Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Five By Five - Fire






Here is yet another installment from the "Hendrix" files:

In 1967, a group called Five By Five, from Magnolia, Arkansas, signed with Paula. They were typical of the "cover bands" that played in clubs, doing the R&B dance songs popular at the time. Their first single was "Shake a Tail Feather" [Paula 261], issued in early 1967. They followed that with "Harlem Shuffle" [Paula 283] later that year. Although they were probably able to sell a number of copies to the folks who saw them appear live, there wasn't much interest outside the region. But in the summer of 1968, they covered a song, "Fire," off the Jimi Hendrix album Are You Experienced?. Since Hendrix' record company, Reprise, did not put the song out as a single, Five By Five was in luck. Theirs was the single version that was available when kids went to the store and asked for the song. The single entered the national charts in November, 1968 and made it up to #52. Like the group Underground Sunshine, who similarly filled a gap when they covered the Beatles' "Birthday," the cover version provided a short-term spotlight for the group, their so-called "15 minutes of fame." Today, their version of the song is rarely played as an oldie, because the original is usually played instead. As a cover band, they were certainly competent and their album is in some demand with collectors, but at best they're a footnote in rock and roll history, a band in the right place at the right time. The group was made up of Ronnie Plants (lead singer, guitar), Larry Andrew (guitar), Tim Milam (organ, vocals), Bill Merritt (bass), and Doug Green (drums). Five additional singles all failed to chart, and the group finally called it quits.

*edit: Per comments left.

Bill Merritt is listed as the bass player, and Larry Andrew is listed as the guitar player. While the album jacket has both Bill and Larry as simply 'Guitar', the actual listing should be Bill Merritt - Guitar, and Larry Andrew - Bass.

DK are you experienced?

Five By Five - Fire

13 comments:

dk said...

News to me...

Keep 'em coming!

Brian Marshall said...

If you haven't yet, make sure you play the flip side of that single, "Hang Up," for some tasty, crunchy, fuzzy psych. I like it a lot anyway. Also, a couple of their other singles that are worth looking for are "15 Going On 20" and "Apple Cider." Just thought you'd like to know.

The RedBoy said...

You mean like 'The Wailers' Hang-Up?

rb said...

good find. I dig the concept of filling a gap where Reprise neglected to issue a single so there you go, fame for five by five...

Anonymous said...

Great Page! One problem with the band bio: Bill Merritt is listed as the bass player, and Larry Andrew is listed as the guitar player. While the album jacket has both Bill and Larry as simply 'Guitar', the actual listing should be Bill Merritt - Guitar, and Larry Andrew - Bass.

Anonymous said...

The above comment is correct. As I am the oldest son of Bill Merrit, I know for a fact that he was the lead guitar player. What an awesome webpage. Although Five-by-Five did not reach the success they would have liked, they did tour the country and live the dream for a little while. Thanks for giving them a page!

Jason

Devil Dick said...

Thanks for the info guys! I will be sure to add the correction!!!
Cheers!
dd

Shawn said...

"Shake A Tail Feather" is absolutely frantic! I have quite a few 5x5 tracks on my SuperOldies.com station and tracked one member down to be in Magnolia, Arkansas. Rare LP, that is worth picking up, some great singles too. Why are they not on any legit CD comps? Their master tapes sit in Fuel2000's vaults.

MAC said...

When the 5x5 did Shake A Tail Feather and Harlem Shuffle, the organist was Gene Rowe, who died in a tractor accident, May of 1968.

moej55 said...

where can i download a copy of Hang up ?

Anonymous said...

James Dollar was the lead singer on the early music..

Jim Barentine said...

Your correct James Dollar was lead singer and Gene Rowe was Keyboard in there early music and Gene was killed in a tractor accident on Southern State College campus(Now SAU).

Anonymous said...

While Gene Rowe was the keyboard player and he was killed in a tractor accident, it was not on Southern State College (SAU) campus. It was on a county road across from where his family lived.