Saturday, June 25, 2011
The Coachmen V - "99th Floor"
Above: Bill Gibbons and the Coachmen V, working the teen circuit in Houston, late 1965 or early 1966.
The Coachmen V - 99th Floor / Stay Away
The Coachmen V had not yet changed their name to the hipper "Moving Sidewalks" when they recorded this, their "lost" debut session at Gold Star on April 22, 1966. It took only two hours to record the two group originals, "99th Floor" and "Stay Away." Bob Lurie engineered. Steve Ames (who was still in Neal Ford & The Fanatics at this time) was also present, and claims this was the session that started his career as a producer. His brother, Richard Ames, had rolled out the first Tantara release around this time.
If this first attempt at "99th Floor" sounds flat and anemic, we should remember that these were 10th grade students in the studio for the first time, with an engineer who probably hated rock and roll. The group ordered six acetates but wisely decided to not release anything. A few months later, they went to Andrus Productions to re-cut the much stronger "99th Floor" we all know today. (They were in the 11th Grade by then.) As he had with the Elevators, Walt Andrus worked his magic to make a good song sound great, and it's hard to believe only a few months separate the two versions. The second "99th Floor" was a huge regional hit when it was eventually released on Tantara in March, 1967. (The delay was due to Mainstream Records, who originally signed the group, along with Fever Tree and the Six Pents, but passed on "99th Floor.")
Both versions of "99th Floor" feature the original line-up of Bill Gibbons (vocal, lead guitar), Dan Mitchell (drums), Kelley Parker (organ), and Mike Frazier (bass). Parker and Frazier were replaced by Tom Moore and Don Summers by early 1967, when Steve Ames drafted a promotional letter introducing the group (see below).
Below: Gold Star Studio receipt for the Coachmen V, April 22, 1966.
Below: Earliest known photographs of the Moving Sidewalks, taken at the Catacombs in Houston on or before October, 1966. Pictured is the original group (Bill Gibbons, Dan Mitchell, Kelley Parker, Mike Frazier). Click images to enlarge.
Below: Steve Ames promotional letter introducing the Moving Sidewalks, 1967. Note reference to Mainstream release of "99th Floor." Click image to enlarge.