Monday, 4 June 2007

The Birth Of Spring

Standing Danny Casey. Counter clockwise; Fritz Miles, Jeff Winfield, Niall Malcolm, Alan Wauters
From New York, the band featured Fritz Nile, Jeff Winfield, Alan Wauters and Alan Merrill.

Alan Merrill was kind enough to provide the story of The Birth of Spring:

My band Watertower West fell apart in winter of 1967, with our bass player quitting the band. I was a 12 string folk rock player/singer and relied on my bass player to provide the high harmonies.

I had known Alan Wauters for a few years socially in Greenwich Village. Wauters was about three or four years older than me, and the difference between 16 and 20 can be a great gap. After complaining to Alan Wauters about my band breaking up, he asked me to join forces with him in his band.

I knew that Wauters had cut a single called "Season"/ "To Give You Everything" and it was very good. Fine singing and songwriting. He even had strings on the record, which was expensive and showed a serious professionalism, especially in the garage band years of the late sixties, where sparse instrumentation was a fiscal necessity in the studio due to lack of funds.

Wauters had a publisher named Richard Kaye, son of Bud/Greenleaf music publisher Buddy Kaye. Richard introduced me to Linda Eastman in fact, not long before her McCartney saga.

I decided to give Wauters and his band a chance, and went to the Albert Hotel, where both Wauters and Winfield lived (in separate rooms) and I rehearsed with them on some Wauters tunes. We had good three part harmony and we learned a lot of Alan Wauters songs. It was frustrating for me, because I was younger, but more than that

I was accustomed to being the band leader, and the Birth Of Spring was clearly Wauters' band, with Winfield as his sidekick and foil. Wauters and I are both Alpha characters, and there was no room for two in a band. The band was never going to last for me.

Danny Casey, was the drummer in the band. He'd previously played with Jimmy James (Jimi Hendrix) and the Blue Flames. He was also in a band called The Clouds, in his home state of Texas.

(The photo was taken in Central Park. I am the one standing in the pic that you have on your blog.)

After a few months rehearsing in the basement of the Albert Hotel, I quit. I was writing lots of songs, but Wauters and Winfield were strong characters and didn't want to give me too much of a song writing share in the band, although they did concede to do a couple of my songs.

Fritz Nile considered leaving the Wauters band and reforming my band, and we rehearsed with my Watertower West band drummer Carl Peachman, and even did a show at the "Cafe Wha?" which was a mess from what I recall.

That was also when the Left Banke auditions came up, and when I came out a winner in the try-outs, I started to rehearse with Tom Finn and George Cameron of the Left Banke at the Bryant Hotel.

By this time it was 1968. After a month or so of mystery, with the management keeping me guessing, the Left Banke decided to continue as a three piece, not unlike the Walker Brothers, a vocal group augmented by other players live and in the studio. I hear that Alan Wauters later became one of the peripheral players who augmented the group, as did guitarist Les Fradkin, but neither were ever made full members of the band. The Left Banke did few gigs anyway, so it was a moot point. Rehearsals for recording and songwriting were what they did for the most part.

From all I have heard I was lucky. The Banke band really fell apart after that, and I went to Japan in the summer of 1968. Japan was good to me, and I did very well there.

Birth of Spring - Little Miss Virginia (Mercury 72747. 1967)

Birth of Spring - Cause You Lied To Me (Mercury 72687. 1967)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this rare 7". Really good.


Anonymous said...


transoniq said...

Downloaded this nearly 2 years ago and it went into my "unknowns" folder, which I periodically scan and randomly Google for new info. Found this on Birth of Spring... apparently a NYC-based group with connections to The Left Banke!

Charlemange said...

Alan Merrill did get the Left Banke gig, but their management decided to have the LB be a trio. Alan went Japan in 1969 where he began a successful solo career.

Steven K said...

Good stuff! Thanks much!


Anonymous said...

The Clouds was also a Wauters Band with a Houston local hit "Jeannie". A song written by Wauters about his then girlfriend. It was recorded on Kidd Records. A local label. Danny Casey was the drummer

Ludovica said...

So interesting. I didn't know that about Alan Merrill and this band