One of the most famous ‘garage’ singles has to be the Shadows of Knight’s version of “Gloria”. As a national hit distributed by Atlantic Records (Atco), the 45 rpm single exists in over 15 U.S. variations pressed at plants around the country.
My post today concerns two of those, the original pressings on Dunwich from January and February 1966, without any Atco credit on the labels.
General agreement is that the first release has a gold label with the outlined lettering, a box around “A Dunwich Production” and “D-116”.
Teen Beat Mayhem notes that total quantity pressed is only several hundred. This pressing quantity has been repeated in online sources, but I feel it is incorrect. A pressing of a few hundred would have quickly sold out, and been worn out, but I’ve found two VG+ copies without much effort or expense.
The liner notes to If You’re Ready! The Best Of Dunwich Records…Volume 2 notes that Bill Traut put together that first gold label design and ordered 4000 copies. He also used the cheapest pressing plant he could find. Thank you to Jeff Jarema for looking that up for me. If anyone has more knowledge of Chicago pressing plants, please weigh in on which company handled this first pressing. The Dunwich lettering is similar to other Chicago releases.
The first yellow label without Atco has the same credits as the gold, but a different label design, and has the release code DX-116, a number which would be used on most of the subsequent national releases.
I asked people on the Chicago Rock Bands 1960s and 1970s Facebook group which label they had first, and by far most remembered the yellow label version. Of course, both gold and yellow label versions exist that include Atco distribution credit, so this survey is not definitive.
I constructed this early 1966 timeline for “Gloria”:
February 18: 1st appearance on the WLS “Silver Dollar Survey. Chicago’s Official Radio Record Survey” at #18, having been played for three weeks on the station, which would put its first WLS airplay in very late January or early February.
February 25: reaches #7 on WLS
March 4: reaches #6 on WLS
March 5: Billboard reviews it and lists it as a breakout single. Enters Billboard’s Chicago singles chart at #15
March 12: rises to #8 in Billboard’s Chicago singles chart. Billboard notes 40,000 sold in Chicago and additional sales in other cities. “Kent Beauchamp acted as a kind of co-ordinator in getting the first record out and has been handling local distribution.” [ Kent Beauchamp owned Big Town Distributors and, along with Ed Yalowitz, Royal Disc Distributing.] Cash Box reports that it is “a recent master purchase” by Atlantic”. Dunwich co-owner George Badonsky had been working for Atlantic and Atco as a Midwest sales and promotion rep since February, 1965, which may explain the connection with Atlantic.
March 19: rises to #4 in Billboard’s Chicago singles chart and enters Billboard’s Hot 100 national chart at #78. In a detailed article, Billboard reported:
… the single has sold 60,000 legitimately in Chicago to date …
Local distribution by Royal Disc Distributing …
The group is managed by suburban record store and teen nightclub owner Paul Sampson, who found the quintet singing in a Veterans of Foreign Wars Club. He installed the group in his own spot, The Cellar, where they were heard by Royal Disc’s Kent Beauchamp, who recommended them to Dunwich Records.
The group is comprised of Joe Kelley, lead guitar; Gerald McGeorge, rhythm guitar; Warren Rogers, bass guitar; Tom Schiffour, drums, and lead singer Jim Sohns.
“Gloria” is getting played and starting to sell in Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Atlanta …
“They are a super-tight group,” said Sampson. “They have everything live they have on record and they are competent musicians.”
March 26: rises to #2 in Billboard’s Chicago singles chart and #10 in Detroit. Full page ad (shared with George Edwards) in Billboard on page 7.
April 1: reaches #1 on WLS
May 7: “Gloria” reaches its peak Billboard national chart position at #10. It would remain at 10 the following week before dropping off.
High-quality scans of WLS surveys can be found here.