The following review of Gypsy's first album appeared in Billboard magazine in August 1970.

Producer(s): none listed
Metromedia M2D 1031 (S)
Genre: POP
Originally reviewed for week ending 8/29/70

Metromedia is going all out by introducing this five-man group with a deluxe two-record set and the promotion should pay off handsomely since this set displays Gypsy's many strong qualities including blended voices and excellent instrumental work. "Gypsy Queen" is offered in its original version and a revised followup. "Dead and Gone" is a superior extended (11:07) number. But, all selections spell quality.

The following review of Gypsy's second album, "In The Garden", appeared in Billboard magazine in July 1971.

In The Garden
Producer(s): none listed
Metromedia KMD 1044
Genre: POP
Originally reviewed for week ending 7/31/71

This group has matured greatly with this second album. The basic music is structured much like their first LP, but the sound is more together and the organ, played by Jimmy Walsh, seems to be the focal point of the group's maturity. "As Far As You Can See" is an enchanting education; while the second side of the LP contains one view of paradise entitled "Here in the Garden," and two other explicitly religious tunes.

Mama Let Him Play by Jason Toon
Read about Gypsy and The DiscConnection in this article published in the May 31, 2000 edition of The Riverfront Times.


Jon Bream / Star Tribune
Friday, September 3, 1999

"We signed autographs for an hour and a half," singer/keyboardist James Walsh said of Gypsy's recent comeback show at a St. Louis nightclub. "There was memorabilia I'd never seen -- albums from Europe that I wasn't aware of, and posters from the Fillmore," San Francisco's landmark concert hall.

Gypsy (9:30 p.m. Saturday, Stage 5) was the first Minnesota rock band to have hit albums. The group was known as the Underbeats when it headed to Los Angeles in 1969. Rechristened Gypsy, the band signed with Metromedia (which boasted pop heartthrob Bobby Sherman) and scored the 1970 FM-radio hits "Gypsy Queen -- Part One " and "Dead and Gone." Three more albums (and various personnel changes) followed, and Gypsy dissolved in 1976.

Drummer Bill Lordan went on to play with Robin Trower, and bassist Willie Weeks worked with George Harrison and now Wynonna. Walsh eventually returned to the Twin Cities, producing scores of local recordings, and guitarist Jim Johnson became a Los Angeles studio musician.

After Johnson returned to the Twin Cities two years ago, he and Walsh began talking about a Gypsy reunion. Bedrock Records, a St. Louis label, wanted to reissue the old Gypsy albums on CD. Walsh and Johnson cut one new song, "Innocence Lost," for "Gypsy" which was re-released this summer along with the album "In the Garden."

Backed by former Gypsy drummer Stanley Kipper and others, Walsh and Johnson have put together a new incarnation of Gypsy. They've gigged in St. Louis and Hinckley, Minn., and have a return engagement in St. Louis next month. They're talking about going on tour next year with Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings of the Guess Who.

But first there is Saturday's comeback gig in Minneapolis. Walsh will be a busy musician that day -- playing at Mill City with the Hot Half Dozen at 1 p.m., then joining Chase Roberts, a country group, at Black Bear Casino near Duluth in the afternoon and heading back to the Cities for Gypsy's return at 9:30 p.m.

Land of 10,000 dances: Minnesota bands relive their '60s glory days

Jon Bream / Star Tribune

Before Lamont Cranston began to boogie and the Minneapolis Sound was heard 'round the world, Minnesota rocked.

* The Trashmen ("Surfin' Bird") appeared on "American Bandstand" when it was still based in Philadelphia.

* The Castaways ("Liar Liar") toured with the Beach Boys and played to a crowd of 50,000 in San Francisco with Sonny & Cher.

* The Underbeats' "Foot Stompin'," the Gestures' "Run Run Run" and Gregory D & the Avantis' "The Grind" were among the many big hits of mid-America.

In the 1960s, these bands were spawned by a teen-oriented Twin Cities rock circuit and a string of Midwest ballrooms that might hold a teen dance one night, Whoopee John playing polkas the next. More than 20 rock bands from the '60s and early '70s will revisit those heady days Sunday in Minneapolis, joining forces in the Minnesota Rocked Reunion.

Some groups (the Delcounts, Crow) never really went away. The Trashmen and Castaways have been gigging on and off for years. The Underbeats -- renamed the Thunderbeats -- started again last year. The Litter is reissuing four of its old albums on CD and hitting the road again as the Litter Blues Band.

Last week, the Star Tribune assembled five fiftysomething rockers from the '60s -- Tony Andreason of the Trashmen, Jim Donna of the Castaways, Tom Nystrom of the Accents and Underbeats, Cliff Siegel of the High Spirits and JamesWalsh of the Hot Half Dozen, Underbeats and Gypsy. (Because of a last-minute illness, neither the Dozen nor Gypsy will appear Sunday.) During a roundtable discussion, they laughed about eccentric ballroom owners, cried about the size of their royalty checks and talked about how the Vietnam War ended their bands as well as an era.

All the panelists agreed that the Underbeats were the best band in town in the '60s. But they weren't the most famous. The Trashmen hit the charts a few weeks before the Beatles broke, with "Surfin' Bird" climbing to No. 4 on the Billboard chart in early '64. Nystrom, who played with the Accents and Underbeats, looked across the room at the Trashmen's Andreason and said, "You guys were loud back when bands weren't loud. You really commanded attention."

Siegel recalled coming home from school to watch the Trashmen on "American Bandstand" and discovering to his dismay that only the group's drummer-singer, Steve Wahrer, was on the screen.

"They couldn't afford the rest of us," said Andreason.

When the Trashmen started in '62, the Prom Center, St. Paul's home of big-band swing, was uncomfortable about the rockers' moniker. So, for their very first gig, the marquee read: "Dal Winslow and His Orchestra."

In '64, the Trashmen played 289 one-night stands around the country; Andreason reckons the group traveled 140,000 miles that year. They had a similar schedule in '65. Eventually, the group traveled as far as Venezuela.

The Castaways reached No. 12 on Billboard's pop chart with "Liar Liar" in '65 and spent considerable time on the West Coast, touring with the Beach Boys and appearing on TV's "Hullabaloo" and in the movie "It's a Bikini World." Their biggest gig was at San Francisco's Cow Palace in October '65 with a dozen other bands, including the Byrds. Donna has the poster to prove it. But the event ended ignominiously.

"Sonny & Cher closed the show and it caused a riot," he recalled. "Some woman threw a bra onstage as a joke and Sonny kissed it and said, 'Oh, for me?' And about 5,000 screaming girls charged the stage and knocked over the orchestra's instruments. Sonny & Cher fled for their lives. They had Sonny pinned up against the wall, ripping the shirt off his back."

The Castaways might not have existed if Donna had passed a tryout for another band. "You know I auditioned for [the Trashmen] in 1962," the keyboardist told Andreason. "You thought about getting a keyboard player and you decided to go with a guitar. You never liked me."

The room exploded in laughter.

Teens playing for teens

In the mid-'60s these bands mostly played for teen audiences, whether at Dayton's, ballrooms such as the Prom or Danceland in Excelsior or dance clubs such as Mr. Lucky's in Minneapolis. Admission was typically $1.50.

Pop stations WDGY and KDWB sponsored dances and also played local records, even if they were cover tunes such as the Chancellors' "Little Latin Lupe Lu" or the High Spirits' "Turn on Your Lovelight." TV's "Date with Dino" also provided exposure.

As a result, there were dozens of bands. Their goal: Cut a 45-rpm single at Kay Bank or Dove studios ($60 an hour) and get it on the radio. Many of the musicians were teenagers; others were riding out student deferments for the draft while going to college.

Walsh was a junior at Edison High School in Minneapolis when he landed in the Underbeats: "Everybody knew who the Underbeats were, my teachers knew who the Underbeats were, so I'd usually roll in about 11, go right to the nurse, lie down for an hour and then have to leave at 2 to get to the next gig."
He eventually dropped out of school: "I was making as much as my dad."

High Spirits, low budgets

A hit record had Siegel and his buddies in the High Spirits thinking like high rollers: "We played Kansas City four times. The first time we flew, the second time we took a train, the third time we took our bus and the fourth time we drove cars. We got smart each time: 'Do we want to go home with money, or do we want to go like rock stars?' "

For that first gig, the High Spirits got their biggest paycheck: $2,000. "And the check bounced," said Siegel. "[Our agent] made it up, though."

Even though the Trashmen and Castaways had national hits, neither band made serious money. Andreason said the Trashmen received only one royalty check: $15,000, "for everything." (The group later went to court and won the rights to their master tapes, which are now being reissued on Sundazed and other labels.) Their top concert take in the '60s was $2,800 for a performance at the Duluth Armory.

The Castaways, who started out playing pizza places for $50, ended up making a couple of thousand a night, but their easiest money was $800 for spending a half-hour to play "Liar Liar" in "It's a Bikini World," a beach movie starring Tommy Kirk.

By the '70s, things got better financially. Walsh said Gypsy pocketed $10,000 for two nights at Uncle Sam's (now First Avenue) and $12,500 for three days at the Minnesota State Fair.

Donna said the Castaways' biggest check came in more recent years, when "Liar Liar" was used in the 1987 Robin Williams movie "Good Morning Vietnam."

And the Trashmen actually cashed their biggest check last year when "Surfin' Bird" was used in an ad by a cellular phone company, and two years ago the Iowa State Fair hired the band for $10,000.

"I have no regrets," said Andreason. "The No. 1 thing a musician wants to do is have a hit. And we did."

"Girls were the collateral that came with it," said Siegel.

"We knew it wasn't going to last long," said Donna. "We didn't take ourselves very seriously."

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