The “Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

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Fraternity 977

No. 6   March 11, 1967




“The original group was called the Capris, and we go way back to the ’50s,” said Gene Hughes, lead singer

for the Casinos, in an exclusive interview. “We were doin’ hops for disk jockeys and the CAPRIS came out

with ‘There’s a Moon Out Tonight.’   I knew we had to change our name; didn’t wanna. This jock [Bob Smith,

WCPO] just getting back from Las Vegas, jokingly said, ‘Why don’t you call yourselves the Casinos?”‘


They had been singing on street corners in Cincinnati since 1958, when mere high schoolers and greasers.

“There was myself and my brother Glen, Ray White, and J. T. Sears; never learned his first name.  It was

strange, though, cause they’d be another two, three guys that were in and out of the group.  So there was

also Pete Noble, Roger West, and Joe Patterson.


“We sang a lot of clubs, like the Lookout Club and the Beverly Hills in Cincinnati … and the Playboy cir­cuit;

had this local TV show for a while, ‘Five a-Go-Go.’  Now, we were a vocal group initially, then we decided to

add a band. That’s when we had Bob Armstrong [organ] come in; Bob Smith [bass], and Mickey Den­ton

[guitar].  Ray [White] played drums.  Eventually, changes came on us and there was just me, Armstrong,

Mickey, Ray, and Smith; the ones who actually record­ed ‘Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.’   When the hit

came, all the guys came back and went on the road with us; that’s nine pieces, and that’s all but J. T., who

had died in this car crash in ’63.”


The Casinos recording history begins in 1961 when on the road they had met teen idol Carl Dobkins, Jr.­ then

known for “My Heart Is an Open Book” and “Lucky Devil.”  “He had his own label–Name Records–and let us

record this thing we had written called ‘Do You Recall.’  That was like a regional hit for us; as was “That’s the

Way” and “Too Good to Be True,” that we had out on [record distributor Tommy Wills’] Terry Records.  We

were able to play the area clubs like we were a hit act; all while the rest of the country knew nothing about



Harry Carlson of the Cincinnati-based Fraternity label liked their sounds and gave them another chance.

“We’d record stuff and license it out to labels.  At the same session we did ‘Then You Can Tell Me’ we did

‘Moon River’…  Then Harry [Carlson] put out three things by us before the hit. “Right There Beside You” had

this Beatie sound, but it didn’t happen.


“I had heard this song ‘Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,’ performed by Johnny Nash on WLAC, the ‘John R

[Richbourg] Show.’   His version was never a hit, so we started doing it at the clubs; for years…. So, while we

were in the studio in the King Studios in Cincinnati, cutting this instrumental [King Curtis’] ‘Soul Serenade,’

for a disk jockey, we used the time to cut ‘Then You Can Tell Me.”‘  The JOHN D. LOUDERMILK tune was a

musical throw-back, a beautiful slow­ paced crawler, but it also sounded collegiate and choral, like

something the Association would do, and ergo hip.


“Everybody says, ‘What a great idea [doing ‘Then You Can Tell Me’]; what a great arrangement .. .’It was

luck; luck and perfection…. We were comfortable with it.  There was nothing to it….  Luck.  Work hard; and

sometimes the luck happens.”


Premier Talent signed the act for managerial repre­sentation.  Tours were a constant–opening for the Beach

Boys, Turtles, the Dick Clark Caravan … and then …


The record was a smash.  Things looked bright as the morning sun for the squeaky-dean crew from Cincin­

nati. Critic Earl Wilson congratulated the guys on their “normal look.”  Follow-up 45s appeared-on an

assort­ment of labels well into the ’70s–but with the excep­tion of the immediate follow-up, “It’s All Over

Now” (#65, 1967)–penned by Don Everly–not a one gained more than a glance.


“Harry [Carlson] and I–well, it was the only argument we every had. He followed the hit with ‘It’s All Over

Now’–and as I told him, that song didn’t have our sound.  It was just to be an album cut, then on the way

back from a gig I heard it on the radio­ announced as our next single–and I knew it was all over.”


Wrong song, yes, but possibly worse–the Casinos didn’t look the part. With nary a short hair out of place

and no jeans and peace signs, Gene and his Casinos were deviates. The look was of a Sunday morn choir, a

gathering of Young Republicans.


“In 1968, I went to Nashville and recorded some solo things for United Artist.  We’d worked hard for that hit

record, but there was the strain.  ‘Can’t speak for the rest, but I was burnt out.  The group remained in

Cincinnati, playing gigs.  But it didn’t last all that long. I was the lead singer–and I don’t mean that

egotistical­ly–and without me, the sound, it didn’t happen.  I blame me more than them.  I needed a rest.  By

’70, we got back together.”


Gene Hughes lives in Nashville and still performs.  The “Casinos” name is alive and can be seen annually in

Cincinnati’s “WORS Shows,” that’s “the World’s Oldest Rock Stars.”


“I’ve no regrets.  It was wonderful.  And Harry [Carl­son] treated us right.  We’re one of the few acts that got

our money.  If anything, Harry probably gave us more money than he shoulda.  When he retired, he handed

me our tapes; said, ‘They’re all yours, do what you can with them.”‘


“Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” had returned to the C & W charts in 1968 with Eddie Arnold and in 1996

with Neal McCoy.