The Golden Dawn

The Golden DawnFrom: Austin, TX, USA

The Golden Dawn are an American psychedelic rock band formed in Austin, Texas, in 1966. The band released one album, titled Power Plant, before breaking up soon after the album’s release in 1968. The record company, the infamous International Artists label out of Houston, had made a decision that seems to have “shafted” the career of the vibrant Golden Dawn. This is what happened: a few months after the release of the 13th Floor Elevators’ “Psychedelic Sounds” debut, the Dawn had finished Power Plant in mid-1967 and were ready to let it fly; but, by that time, the Elevators were beginning to record their second album, Easter Everywhere, which the record company management thought, for unknown reasons, should come out first, much to the dismay of George Kinney (voc, guitar), Tom Ramsey (lead guitar), Jimmy Bird (rhythm guitar), Bill Hallmark (bass), and Bobby Rector (drums)–collectively, The Golden Dawn. When Power Plant was finally released in 1968, it was largely panned as the work of an Elevators knock-off band and was unjustly snubbed in a way that was big enough to discourage the development of the band. Through the years, Power Plant climbed in “cult” status to the point where recognition of its music drew out George Kinney once again to reform the band in 2002 and perform live all over the States.

George Kinney has also been active in solo projects. He released a CD, After The Fall, under his own name in 2001. He wrote a novel, The Bandit King, published by Xlibris Press, that is available online. The adventure/fantasy story is set in modern-day Mexico and involves “psychedelic” concepts and ideas.

Band members

  • George Kinney – vocals, guitar
  • Tom Ramsey – lead guitar
  • Jimmy Bird – rhythm guitar
  • Bill Hallmark – bass
  • Bobby Rector – drums


Discography

  • Power Plant (1968)
  • Texas Medicine (2006)

 


Nowhere near as well known as Roky Erickson and The 13th Floor Elevators, to our ears fellow Texans The Golden Dawn are actually the more impressive band. ‘Course those sentiments are bound to upset Erickson fans and will do little to rectify the fact that outside of hardcore collectors’ circles these guys remain criminally overlooked.

Living in Austin, Texas, singer George Kinney grew up with Roky Erickson, attending the same schools. While in high school the two played together in a local garage band The Fugitives. With The Fugitives collapsing, Kinney moved on to join The Chelsea (along with future 13th Floor Elevator guitarist Powell St. John). When that group called it quits, he was invited to join fellow high school friends guitarist Jimmy Bird, bassist Bill Hallmark, guitarist Tom Ramsey and drummer Bobby Rector in The Golden Dawn.

Kinney’s friendship with Erickson also proved handy in terms of career development. Erickson was largely responsible for getting Leland Rogers’ International Artists label to sign the band in 1967 (coincidently Erickson and the Elevators were already signed to International Artists).

Produced by Rogers (yes, Kenny’s brother), 1967’s “Power Plant” actually bares a strong resemblance to The Elevators’ catalog. The two bands certainly share the same mid-60s; low-tech Texas-psych roots, though to their credit these guys don’t sound as strung out as The Elevators and (at least to our ears), Kinney’s a better singer (though his fragile and occasionally shrill voice stands as an acquired taste). With Kinney and drummer Rector responsible for the majority of the 10 songs, musically the set’s quite diverse.
Tracks such as the opener “Evolution” and “The Way Please” boast a pleasing mix of pretty melodies and surprisingly complex and intriguing lyrics. Even better are the harder rocking numbers.
Propelled by Bird and Ramsey’s fuzz guitars, “Starvation”, “I’ll Be Around” and “My Time” are simply killer.

Going out on a limb, we’ll say this is a must-own psych classic and should be on most folk’s top-40 psych lists.
(Ignoring the illicit cannabis/mushroom subject matter, the LP’s granted an extra star for the cool day-glo cover art.)
~ Bill Hallmark


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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1968 album Power Plant
The-Golden-Dawn-US-Power-Plant-449786

  • A Nice Surprise
  • Every Day
  • Evolution
  • I’ll Be Around
  • My Time
  • Reaching Out To You
  • Seeing Is Believing
  • Starvation
  • Tell Me Why
  • This Way Please