Friday, March 30, 2007
Oddly Obscure: Olney's very own "The Rear Ends" (at "The Huddle", 5th & Roselyn Streets, 1966)
Legendary rockers The Rear Ends had their origins in a Cardinal Dougherty High School skiffle band called The Fag Ends, featuring Tim Dooley (above, second from left) on banjo and vocals, and fraternal twin Tom (second from right) on guitar and sharing the vocal duties. The band went electric in 1963 but took an unplanned detour at the Dougherty prom in 1964 when -- defying the strict injunction of school disciplinarian Father Benonis -- the brothers Dooley were expelled for singing the infamous "dirty" lyrics to "Louie, Louie" ("She my little gal, she waits for me/in a pussy boat on the Zuyder Zee").
Transferring to Olney High, the Dooleys (influenced by R&B giants like "Rockaday Johnnie" and big blues bands like that of "Bum" Stevens) formed a new and powerful ensemble: The Rear Ends, featuring Bobby Fergelman (far left) on drums, Milt Zankowski, Jr (third from left) on bass, Keith Lee Cohen (center) on the Farfisa, Jake (Wolfman) Wolfberg (third from right) on trumpet, and Johnny Martin Smith (far right) on the tenor sax. Tim and Tom continued as the hot combo's frontmen, trading off lead and rhythm guitars and vocals. The group broke big in the summer of '65 when they proved so popular after playing a Tuesday night gig at the Wagner Ballroom on Old York Road that they were rewarded with the Tuesday slot for the rest of the summer, routinely packing the house with over 2,000 sweating frenzied teens. By late August their "street cred" was so profound that they became the first (and only) white band ever to play at the annual Pennypacker Park picnic of the notorious African-American street gang "The Moroccans".
Upon graduating in June of '66 the Dooleys and their fellow Rear Ends went "pro". They continued to play their high-powered brand of R&B, soul, rock, and blues, but now also dived into the viscous swirling mult-colored sea of psychedelia. The Dooleys began to write more and more of their own material, and waxed many great sides for (among other labels) Swan, Atlas, and Lawn. The boys inexplicably never cracked the national Top 100 but had numerous local hits, such as "Journey into Hell", "My Mind Explodes", "The Why is for How", and "A Girl Called No One". Gigging steadily five or six nights a week, in 1967 the boys found time to record (on spec) their one and only album in the basement of the Dooley family rowhome on Nedro Avenue. Entitled "Chronicles of the Wizard of the Mountain of the Time, Vol. I", this visionary suite was never officially released although bootleg copies have been known to sell on eBay for up to $25.
The "classic" era of the band ended in early 1968 when first Tim and then Tom were drafted into the US Army. Upon their discharge in 1971 the brothers reformed the band, but times -- alas -- had changed, and the Rear Ends never regained their former popularity. Tim took a job with the post office and Tom became a bus driver for Septa. However, the brothers continue to gig on weekends as Philadelphia's fabulous and one-and-only Rear Ends to this day, and can be regularly seen at popular watering holes like "The Antelope Lounge" on Cecil B. Moore Avenue, "Shake & Bakespeare's" on Cottman Avenue, and "The Crown & Anchor" on Panama Street.
Long live "The Rear Ends"!