RICH DANGEL (The Wailers)

Born Richard Dangel, 1 December 1942, prob. Tacoma, Washington
Died 2 December 2002, Tacoma, Washington

Rich Dangel was the bespectacled lead guitarist and co-founder (with John Greek) of the Wailers, an instrumental group from Tacoma, WA. Formed as the Nitecaps in 1958, the original line-up was: John Greek (guitar / trumpet / cornet / bass guitar), Rich Dangel (guitar), Kent Morrill (piano, vocals), Mike Burk (drums) and Mark Marush (tenor sax). In August 1958 they recorded a demo of an atmospheric instrumental called "Scotch on the Rocks" and took it to Bob Reisdorff of Dolton Records, who however, wanted to push his own instrumental group The Frantics, whom the Wailers regarded as competition. Art Mineo, who had produced the demo, took the tape to New York, where he found an interested taker in Clark Galehouse, owner of Golden Crest Records. "Scotch on the Rocks" was rerecorded in Lakewood, WA, in February 1959, retitled "Tall Cool One" by Kent Morrill's mother, and released on Golden Crest 518. It broke the charts in May 1959 and climbed to # 36, selling some 200,000 copies in the process. The band had an eventful time, appearing on "American Bandstand" and touring throughout the USA. The follow-up, "Mau Mau", also charted (# 68), though the flip, the frantic "Dirty Robber", with a vocal by Kent Morrill, was the better side. Further tracks for an LP were recorded during two sessions in July and September 1959. "Wailin'"/"Shanghied", two tracks from the LP, became their third single ; both sides were later covered by the Ventures, who also recorded "Tall Cool One" and "Road Runner" (the flip of "Tall Cool One"). The latter two songs also appear on the instrumental LP by the early Paul Revere and the Raiders ; The Wailers were an influential group in the Northwest.

In 1961 John Greek was replaced by local boy John "Buck" Ormsby, who also brought Rockin' Robin Roberts to the group. With this new line-up, the Wailers recorded what is considered to be the ground-breaking take on Richard Berry's "Louie Louie", but could not get it released. Rich Dangel is credited with shifting the draft of the song, from its calypso- like origins to the "garage band" arrangement that has long since become de rigueur. Two years later, a softened version of Dangel's arrangement by the Kingsmen (from nearby Portland) went to # 2 on the national pop charts.

Morrill, Ormsby and Roberts set up Etiquette Records, on which the Wailers released four albums, 1962-66. Out of the blue and much to the Wailers' amazement, "Tall Cool One" returned to the Hot 100 in the spring of 1964, this time peaking at # 38. Clark Galehouse had reissued the single to promote the rerelease of "The Fabulous Wailers" LP. However, this brought only a negligible increase of work for the group. The Wailers disbanded in 1969. Dangel formed a progressive rock group in 1969, called Floating Bridge. The late 70s/early 80s saw him fronting The Reputations (mainly a back up band) and not long before his death he had formed the Rich Dangel Big Band. Dangel died of an aneurysm, just 24 hours after celebrating his 60th birthday playing a gig at the Swiss Club in Tacoma.

CD: The Fabulous Wailers : Original Golden Crest Masters (Ace 675).


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