Edwards ~ Bass
Tom Hayes, Jr. ~ Keyboards
John Herman ~ Saxophone, Vocals
Tom Janssen ~ Guitar
Steve Lawrence ~ Guitar
Michael Roth ~ Drums
Thomas Roth ~ Manager
2003 Reunion of the Six Short Knights
Tom Janssen, Bob Edwards & John Herman
Mike Roth, Tom Hayes Jr., Tom Roth
The following information is shared in loving memory of Thomas B. Hayes, Jr., piano and organ player for the Six Short Knights, who died April 10, 2004.
Six Short Knights - Early History
Sometime in the Fall of 1963 several junior high students got together with the idea that they would start a rock-n-roll band. Steve Lawrence and Michael Roth were playing in the school orchestra and band and somehow it seemed like the thing to do. The Beatles had recently performed on the Ed Sullivan Show and that was cool. Bob Edwards volunteered to play the bass. There might have been one or practices but nearly complete chaos was a better description. Soon thereafter Steve had a friend, Tom Janssen, who wanted to play guitar and be in a band. John Herman, recently relocated from Minnesota, volunteered to sing and play the saxophone. Lynn Hurt practiced at the piano with the group at least once or twice until he decided that piano lessons didn't allow time for a band. A few practices down the road and while practicing one day the band received a phone call from a guy named Tom Hayes Jr., a student over at the other junior high in town, Western View Junior High. Tom wanted to audition for the band to take Lynn's place then and there and because he was so excited, he wanted to audition over the phone. He played “Louie Go Home” along with the record and it sounded so good that the band was energized anew. As they took turns listening to the audition over the phone the current members of the group couldn't tell the difference between the record and any other sounds. The consensus was that “Tom Hayes was really good on the piano and would be a great addition to the band.”
Practices began on no set schedule but the band members practiced their chosen instruments individually in anticipation of impending glory. High points included Tom Janssen getting a used electric guitar and amplifier from his uncle and Bob Edwards getting a new Fender bass and amp. Steve started with a $25 Harmony acoustic guitar and added an electric pickup for $15 within a few weeks and plugged into the same amp with Tom Janssen. After three months Steve upgraded to a Fender Stratocaster. Tom Hayes played a piano when one was available. Mike practiced on a set of Slingerland drums. There was a great deal of discussion about a name. A long list was made and I don't think one of the names was used. “The Cavaliers” had a nice ring to it but didn't make the cut. An impulsive decision was made and “The Sceptors” became the 1st choice. After several months of practice mostly in the Roth and Janssen garages the band had learned all of about twelve songs. They were ready to play their first “gig.” The song list included Pipeline, Wipeout, Louie, Louie, The House of the Rising Sun, Walk Don't Run, Tall Cool One, Peanut Butter, Long Tall Texan, Green Onions, Theme from Twilight Zone, a slow 1-4-5 generic Blues song, Night Train and Twist and Shout.
With all of the steamy Junior High parties going on at the time it didn't take long to land that first gig, a job playing for four hours at the Officers Club at Adair Air Force Base. It was a great success and the band members must of played every song at least five times. The band continued to learn the top songs of the day. As they continued practicing and playing for parties they graduated from junior high and started high school at Corvallis High. Through much grumbling the band tried out wearing uniforms. They decided on bright red sport coats without collars, white shirts, slacks and a tie. Mike found 6 panama hats in Portland and brought them back to five very unenthusiastic band members. Later the band took to wearing jeans, a long-sleeved white or light-colored shirt and a vest. Being in high school brought the group together for the first time in everyday activities. This helped bring the band together and increasingly helped to unify their vision for the band and enhanced the teamwork needed to move the band forward. Favorite groups included the Kingsmen, the Wailers, the Animals, The Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Byrds, Herman and the Hermits, the Kinks and Paul Revere & the Raiders, among others.
With other dances and parties under their belt and some income in their pockets, band members worked to upgrade their instruments. Tom Hayes came home from school one day to find a new Baldwin organ in the living room and he set to work practicing and learning his parts. The band extended practice now to the Hayes’ house in addition to the Roth’s garage. Tom's dad, Burke Hayes, helped him build a plywood cart to haul the organ around to dances. The organ and cart fit in the family station wagon with only a fraction of an inch to spare on every side. Steve Lawrence found a beautiful orange Gretsch hollow-body guitar and knew that this was the instrument for him. Steve paid $400 for the guitar, a model which if it could even be found today fetches from $2,500 to $4,000. Mike bought a chromed snare and a 14” floor tom-tom to add to his set.
Sceptors to Six Short Knights
It was about time to change the name of the band. The Sceptors just didn't fit. The band won a battle of the bands and participated in Oregon's first “Shindig” show. Mike and his brother Tom generated a list of some 500 names and through the use of the list and brainstorming the band members chose the name the “Six Short Knights.” Tom Roth lived at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house and the Six Short Knights soon became the house band and played for every dance and major social function at the fraternity. A fraternity brother Sam Mallicoat saw a connection between the band, Six Short Knights and The Wizard of Id comic strip and borrowed Sir Rodney to design the bands logo. Sir Rodney soon appeared playing a guitar on the business card and on the bass drum of Mike's drum set. Tom became manager of the band and the word spread. Business cards were printed as well as a promotional flyer. To prepare for the first official picture of the Six Short Knights (and the only official picture ever taken) which was to be used in the flyer, the group gathered behind the Roth house in front of the chicken coup. As manager, Tom had traveled from Eugene for the shooting. The setting provided a feeling of tough but rustic coolness and band members wore their jeans and vests. Group members and their manager seemed satisfied with the look of the group. The picture was printed together with references to where the band had played and contact information was provided. With this additional marketing, the band became popular around the Willamette Valley and booked jobs throughout Oregon.
In addition to the Beta house, the Six Short Knights became the house band for the Delta Gamma sorority house and Jean Ransom was one of our greatest fans. Many other fraternity and sorority houses, dormitories, high schools and special groups signed contracts for special events, parties, and street dances. The Six Short Knights played for fashion shows, junior proms, senior proms, homecoming dances and seasonal events. On a drizzly Saturday the band set up at the Corvallis Municipal Airport as part of the annual “Zoomsi” state-wide fund raiser for OMSI and the Washington Park Zoo located in Portland. At an OSU street dance next to the Memorial Union Quad the Six Short Knights were honored with a guest appearance of “Rockin’ Robin Roberts” singing Louie, Louie which he had recorded with the Wailers.
Over nearly four years, the band toured the State of Oregon playing in Grants Pass, Myrtle Creek, Sweet Home, Lebanon, Scio, Corvallis, Eugene, Philomath, Newberg, Wren, Salem, and Portland. Open public dances were presented at fairgrounds, armories, Elks Clubs, Veterans of Foreign Wars halls, Oddfellows halls and at the Neighbors of Woodcraft hall in Portland. Local business and nonprofit sponsors included Gordon Harris Mens Store, the Clothes Tree, the Corvallis Womens Club, Corvallis Moose Lodge, the Corvallis Elks Lodge, the Interfraternity Council at OSU and the Mary’s Peak Shrine Trek.
The Six Short Knights bought the first commercial set of Sunn Amps sold in Oregon. The Beach Boys bought the first commercial set ever made and the amps sat at the Sunn factory awaiting shipment as the Six Short Knights system was built. Norm Sundholm of the Kingsmen was the guy who started Sunn in his garage. The Six Short Knights drove to the Tigard/Tualatin area in several cars, visited the Sunn Factory and ended up going to Norm’s house not far away to pick up the amps. Then the band decided to build another amp for Bob's bass with JBL speakers to increase the bass sound. Tom J was a cabinet builder extraordinaire and did most of the work on the new cabinet in his dad's garage. It was beautiful amp and of excellent quality. Months later while playing at an all OSU school dance and with the sound system cranked up to near capacity, Bob blew the speaker out on his bass amp about 3/4 of the way through the dance. The amp just produced a fuzzy sound from then on until the speaker was replaced. That was when Bill Woodcock started calling Bob the "silent bass". With the last name of Edwards, Bob's nickname became “Silent Eddy.”
One evening the band was scheduled to play for a Beta Theta Pi street dance in the parking lot. The fraternity brothers walked the streets for several blocks around notifying neighbors of the upcoming event and to be prepared for quite a few students and loud music from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. Chaperones included Steve's and Mike's parents. The neighbors consented. About an hour into the dance the first noise complaints were relayed to the fraternity, the dance organizers and the chaperones. The band was asked to turn the music down. About 45 minutes later the police arrived. After listening to the music and a half hour of discussion with fraternity representatives and chaperones, a citation was issued to the Beta house and the dance was closed down. Tom Hayes told me the next day that his Dad had recorded our street dance on their in-home stereo recording system located a quarter mile above the Corvallis Country Club and nearly 2 ½ miles away from the dance.
Sponsored by a local radio station out of Roseburg for a dance to be held in Myrtle Creek the band visited the famous “Pearl and Dink’s” music store and spent an afternoon with Pearl at her home in Roseburg swimming in her large pool and scuba diving. The story of the band's party after the dance is a closely held secret. Playing for a dance at the Hoodoo Ski Bowl Lodge was another highlight for the Six Short Knights. The gig was arranged by Tom Hayes and the band was up for its first ski retreat. It is a wonder that the band even made it to the dance. Tom Hayes was the only experienced skier in the group. The rest of the band got outfitted with rental ski equipment, went up the highest chair lift and proceeded to ski straight down the mountain without the slightest idea of what they were doing. The celebration of the end of a great day of skiing, sledding, snowball fights and playing hot rock-n-roll in the evening while large snowflakes drifted down outside was punctuated by a champagne cork knocking out the main light bulb in the common sleeping room shared by band members.
The band members were always looking for ideas for songs and ways to create a stronger band identity. Steve purchased a limousine, a 1950 DeSoto that had a flathead six with a "four on the tree" fluid drive. Steve and Tom drove that to nearly every gig except for the Roseburg trip where they drove Tom J’s dad's Pontiac Grand Prix. They seemed to have the young ladies attention wherever they went. The rest of the band members would often ride with Steve when the band would take a break during a gig. The break provided a quick trip to the local drive-in or just somewhere to get away from the crowd.
On an excursion for watching and learning, the band bought tickets to hear the Rolling Stones at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland. The opening act was the Standells. The seats turned to be about the farthest away one could get for the concert. Regardless, it was a fantastic event and a good time was shared by all. Other concerts where several or all of the band members went included Peter Paul & Mary, the Trashmen, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Buffalo Springfield in Corvallis, The Surprise Package, the Buckinghams, and Sonny and Cher in Salem, and the Kingsmen, Don and the Goodtimes and the Wailers at several venues in addition to Corvallis and Portland.
One of the most memorable gigs was a teen dance in Newburg, OR. It was in July and very warm outside. The Six Short Knights played in an old car dealership showroom right downtown. The band had just learned the song "Summer in the City" by the Lovin’ Spoonful and opened the dance with that song. It was number one on the charts at that time (1966). The kids went wild! Girls were screaming! Everyone was dancing right out of the chute. The band was tight on that song and maybe the best they ever sounded. The Six Short Knights got a warm reception from that group of kids that night. After the dance Mike and Bob were driving back to Corvallis when they heard a noise in back of the pickup where the drums and amplifiers were stored. They pulled off the road and discovered much to their consternation that a 15-year-old girl had "stowed away" in back of the pickup. Somewhere between Amity and Rickreall, on old highway 99 at about 1:30 a.m., they turned around and drove all the way back to Newburg where they called the girls father and had him pick her up. Mike gave her a set of drum sticks and Bob give her a guitar pick. It must have been the thrill of her life!
At the close of the 1966-67 school year and their future uncertain the band decided to disband. During the summer, band members drove to Honeyman State Park near Florence, traipsed out into the sand dunes, recounted some of their exploits and tipped a few beers.
Contributors – Steve Lawrence, Bob Edwards, John Herman, Tom Janssen, Tom Hayes Jr., Michael Roth, Thomas Roth, and Sam Mallicoat
If you have corrections, a neat photo or more information, please send it to:
Last Update: 15 January 2005
Credits: Steve Lawrence, Bob Edwards, John Herman, Tom Janssen, Tom Hayes Jr., Michael Roth, Thomas Roth, and Sam Mallicoat
Band # 1596