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The Men From S.O.U.N.D. Back Dobie Gray
April 9, 1966

by Mark Guerrero

     On April 9, 1966, my second teenage band, the Men From S.O.U.N.D. backed up Dobie Gray at the Big Union Hall on 49th Street in the City of Vernon, California, which was one of the main venues for East L.A. bands to play in the mid-sixties.  I know the date because I still have the flyer.  Dobie Gray, born Lawrence Darrow Brown, at the time was still riding high on the success of his hit record, "The In Crowd," which had peaked at number 13 on the national charts in January of 1965.  I don't remember how we were selected to back him up out of all the bands playing that night, but that's what happened.  The Men From S.O.U.N.D. ranged in age from about 15 to 18 years of age, so we were quite overwhelmed that we were backing an artist of his stature.  He even came to our rehearsal during the week in the daytime.  Dobie showed up by himself at the small rehearsal hall in Montebello we had rented.  He was very nice to us and easy to work with.  It was amazing because we were so young and certainly not in his league.  On the big night, we did our set and then Dobie Gray was introduced by the MC.  I can only remember two of the songs we did, Marvin Gaye's "Hitch Hike" and, of course, "The In Crowd."  We got through the short set without a hitch that I can recall.  He was well received by the mostly Chicano teenage crowd and we must have done at least an adequate job because he certainly could have decided not to use us after he had rehearsed with us.  It was a great and memorable experience for all of us in the band.  In 1973, Dobie Gray had another major success with "Drift Away," which has become a rock classic and covered many times by other artists.  ("Drift Away" by Dobie Gray peaked at number 5 on the national charts in March of '73).

Update:  I'm happy to report that Dobie Gray is still around and going strong.  A new version of "Drift Away" recently came out (2002) on a album called "No Stranger To Shame" by Uncle Cracker, a Detroit singer/songwriter who first achieved success as a writer/producer with Kid Rock.  Dobie appears with Uncle Cracker on the record and video of the song and still looks and sounds great.  The song and video are currently getting airplay in 2003.  I wish Dobie Gray continued good health and success not only because he's a great r&b singer and songwriter, but because he treated a group of teenage Chicano musicians with class and dignity at a time when he was a star with a major hit on the charts. 

See Flyer and Photos Below
 



 


Richard Morin, Ernie Hernandez, DobieGray,
Richard Mojarro, and Mark Guerrero

(RIchard Rosas to the left of Richard Morin out of frame)

 

Richard Morin, DobieGray, Ernie Hernandez, and Richard Mojarro

 

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Mark Guerrero
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