Monday, May 12, 2008

The Egyptian Combo - Rockin' Little Egypt



I hope all had a good if not great mother's day? I did. a wonderful dinner at the Anchor Inn with family and friends (including a few drinks) was had by all and now were back to work here @ the devil's music:

This group has been around on the St. Louis music scene for something like half a century, with no sign of disappearing. The main members are guitarist Lloyd Rainey and the brothers Doug and Rick Linton, although some formations of the group have only featured one Linton. The group was first formed in 1961, and in three years time had recorded a song entitled "Gale Winds" which became first a breakaway regional hit, then wound up climbing as high as number seven on the Billboard charts. The single made hit parade charts throughout the Midwest, for example showing up right below Martha and the Vandellas and "Dancing in the Street" on a Chicago radio hit parade from the late spring of 1964. There was even a cover version of this song done by Quitman Dennis and the Escorts. The only other Egyptian Combo record to see any kind of chart action was "I Don't Care Anymore" featuring the vocal talents of saxophonist Kevin Cox. This record barely cracked the Top 100 in 1967. Many of the band's recordings were done at the same St. Louis studio. A label called Norman which has released much rock and jazz music from the St. Louis area pumped out singles by the band, but following the success in 1964, in stepped Dot with its larger circulation. The band signed on for gigs at a string of Playboy clubs around the country and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. A new contract had just been inked with MGM when Uncle Sam came along with a different offer.

Much of the group's music fits under the loose label of instrumental rock, similar in some ways to bands such as the Ventures, but not devoted exclusively to the surf music sound. Founding member Rainey wrote music for the band, including the main hit. But it also recorded various instrumental themes of the day, coming out with its own version of "Watermelon Man" when that song soundtrack theme was popular, for example, or cutting the "Theme From Dr. Zhivago" when "Lara's Song" from that weepy film was a chart smash. The original incarnation of the group featured an instrumental lineup typical of a combo of this type in the '60s, including a rhythm section, dual electric guitars, and a pair of honking saxophones. The band tried to push a more science fiction angle with a single entitled "The Invaders Are Here," written for a 1965 television show The Invaders, but ultimately rejected. Frontman Mike Adkins joined the lineup by 1966 but didn't stay long. In 1967 there was an emphasis on brass, with Rick Linton switching to trumpet and the addition of Ellis McKenzie on trombone. In 1968 a smaller version of the band undertook a tour of army bases in Vietnam. The so-called Uncle Sam tour featured a slimmed-down quartet version of the combo, in other words, the four of them that happened to get drafted. The regional popularity of the band was so intense at this point that local television stations within a tri-state area actually broadcast the induction of the members into the army and reported on their activities overseas from time to time. Cox was the first to be sent home, due to spinal problems. The slimmed-down band was a harbinger of things to come. It also made for an unusual lineup: a simple rhythm team of electric guitar and drums providing back up for trombone and trumpet. Perhaps the music this group played sounded so strange the military decided to send them home early, although at first it seemed like the idea was to escalate, sending in more troops to perhaps fill out the rhythm section in the bargain. But thankfully the musicians all made it home safely. The original three members provided the nucleus for all further members of the band, and by the group's 40th anniversary, Egyptian Combo was again a quartet with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Chris Thornton. Repertoire has evolved into a collection of cover songs that rivals any bar band, including music from the '60s and '70s, expertly played, as well as numbers from some of the group's earlier singles. Bandmember Doug Linton also fronted a band named Prana in the '70s and got heavily into heavy metal and progressive rock. In 2001 he contributed wonderfully to an internet audio tribute to the classic heavy rock band Bloodrock, by dusting off a cover version of the group's song "Kool Aid Kids" that he had recorded back in the '70s with Prana...

The Egyptian Combo - Rockin' Little Egypt

9 comments:

sandylove said...

I like that you put the old good stuff up... cause I love oldies!!!!

Todd Lucas said...

Now you're really speaking my language. These guys are from nearby Herrin, IL and do indeed still play live gigs. I haven't managed to catch one of their shows but will, if I get the chance.

Along with "Rockin' Little Egypt" (undoubtedly named after the southern Illinois region), my favorite by them is "The Frog".

Planet Mondo said...

Very Las Vegas Grind - how about those other Egyptians - Roger and The Egyptians - 'Pass The Hatchet' - winner.

divadog said...

the Egyptian Combo was scheduled to appear on the ED SULLIVAN show, but never did....the appearance was canceled because a new and upcoming band entered the States, and they ended up appearing on the show instead.
Did you know the Combo met and wouldn't let George Harrison (Beatles) sit in on a gig once in S. Illinois. The band didn't let "strangers" sit in at the time.....I know this because my dad is one of the original members of the Combo!

divadog said...

They also had the opportunity to sit in with Beatle George Harrison, who happened to be in Illinois visiting his sister only months before the Fab Four made it big, but passed it up, not knowing what to do with this "nice young Englishman in long hair and sandals." The group also narrowly missed playing the Ed Sullivan Show, and were displaced at the last minute by another group that hadn't yet made it big: the Rolling Stones.

check out more on http://www.geocities.com/antlion7/combo.htm

Devil Dick said...

Wow!

Many thanks for stopping by and adding that info!

Cheers!
dd

divadog said...

Thank you for still remembering the Combo and my dad! Still pretty cool he's talked about after all these years!

Todd Lucas said...

Yeah, the George Harrison story is legendary here in Southern Illinois. His sister, Louise, lived right here in Benton, IL in 1963 and George visited her that fall, marking the first time that any of the Beatles had come to the USA. Louise just moved away from here about a year ago.

Anonymous said...

I grew up hanging out with Kev Cox's daughter, so I got to hear him jam on many occasions, with a few different bands.
I was looking for some info on the Egyptian Combo single "I Don't Care Anymore" and came across the image from this page (for "Rockin'")
Great page!