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The Legend of Richard and the Young Lions

Richard and the Young Lions have been heralded by many as one of the pioneering, innovative groups of "psychedelic" or "garage" rock and roll of the mid '60s. Their biggest hit, "Open Up Your Door", the first recording to use an African Hair Drum and fuzz bass, was a chart topper in many great rock and roll markets, like Detroit, Cleveland, Seattle, and Vancouver, just to name a few. In fact, that record went Top 5 in every market it entered. They also appeared on a number of national and local TV shows, like Upbeat, Clay Cole, Jerry Blavet, Robin Seymour, etc.

With most of the original members plus a few old compatriots, Richard and the Young Lions returned from the crusades on July 15, 2000, and stunned a new generation of garage rock fans at the legendary Maxwell's with 34 years of pent up "Roar Power".

Cavestomp!, the premier Garage Rock Festacular followed, and left no doubt that the rumors and hype were true: These guys deliver the sound and spirit of the genre and its times like no other band.

Here is their story:

In the beginning, there were two bands.....

 

The Emeralds
1963-1965

The
Original Kounts
1965-1966


Richard Tepp - Lead vocals & Tambourine
Bob Freedman - Rhythm Guitar / vocals
Marc Lees - Lead Guitar / vocals
Norm Cohen - drums
Ricky Rackin - Guitar / Bass Guitar
Jerry Raff - Piano


Clockwise from bottom left
Mark,Norm,Bob, Ricky,Richard

When young Richard Tepp heard the British Invasion music in his hometown of Newark, NJ and saw how the girls reacted to the Beatles, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life - play Rock & Roll!

So he worked up his courage and asked a local band, called The Emeralds, that was playing one night at the YMHA on Chancellor Ave. in Newark near his home, if he could sing a few songs with them.

After hearing the raw, powerful voice of the tall lanky kid, Richard was soon in the band and they renamed themselves The Original Kounts.

The Original Kounts started playing the great British Invasion songs and grew their hair out, becoming the first longhair group in Newark. Back in those days there weren't many longhaired guys around, and those that had it, were usually in bands.
On one occasion, Norm, Marc & Richard were hanging out in The Indian Pizzeria, also on Chancellor Ave., singing along with the jukebox and these two guys struck up a conversation about what their musical aspirations might be. As luck would have it, those two guys just happened to be hit songwriters Ray Bloodworth and Larry Brown of Bob Crewe Productions (the management group of Mitch Rider and of the Four Seasons, among others).

L Russell 'Larry' Brown

Although skeptical of such good fortune, the boys invited them to an Original Kounts rehearsal. Well, Larry and Ray liked what they heard and saw. It seemed that they (and co-writer Neville Nader) had an idea for a song that they wanted to record and after hearing the raw power of this group decided this band would fit their concept. Eventually, this song became "Open Up Your Door"

Richard agreed to do it, but as sometimes happens in life, the road to success can be a bumpy one. Disputes erupted within the band about contracts, and there were issues about the recording, and other things, too.

Also about this time, Bob Crewe, seeing Richard with his long hair, said that he was reminded of King Richard the Lionhearted, and, because they were all very young, Crewe came up with a new name for the band: Richard and the Young Lions.

.

They began performing, mostly in the Northeast, as Richard and the Young Lions during this tumultuous time and doing television shows (Jerry Blavet and others in Philadelphia) and radio programs. There were also many trips to the studio, but anxious to get the record out, the producers decided to add studio musicians to cut short the recording process. This did not sit well with the band, who wanted the opportunity to do it all themselves, and it caused a major disaffection. But, they all did go back into the studio to add all the vocals, along with Larry and Ray, to the now finished music.

Soon after the recordings were completed however, the band began to disintegrate. First, both Jerry and Ricky left to return to school. Also during this time, Marc came down with mono. Luckily, through mutual friends, temporary replacements were found. But by this time, the rest of the Young Lions (except for Bob) felt betrayed enough by Richard and Crewe & Co. to quit the band in the hours preceding their appearance on the Clay Cole television show.

As a result, not wanting to let this opportunity go unfulfilled, Richard had to find himself some longhairs to perform on the show and maybe become the Young Lions.

Eventually he came to the local "Grunings on the Hill" ice cream parlor.....


The
Mark IV
1963-1965


Lou Vlahakes - guitar
The Twig - drums
Rick Feldman - guitar
Steve Gilbert - organ (1963-1964)
Lawrence Smith - bass
(1964-1965)


Rick,Twig,Larry,Lou

Rick,Lou,Steve,Twig

Rick, Twig, Lou

Rick, Twig, Lou

Mark IV was a band from Livingston, NJ that attended the same high school. They played the local school dances, talent shows, and bar mitzvah scene..They played tunes inspired by the pre-British Invasion music bands such as the Ventures, Duane Eddy, Ricky Nelson, etc.

That is, until the British Invasion hit.....These clean cut kids from Livingston caught the bug and decided to completely revamp their image and sound.

They grew their hair long, got a new lead singer and now became known as:


The
Orphans
(1965-1966)


Lou Vlahakes - lead guitar
The Twig - drums
Lawrence Smith - bass
Craig Buehlmaier - vocals

Rick Feldman - rythym guitar


Back row: Craig, Larry, Lou, Twig
Front row: Rick

With the new sound, the band began to get more and more attention and musicians in the local scene really began to take notice of the guys.

Eventually most of the guys went off to college (the Vietnam War draft was going on and it was either fight or study) and the band slowly dissolved.

One fateful day, the remaining members were hanging out in the local "Grunings on the Hill" ice cream parlor......

 

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