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Phoenix Music in the 1960s

Teen Bands Everywhere

By Edward Wincentsen

In the 1960s the music scene in Phoenix underwent an amazing transformation. Every guy and girl, in every city, including Phoenix, wanted to start their own band. Four young men from Liverpool, The Beatles, had created more than just great music; they inspired teenagers everywhere to start bands. Most bands started as "cover" bands--bands that "covered" or played other bands' music. Later, many of these bands would go on to create their own music as well. In the 1960s Phoenix teens flocked to hear this new, exciting, live music.

The "Teen Club" was born in Phoenix during this period. These were clubs just for teens. There was live music, sometimes soft drinks were sold and, of course, no alcohol was permitted! Even regular nightclubs wanted to cash in on the boom. They usually operated afterhours, or during regular hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Some of these clubs included JDs in Scottsdale/Tempe and The Red Dog Saloon in Scottsdale. Some of the teen clubs included The Pacesetter in Phoenix, The VIP Club in Phoenix, and The Fifth Estate in Scottsdale. There were also dances at places like the Armory in Sunnyslope, The Arizona State Fairgrounds, The Hungry Eye in Scottsdale, the main lobby/entrance at Christown and the high school dances. Local bands would also open for big name acts when they came to play at places like the Arizona State Fairgrounds.

The most famous person to come out of the 1960s Phoenix bands was Alice Cooper. He first played in a talent contest in a group they called The Earwigs. Later he named his band The Spiders. At that time Alice was a kind of 'Mick Jagger' personality, and The Spiders played mostly Rolling Stones songs.

Bill Spooner was another important figure in the Phoenix music scene. Spooner was the driving force behind his three bands: The Beans, The Red, White & Blues Band and, finally, The Tubes which played into the 70s.

There were bands that almost made the big time, but circumstances (the military draft, for example) prevented them from achieving national recognition. These included bands like The Superfine Dandelion, Floyd & Jerry, Phil & the Frantics, Mike Condello and The Grapes of Wrath.

You may wonder what happened to some of these popular Phoenix musicians. Alice Cooper continues to tour and record new albums. Cooper'stown is Alice's restaurant in Phoenix and it attracts some famous guests as well. Bill Spooner produces and records his own albums today, and he markets them himself. Floyd & Jerry live in Nashville and are songwriters there. Sadly, Mike Condello took his own life while battling severe depression.

The first self-contained bands from Phoenix in the 1960s helped create an age of innocence for all those who went to hear and dance to their music. There may not be as much of that left in today's Phoenix music scene, but there is no mistaking the fact the the 60s bands helped pave the way for today's bands.

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This article was submitted by Edward Wincentsen. He is the author of nine books about rock stars. He just completed 'a labor of love' on a new book about Phoenix bands from the 1960s. It is entitled, "Yes, Phoenix had Music in the Sixties!" It is all about the teen music scene in that era and the bands that played the music. It is available through Amazon.com.

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