Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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“In My Heart I’m a Free Man”: L.A. Sunshine Pop on King

I wish I could say that this slice of 1970 sunshine pop released by King Records was recorded in Cincinnati; however, Michel Ruppli’s 2-volume King discography indicates the recording to have taken place in Los Angeles on May 21, 1970.  Check out the fancy picture sleeve worked up by the Starday-King art department for this single release.

The Establishment - King 45Even better, check out the art work for their 1971 King album —

The Establishment LPFrank’s Vinyl Museum has a hilarious piece about the group’s debut 45 – the museum’s “first 45 rpm single” as it turns out:

The first 45rpm single in Frank’s Vinyl Museum is brought to us by Starday-King Records in Nashville (a city that seems to have been quite adept at producing this kind of thrift-store quality record).  I was drawn to this disc by its title — The Establishment.  What a name for a band!  What were these guys thinking?  That they’d be the “alternative” rock band for sensible folks who didn’t identify with the counterculture?  Or did they once hear some hippies talking about “the establishment” and mistake it for a cool buzzword?

Pretty certain dogs are no longer allowed to ride motorcycles in music videos*

[eagerly awaiting the return of the *video clip referenced above]

Attached to Frank’s piece are comments from three former members of The Establishment, as well as history from family members who note, for instance, that the group served as part of Jonathan Winters’ backing ensemble for his TV variety show:

Dean Chapman says:
My then wife Jean Anne and I were in The Establishment from about 1972-1975.  Being around D’arniell Pershing, Larry Meredith, Jimmy Pakala, Bill Bowersock, Lois, Mic Bell, and Diane Pershing was so much fun.  I’ve been in touch will Bill; does anyone know what happened to Jimmy and Dee Dee?  Glad to hear that Larry is doing well in Memphis.  Where’s Lois? Diane?  Jean Anne and I came from the Pipers, a similar pop group.  While in those two groups I must have performed at every major show room in Vegas/Reno/Tahoe. Great memories.  Sadly, few of those showrooms exist today.  You know you’re an old-timer when you can remember Foxy’s penny slots in Vegas (Sahara and the Strip). 

Jonathan Arthur says:
I was in the Establishment in 1976, we toured with Perry Como.  The name “The Establishment” was owned by a management company, and they would hire singer/dancers to fit whatever the client needed (same with the New Christy Minstrels or Up With America).  When I was in it, they needed 4 guys and 4 gals.  Over the years I’ve met a few people who were in it at other times.  I know that the next permutation after us was all women.  The guy who ran the company was a cheapskate, we got paid less than the average amount for singing/dancing behind a star of Perry Como’s magnitude.  When Perry found out that we had to pay for our own hotel rooms, he reimbursed us.  By the way, we went from being The Establishment in the first half of the show, then changed to the Ray Charles Singers after the intermission.

Phyllis Lovit says:
Hey Phil Luttrell I was a member of the wonderful group “The Establishment” with your cousin Larry who was a fantastic singer. I’m the girl at the top of the picture with long dark hair.  This album did not do justice to the talented members of this group.  We were a performing group of singers and dancers and played to very appreciative audiences in Las Vegas as well as “The Greek” and many other notable theaters on LA.  We also appeared on the Merv Griffen Show,TV specials with Perry Como, Shirley Bassey, Paul Anka, Ann-Margret and many other stars of that era.  Standing ovations…yes we had many.  Tell Larry hello from Phyllis Mitchell Lovit.

Michele LaBonte says:
Hi Everyone!  I am proud to say that my aunt Lois Jean LaBonte was a member of The Establishment.  I have wonderful memories of going with her to the Hollywood Bowl where they were performing and I got to meet Englebert Humperdinck in person!  The group was one of the best performing groups in the 60s and 70s!!

Phil Luttrell says:
I’m pretty much an expert on the “Establishment”, as their lead singer, Larry Meredith, is my first cousin.  I had a box of these singles (not LP’s) when they came out in 69.  They were a singing and dancing group who had considerable success in the 60’s, most notably as the background group for “The Jonathan Winters show” on TV.  You can look it up on IDMB.  They also played on TV’s “Hollywood Palace“.  They backed up many stars in Vegas.  They broke up in 1970, many have passed away.  Larry made an album with his new group Pakalameredith [Jimmy Pakala and Larry Meredith] on Elektra Asylum where he worked as an A&R man for years after.  His vocals backed Rare Earth, Billy Thorpe, and Eddy Rabbit recordings.  He now lives just outside Memphis with his wife.

Two of the three songs recorded in Los Angeles were issued as a 45, while the third track – “Don’t Let Go” – remains unissued to this day.  In August, 1970, The Establishment recorded eight songs over two days in Nashville and issue them – along with their 45’s A & B sides – as The Establishment, their lone LP for King.  “House of Jack” from these Nashville sessions would also get issued as a single.

The Establishment - King 45 II

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