The Ramblers Induction into The Alabama Record Collectors Hall of Fame
Birmingham - August 2012
[Alabama Music Office.com goes to
the Cedars Club in Birmingham, Alabama to attend Birmingham Record Collectors' Record Show and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies.]
The Ramblers were a huge part of the garage band scene in Alabama.
In 1961, the guitar playing Terrell brothers were in high school and found an 8th grade drummer, Johnny Robinson, to play rock and roll music. It was decided that the eldest brother Eddie would play bass and Tommy would play rhythm guitar. They practiced in Johnny's garage. Johnny's father had a Rambler automobile. Since a lot of bands in the 60's used automobile names, the Terrell brothers and Robinson became "The Ramblers". The threesome played a few performances and soon realized they needed to add a lead guitarist. A classmate of the Terrell's, Van Veenschoten, took that roll. The group played for local high school sororities, fraternities and dances.
When Eddie Terrell received a tennis scholarship from the University of Alabama, the band was in need of a new bass player. Chris Convey, another high school classmate of the Terrell's, joined The Ramblers as the new bass player. In 1962, The Ramblers were working regularly on weekends around Birmingham and recorded their first record, "Stop That Twisting" and "Hundred Miles Away". The recording was done at Ed Boutwell's Recording Studio in English Village, up the street from Johnny's house. Duke Rumore played "Hundred Miles Away" regularly and added The Ramblers to the "Top 50" play list on WYDE from December 19, 1962 through January 8 1963. The band also performed at "Duke's of Dixieland" sock hops at the Ensley National Guard Armory. This was Duke Rumore's weekend dance party for high school students. The admission was fifty cents and the band was paid sixty dollars for three hours. Later that year, Chip Sanders joined the band as the piano player. This group, Tommy, Johnny, Van, Chris and Chip became the nucleus for the group that would become know as "the party band" to hire for your dance. Rehearsing in Johnny's garage, learning new songs off the radio, gave The Ramblers the real feel of being a true garage band.
By 1965 the band was working primarily at fraternity and sorority parties around the Southeast. Tommy, Chip and Chris were at the University of Alabama and members of Pi Kappa Alpha. Van was at Samford and Johnny at The University of Montevallo. In 1967, the group recorded their second record, "Come Back, Come Back" and "Whole Lot of Woman", also recorded at Boutwell Studios. Both songs were written by Chip Sanders. "Come Back, Come Back" received moderate air play in the South. Also during this time, Ed Boutwell used the Ramblers as back up musicians for singers recording at his studios.
The Ramblers were the first band to play at Dave Roddy's (WSGN) Airport Armory sock hop and made many more appearances over the years including backing up Bobby Goldsboro and Billy Joe Royal. In 1968, a 16 year old Vicki Hallman joined the Ramblers. Playing covers of Janis Joplin, Linda Ronstadt and other popular female vocalists added to the popularity of the band. Working 35 out of 50 weekends a year was common. Vicki later became a back up singer for The Buck Owens Band and was a regular on Hee Haw for 9 years in the late 70's and early 80's.
As the sixties came to a close, the pressures of being married, raising children, and "real careers" began to take the place of the weekend performances. Johnny said "I don't remember the band really breaking up. We played our last band job in the summer of 1971. Then we just did not get any more calls. The band members just drifted apart." Van Veenschoten was killed in motorcycle accidence in 1972. He left a wife and a four year old son. The rest of The Ramblers spent the seventies raising families, working and reminiscing about the glory days of the sixties.
In the summer of 1979, Johnny's mother died and the Terrell brothers came to the funeral. Johnny had not seen the Terrell's in years, but as they talked, the idea of getting the band back together developed. Jim Buford was brought in to take Van's place as the lead guitarist and John Livingston was added to play keyboards when Chip was not available. Chip had moved to Jackson, Mississippi and travel became an issue. Eddie Terrell was brought back because Chris had moved to Florida. The band rehearsed for a few months and played their first job with the new members in October 1979. The music was good, the people danced and the band was back.
For the next 33 years, The Ramblers performed around the Southeast for hundreds of dance parties and events. Today in 2012 the group is still together playing music for the teenagers of the sixties.