Thursday, 13 September 2007

Camel Drivers - You Made A Believer Of Me

Camel Drivers - You Made A Believer Of Me (Top Dog 200. 1967)

Here's a song that would have been quite ordinairy if it wasn't for the scorching fuzz guitar that runs through it.

From Olivet, Michigan.


Jeff Mate, original drummer with The Camel Drivers has kindly been in touch to share his recollection of his time with the band;

The original name for the band was "Abdul and the Camel Drivers". Dick Nahikian founded the band with a couple of his fraternity brothers (Tom Curlin and Terry Connon) at Olivet College. They didn't have a drummer and I started messing around with them in 1963 when I was a freshman there. We started playing together I think around late 1963. Tom's brother, Dave Curlin, joined us about 1964ish. Dick left the band after he graduated or soon after and we just were called the "Camel Drivers". We picked up a new lead guitar player named Greg Sanders. Terry played bass, Tom rhythm guitar, Dave could play guitar but was a great singer, and I was the drummer. The band stayed together until around 1970. I left the band in 1968 to become a teacher. The I don't know the drummer's name that took my place. It was a long time ago.

I must say that our best quality as our band was the ability to "cover" almost any song that was popular at the time. We had three and four part harmony which enabled us to sound like anyone. We played slow, hard rock and everything in-between. We were a band that played locally for the Coral Gables chain of bars mostly in Lansing, Birmingham, and Saugatuck Michigan. We traveled to Asbury Park New Jersey a couple of summers to play on the shore in the mid 60's.

I didn't handle all the mechanics of the record recordings. Tom did most of that. Terry as well. Tom became the leader of the group when Dick left. We recorded for Artie Fields in the Detroit area on a couple of labels because I think Buddah bought the songs for better distribution. I'm not sure. I don't know why the flip side was different. I think Tom wanted on of his songs on the flip side and Artie or someone from Buddah wanted a song that Don Domingas wrote. Don't really know. I can remember that Tom pushed hard for one of our songs. Top Dog was Artie's and Buddah was not. I have some memory that Atlantic records was involved with us and maybe Buddah came about from them?

I'm astonished that the record was released in England!! We were a local band from a very small college in central Michigan. We played all the small towns and big towns in Michigan and some, as I have said in New Jersey. We came from the gymnasium at Oliver College to the Rooster Tail Night Club in Detroit. There were never any plans for a tour. This is speculation on my part, but we were caught in the music business when the sounds were changing. We were the bar band that could sound like anyone else. We didn't ever have our own identity. We played on TV on the rock stations around Detroit. CKLW radio was the big rock station in the area. Tommy Shannon was the DJ. Robin Seymore had a Swinging Time TV show on weekend which all the big groups in the country were on. Both CKLW radio and Singing Time were out of Windsor, Canada just across the river from downtown Detroit. Robin Seymore was the MC for the Rooster Tail as well and that is why we played there too.

Terry and his family live in Florida. Terry runs an audio visual business. Tom, as I understand it, lives in Ontario, Canada. He married a Canadian gal from school and is or was in the plastics business. Dick and his wife live in Colorado and are or were teachers. Dave lives in Florida as well but don't know much about him now. Greg - I have no info. I live in Ann Arbor, Mi. with my wife. We are retired teachers. Do you get the idea that we were all pretty much in the teaching profession? That is what we all started out to do form Olivet College.


Anonymous said...

thanks love anything and everything from Michigan - alan

Expo67 said...

It's always good to read recollections from band members.

songsinger1 said...

The Camel Drivers were a great band. I used to sneak into the dances at Olivet College to hear them. All were really nice guys and seemed to enjoy their music. Thanks for the great music. I think I have all of their records.

Jerry Schollenberger said...

The Camel Drivers were an INCREDIBLE band!...I heard their records "Sunday Morning 6 O'Clock" and "You Made A Believer of Me" constantly on radio stations WKNR out of Dearborn, Michigan and the "BIG-8" CKLW out of Windsor, Canada when I was a teenager in the late 60's.

All in all, the Camel Drivers released a total of 5 singles on Artie Fields Detroit-based TOP DOG record label, and one '45 for Buddah Records (actually, a re-release of their first single titled. "Sunday Morning 6 O'Clock")

I have recently become acquainted with original Camel Drivers Bassist Terry Connon...Through numerous e-mail conversations, we have become good friends.- Terry is a WONDERFUL person who still has great pride in The Camel Drivers.

Terry has put several Camel Drivers songs w/videos on YouTube, and is currently in the process of adding several more songs from the group.

AS a HUGE fan of the group, I hope that I can someday have a chance to talk with the other members of this incredible musical outfit.

Jerry S.

Anonymous said...

I used to hear the band play regularly when they had a standing gig at the Driftwood Lounge on Grand River in Redford during the mid-1970s. I was a neighbor of Tom's and a student at Olivet College (after they had graduated) during the early 1970s. I would wholeheartedly agree - they could cover any music, and cover it well. I especially recall their Grass Roots medleys and Hall and Oates' "She's Gone." They never achieved "big name" status, but the true measure of their success lies in the joy they brought their fans and in the final product - all successful and great guys!! Thanks Tom.

Leslie Dixon said...

Wow I remember Abdul and the Camel Drivers! I went to high school with Tom and Dave Curlin BEFORE the Camel Drivers even started. I remember them playing at Keggers in East Lansing when I was going to Michigan State; they were a great, fun band to dance to! Dave is now my friend on Facebook but haven't seen either of them in decades.

Anonymous said...

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hairman said...

Greg " PORKY " Campbell was the drummer. We were fraternity...ox...brothers at CMU. He transfered to Northwood Institute. He was from Birmingham, Mi. Great guy!!! I hope all is well with him.
Harry Ackley

Nancy Furman said...

My idols....Jack and I were at the Driftwood every week end they were there. Rick, Dave, Tom, Terry and Porky were my favorate band. We even went to Battle Creek when they played there. I went there every night as well when they were at the Driftwood. Please get in touch with me. I love you guys. I even had Porkys busted drum.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Mate and Mr.Curlin were both teachers of mine at Stevenson jr.high. I watched them play locally once, they were very good, also wonderful teachers, even though I wasn't much to work with,lol.

Anonymous said...

My sister Sharon & I were regulars at the Driftwood just about every weekend. We were big fans. I have always wondered why we never heard about them afterwards-they were great. Glad to get an update on how they are doing. I still have my "reel to reel" tape that I purchased when they left the Driftwood (but nothing to play it on unfortunately). (Sue)

jim vanhollebeke said...

I can never forget the Camel Drivers! Always wondered what became of them. I still belive they were one of the greatest bands I've ever heard. EVER! We'd go see them and dance every week at the Driftwood Lounge on Grand River in Redford Michigan in the early 70s. WONDERFUL MEMORIES. I wish they'd have hit N.Y. or Los Angeles. I'm sure they'd be LEGENDS today. They sure deserved it; were a bid INSPIRATION for me. Sincerely - jim vanhollebeke, and Facebook