The “Golden Hits Of Th60s” 

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(James J. Donna)    Soma 1433

No. 12    October 23, 1965





“Where did you get that stuff?  No, no, none of us were wrestlers.   None of us were even baseball players,”

says Roy Hensley (b. December 31, 1947/Ridgefield, MN.), the Castaways rhythm guitarist in reference to

an earlier Goldmine piece.  “Wow!”


“We were not fraternity brothers out to make a buck,” adds Dennis “Ludwig” Craswell (b. June 5 ,1948

/Ridgefield, MN) the groups drummer.   “People never really knew who we were.   They never even asked!

So consequentially whenever anybody wrote anything about us they just pulled it outta the air.”   Let’s set

it straight, right here, right now.


“Look, the nucleus of the band, that’s Denny Craswell, Dick Roby [bass], and myself [Roy Hensley] went to

school together, junior high school; that’s Ridgefield High.   It was 1962 and we had this other guitar player

at the time, but he left and we got Bob Folschow [and for a short while Jim Donna (keyboards)].                                                                             @

All of us had musical training and we each played in the school band.  We got involved with this guy Ira

Hilecker and his partner, Dick Shapiro.   Ira’s father was Amos and Soma, the label they had was Ira’s

pop’s name spelt backwards, get it?


“‘Liar, Liar’ was our first recording, as a group.  Actually, we only

recorded it because we couldn’t get into any of the main rooms [clubs and nightspots] in town.   It was

sewed up.   …Everybody else, it seemed, had a record on the radio.    So, we got together and said, ‘Sure, 0

we’d like to make an extra fifty bucks a night and maybe get into those rooms.’   We approached Ira and he

signed us to a one-record contract.  That was ‘Liar, Liar’, and it took off and we subsequentially never got

into playing those rooms we had recorded the record for; we were too busy traveling  the country.”


“I think Soma was kind of a toy for Ira,” adds Craswell, later a drummer with CROW, yet another “One-Hit

Wonder” act [“Evil Woman”, remember?].  “Now a regular label understands that you’ve got to have more

product, but they had us on the road touring and doing TV and then when it was too late they say, ‘Hey, you

guys need another record.’   We didn’t know what was suppose to be done.  We just did as we were told.

“You know, when ‘Liar, Liar’ was like #13 in Billboard we didn’t have a record contract.  We could’ve

signed with anybody, but we didn’t know any better.   We were only like 15 years old.”


Soma had quickly shipped one other disk, “Goodbye Baby” (#101, 1965), but then nothing.   The months

ticked away.   Finally after more than a year had lapsed the group was signed to Dunwich Productions and

Fontana.     Two non-charting 45s (“Walking in Different Circles” and “What Kind of  Face”) were eventually

issued by the latter label.   Both bombed.   “The momentum was gone,” Hensley quickly adds.


“After that we had our own company for a while.  Tonna Records.  I don’t even know how you spell it, but

we named it after those, you know, those leaves that bring mummies back to life.   We released a number

of singles on that label.   There was “Peace of Mind,” “Hit the Road Jack,” and, ah…frankly, I can’t think of

the other ones.   Hey, I’ve had people come up to me with Castaway records that I didn’t even know were

released.   But we had a real good time doing ’em.”


“Yeah, it’s nice that everybody wants our old records,” says Craswell, “but we’d like to get something new

going.   We missed the boat, the first time.   We could’ve had more hits if we had someone to direct and

support us.”


“But, we’ve never stopped,” adds Hensley. “The Castaways have been in some kind of form or another ever

since.   People have left for periods and for a few years the group was out on the West  Coast playing places

like Trader Nicks.   Occasionally we’d tour and then that Good Morning Viet Nam (1987) [which included

their noteable both in the flick and on the soundtrack] came out and we got some offers we could not

refuse.   Agents were calling from all across the country and we appeared in Chicago with the Mamas &

Papas and did some shows with Brian Hyland and Del Shannon…”


“We’d like to get an interest in the string of hits that we could have had, if only we had pursued it,” says

Craswell.   “We’ve all kept active,” Henley breaks in.   “We’ve done some session jobs and played under

different names, for a while.   Currently, we’re working on getting an album released.   We’re label

shopping.  It’s all new stuff and everyones back in the group but Jim [currently being replaced by Al Olivera

(keyboards)]…and we’re ready, this time…”