A "CHRISTMAS" STORY by Bruce Smith
The 1965 Christmas season found a unique record in Northwest stores. It was an album of Christmas tunes entitled simply "Merry Christmas." A Christmas album in itself was not unusual. What was different about this particular Christmas album was that it featured relatively quiet tunes by three Northwest rock groups, THE SONICS, THE WAILERS and THE GALAXIES. The three Tacoma, Washington groups were recording for that city's Etiquette Records, a label owned and operated by members of The Wailers. It was within that band that the idea to bring the groups together on a Phil Spector-like seasonal package was born. Production was begun in late summer '65 at Wiley-Griffith Studio, a small Tacoma recording facility with egg carton walls. Members of all three bands intermingled on the selections which included old standards, originals and familiar melodies with gimmick lyrics. John "Buck" Ormsby, bassist for the Wailers remembers: "There was no heart in any of the tunes, but we thought they might sell. Problem was, the whole project fell flat on its face. One of the songs by the Sonics was called "It's Christmas." It was the melody from "On Broadway" (a popular song done a year or so earlier by The Drifters) with Christmas lyrics (by Gerry Roslie). The package was finished and on the market when word came that we couldn't get publication rights to use the (On Broadway) melody. We had to pull the whole works. What a fiasco." Withdrawn from stores, "Merry Christmas" faded into oblivion. But, as so often is the case, gone did not mean forgotten. Today copies of the original ill-fated album are one of the most rare and sought after Northwest record collectables.
1. Santa Claus (Jerry Roslie) SONICS
2. She's Coming Home (R. Gardner - K. Morrill) WAILERS
3. Don't Believe In Christmas (J. Roslie) SONICS
4. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (Jerry Marks) GALAXIES
5. Christmas Spirit? (R. Gardner - K. Morrill) WAILERS
6. The Village Idiot (Jingle Bells) (J. Pierpont ) SONICS
1. It's Christmas (Words by J. Roslie) SONICS
2. Please Come Home For Christmas (C. Brown - G. Redd) GALAXIES
3. Maybe This Year (N. Anderson - R. Gardner - K. Morrill) WAILERS
4. Christmas Eve (R. Gardner) WAILERS
5. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) (M. Torme - R. Wells) WAILERS
LOCATION: Tacoma, WA
THE SONICS: Gerry Roslie [keyboards, vocals]; Rob Lind [tenor sax, vocals]; Andy Parypa [bass]; Larry Parypa [guitar]; Bob Bennett [drums].
THE WAILERS: Kent Morrill [keyboards, vocals]; Neil Anderson [guitar]; Ron Gardner [vocals, tenor sax]; Buck Ormsby [bass, vocals]; Dave Roland [drums].
THE GALAXIES: Rob Lowry [vocals]; Chuck Naubert [bass, vocals]; Bob Koch [guitar, vocals]; Phil Hansen [drums, vocals]; Mark Eubanks [tenor sax, vocals]
RECORDING STUDIO: Wiley / Griffith Studios
RECORDING ENGINEER: Bill Wiley
SPEED: 33 1/3 rpm
DISC NOTES: Original albums were mono. Album was later issued in compact disc format (ETCD025).
Known Label Designs:
1.) 1965 original issues featured second design Etiquette purple labels.
2.) 1984. Album was reissued. Reissue featured same cardboard jacket as its earlier cousin, but the label was first design with red with black, logo, numerals and lettering.
A-SIDE MATRIX: 025 - A Side 1
A-SIDE STAMPER CODE: ^8521
B-SIDE MATRIX: 025 - B Side 2
B-SIDE STAMPER CODE: ^8521 - X