Lost Innocence-Garpax 1960s Punk and Psych.

Label: Ace Records.

Gary Sanford Paxton was born on the ‘18th’ of May 1939, in Coffeyville, Kansas and was adopted when he just three, and brought up in abject poverty. Life was tough growing up, and when he was eleven he contracted spinal meningitis. A year later, the Paxton family moved to Arizona where Gary S. Paxton discovered rock ’n’ roll. This changed his life.

Aged fourteen he was playing in his first band. They played both country and rock ’n’ roll. A few years later, and Gary S. Paxton embarked upon what was akin to his musical apprenticeship. He toured the Midwest playing with various bands. This stood him in good stead.

In 1959, Gary S. Paxton was already a member of various groups but none of them had enjoyed much in the way of success. He was a member of The Rockabillies. They morphed into The Pledges, who recorded on Rev Record. The Pledges then became Gary and Clyde, who single Why Not Confess was released on Time Records. However, it was only when Gary and Clyde became Skip and Flip, that success came their way.

Gary S. Paxton became Flip, of the pop duo Skip and Flip. They enjoyed a million selling single with It Was I, which he wrote. The pair recorded the song, put together a group, and then began shopping the demo to a label. This would become the way he worked when he became a producer. Having shopped the single to various labels, Brent Records wanted to release It Was I. 

When It Was I was released on Brent records, the single reached number eleven on the US Billboard 100. The followup Fancy Nancy, stalled at number seventy-one in the US Billboard 100. Gary and Skip’s swan-song was Cherry Pie, which reached number eleven on the US Billboard 100. Their short-lived partnership had proved successful and he decided to embark upon a career as a producer.

Having started his production career in 1959, it took Gary S. Paxton until the mid-sixties before he became one of top producers in Los Angeles. During that period, his entrepreneurial skills were shining through. He had cofounded several record labels, including Garllo and Star-Burst with Lloyd Johnson, whose son Kenny was a talented songwriter. These labels meant that he could write, arrange, record, produce and release a single. This was perfect for Gary S. Paxton whose star was already in the ascendancy.

By 1967, Gary S. Paxton was one of the top producers in L.A. Gary’s production skills had the uncanny ability to transform an artist’s reputation and fortunes. However, he wasn’t just a producer. 

Instead, he was also an A&R man, arranger, engineer, musician and songwriter. Versatile described Gary S. Paxton in more ways than one.

He didn’t just specialise in one type of music and  from the early days worked with an eclectic selection of artists.  He was just as happy working with The Association as he was The Four Freshman. There was no way Gary S. Paxton was ever going to be accused of being an auteur producer.

He was a versatile producer who was just as comfortable producing country, garage rock, R&B and sunshine pop. Seamlessly, he could change direction and record new and different musical genres. This includes the twenty-four tracks on Lost Innocence-Garpax 1960s Punk and Psych 

which was recently released by Big Beat Records, an imprint of Ace Records. It features classics, unreleased tracks and hidden gems aplenty from the man behind Alley Oop and Monster Mash. That’s just part  of the Gary S. Paxton story.

Garage-punk group The What Four  open Lost Innocence-Garpax 1960s  Punk and Psych with their debut single Our Love Should Last Forever which was released on E-S-P in 1966 with You Better Stop Your Messin’ Around. Their other contribution to the compilation is You’re Wishin’ I Was Someone Else which was the B-Side to their sophomore single when it was released on E-S-P in 1967. Nowadays, these tracks by The Whatt Four are regarded as amongst Gary S. Paxton’s finest productions.

Limey and The Yanks from Buena Park in Orange County feature twice on the compilation. Tomorrow Never Knows was recorded in September 1965 and released on Star-Burst in 1966 and is a timeless and radio friendly example of psych pop. The same can be said of Guaranteed Love which was the B-Side of Love Can’t Be A One Way De which was also released in 1966. Their other contribution is the previous unreleased ballad Flight Of The Dead Bird. It features an impassioned vocal from lead singer Steve Cook which is delivered against an understated but dramatic arrangement. This is a real find and falls into the category of hidden gem.

The Buddhas were a group from Bakersfield who recorded two punk-psych sides in 1967. Lost Innocence was released as a single in September 1967 with My Dream on  the B-Sides. Both sides are regarded as among the finest of their type produced by Gary S. Paxton.

Little did Edmonton-based group Sons Of Adam realise that when they agreed to add vocals on a session produced by Gary S. Paxton that they would be renamed New Wing and sign a recording contract. The reason for the change of name was there was group in  Hollywood called Sons Of Adam. However, the change of name resulted in a change in fortune when the newly named group released their debut single The Thinking Animal which reached number thirteen in LA. However, it doesn’t feature on the compilation. The followup was the psych-soul of Brown Eyed Woman which features I Need Love on the B-Side was released on Pentacle in 1968. New Wing’s other contribution is the previously unreleased track Melodyland Loser. These three sides are a tantalising taste of a talented group who should’ve reached greater heights. 

Very few people had heard of Ken and The Fort Dimension who featured on the B-Side of a Star-Bust single in 1966. The group were hastily put together by Gary S. Paxton to record See If I Care which was meant to be released as a single. An error at the pressing plant meant it was destined for the B-Side and all dreams and commercial success came to nothing.

Closing Lost Innocence-Garpax 1960s Punk and Psych is I’ll Never Let You Go by Carl Walden and The Humans. It was released on Almo in 1965 and is regarded as one of the finest punk singles Gary S. Paxton produced. This makes this a fitting way to close the latest visit to Garpax vaults.

Just like previous Garpax compilations released by Big Beat Records Lost Innocence-Garpax 1960s Punk and Psych features a mixture of classics, unreleased cuts and hidden gems which were produced by the maverick producer during the second half of the sixties. Many of these tracks are innovative and went on to influence future generations of musicians and producers who were inspired by Gary S. Paxton. 

That is still the case over fifty years later. Gary S. Paxton’s music is still relevant and has stood the test of time. That’s the case with the twenty-four tracks on Lost Innocence-Garpax 1960s Punk and Psych which is a compilation that oozes quality and is a reminder of the maverick producer at the peak of his powers.

Lost Innocence-Garpax 1960s Punk and Psych.

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