THE FIVE AMERICANS

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THE FIVE AMERICANS

By Don Swift

The year was 1962. The music scene was booming in America. Classic early era rock-n-roll was hands down a winner and college students everywhere were listening to big hits like Little Eva’s “The Loco-Motion,” the Drifters elegant “Up on the Roof”, Del Shannon’s “Little Town Flirt” and Booker T. & the MG’s popular “Green Onions.”

1962 was also the year of the twist dance craze and two of the biggest hits, the Isley Brothers’ “Twist and Shout” and Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away,” and best represented the music college students were buying at the record stores.

In addition to these nationally known recording artists, local student rock-n-roll bands were popping up on college campuses all across the nation.

Southeastern State College located in Durant, Oklahoma, was no different when several students became friends at the university and formed a band called “The Mutineers.” They began performing a repertoire of Bo Diddley and Duane Eddy style-music at weekend parties at the college.

Mike Rabon, John Durrill, Jimmy Wright, Jim Grant, and Norm Ezell became friends and members of the band while students in college at Southeastern State.

In 1963, the band recorded their first debut single, “Jackin Around” in Dallas, Texas, an instrumental song that received extensive airplay at their college. However, it was the British Invasion that influenced The Mutineers to include vocals with their music. The band’s most impactful acquisition was their use of the Vox Continental electric organ, which later became a recognizable highlight of the groups’ music style.

While playing gigs in Dallas, Texas, the band achieved notoriety by playing many of the most popular clubs and hot spots as a frequent attraction. During this time in Dallas the group came to the attention of Abnak Records and then-President John Abdnor took the group under his wing. Shortly, thereafter, The Mutineers changed their name to The Five Americans and their musical careers were launched on the national music scene.

For a short while after the top five of 55 singles were released they toured nationally. “I see the Light,” “Western Union,” “Sound of Love,” “Evol Not Love,” and “Zipcode” all when released made the Billboards charts and “Western Union” reached number five in the Billboard Chart of top hits.

The Five Americans broke up in 1969 and went their separate ways after their single “7:30 Guided Tour” only reached 96 on the Billboard top 100. However, rest assured The Five Americans were all talented musicians and their music careers lived on after their break-up.

Mike Rabon had a successful touring career afterwards and released two albums that sold well.

John Durrill, the keyboardist in the band, wrote “Dark Lady” for Cher and “Misery and Gin” for Merle Haggard and was a touring member of “The Ventures.”

Bassist Jim Grant died from a heart attack on November 29, 2004.

Guitarist Noman Ezell died of cancer on May 8, 2010.

Drummer Jimmy Wright left the music industry and died on January 30, 2012.

The Five Americans released more than 55 singles during their time together and took their brand of music and style to the national music scene in America during the ‘60s as proud Oklahomans.

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