Johnny had Some Wild Times

Johnny and the Hurricanes

( BLUE Colored words are links to other related pages )

Rolling Stone Magazine 1960

Our Second Rolling Stone Magazine Cover 1970

Ken Sahadi Dave Shofar Johnny Paris Scott Covrett Chuck LeVally

 Dick Clark makes a mistake….

could have been worse…

weekly kids showThis was the first album from the Star Club but was called Vol 2. Later, Vol 1 was put out but it was full of poorly recorded, live songs they did during their Beatles stint.

The TV was hot with this Hullaballoo stuff and Johnny tried to get some west coast jobs with Mr. Clark… but that wasn’t happening.
You’re in Kansas Johnny… doin’ the Hullaballoo-Hoo.
I never saw a man move so fast, as Dick did, when he slammed that door shut.

1962 hamburg songs vol 1 a
This group of songs was actually on the Beatles, Star Club taping. The Hurricanes were called The Dominoes.
hurricanes berlin germany stage
arrive kiel a

Johnny didn’t like the Beatles. He thought they were vulgar and scruffy….

“Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles? Ugh, Beatles? How did the name arrive? So I, John Lennon, will tell you. It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto us, ‘From this day on you are Beatles with an “A”‘. ‘Thank you Mister Man’, we said, thanking him. And so they were Beatles.

There is only ONE original Hurricane in this next grouping. They lost 3 of them after this photo… leaving an opening for new replacements.

You got it now…les !

   Once, when I first joined the group, there was a hair-raising experience that we would never forget. Our gig was in the frozen tundra of Illinois and the trip was a drive west, along the straight and narrow Ohio Turnpike. Well most of it was straight and narrow. We just got done rehearsing for a solid 2 weeks in Johnny’s basement. 7847833 001 63 dodgeslider bozo  While traveling to Chicago, we encountered a curve that was designed for 70 MPH vehicles and it was an incline of about 40 degrees. We were in the Dodge station wagon pulling a small trailer and only going about 20 MPH. trailer first vehicleThere was a winter storm and a solid sheet of ice under our tires. Phil Crites was driving and we were on the highest part of the curve.Facebook Posts (1)

Suddenly, to our surprise, our trailer was right next to us ! Phil yelled,“ What do I do now ?!?! ”…002 63 dodgeslider     

I yelled, “ Hit the trailer brakes ! ”


We all watched in horror as the trailer, which was full of our equipment, smoothly slid in line behind us.

  We were glad to play in the town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Seemed like a nice, quiet, mid-western gig. We got there early and drove around the place. There was a motorcycle rental business there and that was a surprise. As soon as we could, we drove back to it and rented three cycles and took off like fools on the freeway ! Then… BAM !

  Phil Crites had a blowout at 60 MPH ! It was a rear tire and he was able to hold on to it until we could safely pull over. We got that taken care of but time was running short for our afternoon show.

cape-girardeau cape-girardeau-town-plaza-1

Our stage was outside at a huge shopping mall and we were having a great day as well as a great turnout. Then… BAM ! Phil gets hit with a fresh egg !

Right in the chest !

What a mess. We could see a bunch of people beating the heck out of some guy way out by the same freeway on which Phil had a blowout. It was not Phil’s day…for sure.

007 old as crap


First gig was in Chicago for Screaming Bonafede…

Les Carl Embassy Ballroom

Now, Go EAST young men  ! New York City !

peppermint ny


mayo clinic pics

I think we were on our way to a one night stand in northern Wisconsin and we ran out of gas in the dead of a winter storm. Our trip took us along the Michigan upper peninsula and in 1964 there were very few gas stations there. In fact, there were very few of anything.
Once we realized we were all going to freeze to death on the side of the road, two of us volunteered to walk several miles to some lights in the far off distance. As we waited there in the cold,cold van we had to try anything to keep warm.
Remembering we had an old Brownie camera with these huge flash bulbs… we decided to just flash off the bulbs and pass around the hot little globs of glass, just to at least, warm our mits.warming-hands-w-bulbs
It was a pitiful sight but it worked.
Somehow the gas saviors arrived and before we could say ‘Jack Frost’… we were off again ! As we crossed the Wisconsin line we thanked our lucky stars for the camera that took a lot of pictures you see in this 300 blog.


We went Down Yonder and played for some great audiences !

birmingham ad full picAlabama Bill RamalBill yells, ” Alright you guys… Rise and Shine ! ”  in Reveille Rock !

Bessemer Cert and KeyJumpin Gene 4


with their “Great English Act” !
Worked with many music music celebs at Buck Lake Ranch in Angola, Indiana

We used to do many free gigs for our service men. The one that sticks out in my mind was Chanute AFB in Rantoul, Illinois.chanute afb 1965

We Gotta Get Out of This Place ” by the Animals…

and when we arrived in Rantoul we were really shocked that night on stage. The service men and women, were all shouting loudly, and in unison… ” Play we gotta get out of this place !!! “.

Then, all these beers started lining the front of our stage… like a hundred !?! So, we never played the song before but.. we did it any way ! That brought the house down and we all got tipsy and sang the song together.. several times !

We got our clothes ripped off in Wisconsin… whew !

Rockford News 1965The Hurricanes and Johnny Tillotson were all crammed into our small travel trailer.

We had to stay in there for about two hours. Nervous and needing a bathroom, we were growing very anxious. I remembered we had a bunch of balloons and suggested we use them to go to the bathroom. That worked great ! Quickly we opened the trailer door and slung several pee-filled balloons under the small prison where we were being held. After the show, we couldn’t get back to our trailer so we high-tailed it down to our hotel. The front door was blocked and the crowd was tearing at our clothes. Hurriedly, we ran into and through a hardware next door, then to an elevator, up to our hotel rear entrance and finally, to the safety of our room! Then we threw pictures, clothes and anything we could get our hands on… down to the screaming hoard below. What a night ! It was the Beatles movie, “HELP” all over again in real life !

Johnny used to play a Boombass. jh whiskey boombassIt had a devil’s head and a set of cymbals attached to the top. He’d slam it down, on beat, during only one song we did. The song was by the Stones’, ” Tell Me You’re coming Back To Me “. I had never seen one before and neither did our audience. I don’t remember the story about how he acquired it. I know everyone liked it…
One day, around the mid 80s, I ran across one in a garden center. It was up on a shelf gathering dust. I asked if I could buy it and the manager told me that if I’d play it on stage.. he’d give it to me. It became part of our nightly gimmick and yes, everyone loved it. calyx boombass 80Left, Bob Gingrich    Center, Les McDonald   Right, Tom Galvin

           A great little  3 piece band we called ‘ Calyx “…. 1979

I didn’t sing a song with it. I’d just beat the heck out of it. I got to where I was throwing it high over my head and it would land on the dance floor with a resounding ” CRASH ” ! It was a great release of energy.

Watching Gunsmoke Doc

  Me and Bobby liked our beers. Once, while we were still single, we had some Janesville, Wisconsin,  fun. There was a weekend where we had an over-nighter and we decided to build a wall of empty beer cans in our motel room. Of course, we had some friendly girls help us build it. Since we were local celebs and had our pictures in their local paper, janesville beauty shop  we knew it was going to be a grand get-together. Here’s one of the pics where we visited a local barber shop for our Fab-Four haircuts… Years later, in our family lives, Bobby had us over for a jam session and I was pleasantly, but secretly, surprised to see his giant beer can wall in his basement. bobby les mad wis 72 a

and I should have kept more of these items.

johnny & hurricanes fan club

We did a TV show in Detroit and later we wanted to see our taping. I had this great idea to enter an appliance store and sit in front of their TVs.

 It was a blast. The store employees had quite a scare.

and… We had a blast playing at a

whole bunch of ” Fairs “

We used to do a lot of publicity shots with people we didn’t know.


I started playing guitar a long time ago but more recently, all the guys in the OOPS band, who were Former Hurricanes, had the pleasure of backing up the great Ruby Starr, from our hometown, Toledo, Ohio.les ruby

More recently, I had a great time talking backstage with

Frankie Ford (RIP )

and I sat next to Martha Reeves 

during the rest of a two hour show.  Good Times


The wives got to see the whole show

from these great seats !