An Interview with Earl Shackelford
Lead Singer for the Deepest Blue
In the liner notes to the "Ya Gotta Have...Moxie, Volume 1" CD, Greg Shaw wrote the following about the Deepest Blue single, "Pretty
Little Thing" b/w "Somebody's Girl": "One of the most impressive waxings on this whole CD, it has what might almost be a British
sound. Nothing is known about the band." But thanks to a tip by Greg on the Bomp-List, The Lance Monthly is now able to shed some
light on the band, and for the first time, details on the Deepest Blue as provided by the band's lead singer, Earl Shackelford for which I
[Q] When and where was the Deepest Blue formed, and by whom?
[A] Myself and Bruce Lavoie, whom I met at junior high school in
(Ontario, CA) first started getting together. I taught him some guitar chords. He eventually picked up the bass. I had been playing in a
surf band, but the players in the groups changed rapidly. We formed a group in '63/'64 called Donnie and The Victors, and played a
local teen club. We were freshmen in high school. Different incarnations occurred in a short time, and by late '64 early '65 we were
playing with the Deepest Blue lineup--except we were known then as The Doves. The other guys all came from surrounding towns (such
as) Pomona (and) Monclair. Russ Johnson was from the U.K. and eventually returned (to the U.K.).
[Q] Please list the band member's names, along with the accompanying instruments they each played.
[A] Earl Shackelford (lead singer);
Russell Johnson (lead guitar/vocals); Ken Zabel (farfisa organ); Rick Edwards (rhythm guitar/vocals); Bruce Lavoie (bass guitar/vocals);
and Russ "Soupy" Morrow(drums).
[Q] How did the group decide on the name "Deepest Blue"? Is there any special significance to the name?
[A] When we recorded our 45 in
August '66, we changed our name from The Doves toThe Deepest Blue. We thought it sounded more commercial. I think we may have
confused, and perhaps lost, some of (our) fan-base, but when you think you are going to be big time recording artists, some changes
have to take place.
[Q] "Pretty Little Thing" b/w "Somebody's Girl", the band's only 45 release, seems very Rolling Stones influenced. Were the Stones the
band's primary influence? What other bands influenced you?
[A] We covered a lot of Stones, and we drew from their more obscure album
cuts. Other major influences were Them, Animals, Jimmy Smith, (and) John Lee Hooker.
[Q] Aside from the single, do any other recordings by the Deepest Blue exist? Are there possibly some demos, or live recordings that
were committed to tape?
[A] After we did the single, we went back into the studio and recorded several more cuts--for what was to be an
album--but then, it was never meant to be. We split up for a number of reasons before going any further with the project. I am looking
for these tapes as we speak.
[Q] What type of venues did the band typically play?
[A] Teen clubs were popular in those days, and there were a lot of them all over San
Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. We also played a lot of high school dances, fraternity parties (very dangerous places), and some
[Q] What other bands from your era and region do you especially remember?
[A] Dave and the Customs, Esquires, Dynamic 5, The Ghetto,
Ronnie and the Pomona Casuals, The Classics, The Floggs, (and) The Bush.
[Q] How popular was the Deepest Blue locally? Any interesting stories to share?
[A] We had a fairly large fan base and did our share of
hell raising, but I can't conjure up any really interesting stories.
[Q] Did the band make any local TV appearances?
[Q] How long did the band play together? Why did the band break up?
[A] We were together for about two years, and split up for a number
of reasons that are undefinable 35 years later--except I'll say that things (life itself) (were) moving at such an incredible pace. Soupy
was killed on a motorcycle in '67, (and) Rick died a year later in a car crash coming back home from a gig he was doing with another
band. I floated around the U.S.A. for a few years doing ..... well, I'm not sure.
[Q] Did any members continue in subsequent bands?
[A] We lost track of Russ Johnson. He could be living Down Under or in England.
Ken Zabel I still am in touch with and was recently playing in a blues band, The Ramblers in Boise, Idaho. Bruce Lavoie just retired
from the teamsters union after 30 plus years. I returned to Los Angeles and began to perform with various bands again in the early
'70's, experimenting with all the jumbled forms of psych/country/rock/acid that was affecting musicians at the time. Eventually, I was
joined together by a mutual friend and musician, Chris Darrow of Kaleidoscope fame (whom I'd known for years after The Kaleidoscope
had recorded one of my songs, "I Found Out," on their "Beacon From Mars" album) with Walter Egan. We formed a band called Wheels
(not the U.K. Wheels) and played Los Angeles until Walter got a solo record contract. I worked with him in some capacity on most of
his records. He had one top ten hit, "Magnet And Steel," and he recorded two or three of my songs for his string of albums on CBS
records and the MCA/Backstreet label. During this time--1978 to be exact--I worked with James Williamson on Iggy Pop's LP, "New
Values," arranging and singing backup vocals. From that time on, I've been involved at various levels with friends putting out CDs
(and) playing the guitar and writing.
[Q] Greg Shaw has described the Deepest Blue single as a "two-sided (four star) killer." What are your thoughts about a record that you
recorded over 30 years ago being not only remembered today, but also regarded as a classic?
[A] Greg Shaw is such a smart fellow isn't
he? I'm really amazed that this revival has been going on without me having a single clue for the last 17 years. I could have started my
own clothing line. Really, I'm grateful for the interest. When I listen to the two cuts, I hear them differently now, thanks to people like
you keeping it alive. Rock on Rick and Soupy.............