1965/1969 Joe Cuba Sextet/Blues Magoos – El Pito/Never Goin’ Back To Georgia

1965/1969 Joe Cuba Sextet/Blues Magoos – El Pito/Never Goin’ Back To Georgia 

In 1964, The Trenchcoats formed in the Bronx. Their name soon switched to The Bloos Magoos and then to the Blues Magoos while they built a name for themselves playing in clubs in and around Greenwich Village.

The band’s first album, Psychedelic Lollypop came out in 1966. By then, the band consisted of Geoff Daking on drums and percussion, Mike Esposito on guitar, Ron Gilbert on bass guitar and vocals, Ralph Scala on keyboards and vocals, and Emil “Peppy” Theilhelm on guitar and vocals.

That was one of the earliest records to include the word “Psychedelic” on the label. While the music seemed more like a garage band than a visit to psychedelic land, their first single, We Ain’t Got Nothing Yet, jumped up to #5 on the Hot 100, becoming the band’s biggest hit. The Mike, Ron, and Ralph shared credit for writing the song.

The band released two more albums and a few singles, but nothing else seemed to click, and by 1968 they disbanded and split into two separate groups.

Three members moved to the West Coast and used studio musicians to record a single before splitting up for good.

Peppy remained as the leader of a new version of the Blues Magoos that signed with ABC Records and recorded a new album, Never Goin’ Back To Georgia. The title song was a cover of a 1965 single by the Joe Cuba Sextet that appears to have been an anti-discrimination song. The mixture of English and Spanish lyrics stood out at the time.

While their single may have stalled, it first attracted a lot of attention in the Manhattan area thanks to its crossover appeal for Latin music enthusiasts. The song featured the sounds of whistles that became a sought-after item in concerts. The band later admitted that none of them had ever actually been to Georgia to begin with; the chant came from the intro to the Cuban song Manteca by Dizzy Gillespie.

Somehow, Peppy found the old song from the Joe Cuba Sextet, El Pito (I’ll Never Go Back to Georgia), and it became the title song from the band’s fourth album. Three more members joined the group briefly; new member Eric Kaz stuck around for their fifth album and later became a very successful songwriter.


There’s no question that the most successful song from the fourth album was the title song. Sadly, after using mostly session musicians for the fifth album, the Blues Magoos completely disbanded.


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