The Viscaynes were an American doo-wop group from Vallejo, California, United States, that released a few singles in the early 1960s. They also had a regional hit with the song "Yellow Moon". One of their members Sylvester Stewart, later known as Sly Stone would front the multi-racial group Sly & the Family Stone. They were unique in being one of the very few integrated doo-wop groups of their time.

The Viscaynes
Also known asThe Biscaynes
The Vi-Tones
The Viscaines
OriginVallejo, California, United States
GenresDoo-wop
Years active1961
LabelsTropo, VPM
Associated actsThe Vicounts, The Ramblers, Joe Piazza and the Continentals
Past membersFrank Arellano
Maria Boldway
Charlie Gebhardt
Vern Gebhardt
Charlene Imhoff
Mike Stevens
Sylvester Stewart

BackgroundEdit

The Viscaynes were a high school group that Sylvester Stewart became a member of. He joined them in or around 1961 when he was 17. The make up of the group consisted of two white females, two white males, a Filipino male (Frank Arellano[1] ) and Stewart.[2][3] According to Rickey Vincent's book, Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers' Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music, they were the only integrated doo-wop vocal act around.[4] There was a romance going on in the group between Stewart and one of the girl singers, believed to be Maria Boldway.[5][6]

Group formation and namingEdit

The history given by the Rockportraits website is, in late 1959, a group called The Webs which Stewart formed at the age of 16 had merged with The Viscounts. The Viscounts like The Webs were a Vallejo High School vocal group. At this time the line up consisted of Frank Arellano, Charlene Imhoff, Sylvester Stewart, Maria "Ri" Boldway and Charles and Vern Gebhardt who were brothers. Also at this time the group was still known as The Viscounts. Due to another group already known as The Viscounts who had a hit with "Harlem Nocturne", and possible confusion with that band, they changed their name to The Viscaynes. The idea for their name came from the Chevrolet car model Biscayne. The B was removed and replaced with V because V is for Vallejo which is where they came from. By 1961 the line up consisted of Frank Arellano, Charlene Imhoff, Sylvester Stewart, Ria Boldway, Charlie Gebhardt and new member Mike Stevens possibly having replaced Vern Gebhardt.[7]

Career and recordingsEdit

In July 1961, the group had the single "Stop What You Are Doing" bw "I'll Guess I'll Be" released on the Tropo label. The A side was credited to The Viscaynes and The Ramblers. The B side was credited to The Viscaynes and The Continentals.[8] This single which featured Stewart on harmony was also released on the Arteen label with the group credited as The Vi-Tones.[9] The next single they released was a dual Stewart composition. "Yellow Moon" bw "Heavenly Angel" was released on the VPM label in 1961.[2] However, the credited composers were George Motola and his wife Rickie Page. The record was a Motola-Lucas production.[10][11] One of the saxophone players who played on the "Yellow Moon" recording was future Sly & The Family Stone member Jerry Martini. The record managed to sell well on the West Coast,[5] and became a regional hit in October 1961.[12][13] Also in 1961, the group provided the backing vocals for Jasper Woods (real name Richard Berry) on his single "Hully Gully Papa" / "I'm Coming Home", released on VPM 1009.[14][15] The record which was written by Woods was produced by Vic Lucas and George Motola.[16]

The amount of exposure "Yellow Moon" got on the radio got the attention of Tom Donahue, the co-founder of Autumn Records.[17] As a result of that Sylvester Stewart was signed to the label as a producer / songwriter.[18][19] Around the time the group's music was being heard on the radio they had disbanded.[20]

In 1963, a couple of their songs found their way on to an album, Jumpin! With Pop Hits Of Tomorrow (Sutton SSU 321), released on Bob Blythe's "rack jobber serviced" budget record label, Sutton Records. The name for the group was incorrectly spelled as The Viscaines. Other artists on the album were Diane Coley, Sims Sisters, The Sparkplugs, and Dal Cory.[21] It appears that some of the recordings that the Viscaynes backed Stewart on, credited to Sylvester Stewart / Danny Stewart / Sly Stewart may also appear on an earlier Sutton release. It was a Jimmy Witherspoon album, Stormy Monday And Other Blues (Sutton SSU 316), featuring Baby Moses, Mel Williams, and Sly Williams.[22] The album has two songs "Help Me" and "Oh, What A Night" which are very similar to those recorded by Stewart and The Viscaynes. The two Viscaynes-backed Stewart recordings were "Help Me With My Broken Heart" and "Oh What A Night".[23][22]

The Biscaynes that appear on the Tony Hilder produced compilation, Surf's Up with "Church Key" are a different group.[24] This group which consisted of Bill Dodd, Jim Dodd, Frankie Echaveria, Augie Losada, and Jim Warren was from San Luis Obispo.[25]

Later yearsEdit

In 1963, Maria Boldway was a runner up in the Miss California beauty pageant as Miss Solano County. During a very large parade, having come from Locust Street, the convertible she was in was overheating, so she put on her shoes and simply walked across Pacific Avenue to a substitute convertible that was waiting. Then she carried on, much to the delight of the onlookers.[26][27]

In later years Vern Gebhardt graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton; he had received a football scholarship. He started work at the East Union High School in Manteca where he was a coach and teacher.[28] He later received awards which included National Mentor Teacher of the Year and District Teacher of the Year. He would eventually become the President of the San Joaquin County School Board.[29]

Frank Arellano is featured in two documentaries about Sly Stone. One is the Willem Alkema directed Coming Back For More, released in 2009.[30] The other is Michael Rubenstone's On the Sly: In Search of the Family Stone.[31]

MembersEdit

  • Frank Arellano
  • Maria Boldway
  • Charlie Gebhardt
  • Vern Gebhardt
  • Charlene Imhoff
  • Mike Stevens
  • Sylvester Stewart[32]

DiscographyEdit

Singles
Title Release info Year Notes
"Stop What You Are Doing" / "I'll Guess I'll Be" Tropo 101 1961 As The Viscaynes[33]
"Stop What You Are Doing" / "I'll Guess I'll Be" Tropo 101 1961 Side 1 as The Viscaynes and the Ramblers
Side 2 as The Viscaynes and The Continentals[34]
"Stop What You Are Doing" / "I'll Guess I'll Be" Arteen 1007 1961 As The Vi-Tones[9][35]
"Yellow Moon" / "Heavenly Angel" VPM 1006 1961 [36]
"Uncle Sam Needs You (My Friend)" / "Yellow Moon" VPM 1006 1961 As The Biscaynes and the Continental Band[37]
"Oh What A Nite" / You've Forgotten Me" Subarro 489 1976 As Sly Stone and Biscaynes[38]
Singles (Viscaynes backing)
Artist Title Release info Year Notes
Danny Stewart "A Long Time Alone" / "I'm Just A Fool" Luke 1008 1961 Real name Sylvester Stewart
Sylvester Stewart "A Long Time Alone" / "Help Me With My Broken Heart" G&P 901 1961
Jasper Woods "I’m Coming Home" / "Hully Gully Papa" VMP 1009 1962 Jasper Woods real name Richard Berry[39]
VA compilations
Title Release info Year F Track Notes
Jumpin! With Pop Hits Of Tomorrow Sutton SSU 321 1963 LP "You're My Only Love"
"Heavenly Angels"
Diane Coley, The Viscaines
Sims Sisters, The Sparkplugs, Dal Cory[40]
Dynamite Doo Wopps Vol 4 Dynamite Doo Wopps D-1104 1979? LP "Stop What You're Doing" [41]
Doo Wop Fast & Slow Vol. 1 Club Records DWFSLP001 1986 LP "Stop What You're Doing" [42]
Group Harmony Bombshells Volume 4 Wing Ding GHB 1004 1996 CD "Stop What You're Doing"
Dynamite Group Sounds Vol. 28 Dynamite 128 2001 CD "Stop What You Are Doing"
Yesterdays Rarities Vol. 2 City Sounds CS 108 CD "Stop What You Are Doing"
"I Guess I'll Be"
[43]
Soul City Los Angeles: West Coast Gems from the Dawn of Soul Music Fantastic Voyage FVDD 192 2014 CD "Heavenly Angel", "Yellow Moon"
"Uncle Sam Needs You"
LP version FVDV 192[44]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Sly and the Family Stone s There s a Riot Goin On, By Miles Marshall Lewis - 4
  2. ^ a b Sly: The Lives of Sylvester Stewart and Sly Stone, By Eddie Santiago - Sly 19
  3. ^ Icons of R&B and Soul: An Encyclopedia of the Artists Who Revolutionized Rhythm, By Bob Gulla - Page 419 Sly and the Family stone, The Early Years
  4. ^ Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers' Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music, By Rickey Vincent - Page 52 Party Music
  5. ^ a b Kent, Nick (February 21, 2013). "The Dark Stuff". Faber & Faber – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On, Miles Marshall Lewis - Page 45
  7. ^ Rockportaits, September 19, 2015 - Sly And The Family Stone
  8. ^ Discogs - The Viscaynes, The Ramblers (2), The Continental Band – Stop What You Are Doing / I'll Guess I'll Be
  9. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Pop Music Aliases, 1950-2000, By Bob Leszczak - Page 326 Sly and the Family Stone
  10. ^ Color Radio - Artist Name Changes
  11. ^ 45cat - Viscaynes - Discography
  12. ^ The 100 Greatest Bands of All Time: A Guide to the Legends Who Rocked the World, edited by David V. Moskowitz - Page 603 Sly and the Family Stone (1967 - 1983)
  13. ^ Sly And The Family StoneHigher, Music On Vinyl – MOVLP877 (Sly Stone Box Set Booklet) - Page 12 October 1961:
  14. ^ Discogs - Jasper Woods – Hully Gully Papa / I'm Coming Home
  15. ^ Soul Garage, 11. April 2010 - Jasper Woods – Hully Gully Papa
  16. ^ 45cat - Record Details, Artist: Jasper Woods Catalogue: S 137 / 1009
  17. ^ Sly and the Family Stone s There s a Riot Goin On, By Miles Marshall Lewis - 4
  18. ^ The Soul of Rock 'N Roll: A History of African Americans in Rock Music, By Jeffrey Othello - Sly Stone
  19. ^ Discogs - Diane Coley, The Viscaines*, Sims Sisters, The Sparkplugs*, Dal Cory – Jumpin! With Pop Hits Of Tomorrow
  20. ^ PopMatters, 11 March 2009 - Books//Reviews//Jeff Kaliss, I Want to Take You Higher by Jeff Kaliss - by Andrew Zender
  21. ^ Billboard, March 2, 1963 - Page 6 Bob Blythe Starts New Name Talent Low-Budget LP LIne
  22. ^ a b WorldCat - Stormy Monday & other blues
  23. ^ Sly: The Lives of Sylvester Stewart and Sly Stone by Eddie Santiago - Pages 19 - 20
  24. ^ Discogs - Various – Surfs Up!
  25. ^ The Illustrated Discography of Surf Music, 1961-1965, John Blair - Page 13
  26. ^ Santa Cruz Sentinel, Monday, June 24, 1963 - Thousand Throng Pacific Avenue To Witness Miss California Parade
  27. ^ Santa Cruz Sentinel, Friday, June 28, 1963 - Southland Sweep In Pageant Show
  28. ^ Manteca Hall of Fame - Articles, Vernon (Vern) Gebhardt
  29. ^ Manteca Bulletin, August 16, 2016 - Romero backs Wallace for Area 7 board seat
  30. ^ Withoutabox - 2nd Annual ActNow: New Voices in Black Cinema Festival – Coming Back For More (2009) 74 min.
  31. ^ IMDb - On the Sly: In Search of the Family Stone
  32. ^ Vallejo High School - Musicians of Vallejo Groups, Viscaynes
  33. ^ Popsike - Rare Original Doo Wop Vocal Group 45 - The Viscaynes - Tropo (Clean)
  34. ^ Discogs - The Viscaynes, The Ramblers (2), The Continental Band – Stop What You Are Doing / I'll Guess I'll Be
  35. ^ Popsike - Garage Promo Doo Wop 45 The Vi-Tones "Stop What You Are Doing " on Arteen # 1007
  36. ^ 45Cat - Viscaynes* – Yellow Moon / Heavenly Angel
  37. ^ Discogs - The Biscaynes (2), The Continental Band – Uncle Sam Needs You / Yellow Moon
  38. ^ Discogs - Sly Stone And The Biscaynes (2) – Oh What A Night / You've Forgotten Me
  39. ^ Doo-Wop - The Viscaynes aka The Biscaynes
  40. ^ DIscogs - Diane Coley, The Viscaines*, Sims Sisters, The Sparkplugs*, Dal Cory – Jumpin! With Pop Hits Of Tomorrow
  41. ^ Rate Your Music - Dynamite!: Doo Wopps - Vol. 4
  42. ^ Discogs - Various – Doo Wop Fast & Slow Vol. 1
  43. ^ 45worlds - Viscaynes - CD Albums - Discography
  44. ^ All Music - Various Artists Soul City Los Angeles: West Coast Gems from the Dawn of Soul Music

External linksEdit