In early '60s The band started as The Mutineers in South Eastern State University in Durant, Oklahoma. In '64 they moved to Dallas , when they contract with Abnack , they changed the name to Five Americans. They released some albums and more 20 singles till they disbanded in '70. You'll find Their screamin' "I see the Light " on Nuggets CD and pop classic "Western Union"on More Nuggets CD from Rhino. "Slippin' & Slidin' " on Pebbles Vinyl #10, and Teenage Shutdown #1.
You can get cool reissued CDs on Sundazed
The 5 Americans:I See The Light SC 6018
The Five Americans :Western Union SC11004
Listen:The Losing Game (real player)
Interview with Mike Rabon
by Hitomi I (cutie morning moon)
Hitomi:Let me know your first musical experience.
Mike:I bought a guitar when I was 11 years old for 12 dollars...it was homemade and I learned to play in one day from my grandmother. But before that I played on violins and anything with strings.
H:How did you into Rock'n' Roll?
M: I formed a group when I was 14 years old..they were called the Rhythm Rebels and we even had a local radio show. When I went to college I formed another band called The Mutineers. We were influenced by Bo diddley and later the Beatles.
H:Did you use an electric guitar on Rhythm Rebels?
M: No....I didn't even own an electric guitar until some years later..untilwe formed The Mutineers. The Rhythm Rebels were a trio with only two acoustic guitars and a snare drum. But we managed to host a local radio show in my hometown of Hugo Oklahoma and were a successful local group.
H: Was the name" The Mutineers" the former name of Five Americans?
M: Yes the Mutineers started out in a small college town in Oklahoma: We liked the name because it seemed daring and adventuresome.
H:Were Mutineers your first band?
M: Yes the first band complete with drums and bass.
H: I read that the Mutineers started as instrumental band, is that true?
M: Well now that I think about it...it is true..we were so influenced by Bo Diddley at the time and he did very little vocals and so we were satisfied to play "Diddley-like" music for a while.
H:Which band or what kind music were you influenced from?
M: At first by Bo Diddly but later we were influenced by all the british especially The Beatles and Dave Clark Five and Yardbirds..as I recall The Yardbirds influenced my in " I See The Light".
H:At first did you play surf music?
M:No we did not play beach music at first...I guess we were too inland being
from Oklahoma. We played lots of instrumentals at first like Duane Eddy.
H: I wonder the reason why John joined Ventures later.
M:Yes we played some of the Ventures material when we first got the band
together. Mainly we played their hit"walk don't run". Then after The Five
Americans broke up..John found out that the ventures needed a keyboardist
and so he applied for the job and got it!
He toured with The Ventures all over japan and sometimes called me from
Tokyo while on tour just to say hello!
H:What songs did you cover? Or didn't you play cover songs so much?
M: Recording wise we only covered a few songs like slippin and sliding and Birds and the Bees by jewel Akins. We preferred to write our own songs for the most part. But when we played live we had to cover many songs in order to play 4 sets without repeating songs.
H:When did you change the sound?
M: I picked up a "Meet the Beatles" album just after it came out and after listening to it for the first time I knew we had to add vocals to our band.Also we weren't using a bass guitar in the group and so we ordered one from the Sears company and Jim Grant began to learn to play it. Needless to say it changed our sound completely.
H: How did you feel when you heard and saw the Beatles, their music, fashion?
M: Of course I would be lying if I didn't say that we were heavily influenced by the Beatles especially their vocals and the way they looked...but we decided that there was so much British influence at the time, that we had to go a different direction...especially our name..We decided it was time for some American music from an American band sooo we changed our name to The Five Americans and I hope you will agree that Western Union does not sound anything like the Beatles or their British counter-parts.
H:Sure. It's interesting , because at the time many bands used English-like name as Beau Brummels(they took the name from English man in 19th century)and played Blitish styled music.
M: Almost all the American bands wanted to sound and look like English bands, and we felt that there was too much of that so we decided to try and look and sound as American as possible..that resulted in us changing our name from The Mutineers to The Five Americans and writing songs that did not sound British.
H:Were The Five Americans the first band who contracted with Hanna Barbera?
M: Yes..up until that time Hanna Barbera was in the cartoon business ( the flintstones and jetsons) and we were their first venture into 60s rock and roll and their last..after" I see The Light" was released Hana Barbera got out of the record business all together.
H:Tell me about "Slippin and Slidin'"
M:"Slippin and a sliding" was one of our FIRST recordings....because my amplifier speaker was busted at the time of the recording I have been givin credit for the first fuzztone recording in some texas magazines..haha
H: Wow Didn't you use fuzztone in the song?
M: No there was no fuzztone on my amplifier..if you listen carefully to the songs you will hear the broken speaker on my amplifier which made my guitar SOUND like it had a fuzztone. There was no such thing as a fuzztone when we recorded "Slippin and Slidin'".I didn't have the money to get it fixed at the time. We were very poor living on peanut butter.
H:Really? Your natural fuzztone!!?? made the song better.
H: I love your moody song like "The Losing Game" along with screamin' sound of "I See The Light". Tell me something about "The Losing Game".
M: "The Losing game" was an attempt to slow things down after songs like "I See The Light." "The Losing game" has a "Gut" or plastic string guitar and was influenced by songs like "And I love Her" by the Beatles. We felt like that we couldn't have ALL screaming songs on our albums.
H:Which bands did you play with ?
M: The Dave Clark Five. Hermans Hermits..Paul Revere and the Raiders..Beach Boys...Rascals..Bufflao Springfield..Bobby Vee..Sam The Sham and the Pharoahs
H:Which band were you impressed ? Do you remember some interesting episode with them?
M:We toured with Paul Revere and The Raiders through out the pacific northwest in America and did Dick Clark's BandStand Television show with them on a few occasions. We only did a Texas tour with the Bufflao Springfield. Sometimes when we played with Herman's Hermits the fans mistook me for Peter Noone ( Herman)..I guess we resembled each other.We played several dates with the Beachboys in Texas and I remember that Al Jardine was the nicest of all of them. He was/is their bass player. The Rascals ( they were called The Young Rascals then) were the most fun loving and craziest of all the bands we played with and Bobby Vee was the most professional.
H:Whos' idea was it to put in the dit dit dit on Western Union?
M:Well the three writers..John Durrill, Norman Ezell and myself all put our heads together and put the dit dit on Western Union..we felt like it would be a good way to attract attention to the song and thats the sound that a telegraph use to make when people used telegraphs. Actually Western Union is really a "Dear John" letter.....only the girl is telling the boy good-bye with a telegram instead of a letter.
H:Did you know "Western Union " was released in Japan at the time? Tell me your opinion to see the picture cover.
M: No I didn't know that it was released in japan. The record sleeve features a picture rarely seen and is now lost to time.
H: How do you think there are 60s music fanatic (not as nostalgia, but love authentic beat music) in '90s?
M: Well if you listen closely to many of the (non-rap) hit songs in America on MTV for instance..you will hear the strong influence of sixties music.Very Strong. And now there are more oldies stations than any other kind in America.
H:You co-wrote the songs with Ezell and Durrill , who wrote the lyrics?
M: Well it was a complete collaboration on each song..I came up with the guitar parts and a lot of the lyrics but it was too long ago to remember specifics.However I do remember being responsible for most of the lyrics on "I See The Light". And many on "Western Union".
H:Will you tell me about Dale Hawkins as your producer.
M: Dale is from Louisanna and came aboard abnak records in 1966. He helped keep things fairly simple in the studio for us. He had a couple of hit records in 1958 one of which was a song called Suzie Q. He is still a friend of mine and we commuicate occasionally. He now lives in Arkansas.
H:Who arranged your version of "I put spell on you"?
M: The song was written and performed originally by Screaming J Hawkins (no kin to Dale Hawkins) and later covered by Eric Burton and the Animals.
We like it and decided to record it to complete our Western Union Album. I sang lead vocals on it.
H:I wonder who was lead vocal on each songs on Western Union album.
M: As follows:
Western Union: Mike Rabon
Gimmie Some Lovin: Norman Ezell
Husbands and Wives: John Durrill
If I could: Mike Rabon
Sympathy: Mike Rabon
Big Cities: Mike Rabon
The Train: Mike Norman and John
I See The Light: Mike Norman and John
Sound Of Love: Mike Rabon
I Put A Spell On You: Mike Rabon
Tell Ann I Love Her: Norman Ezell
Reality: Mike Norman and John
Now That Its Over: Mike Rabon
See-Saw Man: John Durrill
Don't You Dare Blame Me: Mike Norman and John
I'm So Glad: Norman Ezell
H: "7:30 Guided Tour" is another brilliant song,let me know something about it and
tell me your memory about Robin Hood Brians who wrote the song.
M: Robin Hood Brians owned a small studio in Tyler Texas. Thats where we recorded Western Union and serveral other hits. One night after we were through recording... Robin, who was our engineeer came out of the control room and said. "Hey I just got back from Europe and I wrote a song while I was over there" And with that he sat down at the piano and played "7:30 Guided Tour" I was astounded at how good the song was. I told him to please run the song off on a "demo tape" and let me take it back to Dallas with me and he said ok.. two weeks later we recorded it and I think it was one of the best songs we ever recorded. Much in the Sgt. Pepper style...it is a song about traveling through Europe.."you'll get an "Eyefull" (meaning Effiel tower)..when you climb the tallest tower in town.....is one of the lyrics that refer to Paris France...."There'll be no cameras taken on this portion of the trip"...about crossing over the berlin wall to communist East Germany..there are lots of references to other countries as well.There is a reference to "Bartholmew" towards the end of the song and that was Robin's tour guides' name while he was over there.
H:Did you sing it?
M: Yes I sang it and I feel proud to have gotton the chance to sing such a beautiful song for the first time...
H:Thanks a lot to ask my question.Please give message to the reader
To all of Cutie Morning Moon readers:
We The Five Americans hope that we have brought pleasure to all the listeners to our music over the last 30 years. We were only together as a group for 5 years but in that time we sold millions of singles and albums.We were not especially talented but wanted to do something special in the record business so we worked very hard and "Made it Happen". Hitomi's site has helped to keep that "something Special" alive and we are grateful to her. I hope you will visit her site again and again as she keeps it fresh and adds new information about the 60's on a daily basis. To new and aspiring groups out there... we The Five Americans are proof that if you love music and work very hard you can do anything that you set out to do if you work hard enough..so this message is to the bands out there who are trying hard...never.... never give up and your musical dreams can come true. And to the listeners out there I can only say Thank you for your loyality to the 60's and The Five Americans.