What’s So Great About Florida Garage Bands?

I got some funny looks in the late ‘70s and early ’80s when I told people what I was doing.

A book about teen bands from Florida, most of whom broke up in the ‘60s?  Most of whom still lived at home with their moms and dads?   Most of whom never recorded, or if lucky recorded one 45 that was never distributed outside of their neighborhood?  Why should anyone care?

It was clear Savage Lost couldn’t just be lists of records, or lists of bands.   I had to find a way to explain WHY local music scenes of the ‘60s mattered;   in particular, why the one in South Florida felt so special, so magical.

How were the Montells able to perform big hit songs by English acts BEFORE they’d become hits… and how did a controversial TV talk show host lose his job over their record?   Were the “wars” between rival radio stations as heated as they seemed, and how far did a few disc jockeys take their battle?  Which teen clubs were really happening?   How did one of the most successful soul & disco corporations of the ‘70s evolve from our small, but very prolific (and hot among collectors today) soul music scene?

The book initially revolved around South Florida, but grew to include the entire state.  Record labels such as Tener (from Orlando) and Paris Tower (from Tampa) were just too good to ignore, and so were the bands that rocked and shocked the entire peninsula.   Eventually the book expanded into the 1980s, as we experienced a renaissance of independent vinyl releases.   All of this is just a part of Savage Lost, which had been long out of print but is now available again through a special warehouse purchase.

Savage Lost (named after an important local record by the Kollektion from Miami) is the result of fourteen years of research from the pre-internet era, when long-distance calls and electric typewriters were the tools of researchers.   Today you can Google just about anything, but back then it was tough to discover the identities and locales of groups such as the Painted Faces, Sounds Unlimited, the American Beetles, Sammy Ambrose & The Afro-Beats, or the Fabulettes.   Savage Lost raised the bar on ‘60s scene books, with its comprehensive bird’s-eye-view of the state’s musical action.   If you love records from the 1960s, or top 40 radio the way it used to be, this is the book for you.

An early shot of the Emotions, from St. Petersburg

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