The Springfield Rifle(s)
The Royal Guardsmen
Quicksilver Messenger Service
Listen -Sprinfield Rifle – The Bears – MP3
Here’s an odd one.
Fans of Pacific Northwest rock of the 60s will be familiar with the Springfield Rifle.
Rising from the ashes of Jimmy Hannah and the Dynamics (who recorded some great 45s, including a tasty cover of Eddie Holland’s ‘Leaving Here’) the Springfield Rifle went to compile a failry large discography including a number of 45s for Burdette and Jerden, at least one LP for the former, and today’s selection which was released by ABC in 1966 (for some reason billing the group as the ‘Springfield Rifles’).
The tune, ‘The Bears’ is a vaguely creepy number with insane lyrics about stepping on bears (really) with a garage leaning into the early wave of psyche (lyrically anyway) vibe.
So, I set out to dig up some info on the 45 and I discover that the composers of the song (as credited on the Springfield Rifle 45) were not in fact members of the band. I hit a couple of my reliable info sources and discover that the same song was recorded by the Royal Guardsmen and the Quicksilver Messenger Service, both credited to Roger Perkins*. I dug a little more and found out that Roger Perkins was a San Fran Bay area singer and guitarist who was a presence in the early days of the folk rock scene, having gigged with a number of big names including the Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen, and David Freiberg of the Quicksilver Messenger Service (who credited Perkins with introducing him to the song).
Here’s the big question: Quicksilver, the group with a direct link to Roger Perkins didn’t record ‘The Bears’ until 1968, on the b-side of a 45 (it did not appear on any QMS albums). Both Springfield Rifle and the Royal Guardsmen recorded the song in 1966.
The Springfield Rifle version is credited to Daniel Moore, Don Paulian and Jeff Thomas. Moore a songwriter/producer who wrote a number of hits (among them ‘Shambala’ for Three Dog Night) recorded ‘The Bears’ with an LA group called the Fastest Group Alive in 1966.
The fact that Moore, Paulin and Thomas are credited on the Springfield Rifle 45, and Perkins is credited on the Quicksilver and Royal Guardsmen records suggests to me that the song may have come from a traditional/folk source and was adapted separately by Perkins and Moore et al. A biography I found of Daniel Moore mentions that he spent a few years working the coffeehouse circuit as a folk singer in the early 60s, so it’s entirely possible he and Perkins heard the same source material.
Anyone know for sure?
Let me know.
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