Released as the A-Side of the group’s fourth single, this song was written by Doug Morris, Eliot Greenberg, Barbara Baer, and Robert Schwartz. Morris would later go on to be the head of Universal Music Group. The song is sung by band’s drummer, Moulty, and tells the autobiography of his life and how he overcame losing his hand when a homemade pipe bomb went off in his face in 1959 when he was fourteen. Quite interestingly, Moulty didn’t record the song with his usual bandmates and released it without their approval. He instead recorded the vocals while being backed by Levon & The Hawks, featuring Levon Helm: the band that was backing Bob Dylan at the time and would later go on to be known as The Band. The song reached number ninety on the Billboard charts, ninety-seven on the Cash Box charts, and was backed by the B-Side “I’ll Keep on Seeing You.”
And here again is another great interview! This time we had the honor to talk with The Barbarian’s legendary drummer Moulty!
It was already running through my mind as I left a voicemail for Moulty that I’d need to leave a pretty convincing voicemail to get a call back. But just as I was a sentence or two in, a thick Bostonian accent interrupts me and says hello. It’s Moulty! Success! I make my pitch to him about scheduling an interview and I was lucky that he just so happened to have a few minutes at that very moment. He shuts his door for some privacy and I start peppering him with questions.Naturally, I’d like to give a huge “thank you” for Moulty for taking some spontaneous time out of his day for a big fan. He couldn’t have been any nicer or willing to share his tales. I’m very thankful!
A Bit Like You And Me: How did The Barbarians start? What’s their origin?
Victor “Moulty” Moulton:Well it started at the end of the Cape [Cod] in Provincetown, Massachusetts, my hometown. I was a drummer with my new drums. I was working in Boston and I would come back to Ptown for the summer. Talkin’ to a cousin of mine who worked at this place called The Rumpus Room- at one time it was an old jazz club where people danced and they’d play music there and it was abandoned for many years. And it was just left with a long bar and the fishermen would sit in there and drink beers, ya know? In the front area, there was a bigger place called The Old Colony that was part of the same building. And that kept goin’ on for years- it’s still goin’ on. But, my cousin asked me to, uh- I told him I was a drummer. He said, “Hey, great. You gotta band?” I said, “Oh, sure,” lyin’, of course. I didn’t have a band. And he says, “Well okay, great. You oughta work- play- you ought’a come down here and play. “Set your drums up and just play over there,” ya know? I said, “Oh sure, no problem.” I mean, there was no money involved. It was just to play. I thought if I ever played in front of anyone- that would be my dream. “Oh, boy! I played for someone!” and that would be it. (laughter) I could show off in front of someone. So, lo and behold, a couple of days later, he called me and said, “Hey, Moulty.” I said, “What?!” He says, “Guess what! You’re playin’ here Saturday night!” (laughter) I said, (shocked) “You gotta be kiddin’ me!”
I didn’t even have a band, ya know? I said, “Oh, no! …okay.” Well of course there wasn’t any money involved. We just set out in the car and had fun playin’ in front of whoever walked in there, you know? Well, I got a few guys together and we showed up Saturday night and, all of a sudden, the place was (slight pause) jammed. It was summertime in Cod town; it was like a carnival, anyway! And it was crazy. It was jammed. People were walkin’ up the aisles in the streets and we were a big success, ya know? They all thought we were great, of course, but there wasn’t much to compare us to. I mean, The Beatles had just came out. The [Rolling] Stones had just came out. Nobody to compare anybody to in those days, ya know? They just saw a bunch of wild guys with long hair makin’ a bunch a’ noise; a guy [Moulty] on a set a’ drums, spittin’, and he had a hook instead of a hand playin’ the drums. And I must’a looked like I was from Mars, you know? So, hey, you know, all of a sudden the record companies came and, before the end of the summer, we were signin’ up with companies and goin’ off to New York. They took us away and started our career.
ABLYAM: And speaking of The Stones, you appeared with them on that concert film, The T.A.M.I. Show, right?
Moulty: Oh, yeah. (recalling) They were on The T.A.M.I. Show, yep. They were young guys, too.
ABLYAM: Unfortunately, I never saw it, but did you actually appear alongside them or right after them or was it a bunch of clips that they kind of just put together?
Moulty: It was- all the bands together were there for a week. It was one movie. We were all there, all the time. We hung around, played around, and then, the last three days of the movie production- it was just a rock ‘n’ roll show, it was an actual movie with a rock ‘n’ roll show. The last three days were three live shows. Because they had the camera crew, the whole movie crew- you know, they have to do all their stuff, plan all their stuff- and sound crews, recording crews. And this was 1964, of course.
So, the first show was a show without an audience, other than the movie crews and all the people involved in the show. The last two shows were full, live shows with full, live audiences. All jammed with crazy and wild kids, you know? And they picked the best of the last two and that was the movie.
ABLYAM: Did you guys get to spend any time, socially, with the other bands that were there?
Moulty: All the time. We were there for a whole week, yeah.
ABLYAM: You’ve got to have some type of stories or something interesting that happened in that week. I know something crazy must have happened.
Moulty: Oh, a lot of things happened every day. In the music scene, whether you’re makin’ a movie or doin’ a show or on tour, you know. But, yeah, that was a great film because it was like the starting point of a brand new era in the music industry. The old was goin’ and the new was coming through. The British Invasion was just coming through, so The Stones and Gerry & the Pacemakers were in the movie. Guys like us were in there probably to represent the United States. And they had The Supremes and James Brown and Chuck Berry and then Lesley Gore. That was the old generation. And what happened was, they took that movie, because of its influence and the complete change of the industry- it’s in the Library of Congress now.
ABLYAM: Oh, wow. I did not know that. That’s great.
Moulty: Yeah, yeah. I didn’t know that at first, either.
ABLYAM: I’m gonna have to find and watch that because that sounds really interesting.
Moulty: Oh, well, you’ll see The Supremes, ya know, they’re young girls there. Fantastic, ya know? They were great. Anybody that’s great was great no matter how old they were. You don’t get great, you’re born great, ya know? They were always great. The Stones were great. Young guys, ya know. And James Brown- that was the first time he ever played to a white audience. If it wasn’t for The T.A.M.I. Show, you wouldn’t know James Brown, really. And you may not have known The Rolling Stones too much, ‘cause that’s basically how they broke out and conquered the United States.. by startin’ out on The T.A.M.I. Show.
ABLYAM: Very interesting.
Moulty: Yes, just like The Beatles had to conquer the United States before they took over the world. So there were a lot of people there you might not know if it wasn’t for that show.
ABLYAM: And talkin’ about being the American representatives of that show, I was rea-
Moulty: I’m not sure if I was the American representative. I just assume I kinda was, ya know.
ABLYAM: Right, well, I was just going to take that in the direction of people calling you guys America’s Rolling Stones. Had you ever heard that before?
Moulty: Hmm, not in that way, no. I’ve heard, “an answer to The British Invasion” and whatever, but I wouldn’t put myself in that category. I couldn’t compete against anyone, really, ya know? I mean, they’re all so wonderful. I loved The Beatles and The Stones- I loved them all. Ya know, we’re all so different. And that’s what I would think, ya know? Whatever. Whatever people say, people say. I don’t mind.
ABLYAM: Yeah. (laughter) I’d say there’s nothing wrong with being compared to them, right?
Moulty: I don’t care what they say. (laughter)
ABLYAM: Well, I know towards the end of the first incarnation of The Barbarians, three of the guys split off and went into [the band] Black Pearl because of a trip to Boulder, Colorado. What was it about this trip to Boulder, Colorado? I read that you didn’t want to go.
Moulty: No, we were between hits at the time. We had left our record company. We didn’t like some of the things they were doing with us and so we, foolishly, left the company. So we were without a company, really, ya know? The only way to stay in the business was to get another hit. We only had two with “Boy/Girl” [Note: “Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl?”] and “Moulty” and then we didn’t hit with another one. We tried. So we had to get another single out. And at the time, the guys wanted to change and do some “soul rock” kinda stuff. And I didn’t. I wanted to continue it The Barbarians’ way. So we had a split there in ideas of what we wanted to do. I didn’t wanna go to California and become an “acid” rock/blues/soul band, ya know? But they did. They wanted to do their thing they went their way and I stayed my way. So they went out there and they made a bunch’a noise out there. They never hit anything- never charted any songs. But they were good. I’m glad they were good, I mean Geoffrey Morris, who was my lead guitar player, no matter what he does or who he’s with, he’s gonna shine everyone, ya know? He’s just a tremendous guy, ya know. So that’s when they started The Black Pearl.
ABLYAM: You’ve probably told this story a bunch of times, but for anybody who doesn’t know, would you mind sharing what your fourteen-year-old self was doing with a homemade pipe bomb and how things went horribly wrong?
Moulty: Well, I was a fourteen year old kid, but I wasn’t the average fourteen year old kid. I grew up in Ptown [Note: Pronvincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts], one of the craziest places there is. And I was probably one of the craziest of the craziest. (laughter) And I grew up in the sand dunes and beaches of Ptown. I had long hair when I was a teenager; not because of the rock ‘n’ roll business- this was before that. It was because my idol was Johnny Weismuller, who played Tarzan.
ABLYAM: Yeah! Alright.
Moulty: He had that big, cool, long hair and I wanted to be cool under any condition, you know? So I grew my hair long, regardless of how I shamed my parents and everything; but, that’s why I grew my long hair. So when the music scene came along, I didn’t have to change my hairstyle. So that’s how I got long hair and, um- was that the question you asked?
ABLYAM: Oh, no. I mean, it’s only if you wanna talk about it, but I was curious- I mean, I read that you had accidentally lost your hand with an accident involving a pipebomb.
Moulty: Oh, yeah! Yeah! Well, I was wild. I used to make a lot of bombs in the backyard with my friends and blow ‘em off and, this time, I was makin’ a pretty good-sized one. And it blew me to smithereens. It went off when I was makin’ it. I lost my left hand, ya know- I was a guitarist, ya know. And I was a kick-ass little guitarist. I was, at a very young age, I was playin’ the guitar. My family were guitarist themselves. And then by the time I was fourteen I was pretty darn good, ya know? And then I, uh (laughter) I blew myself up! I couldn’t play the guitar anymore. So I got my prosthesis on my hook. I learned to play the drums with my hook.
ABLYAM: And it’s a good thing you did!
Moulty: Yeah! (laughter) Yeah, I know. Yeah, I couldn’t play the guitar anymore.
ABLYAM: Oh, yeah. And there’d be no Barbarians! And, The Barbarians- I mean I know you guys only had a couple hits, but they’re awesome songs. They’re great.
Moulty: Oh, thank you. Okay, alright. Well, anyway, yeah, I wouldn’t be a drummer- I may have been a guitarist, but I wouldn’t have been a drummer at all if I didn’t deal a way to play with my hook, ya know? But anyway, my drumsticks are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame now and I’m proud of that. It’s like an honor, you know?
ABLYAM: Of course! Definitely.
Moulty: You know, they don’t pay you for that. But you gotta fill out forms and stuff. I like that.
ABLYAM: You still fool around with the sticks today? Or did you put the drumsticks down?
Moulty: Oh, no! Those sticks don’t go down. When a musician is born- not someone who plays music, I’m talking about when a real musician is born and he dies that way, just like a golfer or somebody who loves golf, you ask ‘em, “When are you gonna quit?” “When I die.” I think someone asked Keith Richards, “Geez, you guys aged. What are you doin’ this for?” It’s really a stupid question because somethin’ you love so much- whaddya mean “Why are you doin’ it?” You were doin’ it for nothin’ when you started and you would have still done it for nothin’ even if you didn’t make the millions, ya know?
ABLYAM: Yeah, that’s a great point.
Moulty: And on top of all that, they make a million bucks every time they sing a note! So there’s enough reasons there to choke a horse, isn’t there?
Moulty: (laughter) I don’t know, did that answer the question?
ABLYAM: I would say so! Do you have any other hobbies? You doin’ anything else these days that you enjoy?
Moulty: Well I do a lot of playin’. We jam a lot. My son and I do a lot of recordin’s. Studios. I’m always playin’- doin’ somethin’, you know? I’ll probably bring a lot of stuff out on a future website: unreleased stuff from The Barbarians, new stuff that I do now. I have a lot of unreleased material: things partially recorded, live stuff that was really lousily done. You know, people like those things, you know?
Moulty: Yeah, pictures of- very rare pictures of me playin’ the guitar with two hands. That’s very rare. That’s very rare.
ABLYAM: Speaking about unreleased stuff, the only thing I’ve come across that’s unreleased is the song called “Three Strange Men.” It was unreleased for “personal reasons”? Could you give us any hint as to the content of the song or maybe the reason-
Moulty: It’s about UFOs. (singing) ”Hey, three strange men in the sky…” with things flyin’, you know? And, you know, it was just not sensible at all or anything. Just the rage at the time.
ABLYAM: Like with The Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman.”
Moulty: Oh, that’s right. They came out with that, too. When did they come out with that? A little later, I think. [Note: It was released September 6, 1966.] That was before I did this, yeah- a long time before, yeah.
And with that, our conversation began to wrap up. I asked Moulty to do a little audio promo for the site and he joked, “Well what if I can’t remember what to say?” He was incredibly pleasant and more than willing to share everything I asked about. We said our farewells and that was that. A real honor!
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The Barbarians - Moulty (1966)
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I remember the days when things were real bad for me. It was right after my accident when I lost my hand. It seemed like I was all alone with nobody to help me. You know, I almost gave up all my hopes and dreams. But then- then- then something inside me kept telling me- way down inside me, over and over again, to keep going on- yeah, on.
(Don't turn away)
You're gonna make it, baby
(Don't turn away)
Ah, try to make it, baby
(Don't turn away)
Things are better for me now ‘cause I found that I love music. So I learned to play the drums and got myself a band and now we're starting to make it. And if you can make it at something you love, wow, you got it all.
So I'm saying this to all of you- all of you who think you'll never make it. All you guys and girls ‘cause you’re “so bad off.” Or maybe you think you're a little different or strange. So listen to me now ‘cause I've lived through it all.
(Don't turn away)
You gotta keep on trying
(Don't turn away)
Well, don't you give up, baby
(Don't turn away)
Now there's just one thing that I need. Not sympathy and I don't want no pity, but a girl- a real girl. One that really loves me. And then I'll be the complete man. So I'm gonna tell ya right now. Listen.
(Don't turn away)
You're gonna- come on, come on, baby
(Don't turn away)
You’ve gotta keep on trying
(Don't turn away)
(Don't turn away)