The Embers: The Heart & Soul of Beach Music

The Embers, the Heart and Soul of Beach Music documents the history of the Embers and their contributions to beach music. The interviews highlight not only many of the key current and former members of the band, but also has commentary from many well known Beach Music historians who have followed the band for decades.

AIRED: September 15, 2017 | 1:54:02

(gentle orchestral fanfare)

- [Announcer] This program made possible by a grant

from Carolina East Health System, New Bern,

recipient of five stars by the centers of Medicaid

and Medicare services.

Carolina East is committed to the quality

and the well-being of the families of coastal

North Carolina.

Learn more at www.carolinaeasthealth.com.

- [Narrator] On a cool October night in the mid 1950s,

two high school musicians drove along the outskirts

of Raleigh, North Carolina, waiting for darkness,

waiting for the AM radio band to open up

and let in that strange distant beat of rhythm and blues.

Like black magic and voodoo, it cast a spell

on drummer, Bobby Tomlinson and guitarist, Jackie Gore.

They pounded out the beats and dreamed,

dreamed of forming their own band.

This is the story of that dream.

This is the story of that band.

(distant music)

(seagull squawking)

(distant music)

♪ Bum bum bum

♪ Bum bum bum wee ooh

♪ Nip sip every day

♪ Nip sip every night

♪ Nip sip

♪ Every day

♪ Just a nippin' and a sippin' the time away

♪ Going to the party get with a bunch

♪ Got a dollar for my nipping and a dime for my lunch

♪ Gonna dance the mambo every set

♪ I really wanna get my whistle wet

♪ Ooh Miss Grace

♪ Satin and perfume and lace

♪ The minute I saw your face

♪ I knew that I loved you

♪ I love beach music

♪ You know that I do

♪ Bum bum bum

♪ Bum bum bum wee ooh

- They had a beat that you could dance to,

which is really hard to find in harmonies.

As I say in the day, they were really good,

had good showmanship.

- First time I saw them was at the Emerald Isle

beach festival years ago, and I have watched them progress,

and change, and change their members,

and every time I see The Embers, I have to say,

they give me exactly what I want when I go out

and wanna hear good beach music and wanna dance.

- They know where they're from,

they know what they're doing,

they're not trying to fool anybody.

They're just being themselves.

- I think they're entertainment.

They're entertainment, their showmanship 'cause they

work the crowd better than any other group that I know,

and good singing, good music.

- Oh, it's excellent music, excellent music.

You hear The Embers' name and you go back,

what, many years ago.

You go back many years ago.

- We book them more than we book any other band

because we know we're gonna have a crowd

when you book The Embers.

- They set the bar 40 years ago, and if it wasn't

for The Embers, you wouldn't have the Band of Oz,

and I could go on and on, The Fantastic Shakers,

and all of these other bands.

They all stemmed from what The Embers brought

to beach music, what they've brought to Myrtle Beach,

and thank God The Embers did it 'cause now The Embers

opened up a whole new world of entertainers.

- From the beginning, you see The Embers.

They worked hard, they played hard, but they delivered

when it became game time.

When that band took the stage, you knew you were gonna

see something to reckon with.

Every night, they were professional.

Every night, their music was tight,

and it was a show, when you left, you walked out

and you knew you'd seen something special that evening.

(upbeat music)

- When I was 15, we moved to Raleigh,

and I'd been playing in the high school band.

When I moved to Raleigh, they had a junior high school

system so I couldn't play in the band for a year.

I played in a band, but it wasn't the marching band.

That's about the time that Jackie Gore moved to Raleigh.

- We lived in Durham in my early years,

and then we moved to Raleigh when I was about

12 or 13 years old.

- We met up, and at lunchtime, they had a piano

and a set of drums, and all this stuff in the auditorium.

A bunch of us guys would go in there during lunchtime

and just sort of jam.

We started playing together,

and we put together a little band.

- [Jackie] The Five J's.

That was a band that preceded The Embers,

and everybody had a J in their name.

My name is Jackie.

- They actually had a washtub bass

instead of a regular bass.

We weren't very good, but we had a good time.

- In 1958, we met a guy named Blair Ellis

who was pledging Kappa Sig at NC State.

- I met Bobby and Jackie at the same time

at a friend's house about their little group

called The Escorts.

We talked about their band, The Five J's,

which was a rock 'n' roll band with five pieces.

Their piano player had just gotten drafted.

He had to go in the Army, so they said,

"If you wanna play the piano with us,

"we'd pay you three dollars a night,"

or something like that.

- Gene Jones played bass, I played saxophone.

He went on to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music

and plays clarinet.

So when we graduated, that was those two guys,

Blair, myself, and Jackie, and we had a job,

and these two guys were going for visits

for their future college days, so I hired a black

saxophone player named Doug Harrison just to work with us

that weekend.

He walks over in the corner and started warming up,

and I had never heard anything like that.


Maybe six months later, I said,

"Why don't we hire Doug?"

Remember, this is 1958,

and the first word was, "Well, he's black."

I said, "But it doesn't matter.

"We're in a band, it doesn't matter."

So we hired Doug.

- That's when we formed The Embers in 1958.

(upbeat piano)

The Embers got their name, I named 'em.

Now, if you talk to Bobby, he's gonna say

that that's wrong.

He'll say he named 'em.

- Our senior year in high school,

we decided we'd call ourselves The Embers,

but the way that we got that name, Blair Ellis

was playing with us.

He was already graduated,

he was a Kappa Sigma at NC State University.

We were in his living room one night

and trying to name the band.

We were trying to come up with a name that would be

good enough to put on a marquee at a country club,

or concert, or whatever.

- What happened was

between Chapel Hill and Greensboro,

there's a restaurant called The Embers,

and I kept looking at that restaurant, The Embers,

and I said, "That might be a good name for the band."

They agreed The Embers would be a good name,

and so we ended up,

there's a record label

that has The Embers written on it.

- I had a stack of 45s, and one of them

was Embers Recording Company,

and it was written with logs and fire,

and that's what we decided,

and we wrote our name like that for years.

- What Bobby thinks, since he took that record label

and gave it to a painter, and the painter painted

The Embers as it was on that record label

on the side of the trailer.

So that's the reason Bobby thinks that he named The Embers,

but I came up with the name, and he came up

with the record label, but he won't admit that.

He thought he did the whole thing.

We've had an ongoing fight for 50 years

about who named The Embers.

(upbeat piano)

- [Bobby] Blair Ellis was a Kappa Sigma

at NC State University,

and because he was, we played every Kappa Sig

fraternity house on the eastern United States

'cause it was real cool one of their brothers

was in a fraternity.

- [Jackie] We started playing fraternities

over at NC State and then went gradually

over to Carolina, Duke, and Wake Forest.

- Bobby bought a brand new set of Slingerland drums

that had a blue sparkly type drums, should've seen 'em,

and I bought a Wurlitzer electric piano,

the kind Ray Charles played on What'd I Say,

and Jackie bought a Les Paul and Mary Ford

stereophonic guitar.

We hooked that thing up and hooked the piano

into the stereophonic speaker for the guitar,

and all of a sudden, we sounded entirely different.

So that really made a good sound,

and we'd play, and we'd just get tickled

because it sounded so good.

We thought it did.

- Then we were playing a few nightclubs in the area.

There's a club called the Jim Thornton's Dance Club.

- Jim Thornton was a well-known celebrity on WTVD,

and Jim Thornton Saturday Night Country Style.

I told him we had a band

that I'd like to put in his nightclub.

I said, "You only use country music,

"but it might be something you'd like."

He said, "I'll tell you what I'll do.

"I'll give you the door.

"I'll take the bar, and you take the door."

I don't think he knew what was gonna happen,

but we went out the first week,

and my dad went out to work the front door for me,

and we charged 75 cents, to give you an idea of what it was.

We had about 75, 80 people, and the next week,

we decided to charge a dollar so we wouldn't have to

bother with the quarters, and within four or five weeks,

we were having 300 people come in here.

That really probably put us on the map

'cause people came from all over everywhere

to play his place, and it wasn't beach music then.

It was rhythm and blues and black music.

While he had us there, he started bringing in

national acts on Wednesday nights,

and we would go out and rehearse with them

for a couple hours.

Then we would play a set, and we'd bring them out

for a set, and we'd play another set, bring them out.

Jerry Lee Lewis came there, Fats Domino,

all those groups with people would come through there

and play.

That's really where we honed our skill,

and we did that for years.

- Bobby's one of those characters,

if you ever met him once, you don't forget him,

bright red hair, and you didn't forget him,

and that played to his benefit.

He more or less became

instrumental as being the business focal end

of the deal there.

He would get up at whatever time he rolled out of bed,

and go down to the kitchen table,

and he'd have his stuff spread out there,

bookings, phone numbers, thises and thats and things to do.

His focus was on the band 100% of the time,

all day every day.

- He was the business side of the band.

- Bobby would not take 90%.

He wanted 99.9% or he wasn't happy.

I think that's probably one of the big reasons

for their success.

(soft piano)

- The Embers was one of three or four white bands

that were just beginning to emerge

in the Carolinas in the late 50s.

You had The Catalinas that were emerging,

you had Harry Deal and the Galaxies up in Taylorsville,

The Embers, two or three others, but The Embers

had some other things going for them that I think

are especially unique.

When I look at all the entertainers and all the performers

and ask myself, who in all of that, who of all the musicians

has set a standard?

I think of one person.

I only think of one, and that's Jackie Gore.

- Jackie Gore.

- Jackie, without a doubt.

He was one of the best vocalists out there.

- Jackie's pitch is just incredibly accurate.

- Having Jackie's voice in those formative years

with him singing the kind of stuff that he's good at,

that's exactly the stuff that put The Embers on the map.

- Best white male vocalist I've ever heard in my life,

anywhere, bar none.

Nobody. I've been all over.

I've seen 'em all.

Worked with Lou Rawls, James Brown,

nobody has that God gifted

voice like Jackie Gore.

♪ Faraway places

♪ Strange sounding names

♪ Faraway over

♪ The sea

Help me sing this song, come on.

- Jackie was a real musician.

At that time, he was The Embers.


- That right there, that band has set a standard

in terms of singing, and then there are a couple

of other things that I think are really important

when you think about The Embers' career.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, there was a DJ

on a big radio station there named Jimmy Capps.

- The Embers were very lucky in that early in the game

they got hooked up with Jimmy Capps

and Jimmy Capps Productions.

Jimmy had some presence in a national sorta way.

He had national connections,

he was in a big town like Raleigh,

and the first record that The Embers recorded

came out on Ace Records, which at that time,

was a national record label.

From that, The Embers later recorded a number of songs,

which you see here, on JCP Records,

which have come big, big collectors' items

not only in this country, but in Europe as well.

This was on Jimmy Capps's label, and most of those

were recorded in his studio there in Raleigh

from about 1963 to about 1967, just before he died.

- Through their association with Jimmy Capps

and through Orville Campbell, a couple guys

who had national experience, The Embers, I think,

had a different vision about what they could do.

- I have to tell you, there were some fabulous bands

at that era, in the 60s.

Catalinas were one of the best at that time.

We were only four guys, but we were able to compete

with those guys and really stay at the top of the pile

because we worked on everything we did.

We had great vocal harmonies, our song selection

was second to nobody.

We did stuff that none of the other bands could do.

- We used to practice every week,

which I think accounted, also, for our popularity,

Most of the time, in the early days,

we would practice in Bobby Tomlinson's basement

in his mother and dad's house.

One of the reasons Embers were popular is because

we didn't slough on songs.

We learned them as much note for note as we could

possibly do them.

- Nobody played as much as The Embers played.

We played all the time, and we might have a Monday night

off here and there, but we played all the time,

deb parties, fraternity parties, we'd play in a hay loft

somewhere for a fraternity.

One night, we played seven times, one weekend, seven times

from Friday 'til Sunday.

We played from eight to 12 Saturday night,

then went to Charlotte and played an after party

for a junior senior from two to five in the morning

at a hangar at the airport.

- Since then, record after record after record.

They recorded the first beach music album that I know of.

I don't know of any other band that did an album

as early as they did.

- From the first album, which was Roll Eleven,

this was a live album, which The Embers are known for.

They actually have a total of three live albums.

This is the Roll Eleven album.

This was recorded live at the ballroom at the Erdahl

Cloyd Union at North Carolina State University.

- [Announcer] The Inner Dormitory Council proudly presents

the fabulous Embers.

("Stubborn Kind of Fellow" by The Embers)

- There, they kept the college theme,

and they recorded the second album called Just For Birds

on Jimmy Capps's label.

In fact, you look on the back, there's one of the first

Embers club that they had on Davie Street.

- If people like Jim Thornton and people like that

can have a nightclub, why can't we?

- We had played places like Jim Thornton's dance club

and then the Scrambled Dog.

We decided we wanted our own club.

- We started putting The Embers club together.

It was on the railroad track, not a real nice part of town.

The winos used to hang out down there and everything,

but we were working on it.

We came in there one night, and I love this thing.

Jim Thornton had finished his club that night,

and he was sittin' there when I went to the other

end of the bar and ate.

It had a bar, no booths.

When I got ready, we had to pay at the front,

and I had to stand right by him,

and he looked at me and said,

"Bobby, they tell me you guys are opening a nightclub

"down on the railroad track."

I said, "Yes, sir."

He said, "They won't never find you."

I said, "Maybe they will."

As luck would have it, about 30, 45 days later,

we opened our club, and it was like deja vous.

I was eating in the same place, he was sitting

in the same place.

When I walked out the door, I paid my money,

and I reached over and whispered in his ear, I said,

"Jim, 629 people found me tonight."


- We opened The Embers club right downtown on Davie Street,

and it was a big warehouse, had a big stage.

I put the lights up all around it, the stage lights,

and had a big dance floor out in the front,

and then tables down at both ends, a bar down at the end,

a very popular place.

- I played at my first gig with The Embers club

when I came to Raleigh.

It was great.

Mr. Tomlinson was great, accepting me and everything.

They always had me with a good band.

I never did have my own band, so they always made sure

that I had a good backing band to back me up

when I came here.

We drew good crowds there, and the atmosphere

at The Embers club, it was just great.

- Then we had great success at Atlantic Beach.

As a matter of fact, we used to play the Pavilion

before we even had The Embers club.

We would play there in the early 60s,

and we played, and you couldn't get in when we played there.

We were very popular in eastern North Carolina.

- We had a lot of folks that would come from all over

the eastern part of the state, congregate there

just to see us.

They would party with us, and they'd go to dinner with us,

and we'd see them during the day, great place.

- We were getting $700 for a Friday night, Saturday night,

and a Sunday, which is a lot of money,

but we knew we were doing well, and just like now,

everybody wants more.

So when we got through that Labor Day,

I went in to get paid, and the name was Aubrey Mason.

He called everybody pard, partner,

and he says pard for short.

He was a high tider that broke.

I said, "Mr. Mason, we'd like a raise next year."

He said, "What are we talking about?"

I was aiming high 'cause I thought we were gonna negotiate,

and I said, "Mr. Mason, we'd like $1,000."

I will never forget the expression on his face.

He sort of leaned back and looked at me.

He said, "Pard, hell will freeze over before I pay you


I said, "Hm, he didn't give me no wiggle room."

I would've taken $850.

I walked out to the guys and I said,

"Boys, I might've screwed up."

I stood on my front porch and I looked across the street.

If anybody's familiar with Atlantic Beach,

it used to be, it was called a circle, but it was actually

a triangle, and there was a sign there that said,

"Will build to suit tenant."

- So Jackie and Bobby decided, "Well, let's build a club."

We'll build it right over there in the triangle.

- I wrote the number down, and came back to Raleigh,

and called the number.

It was a guy named Cutie Moseley.

If anybody went to State back in those days,

would know he owned a pool room.

- Cutie Moseley was a famous billiards player.

He played with Willie Mosconi, all the big time players.

He was that good, he played with all of these guys.

He owned two or three pool halls out on Hillsborough Street

near State college.

He owned this property, he said,

"Why don't you let me build you a club down here

"and just name it The Embers Club?"

We couldn't believe it.

We built, it was like an 8,000 square foot building,

and we paid him $10,000 a year, which seemed like a lot

of money at the time, but what was so amazing,

the first weekend that we opened,

we opened on Easter Weekend in 1968,

we paid the rent almost for that building

with that first weekend of profits that we made.

We had them lined up four abreast out the front door

all the way up the street trying to get in that place.

- As it would be,

Mr. Mason made a fatal mistake

because we put him out of business that year,

which we never intended to do that, but it just so happened,

all over $150.

- It was just a wide open building, concrete floor.

I think we had a row of booths around the edge

all the way around, but that's all that was in there.

No air conditioning, just had ceiling fans that blew,

the hottest place you've ever been,

but in those days, we didn't even notice it.

I probably drank 12 or 15 beers at night

standing on stage, and that's the way life was

back in those days.

- That was the first group that I ever heard.

We went down to Atlantic Beach at The Embers Club,

and I heard The Embers for the first time,

and they were amazing.

Everybody loved them.

- And The Embers Club in Raleigh, also.

- Yeah.

- Wonderful place, wonderful place.

- If you lived in Washington

and you wanted to go to the beach,

you went to Atlantic Beach.

That was the only beach I knew,

and if you went to Atlantic Beach,

you went to the Pavilion, and you went to The Embers Club,

when I was growing up.

I had a 1960 Falcon station wagon,

and it would get almost across the bridge,

and it would overheat and stop,

and there'd be people cussing and shaking their fist

and other parts of their bodies at me

until we could push it off.

Anyway, we'd push it off, it would cool down,

and we'd go down, and then we'd sit there

and watch those bands.

I remember thinking,

"Man, if I could just get up there on the stage

"here in Atlantic Beach, that's about as close to making it

"as I think you can get around here."

- We would play there a week at a time,

and invariably, it would be with another group,

especially on a Friday and Saturday night.

We would play with The Tams.

The Tams would play for an hour,

then we'd play for an hour, and vice versa,

and that place was not air conditioned.

It was hot, and I don't care what we wore,

it was dripping wet after every set.

- It was hot, it was sticky, it had a smell to it

that was unbelievable, and it was packed.

You were elbow to elbow and I enjoyed it.

I loved it.

- I enjoyed going to Atlantic Beach

and seeing 'em down there.

You'd slide around on that concrete, slipping around

in that big orange building in the middle of the circle.

- I would change shirts two or three times a night.

I kept a hanger in the back of the car

and the starched shirts hanging there.

When one got soaked and dripping wet,

you go throw it in the floorboard, grab another one,

come back in, you're fresh and clean

and ready to sweat again.

- As you walk up to the door, you could smell it.

You'd hear the music coming out with everybody all around,

and it was always jammed,

never a small crowd, always a huge crowd.

I still remember going in.

We'd open up for some of the large acts.

We opened up for Jackie Wilson one time,

and it was just a tremendous party.

These guys are what put it there.

- Every Labor Day, they would do a marathon

because the beach rolled up the carpet back in them days

in the winter time.

They'd hire four bands.

It would always be The Embers.

I was fortunate enough to play it two years.

The most fun days, the bands would start at 12.

The first year, they had The Embers, my band,

The Castaways, Jean Barbour and the Cavaliers,

and the Four Tops.

It would all alternate until midnight.

Do an hour, next band, an hour.

Those were just memorable, great times.

- We had the one in Raleigh in '66.

I think we opened the one

in Atlantic Beach in '68.

We sold that about four years later.

The whole music thing changed.

That was about the time Vietnam came around

and we would get more and more hippies,

and more and more, the drug culture, and all of a sudden,

a lot of these people that used to drink beer

and listen to the beach music

were smoking marijuana.

Things made a little bit of a shift,

but we kept the one in Raleigh.

- That stayed there from 1965 'til 1972.

- We had a chance to move to Creekside Drive

and open an Embers club, a big show club.

- Met a guy named John O.D. Williams,

who was a big real estate man in Raleigh.

He owned some property and had built a building

out on Creekside Drive, which is right off of Wake Forest

Road, and built a really fantastic club.

That became The Embers Club.

That was in 1972.

- A beautiful place.

They told me that whatever I wanted, they would do it.

So we built a show club.

It's hard to visualize, but the carpet was purple,

and the walls were purple, and all the furniture was red.

It was built for musicians.

I had it built with the stage was two levels

and it had a stage that actually hydraulically

came out from under the stage to cover the dance floor

so when they did a floor show, they did it on the stage.

- My greatest night with The Embers was in Raleigh

back in about 1977.

I didn't even know where we were going in Raleigh.

We went to the club and it was just one hell

of a good night.

We enjoyed it, and ever since then, I've been following 'em.

- We kept that club for about three or four years,

and then we went to Hilton Underground.

Jim Mealer, who managed the hotel, called me

and had me come over there one morning.

He said he wanted to put an Embers club there,

would I do it, and I said, "Of course."

We were there for several years, and when they had

liquor by the drink, at that time, it was brown bagging,

the hotel decided to take the club over.

We were paying a ridiculous amount of money for this club.

It was $350 a month, and we used their beer license

and liquor license, which was brown bagging at the time,

but when they got liquor by the drink,

they decided they could do it by themselves,

and they told me they no longer needed us,

and would we still play for 'em?

I said, "I don't think so."

Anyway, they lasted about six months.

- Very proud to play Embers clubs, very proud.

Very proud to be associated with The Embers, period.

- I played with them for about four years.

We started off in '58, then I went in the service.

That's the reason I left.

I had to hire another piano player,

and so I put a little ad in the paper,

a job for a piano player.

The guy that answered, this guy named David Norket.

Dave was a classical pianist,

but he wanted that job so bad he couldn't stand it.

He ended up practicing, practicing, practicing,

learned how to play What'd I Say, and finally,

we listened to him play What'd I Say,

and he picked it up pretty good.

He stayed with them for three or four years

and went to Amsterdam, but that's the way I left.

I went in the Army, and I never got back into it.

- Bobby had a little problem with me.

I guess I was a little bit of a character

and sometimes was irate.

I don't know, but I drank a bit too much

and had too much fun.

So Bobby was a little nervous about me 'cause I don't think

he could control me and I didn't give a (blows raspberry).

So what happened was, he fired me and Russell Carter

took my place, which had been playing with Buddy.

So I went over to Buddy and said,

"Let's get together and play," where we tried it out,

and we worked perfect.

So I'm playing with Buddy Skipper and the Jetty Jumpers.

Then, Russell Carter had to go into the service, I think.

So they asked me,

"Hey Dave, can you come back to play with us?"

I thought, "All right," because it was a good venue,

playing with The Embers, so I came back.

Then Durwood joined up with Buddy Skipper to replace me.

Buddy was real upset about the fact that I left him.

Then I played with them for a while,

and then, again, it was this thing where blah, blah,

I must've gotten tired of playing with whatever,

and I was fired again, and Durwood left Buddy

and came over and took my place.

When I started playing with Buddy Skipper,

Buddy was a big band at Carolina Beach

and the Jetty Jumpers.

He moved to Raleigh, met a girl from Raleigh,

so moved up here, and once I started playing with him,

we traveled in that circle.

I'd see Bobbie and Jackie occasionally in The Embers.

I had actually seen them once or twice when I was

in high school when they played at Jim Thornton's.

I went to see 'em one time when they backed up

The Marcels who had that song, Blue Moon.

You remember that?

Anyhow, I'd see 'em, and I graduated from high school,

and there's a lot of stuff that I won't tell you

about that particular summer, but I was down at the beach

at the Pavilion one weekend, the summer I graduated

from high school, with a bunch of guys.

None of these people at the beach knew I played,

was musical at all.

I was out dancing and The Embers were playing

at the Pavilion.

That's when The Masons had it.

Saturday night, and I had said hey to Bobby

and Jackie when I came in, and Dave Norket

was playing the piano, Frank Reich was playing

the saxophone.

About the second set, I heard somebody come on the PA

system, said, "Hey Durwood Martin.

"Will you come up to the stage?"

So I went up to the stage and Norket had passed out.

He couldn't play so he said, "Can you sit in?"

I said, "Yeah," 'cause we all knew the same song.

I got up on stage and started playing

and finished out the night with 'em.

The next day, they had a job in Atlantic

just down the road for a deb party outside.

He said, "Hey, will you play that with us?"

I went down and did that, and I thought it was pretty cool

'cause I went to the beach with no money,

and ended up making some money while I was down there.

That summer, I was doing construction work, helping my dad.

I was underneath a house, an apartment complex

that they were building, putting insulation up

in the rafters in about a two inch space,

putting insulation up and putting these wires.

I heard somebody, there was a light down there.

It was at the end of this building,

that little crawlspace, hole, and I heard somebody say,

"Durwood. Durwood, are you in there?"

It was Bobby and Jackie.

They had come out there.

It was in Raleigh.

We were on Old Garner Road doing that,

and they said, "Hey, we want you to play,"

and I said, "Great.

"I don't have any equipment."

Bobby helped me get a piano and a piano base

and I started playing.

In the first two weeks that I played with 'em,

all the jobs that we played were east of Princeton,

east of Raleigh, down in New Bern, Jacksonville,

down at the beach, and I just lived at home,

in Princeton.

I'd stand out by the road and they'd pick me up

at the Esso station there in Princeton.

- Bobby called me when I was 22 and asked me

if I wanted to come audition with The Embers.

Well, that sounded okay.

I was playing with another band at the time,

and I went and auditioned with them,

and they were playing such up to date stuff

I had trouble following along,

but they decided to bring me into the band,

and the first job I ever played was in the North Hills

parking lot on the back of a flat bed trailer truck,

and the first song was Hang On Sloopy.

That was kind of our theme song for a number of years.

In high school, I played with a group called The Villagers

and we worked our way right out of high school

into the first year of college.

That group had a top ten record in Australia,

and it was a big hit and all that,

and there we were in high school in Raleigh.

It was nice.

There was money there to go get, but we were in high school.

My mom said, "No, you can't go."

So anyhow,

after The Villagers, I played with a few bands

here and there, played with a group that we always

used to rehearse in Benson, North Carolina.

It was a horn band. I played trumpet in that band.

A large portion of that band went to South Carolina

and became The Swingin' Medallions.

We must've been better than we thought we were

'cause everybody that left that band went someplace

and did something worthwhile with other bands,

but that's about the time that I started with The Embers.

I was still in school then and played through

until I graduated from college with The Embers.

The night I graduated from college, walked across the stage,

got my diploma, went right out the side door.

My girlfriend at the time, that's my wife now, Edna,

she was waiting there, hopped in the car,

and went to Greensboro to play and got to Greensboro

in time to play.

People always say,

"Did you go to the big party after graduation?"

No, I went to work.

I went to Greensboro, but that was actually fun for me.

What's the saying, that earn a living at something

you love to do and you'll never work a day in your life?

That's pretty much it.

- I was with a group out of Burlington, North Carolina

called The Monzas.

We did a little song called Hey I Know You

and all that stuff.

We were getting ready to revamp the Monzas,

and right toward the end,

Durwood got drafted.

You remember when it was four Embers,

Bobby, Durwood, Frank, and Jackie.

Durwood didn't bother to tell anybody he got drafted.

Bobby Tomlinson called me and

actually, he had a boy named Jimmy somebody playing bass,

but he couldn't sing.

He played bass, he just didn't sing.

Jimmy contacted me, wanted me to go sit in for him

one night in Kinston at the Kinston Country Club,

and said they really needed somebody that could play

and sing and all that stuff.

Anyway, I went down and I played bass with 'em

and sang a few songs.

See, I was with The Monzas.

Jackie Gore walked up and said,

"You gonna stay with us?"

I said, "Well no, I've got my own band."

He said, "Well, I thought you were gonna stay with us,"

and all this stuff.

From that day forward, Bobby Tomlinson called me

like every day for two weeks, and he kept showing up

in Cadillacs and Corvettes, and I'm thinking,

"Wait a minute. I ain't driving a Cadillac and Corvettes.

"What's wrong?"

Anyway, they offered me more money than I'd ever seen

whether I played or not.

Well, I went.

I moved to Raleigh, and that was in 1968, I think,

'67, '68, somewhere in there.

That was it, that was the beginning.

I stayed with 'em, I think I was with them for 10 years,

something like that.

Boy, let me tell you, we had a time.

We had a big time.

("I Love Beach Music" by The Embers)

- Beach music, in my estimation, in terms of black music

being available to a white audience, started in the mid 40s.

- I agree with you, yes,

music that, as kids,

we really weren't allowed to listen to.

- Especially in Belmont.

- Yeah, Belmont and Framersburg.

We weren't allowed to listen to it.

We had to listen to it in the back room.

- Right, or WLAC in the middle of the night.

Of course, one of the wonderful things about The Embers

and the bands like them was that they became the agents

for the music that people couldn't get on the radio.

- When I first started singing when I was just a little kid,

there was a black radio station over in Durham, WSRC,

and they had a black DJ on there.

They called him Dr. Jive.

He played the kind of music that I just loved.

I loved that music from the time I was a little kid

until I started singing with The Five J's and The Embers.

- All we liked was the black music,

and back then, they didn't play that on regular radio.

You had to find it somewhere else,

and we'd listen to a radio station in Nashville, Tennessee

called WLAC.

- Which was the station everybody listened to

that stayed on all night long.

It was AM, but everybody would tune in that station

and hear that old R&B music that we loved so much.

- Part of the success we had after we started The Embers,

when we travel at night, we'd get that radio station,

and we'd hear records, and we'd order 'em,

and we would learn 'em, and nobody here

had ever heard of 'em.

I didn't find this out 'til later, but all the DJs

sounded black and they were all white.

John R, "This is John R coming to you from way down south

"in Dixie."

- [John R] Lavinia Lewis.

Yeah, that thing moves, I'll tell ya right now.

John R way down south in Dixie.

It's all on record.

WLAC, 1510 on the dial, Nashville, Tennessee.

Of course, we're here every night Monday through Saturday

laying out this good sound all around.

- This was in the 50s and the 60s, even before

there was anything close to being called beach music.

- It was just rhythm and blues

and feel good music.

- I don't think that you can put it into words.

It's just such a feeling that just grabs your body.

It hit me

at the age of 18 in Greensboro at The Castaway,

seeing The Embers, the music, the fun, the party,

the dance, the buzz in the room.

There's just so many elements to make beach music

what it is.

- Beach music, to me, is just partying fun music.

Everybody's gonna go out and have a good time.

There was not any particular group or anything like that.

It was all about going out and having fun.

It was not a dance or anything like that.

It was what you played and what you heard

when you went down to Atlantic Beach or Carolina Beach.

- I define it, first of all, the lyrics go a lot to do

with the song, and then it's that shuffle beat.

It's that shuffle beat on those records,

on those songs, that fits the shag dance.

That's the only way I can describe it 'cause any other

song without that shuffle beat or whatever,

it doesn't fit.

You really can't shag to it, so I think it's a combination

of the song, and the lyric, and that shuffle beat

that goes along with the shag dance.

The combination of all them,

I think is what makes beach music, to me.

- This thing they call beach music now,

in those days, we called it soul music.

I don't even remember when the term "beach music"

came along.

- 1945 to 1965 is 20 years, a developmental period.

The Embers and some of the local groups

started in the late 50s.

In the early to mid 60s is when there was this really big

explosion of local bands.

- I had my first beach group, I guess you'd call it,

we always played soul music back then.

I had several horn bands, but the first group

to really hit the beach circuit was called The Castaways

out of Durham.

- A couple of bands from Charlotte that were really

making noise, The Catalinas, The Rivieras,

and then The Fabulous Five was about the only band

out of Greensboro that was making a lot of noise

at that time, and The Embers from Raleigh.

- There was The Dynamic Episoders in Hickory.

These are notable groups in different areas of the state.

As we'll get into Hickory into the western area,

you lose me after that because I didn't know of any bands

past that, but those were the groups that shaped

the music that we have today because they all played

the same kind of music.

They all played rhythm and blues.

They would have a funky styles like Rivieras,

one of the finest little funk groups

that nobody ever heard in Charlotte.

Of course, back then they were very popular.

Bob Myer and the Rivieras had a song called Behold,

huge record before we were keeping statistics,

but you can still hear that.

That song will still be played on the radio today

and then by DJs.

The Catalinas had You Have The Right and

Hey Hey Little Girl, a lot of songs back down in Charlotte,

but the real strength of a fan base was The Embers.

- The Embers were probably the greatest beach group,

which wasn't called beach back then.

It was called bands, but they were probably

one of the greatest bands in the 50s and 60s

when they started out.

- All the songs they were playing were the same music

that I heard on the R&B radio, WRAB in Norfolk.

I said, "That's my kinda band and my kinda music."

- The way the spectacular was made with them

was them white boys playing black music,

and how many people going, "Holy mackerel.

"I can't believe I'm seeing this."

They exposed white people to black music.

- Jackie Gore and Bobby Tomlinson had a personality

on stage that not only did they sound good,

but they were good, and they were great guys.

They were everybody's friend.

They just had fun on stage.

- When I got with The Castaways,

we started working The Embers club in Raleigh.

This was when The Embers, they had gone to six pieces then.

They added Big John Thompson on bass,

they had a guy named Buck Keener on trumpet,

Johnny Hopkins, Durwood Martin, who's still

a great friend of mine today, Bobby Tomlinson,

and of course, Jackie Gore.

It's one of the most fun groups of Embers there ever was.

- What I really dug about The Embers and made me

wanna get into the music business, I'll never forget

when they first were starting to come to The Castaways,

and I see Big John, Durwood Martin.

They had an impact on me.

I just thought that they were so polished there.

They were just, they need to be in Vegas.

- They have always and to this day delivered

first class top notch entertainment.

- The group was so personable.

I don't know any other way to say it.

There was just an aura there.

People would come to see 'em just to be around them.

- The term "beach music" though, did not really come about,

it didn't really start to lock into the culture

until about 1965.

- And that was in Carolina Beach, was it?

Carolina Beach area?

- Yeah, there and the Grand Strand.

Of course, the terminology began to spread

throughout the culture, but there's 20 years right there

in which the music had no name, really.

- When I got back from California in '75,

and playing in the band called Pyramid,

I was told, "We're doing this beach music medley."

I said, "What is beach music?"

They said, "I don't know, it's just the kind of music

"they play at the beach is all I know."

- Of course, we had the dance all along.

We had the bands that began in the late 50s,

and then a huge explosion of them in the 60s,

never a single song that mentioned the shag,

or the bop, or the basic, or the fast dance.

Not a single one of them, out of the hundreds

of songs that they record, ever mention beach music.

Not a single one of them ever mentioned the shag.

Throughout the entire 60s, throughout most of the 70s,

they never mentioned it, and if you wanna take

a psychological perspective on that, in psychology,

they have what they call developmental stages,

and one of the most important developmental stages

in anybody's life is what they call self awareness,

when you become aware of yourself.

Who's the very first band who ever mentioned beach music,

who ever began to be introspective about itself?

1976, when The Embers were down in Florida,

they did a live album down there, and on that album,

they don't sing about it, but you hear Jackie Gore say,

"Alright now. We're gonna do some music that we call..."

- [Jackie] Beach music, a song called Green Eyes

and then called 60 Minute Man.

If you don't like beach music, you might as well

go to the back, right?

♪ Doo doo doo doo

- The Embers were the first group to ever demonstrate

this self consciousness about the culture.

- I think The Embers have been a large part

of the success of beach music.

- The Embers set the standard.

I think they set it a long time ago.

I think they set it probably back in '67, '68

when they did Faraway Places.

I think that set the standard because it was

a nationally released record, and I think that

set the standard for beach music and when the term

"beach music" came around, and I think

that kind of solidified, "Wow, that's what that is."

Then, of course, as they moved along and they did

I Wanna Do Beautiful Things For You,

man, what a great record.

Then, of course, in '79 when they did I Love Beach Music,

that, to me, galvanized their place in beach music

history as the top of the heap.

- I was sitting in my kitchen with my guitar,

and I started strumming on my guitar,

and I just came up with the tune,

which popped into my head was,

♪ I love beach music

♪ I always have and I always will

- Jackie was noodling around at home with this song

he brought to rehearsal one day.

He said, "This name of this song is I Love Beach Music."

I was thinking that's kinda strange, titling a song

after a genre of music, and little did I know

what was to come.

We sat down and worked that out, we went into Mega

Sound Studios in Bailey and recorded that.

- It was an instant hit.

When we recorded it, I remember we sent a copy

to a lot of DJs in the area, and I sent one

to Chris Beasley, who owns the wax museum in Charlotte,

which is a famous old record store where he sold

beach music songs, and he still does.

He called me when he heard that song.

He said, "Jackie, this is the greatest thing

"that's ever been done for beach music."

He really was instrumental in help promoting the song

I Love Beach Music, which has become the national anthem

of beach music, or so they say.

♪ Bum bum bum

♪ Bum bum bum

♪ Wee oooh

♪ Beach music

♪ I love beach music

♪ Cause I was born with it in my bones

♪ I learned to shag on the beach

♪ With the songs in the air and the sand at my feet

♪ Ooh Miss Grace

♪ 39 21 46

♪ What kind of fool do you think I am

♪ Forever and ever it will stand

♪ I love beach music

♪ Every single day of my life

♪ I love beach music

- The national anthem of beach music

is still I Love Beach Music.

- The Embers were really central to this new awareness.

I Love Beach Music came out and then that was the beginning

of that whole new golden era, the first golden era

being the 60s.

The 80s then led, but The Embers' I Love Beach Music

exploded it all wide open.

- Exactly.

- So then what did we start hearing?

We started hearing songs about Ocean Boulevard,

we started hearing songs about summertime and girls.

For the first time, the bands started reflecting

what the culture had always been, but the songs

never talked about.

The songs never talked about it.

There was this new kind of awareness,

and The Embers were the ones that triggered all of that.

- Anytime someone leaves the band,

they're a little bit isolated, and at the time I left,

it was because I was building my own club in Raleigh

called The Bonfire, and I was spending all of the time

I could spare into that club doing those things.

Our opening week, I was not gonna be playing with the band,

and I told them a month ahead that we're having

a grand opening for our club and I have to be there.

Bobby had booked

a week at Bill Deal and the Rhondels

Dance Club that same week.

I just couldn't go.

We never, never missed a gig.

If you're sick, you play.

Here, I was gone for a week.

I was transitioning into a new life with this club,

and that's where my heart was.

That's where I wanted to be, and that was gonna keep me

in Raleigh.

So the split up was caused by that.

- I got several draft notices.

I'd had a wreck.

In fact, I was down at the beach when I had the wreck

and got a concussion and a lot of other things.

That kept me out for a long time.

I got my draft notice and went down to the draft center,

which was two blocks from the old Embers club.

I went through and they deferred me again.

I came back and The Embers were rehearsing

with another piano player.

I walked in and said, "They didn't take me,"

so I got back on the stage.

We played and maybe six, eight months, a year later,

I got that notice, and I went down.

They took me July of '68.

I went straight to Fort Bragg, to Fort Seal,

came home for a week or so, Vietnam for a year,

back to Fort Seal, and I got an early out in May of '70,

and went back in school at State.

Bobby and Jackie called me a little later on that summer

and said, "Hey, come and play with the band again,"

so I did.

Played until October '76.

- The first time I left, they decided that this boy

named Larry Haywood was their answer to going to Vegas.

They wanted to go big time,

so they brought in Larry Haywood.

Larry Haywood had already played Vegas.

He didn't have any desire to go back.

He did some off the wall stuff that really didn't fit

the image of The Embers.

I went back, I think it was exactly, almost to the day,

a year later.

- It took me a long time.

When I left the band, it took me several years

to get over, 'cause we were all best buddies.

You don't have that relationship with your buddies anymore,

and it took a long time to get over that.

I think that's what all the guys, when you're young,

you probably have different motives about playing,

girls and running and partying,

but friends and having your buddies and being able

to do things, 'cause in the early days,

if we had a night off, we all went to the movies together

or we'd go out to eat together.

It was weird.

We'd take vacation and the first night back from vacation,

everybody says, "Man, I ain't never been so glad

"to get back in my life," 'cause everybody was ready

to play and ready to hang out.

It was just, had a good bunch of guys

and we did a lot of good stuff together.

- I started playing in a band with Craig Woolard

and my nephew, Tony Davis, a band called Pyramid.

We were a Top 40 band, and we played around

for about a year, and then The Embers had three guys

leaving at one time.

The Embers was a band that I'd always wanted to be in,

even when I was at NC State.

I thought, if I could be in a band like that,

that would be great.

I saw show bands out in California, and I thought,

if I could be in a band of that caliber,

that would be great, kind of like The Embers.

So when they offered me that job and Craig,

we had no choice but to take it, and we replaced

a trumpet player named Buck Keener, Durwood Martin,

the keyboard player, and Big John Thompson on bass.

- I was playing with a four piece band with Gerald Davis,

his nephew, Tony Davis, who eventually married

little Jackie Gore, and a guitar player named Dennis Head.

We were playing in Columbia, South Carolina

at The Metro Club.

We were rehearsing, and the phone rang,

and it was Jackie Gore.

He said, "Well, I wanted to offer you a job."

I said, "Wow, man."

Then he said,

"Actually, I wanna offer you and Gerald a job."

The timing could not have been better because

I really joined that band because of Gerald Davis.

He had just come back from California and I said,

"This guy is so good."

He sings high, and he sings low, and he plays bass great.

He's got a great presence.

Gerald had come to me probably a week before that

and had said,

"If we don't start getting some work around home,"

which was right outside Goldsboro in Freemont, he said,

"I'm gonna have to leave the band and go back to farming,

"because I gotta be around my family."

I thought, if you leave, I don't know what I'm gonna do

'cause you're the reason I came, but okay.

I'll see what I can do.

Then a week later, they called.

I knew that it was gonna be a good thing.

We came in, Gerald and I came in, and Doug Strange,

who I had worked with in the other Holiday Inn band

came in as well, and we were the new Embers.

- [Jackie] One, two, three, four.

(quiet music)

- I hadn't been home in two or three years,

and when I got home, I looked in the paper

and I saw that The Embers were playing at the Hilton

Underground in Raleigh.

Well, I had to go.

I wanted to see my old friend Durwood and everybody.

That particular night,

I walked in,

and Bobby and Jackie meet me at the door,

and there's no Durwood and no Big John.

They had just played their last job maybe the night before,

and it was actually the first night, I think,

that Craig Woolard and Gerald Davis had joined the band.

That started a second wave of The Embers.

I know that year, that was like fall of '76.

They never lost any popularity.

Craig was a great addition to the band.

He added a new dimension to the band.

Everybody thought they'd fall apart. Well, they didn't.

Then around 1980, they stayed that way for a long time,

they added Johnny Barker, and that's when it exploded.


- I joined The Embers January the first of 1980.

1979 New Years' Eve party was the Statesville Country Club

at The Catalina.

My brother and the rest of the guys at that time,

and Earl Dawkins, and a lot of guys I could tell you

about that you probably wouldn't remember.

That was December 31st.

January 1st, the next night, I started a week long

engagement at The Boondocks in Greensboro with The Embers.

Lifestyle change was pretty dramatic.

I was living in Charlotte at the time,

and never moved so far away from home before,

but actually, I tried to live in Charlotte for about a year

as I recall now, and it about killed me 'cause we played

five, six nights a week, and it was not around Charlotte.

It was always Raleigh or east of Raleigh.

I ended up moving to Raleigh and

settled in there 1983 or '82,

somewhere along in there.

We just started playing and working.

We practiced and worked.

We became more and more and more popular.

All the CDs, all the albums were coming out then, color CD,

and the shows improved.

I was brought in from the musical side of things

to kind of prop up the music side along with Gerald Davis,

our bass player, and that was an incredible band.

Those six people, as we have all discussed since,

at some varying setting, we all realized

that was a special group, those six people of that band.

- Johnny Barker was the missing link because he's such

a powerful musician.

He is just the best writer, arranger, producer.

Him and Bobby and Gerald became the backbone.

They were on the back line and you had Craig

and Jackie and Johnny Hopkins up front.

You just couldn't miss.

When they would play at the Landmark Hotel,

they would have to put 'em in the ballroom.

The club won't big enough.

I'm literally serious. I worked down there.

They had a club called the Coquina Club.

They were working there on Monday, Tuesday,

Wednesday nights, but come Friday and Saturday night,

they had this huge ballroom.

There was just not enough room,

and it was packed every night.

They were there eight, 10 weeks a year during the summer.

It was phenomenal.

- Everybody, I mean every single person

was a motivated person, working hard,

headed in a direction, doing everything they could

to get better at what they did,

to do everything better, and everybody was just

thinking about the band and working as hard

as they could 100% of the time.

- The Embers, I guess they were the first guys,

many, many years ago, who did floor shows.

- I went down to Atlanta to see a girl I used to date

in Raleigh, she moved to Atlanta.

She said, "You need to see this group,"

and I really didn't wanna care about going to see

a band, but she talked me into it.

We went to Scarlett O'Hara's in Underground Atlanta,

and I was blown away.

I had never seen anything like that.

It was a group called The Entertainers,

which had nothing to do with The Entertainers

from North Carolina.

They weren't even envisioned then.

They did impersonations, they danced,

and when I left there, I was in awe.

I came back to Raleigh, I said,

"Guys, I know what we have to do.

"We've gotta do floor shows."

- Since we had the Hilton Underground and three locations,

we'd play a week in each club, and then we'd come down

to Myrtle Beach and play The Landmark for a week or two.

That afforded us the chance to do a lot of rehearsing.

At one point, we had five different floor shows

we could do at any time.

- That was something really to see,

and that kind of put them a step up.

Then later on, other groups began to emulate

the same floor show.

- Within that first year, year and a half,

we had three shows.

We had the Las Vegas Revue, we had the Midnight Special,

and we had Rock 'N' Roll Heaven.

- When we first started doing it,

we were like fish outta water.

We didn't know.

All we ever did was stand there and play.

We'd move around, do stuff,

but when we started doing floor shows,

we brought in choreographers,

we bought all these new clothes from Michael and Tony

down in Florida.

He would come and make these clothes on us.

- These are the same people that, at that time,

were designing the attire for Sonny and Cher.

- The first thing we would do was announce,

"We're having a floor show tonight."

Second set, third set, whatever.

"Get ready for the floor show," dance, dance, dance,

stand for a second.

Different set, "We're getting ready for our floor show.

"You can line your chairs up," and so people were eager.

They couldn't wait to get up there.

- They were much more than just dancing.

They were shows.

- There was a formula that we had.

We'd do an intro, a group song, and then a song.

Usually, Jackie would sing a song, and then we'd go into

our theme, and the theme for the first show

was the Las Vegas Revue.

♪ If your life is a drag

♪ And your wife makes you gag

♪ Your friends are a bore

♪ Don't you take anymore

♪ What you're needing my friends

♪ Is a Las Vegas weekend

♪ Wine women and song

♪ Bring your back row along

♪ Because you deserve a great today

♪ So get up and get away to Las Vegas

♪ Las Vegas

♪ You

♪ Are

♪ There

- And then Johnny Hopkins would come out as the emcee

and he'd introduce the different acts.

- [Johnny] That's right, ladies and gentlemen.

Las Vegas with the flashing lights, the dancing girls,

the slots machines, the dice tables, and of course,

the finest entertainment in the world.

As I speak of fine entertainment--

- Everybody loved Johnny Hopkins, one of the nicest,

friendliest guys you would ever hope to meet,

and that's exactly how he came off on stage because

he would emcee a lot of our shows.

- [Johnny] For none other than the tempting Temptations.

Make em out.

♪ Get ready 'cause here I come

♪ Get ready 'cause here I come

- Jackie did an impression of Curtis Mayfield.

I did then Junior Walker.

- Jackie Gore and Craig Woolard are my two top talented

people I've ever worked with, and they were in the same band

at the time.

Jackie did an incredible act, Craig did an incredible act,

but they were totally different acts.

So we didn't get one crowd or one demographic

with those two.

Then myself and Gerald, we were the musicians, and Bobby

would keep the music going, and then we would do

our own little bits.

- Bobby did

the Big Bopper.

Bobby came out from behind the drums with a big hat on

and sang Chantilly Lace.

I played drums while Bobby was out there.

I know the rest of the band hated that.

- Our bits were mainly to be in between the big guys'

bits, for Raymond Massey and for Craig to come out

and do Rod Stewart or Ray Charles.

♪ Georgia

♪ Georgia

♪ The whole day through

♪ Yes she did

♪ Just your old sweet song

♪ Keep Georgia on my mind

♪ Woo woo woo

♪ That ain't all

Then we'd close with maybe a comedy act after that

and then a closer.

- We did a thing called, we did Havin' My Baby

where Jackie would sing, "Having my baby is such a lovely,"

and I would go backstage, and I'd dress up

like this great big old pregnant woman

with a blonde wig and high heels and all that stuff.

I'd come out pregnant, and then I'd go into labor.

They'd take me offstage, and I'd come back,

and Buck Keener, who's about that tall,

he'd come out with nothing but a diaper

and a little baby hat on, and he's jump on Jackie

and all that stuff.

- Everybody had a character that they would do.

I would do Elton John.

I had an old piano that I painted up.

I took a pair of tennis shoes, that tall platform

tennis shoes and painted 'em up and sparkles on 'em.

I had those big old glasses like this.

I think that my favorite, which is probably not the best

audience response, the funniest to me, but because

I knew the guys, was when we took the song El Paso Texas,

out in the west Texas town of El Paso,

and we acted that song out.

- Me and Jackie and Johnny stood in the back

and we sang the song.

Bobby was the handsome young cowboy.

Durwood, he was the bad guy, and Buck was Feleena.

They would go out in the audience after

they did their part, and when it come to the part,

"Off to the right, I see five mounted cowboys,

"off to the left, I see a dozen or more," Durwood and Buck

would raise up.

Buck would have on a headdress, still in the Feleena dress

and wig, he'd have on a headdress, he'd be shooting arrows,

these little rubber tipped arrows, and Durwood

had one of these old bazooka looking things

you shoot the balls with, and shoot them up on the stage.

I mean, it was silly.

It was silly stuff, but what made it go over

is we entertained each other, and whatever we could do

to make each other laugh, we found out

it was making them people laugh too.

- The first time I saw The Embers was at Port O'Call Lounge

down in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the Holiday Inn,

and they came up with just an awesome, awesome,

awesome show that they did.

- Raymond Massey came in from the back door

and came through the crowd with his hard hat on

and his overalls on.

- What I would do, I would come in as a redneck

where I would have on gallus overalls, a plaid shirt,

a medal hard hat, and an old beat up black lunchbox.

I'm just a typical redneck off the street.

I would come in and humiliate the band.

- He became that character who would come in

and break into the show.

- Disrupting the--

- Yeah, disrupting the crowd and disrupting

the concert and everything.

- I'd walk right across in front of the stage,

right in front of the band and the audience

with that Raymond Massey outfit on.

- [Band Member] Put the spotlight over there

on the guy in the hard hat.

Yeah, there you are.

Hey, friend. Yeah, you right there.

Why don't you come up here with me?

You in the hard hat, just come on up here with me.

I'll buy you a drink.

- They'd say, "Come up here just a minute."

Well, I would turn and give the band the finger.

Just that one action by itself

would bring the audience down.

- [Band Member] What's your name?

- [Jackie] My damn name is Massey, Raymond Massey.

- [Band Member] And where are you from Mr. Massey?

- He said he was from Aynor, South Carolina.

Aynor, South Carolina.

- Wherever I was playing, I would pick out a little

small crossroads in the area where everybody would know

what I was talking about.

They'd say, "Where you from?" and that's the town

I would use.

Right now, I live in McBee, South Carolina.


I'm originally from Aynor, South Carolina.

- He was McBee, South Carolina, and he told the most

convincing story that you could believe.

- He thought she looked at least 15.

She was 13.

- [Band Member] When they took you downtown,

what did they charge you with?

- [Jackie] They charged me with mandatory rape, I think

is what they called it.

- They told him, "That's statutory rape."

He said--

- [Jackie] Nah, this was mandatory.

I had to have it so I took it.

- I had to have it.

- It was the most awesome show that I have ever seen.

- The Raymond Massey act became so famous

we would book a job

and people would send him a contract.

They would write back in the contract, say,

"Raymond Massey must be at this concert tonight."

I wanna sing a song with y'all.

I think y'all need some help.

You're kind of in a rut.

- [Band Member] Yeah, we've been in a rut for a while.

You think you can get us out of it?

- [Jackie] I think y'all need some damn help from somewhere.

- [Band Member] The one and only, Mr. Raymond Massey.

Come on.

- About halfway through the song, he would start

taking his clothes off and would just turn into

a transvestite right on stage.

I mean, he would have a woman's two piece bathing suit

on, and a wig, and high heeled shoes.

- [Bobby] The crowd loved it.

- We had to actually pull ladies off of Jackie

while he was on the stage.

They just loved Raymond Massey.

- [Band Member] Mr. Jackie Gore.

- It was really funny.

People really enjoyed it.

My feeling is that it eventually became too much,

and lasted too long, and became too risque.

So we were in Statesville, North Carolina

at a club


the show had come to the point where

many of us can leave except the keyboard player

and the drummer, who are going (scatting)

the vamp.

So I went to the bar.

- Our act was hung down pretty much.

We knew how many seconds this took,

how much time this took, and all that.

So at this point,

we were changing acts.

I would come out, and I had maybe like

a three to five

minute little monologue, talking to the audience,

reminding them this and introducing people in the audience,

saying amusing things.

I don't look upon myself as one of those off the cuff

funny people, so if I wanna be funny,

I have to rehearse everything.

My little bit was rehearsed there,

and then I was supposed to be standing there,

and Jackie, as his character, Raymond Massey,

was supposed to come up there and interrupt everything,

and we went on into the Raymond Massey act.

I was standing there, and I talked and talked,

and I said everything I could think of,

and it went on and on.

I'm just there in the middle of the stage by myself,

talking, and talking, and running out of things to say.

Then I'm looking around for Raymond Massey.

I'm getting a little desperate here.

- He's killing time for Jackie to come in.

No Jackie.

This went on, I was standing at the bar, I think.

I had gotten a beer and I was about halfway through

my beer, I turned around and realized something's wrong.

- I'm standing there talking on the microphone,

and Craig walks across and he walks right behind me.

He said, "He's not coming, you got it."

"I got what?"

I said, "I got nothing."

- Craig came back up and did another skit

like nothing had happened and we ended the show.

- I came in the club as Raymond Massey with my lunch box

and my hard hat and all that kind of stuff,

and two policemen walked in.

There's a little short policeman and then a taller guy.

I just walked up to the police.

I said, "Ya'll didn't come down here to arrest me, did ya?"

just joking with the guy, and he says,

"Sir, you better get on over down to where you belong."

I was just gonna try to be friends with the guy,

and I laid my arm on his shoulder to tell him

who I was, and when I did,

he looked at that as if I had assaulted him.

So he turned me around, threw the handcuffs on me,

he said, "You're going to jail.

"You've assaulted a police officer."

- We all came off the stage and went out the front door,

and there in the parking lot, there was police cars,

and Jackie was in the backseat.

- He's got his overalls on and the hard hat.

He didn't have his lunch pail 'cause he was in handcuffs.

He said, "Bobby, tell them it's part of the show.

"Tell them it's part of the," click, the door shut.

So Bobby stepped forward and said,

"It's just part of the show.

"It's all a big misunderstanding," and in mid-sentence,

one of the officials turned around and said,

"If you say another word, you're going downtown

"with him in cuffs just like him."

Bobby stepped back and said,

"See ya downtown, Jackie."

- At that point, the band kind of assembled back on stage,

played one song, then we took a break.

- My favorite picture in my mind was I was thinking,

I told the rest of the guys, I said,

"All we can hope for is that they take him downtown,

"they book him, and they put him in a cell

"after he's had to take off his overalls

"and he's got that bikini on."

Please God, let this happen.

- [Bobby] We were doing the I Love Beach Music

at the Emerald Isle Beach Festival.

- It was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch,

you know, the Budweiser people,

and what was amazing was I was standing

on the stage and I was a big Budweiser drinker

and I always have been.

- Somebody handed Jackie a Budweiser,

and he held it up, "I love Budweiser."

♪ I love Budweiser

♪ I always have and I always will

Eight or 10 thousand people holding them Budweiser

cans up singing, "I love Budweiser."

It was a natural for Budweiser.

The Anheuser-Busch people standing backstage said,

"This is incredible."

- Budweiser brand in Myrtle Beach was called Better Brands

and it belonged to a guy named Spud Spadoni.

His son was an, I called him, Embers freak.

He loved us, and he talked his dad into it.

His dad said, "Do the commercial and I'll send it."

So we did a commercial.

- The local guys got it hooked up with the national people

and the national ad agency.

- They wrote us back and told us that we were too local.

We accepted that, but we kept doing the commercial.

Everywhere we played, South Carolina, North Carolina,


- They just kept at it, and they would befriend the local


- All of a sudden, we're bombarded with people requesting

a commercial they didn't have.

So I got a call from a guy that lives in Cary,

worked for Anheuser-Busch, and checked on

North Carolina, South Carolina, was his territory.

He set up a meeting with me,

and I met him at a pizza parlor my dad and my mother

ran over on Capital Boulevard.

I took all of our albums, and that was with four CDs,

all the albums, and t-shirts, and hats,

and everything I could find.

I met with him and I remember sitting there and he said,

"What exactly do you want from Budweiser?"

A lot of times I said things that were kinda crazy

but they usually get effects.

I said, "We don't want any more than you give Lou Rawls."

- We went in the recording studio and rerecorded

I Love Beach Music to say, "I Love Budweiser."

- The next thing I know, the local distributors

are going with Jackie to a meeting in,

I think it was St. Louis.

- About two weeks later, he calls me and said that,

"August has given his approval.

"They'll be in touch with you."

My next call is from an outfit out of St. Louis

that handles their advertisement.

They said, "When can you do this commercial?"

I said, "When can you do it?"

- Man, couple weeks later, we're in the studio

recording a Budweiser jingle.

- First of all, we can't do what you did

because you can't promote the effects of beer.

- We had said, "It gives me such a thrill,"

so we had to say, "Budweiser, king of beers."

He said, "While we're here, we're gonna do the one,

"this Bud's for you, all you do, this Bud's for you."

We did both commercials. We spent all day.

♪ I love Budweiser

♪ I always have and I always will

♪ This Bud's for you

♪ For being on the job and working hard all day

- We got through and he was a super nice guy.

He loosened right up.

I'm taking him back to the airport that day,

and he says, "This stuff's good, it's really good."

He said, "I thought I was gonna be down here

"dealing with a bunch of rednecks."

I said, "You were."


- It blew my mind because when they first started

rerecording, they started playing.

Any way you go, you'd turn the radio

and you would hear that song.

- We'd hearing this thing on the radio everywhere.

- They would pay us $25 every time that song played

on the radio, and they were playing it all over the country.

I remember the first time we got residual checks

from Budweiser.

It was over $20,000.

- We thought it was gonna be a local spot,

but when the first royalty checks came in

about three months later, they were from everywhere.

They were from Chicago, and New York, and LA.

- I go to my mailbox, and I pick up this envelope,

about this yay thick, about three quarters of an inch thick,

and it says Talent Residuals,

which I know nothing about this.

So I opened this envelope up and it's full of checks.

I start looking at this.

I go to the adding machine and start adding up,

and it's $24,000 in this envelope.

- That went on for several years.

Every month, we would get residual checks.

- That first 90 days of that commercial,

it was like, "Wow, this is easy."

- It was just great.

- As a result, we started playing all of their national

conventions all over the country, Boca Raton, Florida,

San Diego, Chicago, they took us to Hawaii twice.

- [Gerald] They flew us out to Hawaii

for a four day trip out there.

We only had to play two hours, so we had a Hawaii vacation.

- We did lots and lots of Budweiser things

through that time.

- As a result of my song, I Love Beach Music,

my band was playing all over the country for Budweiser.

- They paid us a lot of money.

We'd have to charter our own airplane.

- Through the years, that was a wonderful relationship.

They were great people to work with.

- [Jackie] That really opened doors that we could never have

opened before.

- Being affiliated with Budweiser, everybody said,

"You guys, you're in the big leagues."

We'd say, "Oh yeah, yeah."

We were the same band just doing what we were doing,

working as hard, it's just more people knew about us

and more people knew of us so it just kept growing.

- There was a lot of dissension in the band

toward the end, a lot of egos and stuff.

- As you know, with motivated people,

they're some high strung individuals.

As a matter of fact, the whole crowd,

I'd say five out of six were pretty high strung individuals.

You'd scream and yell at each other

and then forget about it.

- You knew that they were fighting when you would see

five Mercedes come pulling in 'cause every one of 'em

had a Mercedes.

Sure enough, they'd come in there and they wouldn't speak

to each other, but when they got on stage,

they were a group, they were a family.

- The strangest thing about The Embers though,

and I tell people this when we get to talking

about things like this, strangest thing about it

is sometimes when one guy would just get mad

with somebody else on the bus or maybe with a whole bunch

of us on the bus,

that guy would not talk to somebody for two, three weeks,

four weeks.

We'd be on the bus together every day for seven days

a week, just wouldn't speak.

Some of the other guys' ways of dealing with it

would just be quiet, just be quiet and wait

'til the bite goes away, whatever that bite may have been

perceived or whatever it was, just go away,

or get in your bunk and shut up, don't say anything.

Just get in there and just be quiet,

and do what you do on stage, and on stage,

nobody would ever know.

Nobody ever, ever, ever know what was going on

on that bus, so every one of us compartmentalized

any problems that we had.

At the same time, we were overjoyed with all the happiness

that we would have too, and that would always come out.

- Craig Woolard had started playing with the band

in 1976, of which all those years before playing with us,

he had been the number one man in all the bands

he had ever played with.

When he came with our band, he was not the number one man

anymore because I was.

I had been there since the band was started,

I was the lead singer, everybody knew who Jackie Gore was,

and Craig Woolard was a great talent, don't get me wrong.

He was a great entertainer, a great talent, great singer.

- Wait a minute.

♪ Once I tried to played the field

♪ But I found that I could not deal

♪ Girl you are the one

♪ See my life has just begun

♪ Never knew what love could be

- But he has problems with me being the number one man

and his ego

interfered with that, and he was always making snide

remarks about me on the PA system that the audience

heard that

I always would just let it pass by.

I would never even bring it up, and the last job

that I played with The Embers was at a man's house,

a friend of mine down in Goldsboro,

we played the party every year.

- We were at this lovely garden party by the lake

behind someone's house in Golsboro,

the country club, a beautiful residence,

swimming pool out there, had pickup trucks

pulled up on the lawn full of ice and beer,

just a big crowd of folks there who all knew The Embers.

- We were on stage, it was the next to the last song.

It was 60 Minute Man, Gerald Davis was singing.

- We had been in Atlanta the night before,

and everybody was a little tired and stressed out,

and Jackie had recorded an album on his own

called Jackie Gore Family and Friends.

- While Gerald was singing, Jackie called

a mutual friend of ours up on the stage

and stopped playing, stopped singing.

- Puts his arm around him and starts selling him an album.

We're all seeing this out of the corner of our eyes,

so we know everybody else is seeing it too.

- It was the rudest thing I think I've ever seen on stage.

- Craig Woolard said something very derogative

about me on the PA system.

- I said, "Ladies and gentlemen, that was Gerald Davis,

"60 Minute Man, singing through quite a bit of adversity."

- He would say things like that every now and then.

I don't think they were spiteful, but it was little jabs.

He would get jabs in at everybody here and there.

- Jackie had just said that things weren't going

like he wanted to, and he walked halfway across the stage.

- I asked him, I said,

"What did you say on that PA system about me?"

- He said, "Jackie, if one of us did what you just did,

"you would be mad as hell."

- At that point, Jackie had his guitar on

and moved as though he were gonna turn around and leave,

and instead, swung his guitar neck.

- I had just taken all of it I could take,

and I had my guitar on.

I actually struck him on the side of his head

with my guitar.

- Tuning pegs went in right here, and

I was stunned.

- About that time, there was a huge calamity.

Right at my feet, everybody across the front of the line

just collapsed in a pile underneath my feet.

I was thinking this isn't gonna work well

'cause I didn't know what was going on.

- Next thing I knew, he had his guitar off

and had it like an axe, screaming and coming towards me.

I still had my saxophone on.

- This had never happened.

Nobody ever fights, let alone on stage.

There's a guitar neck going like this

and then Craig's going like this.

Craig is holding the saxophone up and he said,

"Johnny, take my sax. Take my sax."

- I had just gotten it fixed, just paid a lot of money,

so I got this wild bull right here,

and I remember saying, "Get my sax from somebody.

"Get my horn."

I remember Andy Swindell, I think it was Andy, said,

"I got it, I got it."

Then I was, at that time, I had a free hand,

I was getting ready to use it,

and three or four of the rest of the band

pulled him off and got in between us.

- They had a meeting the next day and decided

they didn't want me in the band anymore.

That's how I left the band.

- The voice departs, Jackie Gore exits the band,

and we begin looking for that person

to tie the group together.

- The Embers took a dive with Jackie when he left.

That was hard to replace the guy who's been singing

36 years.

- He called me every couple of years or so and say,

"You ready to come home yet?

"In case anything happens, you ready to come home?"

Bobby always likes to know who his people are

and where they are, that everybody's in place

should anything happen.

He's really good about that.

Finally, he called me and told me,

"Jeff, we got a problem."

He said, "Jackie and Craig just had a big fight.

"It looks like we're gonna have to hire

"another guitar player."

I went, "Wow."

I couldn't believe it.

He offered me the job. I guess that was '94.

I think that was '94, and I couldn't do it then

because I was wrapped up in this thing in Ft. Lauderdale

and Miami, doing a lot of recording, playing house bands

down there.

I really liked what I was doing down there

so I didn't take the job, but a year later,

he called me back and he said,

"Are you ready to come home yet?"

I said, "Yeah, man. I think I am."

I had been injured, I was on crutches

with two broken legs.

I know, but at the same time, two of my friends

in Miami had been murdered, my house had been

broken into, my neighborhood had gotten really bad.

I'm sitting on my couch one night watching TV

and I hear my car start up.

I opened the door, run out the door,

and my car's driving off down the road.

There was nothing I could do about it,

so I'd had about enough of south Florida.

So I said, "Yeah, man."

I said, "If you can figure out a way to get me up there,

"I'd love to come with the band."

This was '95.

He says, "Well, what do you mean?"

I said, "Bobby, I'm on crutches or a wheelchair.

"I get around the house in a wheelchair 'cause it's easier."

I said, "How am I gonna move out of my apartment?"

I'm gonna be on crutches for another six months,

the doctors say.

I said, "You don't want somebody up there

"playing guitar on crutches."

He says, "Let me worry about that."

I said, "What do you mean?"

He said, "I don't know yet."

He said, "I'll send a road crew down there.

"We'll move you out of your apartment,

"get a truck, and move you back up to North Carolina.

"When you get here, you can sit down for as long

"as you need to to get work to the band."

He said, "You'll just sit in the chair, no problem."

He made it all happen.

He flew the road crew down to Ft. Lauderdale

and packed me up, and moved me out of my apartment,

and drove me back to Raleigh.

(quiet piano)

- Bobby called me one night and asked me

if I'd be willing to listen.

Six weeks later, I was with The Embers,

February 22nd, 1995.

I came in, they already had Craig Woolard,

and he was the main front guy.

Of course, Andy Swindell was playing keys at the time,

Jeff Grimes was singing and playing guitar.

Gerald Davis was obviously playing bass,

and Bobby Tomlinson was playing drums.

Johnny Hopkins was playing trumpet and guitar.

So my role with the band ended up being

an insurance policy.

Craig would do three or four songs

and then I would take over and boot it

just about as hard as I could go,

and that gave Craig some down time,

and then Craig came back and booted a little longer.

We just kind of worked the two-headed dragon

there for a while.

♪ 'Cause you've gotta make the best of life

♪ While you're young

- By the end of 1996, Mark Black has settled in,

the new guitar player, Jeff Grimes, has settled in,

and they once again have their game up to the top.

In 2001, they land a big recording deal

with the Sands Motel in New Jersey, which not only

gives them a VHS and a CD, but an advertising contract

with a major hotel chain.

- [Announcer] Ladies and gentlemen, tonight,

the all new all cool Sands Hotel and Casino

in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is proud to present,

from Raleigh, North Carolina, The Embers.

- By the time we were playing in Atlantic City,

the guys in the band were feeling like

we've been everywhere, we've done everything.

It's like a snowball.

It started growing and getting bigger and bigger

and bigger and just rolling.

The bigger it got, the better it got,

and the better it got, the bigger it got,

and it just kept going.

- We played for Bill Clinton's inauguration.

I thought that was a cool thing.

I wasn't a big Bill Clinton fan.

Playing for the president is playing for the president,

the leader of the world.

I don't care who you are.

- It was exciting to be at the American Embassador's

residence for his going away party in Ottowa, Canada.

That was a big deal.

- Started at six in the morning and ended at 11 at night

when we flew back into Raleigh.

That was a great time.

- We had been in Tallahassee playing for Jeb Bush's

inauguration, and George and Barbara Bush were there also.

We were walking around with our in ears

and the Secret Service member all around.

We had on the black suits and in ears and people

thought we were walking along saying,

"Is that guy with the Secret Service?"

You could read their lips.

The very next day, sometimes the routing is not really

that great, but we were supposed to be playing in Charlotte

the next day for the Carolina Panthers

and the Philadelphia Eagles football game,

but on the way back from that trip, it was so cold.

We were coming along, and right before we even got

midway into Florida coming from Boca Raton,

the bus broke down, and we had to be at the Panthers game

at four o'clock the next day.

So Bobby said, "Well, we don't have any choice.

"We've got to get there.

"Maybe we can ride in the truck."

Well only one of us could sit in the cab with the drivers

so the rest of us, I grabbed my little thin mattress

out of my bunk and took it with me.

We got in the back of the truck and I made a bed

on top of PA cabinet.

I didn't realize how bouncy that road,

Interstate 95 could be.

It's probably about a 12 hour drive and we had no way

to communicate with our drivers because we didn't

have cell phones back then.

I think it was '97.

I know they had cell phones,

but we didn't carry them around.

It got colder and colder and colder as we got up north,

and by the time we got to Charlotte,

it was about 20 degrees.

We pulled up at the stadium.

There was a bunch of people out there

waiting for the pre-game party and they came

and pulled up the back of the truck and we all jumped out,

looking road worn, really bad, sleepy and tired.

That's not the only time we'd had to ride

in the back of the truck.

We've had to ride in the back of the truck

several times because the motto there is

the show goes on, no matter what.

- We played seven nights a week.

If we were playing the Hilton Underground in Greensboro

for two weeks, we'd pack up on a Saturday night

and go somewhere and play a one nighter on Sunday.

We played the Sunday night coming in,

played the Sunday night in the middle,

and we played the Sunday night going out.

- For 30 years, I would say I averaged about 250 days

a year.

At some point, it's been as many as 300

and down as low as 220, but even the last year I was there,

which was 2007, it was 225 days.

- Constant changes in the band brings about

keyboard players, Andy Swindell from a number

of North Carolina bands, Randy Hignight,

Freddy Tripp, Kevin White, Donny Weaver

from The O'Kaysions' Girl Watcher fame,

Durwood back, he fills in, Johnny Barker comes back,

he fills in, and by December 2003, they pretty much

have a solid band back again.

From then, we see all kind of changes take place

in the band, but the group, The Embers,

are still at their game and something that you'll never

ever be able to take for the hard work

that they've accomplished.

(distant saxophone)

- Mark had been with us for probably about 10 years

and when he gave his notice, we actually conned him

into playing about four to six weeks more.

He finally just said, "I can't play anymore."

This was on a Sunday when he told me,

and we had to play on Thursday in Roanoke, Virginia.

It takes a special bird to fly in this band.

- Bobby heard about me through a mutual friend

by the name of Jerry Polk.

- He told me I needed to call this guy in Charlotte,

used to be with The Swingin' Medallions.

- I was on a service call to an apartment there

where I was working, was caulking a tub,

and I said,

"God, please bring music back into my life somehow.

"I don't care how, just bring it back."

The next day, Bobby called me and asked me

if I could help The Embers through a show

in Roanoke, Virginia, just one show.

I only had to sing six or eight songs at the most.

- We picked him up in Burlington on the way to Roanoke.

I was driving the bus and they were in the back

working on the songs.

- We discovered I could sing maybe 10 or 12 songs

that night, and we had lyrics posted all over the stage.

He nailed the songs.

It was like he had been there forever.

- Little did I know I was being auditioned that night,

which was a good thing 'cause I would've been

a nervous wreck.

- After we dropped him off, we started talking about

maybe we need to see if we can get this guy to stay.

- I was a member of The Embers about three weeks later,

a full time member.

- Everybody's a critic, and it's a subjective thing.

It's a very subjective thing.

One person might love the band now

and the next person might say,

"I don't like 'em as good as the old Embers."

Well, I understand that. It's definitely different.

Some people don't handle change very well,

but everything changes nonetheless.

These changes are necessary because I know

I'm getting older, a lot of the original beach music fans

like the ones that were fans when The Embers were

starting out in the 60s.

These people are 80 years old now.

Fans don't last forever.

The fan base is constantly turning over,

and you've got to do something for whatever

demographic you're addressing at that point in time.

As the crowd gets younger, you gotta do some things

that the young people like.

That's the way I look at it.

I think that's what the new band is doing.

We're infusing a little more modern,

some more modern songs and modern styles, if you will,

because the lines are very blurry now.

All the music's sort of running together.

Rock 'n' roll sounds like country, and country

sounds like rock 'n' roll, and beach music sounds like R&B.

If you can just do good music, I think you're doing okay.

You can't please everybody, but you've gotta innovate.

You gotta move in.

- I've always been very fortunate and very lucky

to pick people that fit

that have a great talent.

It's just finding people that believe in the same thing

you believe in and love to entertain and have a ball.

- I have a great deal of respect for Jackie and Craig

and Mark.

I learned all The Embers songs or the majority of them

by listening to Jackie and Craig and Mark.

I have a great deal of admiration for them as singers

and entertainers, and filling those shoes

is not an easy task.

♪ You're the cutest thing I did ever see

♪ I really love your peaches

♪ I really wanna shake your tree

♪ Lovey dovey

♪ Lovey dovey all the time

♪ My lovey dovey

♪ I can't get you out of my mind

- Musicians acquire a fan base, and when there's a change,

you gonna have a lot of people that's not happy,

but every change they've made, they acquired

more new fans, and it just kept getting better

and better each time.

The Embers, though, they...

Life is what it is,

and the show goes on,

and they kept the show going on.

- [Narrator] And there you have it, folks,

the story of The Embers, the heart and soul of beach music,

still at it in 2014 with Wayne Free up front,

taking the band into the future.

There's Bobby, the blue, the manager,

still banging on those drums after all these years.

Imagine, only missed three gigs in more than 50 years.

There's Jeff Grimes on guitar, saxophone,

and lead vocals.

He may not be the youngest of The Embers,

but every stew's gotta have a little seasoning in it.

That's Jeff Grimes, and that's their story, folks,

but wait, the story doesn't end here.

On March 1st, 2014, Craig Woolard,

who had spent 28 years as a lead vocalist of The Embers

returned to make The Embers whole again.

- Jeff Grimes called me and said,

"I'm just thinking, if you're tired of running

"your own business, I think it would be a good partnership

"for you to come back to The Embers if you would even

"consider such a thing."

- We talked about this for months

before it was made a reality,

but we talked about the pros and cons.

There were no cons, everything was positive.

- The musicianship is really, really good

at this stage in The Embers' career.

You've got Bobby and Jeff.

Bobby's always been in The Embers.

Jeff has been in The Embers for a long time,

was in The Embers with me, and Andy Swindell,

who has been playing with me in my band for a few years,

now he's back.

- Craig's coming back to The Embers has been

like a dream come true.

A lot of people said they had fantasized about it for years,

and The Embers weren't The Embers without him.

If you haven't seen it, you need to see it

'cause it's dynamic.

- [Narrator] And that's their story, The Embers,

the heart and soul of beach music.

Keep your eyes open, folks.

There's a lot more to come.

(dramatic music)

- [Host] WKIX FM Raleigh.

♪ KIX with Charlie Brown

♪ All the hip chicks and cool cats

♪ Around town

♪ On the beach with Charlie Brown

- Embers, over the years, opened for some fantastic

groups, and they opened for the Rolling Stones.

They opened for the Dave Clark Five,

they opened for the Beach Boys.

- We opened for the Rolling Stones at Reynolds Coliseum,

their first trip to the US.

Joe Mernick, who did all the wrestling at Dorton Arena

that was on TV, and Joe was a big promoter.

Joe comes and gets us, we're in the dressing room

underneath, and he says, "Come on.

"I want you guys to meet the Rolling Stones."

I can't tell you who was who or what was what.

At that particular time, they looked really grubby

and dirty, had really long hair, and it was greased

down on their head, and they had leather jackets on,

and they were very

not friendly.

I don't think they meant that, it's just

that was their culture.

Joe introduced us all to 'em and they said,

you know, they would hardly speak to us.

Bobby held out his hand to shake hands with one of 'em

and he just kind of looked at Bobby and turned his head.

Bobby said,

"Let's get outta here before we catch something."


- Jackie did some of the craziest stuff.

- Crazy stupid stuff.

We had gotten a pistol with some blanks in it.

We pull in the service station to get a drink

on the way home, and in the parking lot,

we acted like we had a fight and somebody pulled out

that pistol and bang, bang, bang, and then dragged

Jack, we drug him into the car and drove off.

I don't know what the people thought.

- He was insane, but we all were back then.

We had gotten into this fireworks phase

of our life.

Everybody would see where they could buy

the most powerful fireworks.

I bought some Roman candles, and we're always

riding down the road, lighting cherry bombs,

throwing 'em out, and you'd drive over them.

I had the Roman candle, and here comes Rick Woodfield

and Jackie pulling up beside Bobby's El Dorado.

I was down in the back, and I lit that thing,

and I threw it out the window.

- We'd be side by side going down the highway,

and he's firing Roman candles at us.

I said, "By God."

I went in the back seat and I undid ours.

Jackie Gore was driving.

- Jackie had just rolled the window down on the van

to yell something at Bobby.

- We had the Roman candles firing at each other

going down the highway.

- I shot it and it went right across his eyebrows.

- Jackie threw his head back like this.

- It his his head on the air conditioning unit,

knocked him out.

- Now remember, he's driving the car.

- Well, it lit up the whole inside of the van.

- I said, "Jackie, you alright?"

He's starting to slump over like this,

and I'm grabbing the wheel.

- Frank's trying to drive and stomp out this ball

that was on fire at his feet.

- Still, the Roman candles are coming.

You can't cut 'em off.

He had to empty the thing.

I'm holding and I'm pumping him

on top of the head, "Wake up, wake up, wake up."

He finally came to and we were okay.

- We were just awful. God.

Between all of us, I swear, it's a wonder we're alive.

- [Announcer] This program made possible by a grant

from Carolina East Health System, New Bern,

recipient of five stars by the centers of Medicaid

and Medicare Services.

Carolina East is committed to the quality

and the well being of the families of coastal

North Carolina.

Learn more at www.carolinaeasthealth.com.


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