THE RAMRODS

The Ramrods were one of those hundreds, if not thousands, of instru- mental rock 'n' roll groups operating in the USA in the late fifties and early sixties, when the genre was at its most popular. They fared better than most by scoring one substantial hit.

The group was formed in 1956 in Connecticut and was unusual for their era in that they featured a female drummer, Claire Lane, who also did the group's arrangements. Her brother Richard Lane played the sax and the other two members were cousins : Vincent Bell Lee and Eugene Moore (now deceased). They both played guitar.

At the end of 1960 the quartet made their first record for the fledgling Amy label in New York, a subsidiary of Bell Records. The A-side was a remake of Vaughn Monroe's giant 1949 hit (# 1 for twelve weeks), "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky", with overdubbed shouts, whistles and cattle calls. As with so many other guitar groups from that period, there was a strong Duane Eddy influence. Cash Box proved that they could spot a winner by making it a "Pick of the Week". In the USA, the record peaked at # 30 in February 1961. Released on London- American in the UK, it was an even bigger hit there, reaching # 8. The flip "Zig Zag" was a lazy sax-led boogie. Not bad at all for a B-side.

The follow-up was a familiar old Scottish tune, "Loch Lomond Rock", complete with an authentic-sounding bagpipe intro. Though this was at least as good as "Riders" (in my opinion), this time there was no chart success. The B-side was "Take Me Back To My Boots and Saddle", the old cowboy tune that Screamin' Jay Hawkins's mother liked so much. Two further singles on Amy were even less successful and by 1963 the group had ceased to exist. According to Stuart Colman, in his 1995 liner notes for "Teen Beat, Volume 3" (Ace 602), there were post-Amy releases on Plymouth, R&H and Queen, but these were probably by a different Ramrods group. At least the Plymouth records were by a Boston group called the Rockin' Ramrods: http://www.dirtywater.com/a2z/r/ramrods/

I think that the four Amy singles represent their complete recorded output. They can be found on the Spanish CD "Flamingo Express" by the Royaltones (Alvorado AL-CD 6310121, released in 1994), which contains 23 tracks by the Royaltones and eight by the Ramrods.

The track listing is at
http://www.gocontinental.com/cdlist/alverado_royaltones.htm
If you want to have a good laugh, take a good look at track 25 as it is listed there!

[Comments by Russ Cook]
Your information on the Ramrods (Ghost Riders In The Sky) is somewhat erroneous in that Claire Lane's (real name Litke) brother was always known as Rich Litke and Vinny Lee, the lead guitarist, was the one who past away. Whether or not Gene is still alive I really don't know. But, way back then Gene did get married and left the band and music. I (Russ Cook, real name Mumma) replaced Gene, who played rhythm and some of the leads, on bass. When Vinny died I brought in the owner of the guitar studio , where I taught, to play lead. He was Bernie Moore, no relation to Gene whose real name escapes me. When Bernie left to go on the road with Montovani, I took over as lead guitar and brought in George Sheck on bass. Later, in the late sixties, Claire embarked on a solo career playing guitar and singing. The Ramrods became the Russ Cook Combo with Chris Parker (Stuff, Paul Butterfield, Saturday Night Live, Bob Dylan, etc.) on drums for awhile. We played blues, rock, r and b and whatever else we felt like. It was a good time for all, but then in the early seventies I decided to disband the group and devote my time to my music studio and music business.

[Comments by Fred Clemens]
Based upon what is known, I'm guessing that the Ramrods name was given to the Connecticut band by AMY Records when they began recording for the label in late, 1960. There were three singles altogether, not four, but their drummer, Claire Lane, had other records prior to and following the Ramrods releases, all vocals. There were at least two records by Claire in 1959, one on DELL * STAR, and then on on JAN-ET. In 1962, Claire had two releases on the PETAL label, and then one on JOSIE in early 1963. Sometime in 1963 or later, Claire produced her own album on FLORA Records. One reason I say that the Ramrods (as a name) did not exist for the band is that on the JAN-ET release, credit is given to "CLAIRE LANE and her orchestra". It's likely that her family members could have participated in that "orchestra", but there were more instruments than just guitars, drums, or saxophone. They may have indeed been playing together since 1956, but they weren't the Ramrodsuntil 1960.

 
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