1962 Castells – So This Is Love
Five students at Santa Rosa High School formed the group the Castells in 1959 and began playing at a local teenage canteen. Chuck Girard’s mother paid $100 to get a demo recorded by the group. They approached several labels with the demo and signed with Era Records. They reduced the group to four members when they signed with Era Records: Chuck Girard, Tom Hicks, Joe Kelly, and Bob Ussery.
The group recorded and released several singles in 1961. The Wrecking Crew was not yet a fully functioning group, but several of the future members of the studio musicians group backed the group on their recordings.
Sacred became their first successful single, reaching #20 on the Hot 100 in 1961.
A few more singles failed to click, but they once again charted in 1962 with the single So This Is Love. The record peaked at #21 on the Hot 100 the next year.
One more single peaked at #91 and faded quickly. The group disintegrated by 1964. Producer Gary Usher began working with Chuck and Joe, recording music that fit the cars and surf scene in California under multiple group names.
The Beach Boys had included the song Little Honda on their 1964 album, All Summer Long. Gary gave Chuck a copy of the album and told him to learn to sing the song. He then recruited another collection of future Wrecking Crew musicians that included Glen Campbell and Hal Blaine and produced an entire album of car songs. Gary co-wrote most of the songs on the album with Roger Christian, who had written lyrics for Little Deuce Coup and several other Beach Boy tunes. They settled on The Hondells for the name of the group.
Roger also wrote liner notes with names and biographies for four alleged members of the group, and the album got released in 1964. The single Little Honda made it as high as #9 on the Hot 100.
Gary created a touring group that featured Ritchie Burns on lead vocals and they recorded a second album. The first Lovin’ Spoonful album included the song Younger Girl. The Long Island group The Critters and The Hondells each released a cover version of the song that charted May 28, 1966, and which version you might have heard would depend on which part of the Country you lived in at the time. The Critters only made it to #42 with their single while the Hondells peaked at #51 with their version. Perhaps if only one group had released the song, the song might have been a bigger success.
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