Friday, November 13, 2009

The Twilight Zone in the Hey Baby Days of Beach Music Starring the Twilights of Salisbury and Charlotte, NC, Wayne Cochran & the CC Riders

Click on the images to enlarge

Top Photo from "The Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music" are the Twilights from Charlotte, North Carolina. Saxophonist Buck Burwell didn't remember any recordings made by the band when he played saxophone

Bottom photo are the Twilights from Salisbury, North Carolina which is not too far up I 85 from Charlotte. Lead singer Gary Lowder wrote and recorded "You're The One" that appears on Disk 3 of the Hey Baby Days of Beach Music compilation series.

Both bands were managed by Ralph Farmer and apparently these were two different bands managed by the same agency but perhaps at different points in time. Can you tell by their uniforms which band might have been the earliest bands ? If this is confusing, try unraveling the various bands called the Villagers, Nomads and Caravelles in just the Carolinas.

Caution! You are about to enter the Twilight Zone of “The Hey Baby Days of Beach Music.”

I certainly might not have the presence of Rod Serling but here goes my best attempt.

It was the day after the rains finally ended in Hotlanta Georgia when an email came fluttering down the cyber highway. It was a short and to the point letter of interest. The information caught me a bit flatfooted .

To Whom It May Concern:

Ref: The Twilights

Recorded: You're The One

Lyrics and Music by: Gary Lowder

Lead vocals : Gary Lowder

The group was managed by Ralph Farmer, but all of the members you have listed in connection with this recording is incorrect. For the correct and accurate information about this recording and song contact Gary Lowder.


Gary Lowder

Gary’s email took me by surprise. “You’re The One” a song that had been licensed by Ripete Records which appears on Disk 3 of the Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music series had recently caught the fancy of Rollye James, who has taken up the Beach Music cause in a significant way. In fact when Rollye had me on her show, she asked about the song and I quickly responded that it was one that Earl Dawkins supplied the vocals for when he was a member of the Twilights. Apparently I was wrong and thanks to the fluttering email, I can correct this matter with revelations contained in Gary’s email.

The Twilights of Charlotte, NC as posted at

Enlarge the image by clicking on it


As author and publisher of the book, it is my fault if there is any incorrect information contained in the book or at the web site. We are always anxious to correct any mistakes. As it relates to the book, all we have in the book about the Twilights is a photo that was furnished by Bud McNeely of the Twilights when he was a member. The additional information that is included in the band's directory came from the liner notes that were written by others. Those liner notes are contained in Disk 3 . We certainly would like to correct anything that is not correct. "You're The One" is a good one and caught the ear of Rollye James who has been playing it regularly on her show.

Can you give me more background on the song, when it was recorded , who played on the recording and a little more about the Twilights. A friend of mine played briefly in the band and he is in the photo. Buck Burwell. I thought he was kiddin' me when he told me he played in a band but sure enough, he played in the version of the band that included Bud McNeely Don Neal and others. . I met him through business. Like to know more about Ralph Farmer's Agency and some of the bands he booked. If you will respond with your phone number, I'll call you later.


Greg Haynes

Note: Gary did respond with a phone number and we had a nice 20 minute conversation that could have easily been an hour or more as I could tell that Gary had been a dues paying member of the “Never Gonna Give It Up Club for as long as I have.

I never could quite figure out when the Twilights of Buck Burwell fame came into the picture, but judging from the “uniforms” of the actual band that made “You’re The One” Buck’s group came first. (That’s an educated guess aka swag) I had thought, hey, maybe this is another one of those “Villagers” or “Nomad” things where there is a band named that in every town. The Buck Burwell Twilights were from Charlotte and that’s almost 50 miles from the Twilights of Salisbury . In all fairness, Buck Burwell indicated early on the Al Allison was the man behind the Twilights but since I have ridden shotgun in a King Air with Buck as the pilot, I guess a little license doesn’t hurt. BUT this also brings me to a cross roads of confusion one that could only exist in the Twilight Zone.

As I was contemplating this revelation about “You’re The One” by the Twilights, Nora Marion came in the room. I shared with her the confusion about two bands called the Twilights that seemed to have different personnel but were managed by the same Ralph Farmer agency. “Nora, don’t you remember that I went on international radio a few weeks ago and told Rollye James that Earl Dawkins sang lead on that song. Now I get this revealing email that I was wrong. I feel like I am right in the middle of the Twilight Zone… don’t you remember what Rod Serling use to say when he opened the show back in the early days of the Hey Baby Days.

"You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the Twilight Zone."

“Greg, you’re confused about one thing… It’s not the Twilight Zone… It’s the Heeey Baby Days.”

I think she might be right because there was a good amount of confusion back in the Hey Baby Days and maybe it’s not the Twilight Zone that I entered with Gary’s email but a part and parcel of those great days of music that will forever be known as the Hey Baby Days of Beach Music.

Notes on the Twilights: (Courtesy of Gary Lowder)

The Twilights:
Olin Jones:,trumpet/vocals :
Duane Smith ,Bass/vocals :
Gary Lowder : Lead Vocals/trumpet
Rick Christy : Drums
Gerald Smith : Sax /vocals
Jimmy Lackey : Keyboards
Larry Pinkston: Guitar
Randy (Flip) Bost : Trombone /vocals

"You're The One " , Lyrics and music by Gary Lowder : Was recorded at Arthur Smith Studios, Charlotte, NC

The same group would later change it's name to "Hot Smokin Brass" and become Jackie Wilson's Back Up band for two years.

Ralph Farmer :from Kannapolis, NC managed the :Aqualads and The Twilights. He was quite an interesting man, having the interest to promote up and coming young talent.

At one time he and I flew to Memphis to Stax records to promote "You're The One", Willie Mitchell liked the song and sent us to speak with Chips Morman who was at that time producing BJ Thomas

The Twilights had street corner harmony, I always considered us the BEE GEEs of the south. We had amazing vocals and prided ourselves with the chorography of the Temptations.

Gary Lowder

I appreciate Gary’s bringing all of this to my attention, but I still remain confused about the Twilights of Charlotte North Carolina wearing their “Hey Baby Days” uniforms and Salisbury’s Twilights who as you can observe are not wearing Hey Baby Days uniforms and given the length of their hair, they might be one of those flexible bands that had “In a Gadda Da Vida” and “Hey, Baby” on the same set list.

One final note:

Gary told me a great story about the time the Twilights were booked into the Marco Polo hotel for a week in North Miami Beach in the early 70s. Upon arrival they learned that they were to be the opening act for Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders (without question, the most popular R&B band in South Florida during that time period.) According to Gary, the band was in shock and after the first night, the Twilights wanted out of their contract. Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders were so intimidating with that incredible horn section that they didn’t feel like that should be on the same stage. After telling the club manager, he laughed, “You guys are the warm up band, you’re fine, don’t worry about anything.” They didn’t and learned enough that week and after returning to North Carolina, they added horns and changed their name to “ Hot Smokin’ Brass” and spent two years on the road as Jackie Wilson’s backing back.

Now does that story ring a few bells? However, I am not sure how much more the Twilights would have been intimidated if Jaco Pastorius had been the bass player for Wayne’s CC Riders. He was, a year or so later.

Want to know more about The Twilights and Hot Smokin' Brass?

Gary Lowder is currently living at Myrtle Beach and is still involved in the Beach Music scene. His music and current info can be found at


Susan Curlee said...

I sent you an email yesterday after I ordered
your book. WHAT A TREASURE!
I am the Associate Producer for "Our Vanishing
Americana", which is currently being aired on
WTVI-PBS- in Charlotte.
I have an idea I'd like to discuss with you.
You can reach me at 919-260-6050. I look
forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks,
Susan Barwick Curlee
Chapel Hill

Celandine said...

I had never read an email in a post and it's really interesting and good thing to read about. Is there any more such conversations you have?? If yes then please post here.
florida flydrive