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The Velvet Illusions

Written exclusively for Sputnik Music by Randy “Jimmie James” Bowles of The Velvet Illusion.

Have you heard of the much-collected L. A. band, The Velvet Illusions? Did you hear that one of their lead singers was married to Patty Hurst, the famed once-kidnapped heiress? The band was actually from the little agricultural town of Yakima, Washington. Randy “Jimmie James” Bowles and Steve Weed shared lead vocals; Steve Weed was not married to Ms. Hurst. That would be another gent, named Stephen Weed.

This legendary seven-piece 60’s teenage rock band was fo ...read more

Written exclusively for Sputnik Music by Randy “Jimmie James” Bowles of The Velvet Illusion.

Have you heard of the much-collected L. A. band, The Velvet Illusions? Did you hear that one of their lead singers was married to Patty Hurst, the famed once-kidnapped heiress? The band was actually from the little agricultural town of Yakima, Washington. Randy “Jimmie James” Bowles and Steve Weed shared lead vocals; Steve Weed was not married to Ms. Hurst. That would be another gent, named Stephen Weed.

This legendary seven-piece 60’s teenage rock band was formed circa 1965. While the band utilized Vox amplification, guitars, and a Vox Continental organ (basically the same gear as Paul Revere and The Raiders), they were not sponsored by Vox. They worked hard to attain their gear. Randy and co-lead guitarist DeWayne Russell also sported Mosrite guitars, a la The Ventures, including a Mosrite double-neck. The group wrote and recorded originals, chiefly written by Steve Weed; plus they recorded two songs written by the rockabilly great Jerry Merritt, a former member of Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps.

The core lineup also included a bunch of talented musicians, including George Radford, Jr., who played three sizes of saxophones, Chuck Funk and later, Danny Wohl on guitars, Danny Wagner on drums, and Larry “Lurch” on bass, who was soon replaced by Dale Larrison. The boys, all in their teens, performed throughout Yakima and the Northwest, building a fan base, and releasing several 45-RPM records.

In early summer, 1967, The Velvet Illusion relocated to Hollywood, CA in an attempt to make it big. As wet-behind-the. ears, inexperienced, straight-arrow country boys, they found themselves in a world that was light years ahead of Yakima. While it was fun hanging out at “hippie” places, observing but not being a part of, that scene, the band played a limited number of gigs and began to experience a number of membership changes. They did manage to write and record four more great songs. Finally, after becoming too homesick and disappointed, the group broke up in 1967 and returned to Yakima. Subsequently, on a world-wide basis, people began collecting Velvet Illusions 45’s. Various companies placed their songs on compilation cd’s.

In 2006, Randy Bowles authored a lengthy history of the band, published in the Pacific Northwest Bands website. Two record companies soon got involved, and several former band members were able to accomplish three notable projects.

In 2009 the band’s infamous, widely-banned song, “Acid Head”, was included on the Grammy-nominated 4-cd Rhino set, “Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965–1968”, which features rarities by the Byrds, Doors, Beach Boys and other great groups.

In 2011, Tune In Records released the long-awaited cd, The Velvet Illusions “Acid Head”, to rave reviews. This project was spearheaded and accomplished by Londoner, Gray Newell. Many Velvet Illusions videos can be found on YouTube. Apparently fans have incorporated various tracks from the cd, combining them with photos/video/animation. A search of YouTube will reveal skateboarding videos, a psi-fi video and cartoons, as well as covers by various modern bands. Combined, the videos have had 30,000+ views.

In 2014, Randy Bowles created the Facebook Page, “Velvet Illusions Fans”, in order to present the best videos, photos and articles relating to the band in one easy-to-find locatio.

In 2012, the much-read collector ‘zine, “Ugly Things”, published a six page history of the Velvet Illusions, written by the above-mentioned Gray Newell.

There is more to come. Gray Newell and surviving former members are working to release a limited-edition LP, complete with new cover art. Another full-length interview will be published in the near future, to be written by a leading authority on psych bands of the 60’s. The Velvet Illusions continue.

[https://www.facebook.com/RandyBowlesMusic. « hide

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Acid Head
2014

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1 Votes

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