Terry Slocum Remembers Tonto and the Renegades
A Major Michigan Garage Band During the '60s
"I penned 'Little Boy Blue' in about ten minutes the week before the sessions."
[Editors' Note: This month, Misty Lane Records is poised to release an EP by Tonto & the Renegades, the BACK FROM THE GRAVE heroes best known for the crunching brilliance of "Little Boy Blue." The EP will contain four songs in total, which include the two singles that comprise the band's recorded legacy. In honor of this long overdue release, THE LANCE MONTHLY is proud to present the recollections of Renegade Terry Slocum, the man responsible for writing "Little Boy Blue." Take it away, Terry.]
I became interested in music back in 1962 by listening to old 45's of different groups of the day! I was inspired by early rockabilly. Tonto and the Renegades was my first band. We were formerly the Henchmen. The chicks seemed to like bands so I figured, "wow...this is kind of cool!" We changed the name from the Henchmen simply because our bass player's, Gary Ritchey, nickname was Tonto. Toby Bates of the Beau Jens coined it!
I Remember the Woolies, the Bossmen, Danny Hernandez and the Ones. We were all rivals back then. The Beau-Jens were our classmates at Grand Ledge High School in Grand Ledge, Michigan. Dick Wagner picked up the bass player, Gordie Garris, soon after their first record because of his tremendous voice. He went on to do several albums with the Frost. We practiced in Tonto's basement, and we all took [rehearsals] very serious. Remember--we were just 16-year-old kids! We played all sorts of venues, nightclubs, (even) a former underground bunker of Al Capone's in Western Michigan that I remember well. It was called Club Ponytail! We also played fairground gigs. We were really in demand. We were getting lots of airplay and the chicks thought we were idols!
When we did the records we knew we had something special. We caught the attention of Dick Wagner. He came to us, as did Decca Records! The recording sessions were at Fenton Studios in Sparta, Michigan. Dave Kalembach did the mastering. He was quite impressed with us! At the time, he just landed the franchise for Sunn Amps. We bought three Sunn Amps from him at a steal--two 100s amps and a 200s bass amp! We were also the only group around at the time to have a Hammond B-3 with two Leslies! We won several Battles of the Bands in Saginaw, Michigan.
I freaked when I heard of all this stuff [the popularity of Tonto and the Renegades] after all these years. I work in Memphis for a Dodge Dealer Drivability Tech. I still play and have most of my gear plus a set of drums. I've played with many well-known people over the years and I'm good friends with the keyboard player for Chuck Berry. I stay in touch with Wagner. My chops are better than ever and I've also mastered the blues harp and the drums. I have two axes 69 SG Gibson plus a Fender Strat. Some of the cats I played with after Tonto were real good and a few went on to do studio work.
In 1975 I had a blues band named B Rider and the Shotgun Express. We were HOT! The Silver Dollar Saloon in East Lansing, Michigan was our home base.
I'm into Motorcycles. I owned several Harleys and Triumphs and I currently have a nice BMW touring bike. To sum it all up, the '60's were some of the best years of my life. I penned "Little Boy Blue" in about ten minutes the week before the sessions. I never dreamed it was that good but it really is--what a trip! I live near Memphis, home of Elvis, Beale Street, and some really good music. It's the blues capital of the world. Boy, am I lucky!
[Editors' Note: Also be sure to check out the next issue of UGLY THINGS, featuring an interview that I had the pleasure of conducting with Renegades' drummer, Tom Kirby.]
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