Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ron Moody and the Centaurs - The New Breed 45

I recently picked up this great 45 and looked up the story behind it. It travelled from Richmond, Virginia to the northern soul scene... It marks the one and only vinyl recording officially released by this band, although they reportedly have unreleased live recordings.

Ron Moody interviewed by

60s: Where and when was Ron Moody and the Centaurs formed?

Ron Moody: "The band was formed during the height of the British Invasion in 1964. We were junior high kids (now called middle school). We attended Brookland Junior High in Richmond, Virginia. The original members numbered five (no horns at the time). We were all classmates and neighborhood friends.

60s: What were the circumstances leading up to the recording of "If I Didn't Have A Dime"?

RM: "The great Gene Pitney originally recorded this song as a ballad. In the Southeast, there is a musical genre called "Beach Music". It is not to be confused with West Coast Surf Music. It is rooted in Rhythm and Blues and is indicative of Southern party bands in the 1960's (think of Animal House and that's the music we made!).

"There was a Carolina band called Bob Collins and The Fabulous Five who had reworked the song into more of a shuffle. We took that concept, changed it still more and added horns. By now we had a full blown horn section: sax, two trumpets and trombone.

"We picked an old obscure Jimmy Holiday tune called "The New Breed" for the B-side. The B-side is still a big song in England and is considered “Northern Soul", which is more or less the British counterpart of our "Beach Music".

"We borrowed $600 and found a studio outside of Baltimore. We drove up on a Sunday in March of 1969 and cut the two sides.

"The engineer was a young George Massenberg, who subsequently went on to worldwide fame as an engineer, audio equipment designer and producer.

"I remember being pretty much intimidated since this was my first attempt at recording under true professional circumstances. We were pleased with the results and proceeded home having no idea as to how the effort would be received."

from Mark Windle's It's Better To Cry blog:

Ron Moody: "New Breed was actually our choice for the A side, but Dime took off in the US. The Centaurs played all over south east US. We were still in high school and college for much of that period, so extensive travel was somewhat limited to the southern region, particularly Virginia and the Carolinas.

"Our first public appearance was as an opening act for Bill Deal and the Rhondels at college in Richmond, VA on January 15, 1965. We played every type of venue available, from outside festivals, big halls, private country club shows, high school proms, to college fraternity parties....and everything in between! We played with many of the area and regional bands of the day and opened for national acts including the Drifters, Jackie Wilson, the Impressions, Billy Stewart, and Percy Sledge. "

Ron himself has spent 35 years in sales and marketing with ABC/Dunhill, Polygram, and Universal. He also continues with his song writing and has produced material for several beach and soul acts including Paul Craver, the Holiday Band and Archie Bell. Ron Moody and the Centaurs continue to tour today."

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