One of the joys of working on the NC 1960s Rock & Roll band is discovering bands like the Grifs. The band came from the town that I have lived in for 30 years (Charlotte, NC), yet I knew little about them. Their 1965 single "Catch A Ride" stakes a claim as possessing one of the heaviest Fuzztone sounds of that year, months ahead of what was happening in New York, San Francisco or London.
For years, people have heard this song, as well as follow-up "Keep Dreaming", on a variety of compilations. However, no one knew what the band looked like. Singer and main songwriter Barry Stacks had lost all of his photos and memorabilia in a flood in the 1980s, and he had lost touch with the other bandmembers. For a number of months, I have intended to solve these mysteries.
Last weekend, I finally put the pieces together. Within an hour of each other, I located bandmembers Robert Crawford and Roy Skinner. With much sadness, I also discovered that guitarist Mike Wingate had passed away in 2010, after years of playing in various bands around Charlotte. After getting in touch with Mike's widow, I look forward to having more of the band's history, and visual record documented soon.
In talking to Robert Crawford, it turned out that a Grifs promo pic has been posted on his Facebook page for some time. Not even he was aware of how popular the Grifs had become, all these years later. When he sent me this photo this week, I felt like a kid at Christmas. THIS was the Grifs. Here they are. Enjoy.
More on this, and the Grifs soon. Until then, keep dreaming. Rest In Peace, Mike Wingate.
January 25, 2014
PS., l-r, Mike Wingate, Robert Crawford, Roy Skinner, Barry Stacks