King ~ Bass, Vocals
Dave Lewis ~ Organ
Mitch Miller ~ Drums
Jim White ~ Guitar, Lead Vocals
The four of us were neighbors on the South hill of Spokane. Mitch, Howie and I attended Joel E. Ferris High, while Jim went to the Catholic school, Gonzaga Prep. We practiced in Mitch’s basement, where this photo was taken. The name was suggested by Jim, a twist on the Tennessee Ernie Ford line, “I own my soul to the company store.” Seems to me the drumhead was designed by Mitch and executed by Howie, who was a gifted cartoonist.
We had diverse tastes. Jim was mainly into R&B. I was a hardcore fan of the Kingsmen, Sonics, Wailers and Raiders. Mitch (the brainy one) liked jazz. And Howie, the baby of the group, liked everything.
Early on, we met with a booking agent who tried to change our image. He wanted to pick our songs, put us into uniforms, and pretty much mold us into Spokane’s version of the Monkees. Naturally, we declined. Hey, we were nerds, but we had our pride.
We played parties and school dances around town, but reached the pinnacle of our fame in St. Maries, Idaho. An agent got us a job at the high school, neglecting to tell us it was homecoming dance. The kids showed up in formal attire and wanted mostly slow dances. As we had only two slow songs our list, we ended up doing most of our fast songs slow, and it turned out to be a hoot. In fact, “The Letter” made such a great slow song that we never played it fast again. The St Maries kids declared us to be the best band they'd ever had, bringing us back the following year to perform at full speed.
Another bizarre gig was in a church basement in our own neighborhood. About an hour into the dance, my Farfisa blew a fuse. I ran home for my Danelectro and played the organ part on guitar for the rest of the night.
While Mitch, Howie and I were adequate, the real talent was Jim – particularly as a singer. When he quit the band, for reasons that are now hazy, we returned to our humdrum high school lives.
I eventually settled in Portland. The whereabouts of James White, Ira Mitchell Miller and Howard O. King are unknown. Where you at, guys?
Dave Lewis, May 2006
June 2006. Update: Howie King has been located
Jim White now goes by J.B. White, lives in Southern California, and is alive and well ...
J.B. White, June 2006