Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wayne Mcdonald of the Sultans , The Keyes , The Graduates , Soul Incorporated Interview

Recently , we had a conversation with Wayne McDonald  . Many of you may not know of the very talented singer but you probably have heard him sometime in the past 50 plus years maybe on Mary , Mary as part of the Sultans or as part of the Keyes ( Barbara ) or live in the Graduates or with Soul Inc ( Hope you saw  them at the Louisville zoo on June 23 2012 ).
Wayne is a native Louisvillian born at the old  St Joseph hospital on Eastern Parkway ( not far from the White Castle and the Z Bar )and  grew up in the south end .
In Louisville we were fortunate to be exposed to all types of music and Wayne heard the country music , the blues and that good old hybrid called Rock and Roll as he grew up  .
Wayne attended junior high school at Gottschalk Junior High ( now Iroquois High School ) and it was there that the rock and roll journey began . 
The first group Wayne was with was  the Bitter Seeds and he met Mike Gossett ,who started the band, at Gottschalk . ( Please see the post from Mike Gossett in the previous posts of this blog -Included here is Mike's intro) 
 "The Bitter Seeds were  a band formed in 1958 and there were around Louisville some  well known and popular groups of the time like The Sultans with Tom Cosdon (Cosmo their lead singer), The Carnations, The Trendells, The Monarchs. These groups went on to even cut records, something as a matter of Bitter Seed history never did. Mike  once thought there existed an amateur recording of the group but if there was it never surfaced.   Nevertheless,  The Bitter Seeds did indeed get to as they say “run with the big dogs” meaning they got paid to perform, played a lot of major nightclubs and venues of the time,  got booked with the better named local groups, and even participated in a rock show that included nationally known rock and roll stars ( see the post on The Tokens ), and near the end of our run as a teenage band  were under contract with the local Louisville well known talent booking agency known as SAMBO which was an acronym for Sanders, Allen, Martin Booking Organization (more to follow in future entries to the blog.) .
The Bitter Seeds played the clubs in Lebanon ( please see the post 06/25/10 ) and because they were so young Wayne said that the parents had a bus driver to take the band back and forth to Lebanon .
The Bitter Seeds played other local clubs the Fabulon ( on seventh st road ) ,and the Say When ( on Berry Blvd not far from the intersection with seventh st road ).

Wayne joined the Sultans in 1963 and sang lead on their recording  Mary , Mary ( video on youtube )with the flip  How Far Does A Friendship Go ? on the Jam label .
Wayne is not in the picture but is the lead singer on both sides .

The studios that the Sultans and other groups  recorded were in Nashville and Louisville and were produced by Ray Allen and Hardy Martin.
The next group that Wayne joined was The Keyes a group formed by brothers Tom and Jim Owen . In 1964 they  toured as the opening act for the Shangri La's .
. The following year , 1965,  they had a song out on the JAM label called Barbara . (Wayne is on the right)

The follow up in 1966 was " She's the One "
In 1967 Wayne and his wife Sandy along with Butch Snider (previously the drummer with the Monarchs) formed a group called The Graduates . The group was together for more than 20 years performing around the kentuckiana area .According to Louisvilles Own , they had one recording" Dear Joe " in 1976  and Wayne was not on the recording.
Wayne is still performing and is often  called to perform with Soul Inc  . Please let us know if you would like to know more about Wayne and any other of the Louisville Groups .


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  2. This is a comment by Mike Gibson formerly with The Monarchs

    "Finally a deserving piece about one of Louisville’s great lead voices, one great guy and old friend! He was fantastic with The Sultans. ‘Mary, Mary!’ still is one of my favorites. He was great with The Keyes and The Graduates were ever so polished vocally and were a community establishment band forever!

    We were neighbors a long long time ago. The Monarchs rehearsed in my basement at 4815 Cliff Avenue off Southern Parkway in South Louisville for all of the early recording years. Wayne lived a street over in the same neighborhood and our backyards connected. Just before the band left for Nashville to record a follow up to our first nationally charted success, “This Old Heart” I was still in search of follow-up recording material. It was early January 1964 and we had already selected ‘Look Homeward Angel’ as the ‘B’ side of our next recording session but I could not find an appropriate original tune to mimic the sound and up tempo R N R that ‘This Old Heart’ had. I asked Wayne if I could search his 45’s collection as I knew he loved the same type of R & B material I did. His collection was all over the board and I must have taken home two packing boxes full of his 45’s collection to search through. I was getting desperate as the recording session had been scheduled for weeks.

    To cut to the chase I found ‘What Made You Change Your Mind!’ a remote ‘B’ side of an R & B hit called ‘Let’s Pony Again’ By The Vibrations on the Checker label circa1961.

    I loved it and took it to rehearsal and we all liked it. It was to have been the ‘A’ side. The rest is history. We were blessed as both sides charted in Louisville but nationally the DJ’s flipped the record and played ’ Look Homeward Angel’. Thank You Mr. McDonald for letting me borrow a 45! "