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Richard Tepp (1947-2004)
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One fateful day back in September 1966, Richard Tepp met Lou Vlahakes and The Twig at the local Grunings on the Hill ice cream parlor in South Orange, NJ.

Quickly, Richard auditioned Twig on drums, and, with Lou on guitar, immediately brought them on board to do the Clay Cole television show. It's not clear even to this day why only Twig and Lou went with Richard to the Clay Cole show, but they did, and had a stellar performance that night and Lou and Twig became permanent Young Lions. Through apparent miscommunication, Bob was unaware of the Clay Cole appearance, and unfortunately missed it. But afterward, Richard called Bob, they got that all cleared up, and the lineup was now set:

Richard and the Young Lions

was reborn and Rock and Roll would never be the same!

Original Members

Richard Tepp - Lead vocals & Tambourine
Lou Vlahakes - Lead Guitar / 12 string Guitar / vocals
The Twig - Drums/vocals
Fred Randall - Bass Guitar / vocals
Bob Freedman - Rhythm Guitar / vocals

Lawrence Smith - Bass/Guitar/Percussion/Vocals

Later additions

Eric Rackin - Guitar/Harmonica/Vocals
Rick Robinson - Vox Continental Organ/Vocals
Shelly Riff - Vox Continental Organ/Vocals

RYL with
Paul Cannon of WKNR, who hosted the ALSAC show in Cobo Hall, early Oct '66.
(clockwise from back-left:
Fred,Richard,Twig,Lou,Bob, P.Cannon)

RYL with female friends - 1966
(Back row left - right:
Twig, Fred, Richard Bob, Lou)

DEC 1966 - Marquee -
Crows Nest, Detroit Michigan

RYL with female friends - 1966
(clockwise from back-left:
Lou, Twig, Richard, Bob, Fred)

DEC 1966 RYL-ers Bob & Lou on-stage with the Yardbirds at the 5th Dimension, Ann Arbor, Michigan

DEC 1966 - Bob, Lou, and Fred playing at the Crows Nest, Detroit Michigan

DEC 1966 RYL-ers Richard & Lou on-stage with the Yardbirds at the 5th Dimension, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Twigs at his famous
New Years Eve '69 Acid Party.

Swinging Time TV Show - Windsor Ontario - Nov 1966 - Picture of Richard taken from TV Screen in Motel

"Open Up Your Door" and its flip side "Once Upon Your Smile" was released in August 1966 and was on its way to becoming a bona fide hit.

It was released in numerous local market such as:

Detroit, MI
Cleveland, OH
Seattle, WA
Windsor, Ontario

In every market in which "Open Up Your Door" was released, it went to the Top 5 on the charts. The band appeared on a number of national and local television shows like Upbeat (two appearances), Clay Cole, and Robin Seymour and did many radio programs.

Thanks to Bob Freedman's research abilities, we now have surveys showing Open your Door went to the #1 spot in Salt Lake City, UT and in Elyria, OH.

In Detroit, the song hit the Number One spot blowing out Motown's staples such as the Temptations, the Supremes, and the Four Tops. Due to this amazing feat, it is said that Motown approached Richard and the Young Lions about becoming the first white group on the label. Due to contractual obligations with their label, Philips, they couldn't do it, and a group called Rare Earth was eventually chosen. It turned out lucky that they didn't do it because the first appearance of Rare Earth was a disaster for the band. The Motown audience wasn't ready for a white group, and they booed Rare Earth off the stage. Could Motown Records have expected this and wanted to take Richard and the Young Lions down a peg? Possibly, but we'll probably never know.

Speaking of Detroit, absolutely the "coolest" experience the band ever had was in The Motor City. There was an ALSAC benefit show at Cobo Hall (as it was then called) with 19 other top artists, and 18,000 screaming fans, who loved Richard and the Young Lions' music and treated them as if they were the Beatles. Pulled hair and ripped clothing aside, performing in front of such a receptive audience was an experience the band will surely never forget.
Strangely enough, even with the success of "Open Up Your Door", and the fact that all of Richard and the Young Lions came from within "a 10 mile radius of Newark", their music was rarely heard in the NY/NJ area. A notable exception to this was Mike & Lou's on the boardwalk in Bradley Beach, NJ where, for days at a time, "Open Up Your Door" was played on the jukebox, morning, noon and night.

Why did their music not reach The Big Apple? Could it have been that the lyrics were too risqué for the less open-minded East? More likely it seems, the band's management (SCC Productions) had their hands full with acts like Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and The Four Seasons, who were more "pop"-ish. They didn't pay as much attention as they should have to the raw sounds of Richard and the Young Lions, and as a consequence, the full potential of "Open Up Your Door", and of the band, went unrealized.

Well, Fred went off to college, and the band brought in old Mark IV/Orphans bassist Lawrence Smith to substitute for him when he couldn't make the shows.

After "Open Up Your Door" started falling off the charts, it was time for the boys to release their second song.
Both "Nasty" and "You Can Make It" were in the can and ready to be released. Richard and the band wanted to go with "You Can Make It", but Bob Crewe said it sounded too much like "Open Up Your Door". The band thought that was what a good follow-up hit should sound like, but "the man with the money" won, and "Nasty" was released with "Lost and Found" as its B-Side in Jan/Feb 1967.

"Nasty" did OK, but nowhere near the sales of "Open Up Your Door" and it fell off the charts quickly. It hung around the #40-50 position on some charts and then disappeared.

"You Can Make It" with its B-side "To Have and To Hold" was then released. It became a "Pick of the Week" at 40 radio stations the first week it came out and the band thought it was going to be another runaway hit. But the record company, in a not-so-smart move, never put the records on the shelves and the fans were unable to buy them. And since the fans couldn't buy them, and MP3's weren't available back then, the song never gained the popularity that it could have and it slowly faded away.

After these three records, the once bright candle of possibilities was slowly flickering out. SCC Productions would not support the band at all anymore, even when compared to the miniscule effort it used to make. And, when the band talked of writing its own songs, they were promptly told, "No" - the record label would make more money using Ray Bloodworth and Larry Brown to write songs.

All these factors eventually became too much and the band dissolved...

Richard and the Young Lions' discography:

A "Open Up Your Door" / B "Once Upon Your Smile"……….Philips 40381 (picture sleeve)
A "Nasty" / B "Lost And Found"…………………………………Philips 40414
A "You Can Make It" / B "To Have And To Hold"………….....Philips 40438

Here are Richards words on what happened after:

"After RYL, I moved to Cleveland and played drums for a 3 piece band with
my old friend Rick Anderson. Along with Randy Klawon we were called FROG!
As house band at La Cave, we met and played with all the bigtime bands that
came to Cleveland. It was there that I met Nick St. Nickolas and the rest of
T.I.M.E. They asked me to come to LA and play drums for them and I accepted.
I am on the Smooth Ball album on Liberty Records....After T.I.M.E., my old pal
Anderson and I formed Sanctuary. A classical-rock band. Sanctuary was very
well received in LA and had an offer from The Stigwood people, but 2 of us
were already signed and couldn't get out of our contracts.....Warriors of the
Rainbow came after that. Along with Billy Richardson (from T.I.M.E.) and my
younger brother Pete on drums. I played bass. Mark Berger (who was a roadie
for Sanctuary) was also in the band.....After that, I returned to the east coast
and eventualy became a bartender....Before RYL got back together I was playing
clubs as a one man band. I would pre-record the instruments and sing the lead
vocal while playing guitar live....Thank God for RYL!"

As for the other members, they also went on to play in numerous other bands on the east and west coasts, and eventually blended back into straight-laced society.

Richard and the Young Lions may have become just a memory on oldies stations, but those days are forever in their hearts.

That is until the year 2000.......

Go to Page 3 of history

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