June 19, 2013

The Astronauts - Baja (1963)

Bob Demmon and Jon “Storm” Patterson were friends in Boulder, Colorado when they got together with Rich Fifield, Dennis Lindsey, and Jim Gallagher to form The Storm Troopers. When friends and family told the band that that name was a little too harsh sounding, resembling the fascist Third Reich, they turned to their new local hero for inspiration. Scott Carpenter, a Boulder, Colorado astronaut, had brought pride to the city of Boulder by becoming the second American to orbit the Earth and the fourth American ever in space. The band chose the name The Astronauts and cut their first single in 1962, “Come Along Baby.” When they got the attention of an RCA Records executive, the band was quickly signed and they released their most popular song, heard below, in early 1963. The success of their hit led to numerous appearances on television, full-length albums, and numerous surf-movie appearances. When RCA found out that the band was out-selling the biggest surf group of the era, The Beach Boys, in Japan, they quickly arranged for the band to tour there with The Ventures. What resulted were five albums and three singles making Japan’s Top 10, with “Movin’” (renamed to “Over the Sun”) reaching the number one spot. Dennis and Jim were drafted into Vietnam in 1967, being replaced by Rod Jenkins and Mark Bretz. Soon, Bob quit the band and was briefly replaced by Robert McLerian. After a tour of Asia in 1968, original members Storm Patterson and Rich Fifield decided to retire the band.

Not having been known to have stellar vocals, the band usually shined its brightest when performing instrumentals. This song, written by Lee Hazlewood, had been intended by its author to be given to his friend, Al Casey, to record, but it never panned out. Instead, the song was released by this band in early 1963, where it reached number ninety-four on the Billboard Top 100. It was the band’s highest charting song and best-known release in the USA.

album art

The Astronauts - Baja (1963)

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