' b/w 'Autumn Woods' (Twirl catalog number 45-2003)
- 1962's 'The Wanderer' b/w 'The Snake' (Big Top catalog number 45-3068)
Gibson" track listing:
1.) Midnight (Ira Mack - Tom King - Johnny Gibson) -
'Midnight' was a decent slice of keyboard-propelled boogie rock, slightly undermined by the overly slick background instrumentation. rating: *** stars
2.) Swanky (Johnny Gibson) -
'Swanky' was the most soulful effort on the LP. Nice keyboards (perhaps played by Max Crook) gave it kind of Young Holt soul vibe. Very catchy track. rating: **** stars
3.) Chuck a Luck (Ira Mack - Tom King - Johnny Gibson) -
Kicked along by a great sax solo, 'Chuck-a-Luck' also sported a surprisingly nice soul groove, though like several other tracks it was undermined by the overly slick instrumental backing. rating: *** stars
4.) The Snake (Max Crook) -
'The Snake' was one of the Maximillian releases and was notable for showcasing Crook's homemade Musitron single note synthesizer. (if you've ever heard Del Shannon's 'Runaway' you'll instantly recognize the sound). It was also the flip side to his Big Top debut. rating: *** stars
5.) The Wanderer (Max Crook) -
'The Wanderer' was the 'A' side to Maximillian's first release for Big Top (catalog number 45-3068)
- 'After Midnight' found Gibson returning to a more soul oriented keyboard sound. Once again, Young-Holt serves as a decent comparison, though the sickly strings were a disservice to the track. rating: *** stars
With it's carnival sounding keyboard (again sounding like Crook's Musitron), 'Beach Comber' had the most garage-oriented sound and was probably the most commercial track on the album. Not that there was much logic to this album, but for some reason 'Beachcomber' was erroneously listed as 'Beach Comber' and failed to include the writing credit that was due to Bobby Darin. rating: **** stars
2.) Beach Comber (Bobby Darin)
3.) Walking On Down (Ira Mack - Tom King- Johnny Gibson) -
4.) Autumn Wood (Ira Mack - Tom King - W. Frizz) - Hard to imagine a white kid from Lincoln, Nebraska could write and record a track as funky as 'Autumn Wood'. Love to know how he got the sax to have the cool synthesizer sound. rating: **** stars
5.) Greyhound (Max Crook) -
Another Crook effort, the album closed out with the Musitron-propelled 'Greyhound'. Pulled of a single he released for Balk and Micahnik's Twirl label, after all these years it's still a neat and kind of weird sound ... rating: **** stars
One final note, like all Tomorrow releases, this one sported art by New York-based Sonja Eisenberg. Nope, she wasn't compensated for the use of her image.
An case anyone cares, Crook has a nice little website at:
Perhaps someone out there has the answer to this. There's another Johnny Gibson 45, though I don't know if it's the same guy:
- 'Baby Let Me Know' b/w 'Partly Cloudy' (GTM catalog 101)
Kind of cool to hear from the man himself:
Dear Sir, My name is Johnny Gibson and while looking up my history I notice or found your web-site. Now I 'm the Johnny Gibson in question here I am very much alive @ the healthy age of 71 years young currently performing @the Park Weggis Hotel in Weggis Switzerland a 5star hotel.
I've traveled all over the world and it is me not my brother Dwight who lives in Canada. The bass player Ron Harste passed away 30 years ago. My brother Dwight lives in Tennessee and is retired. I on the other hand am still very active in the music business and will be playing on the Victory Ship for Carnival Cruise Lines from Dec. until March. I am putting together a new show called:"the Johnny Gibson Show" featuring a tribute to Ray Charles doing songs from my current CD apply called: "and That's Rock and Roll Jack" closing with Johnnie B. Goode by Chuck Berry and then a tap dance routine and closing with a sprinted drum solo. So you see my friend I am still quite active I can send you my CDs and the near future a DVD of my show. I wish all the best for you now and in the Future. Now you have a story sir. Warmest regards, Johnny Gibson . November 2014
ps my web-site: www.jo-v-il.com
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