The English Setters

Cherry People

Cherry People, left to right:
Punky Meadows – Chris Grimes – Rocky Isaac – Jan Zukowski – Doug Grimes

Ah … Washington D.C.’s The Cherry People … Yes, lots of references claim they were a product of Arlington, Virginia. In fact the Arlington county public library even has a website that talks about the band. The fact of the matter is the band’s roots trace back to the Barnaby Terrace in Southeast, Washington, D.C. True, three quarters of the original group grew up in Arlington, but they started off in D.C..

Like countless others, The Beatles were the inspiration for Larry Gray, brothers Chris and Doug Grimes, and lead guitarist Punky Meadows to start their own rock band. As The Intruders they began playing school talent shows, dances, private parties and local clubs. 1965 saw the Grimes and Meadows families separately relocate to Arlington, Virginia. The move saw the badna dopt a new, cooler name as The English Setters. They also expanded the line up to a five piece with the addition of drummer in David Alves; Gray shifting to bass. Their big break came when a performance at the Shoreham hotel resulted in an introduction to Lionel Hampton manager Bill Titone. Titone signed on as their manager and promptly had them touring throughout the East Cost.

Signed to Hampton’s Glad Hamp label, they released a pair of instantly obscure 45s:

– 1966’s ‘Tragedy’ b/w ‘ If She’s All Right’ (Glad-Hamp cat no. GH-2029)
– 1966’s ‘Someday You’ll See’ b/w ‘It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dog’ Glad-Hamp cat no. GH-2033)

While neither of the Grimes brother penned singles did much commercially, the fact they had a recording contract turned them into an in-demand act throughout the Washington, D.C. area and in particular Georgetown clubs such as The Bayou, The Frog, and The Peppermint Lounge. They also started opening for name national acts such as The Beau Brummels, Neil Diamond, and The Young Rascals who were playing in D.C.. With support from Washington area DJ Warren Duffy the group returned to New York where the recorded and released a one-shot 45 for Jubilee Records:

1967 another change in personnel with bassist Pick Kelly replacing Larry Gray and the decision to adopt a new name – at Kelly’s suggestion The Cherry People. A series of concert dates in New York saw them sharing the stage with The Jimi Hendrix Experience and brought them to the attention of A&R man Ron Haffkine and a contract with Jerry Ross’s Heritage label. Unfortunately before they could start to record the band underwent yet another change in the lineup – Alves and Pick replaced by former Fallen Angels drummer Rocky Isaac and ex-Nobody’s Children bassist Jan Zukowski.

Co-produced by Haffkine and Barry Oslander, in spite of a reported $30,000 recording budget (a tremendous investment at the time), 1968’s “The Cherry People” was pretty much a full scale disaster. With Heritage apparently interested in turning the group into a Monkees knockoff, musically the set bore little resemblance to the the group’s earlier work. In fact, only two of the ten tracks were band-penned originals. The band members have repeatedly pointed out that they had little to do with the finished product – producers Haffkine and Oslander selected the outside material and brought in sessions players to handle most of the workload. So what did the results sound like? Um, pretty lame. Originally written and recorded by a late-inning version of The Left Banke, the cutesy leadoff track ‘And Suddenly’ provided the band with a top-50 hit, but had the same kind of appeal as a commercial for bread, or sour cream. Swamped with string and horn arrangements, the rest of the album offered up anonymous radio-friendly pop. It wasn’t necessarily bad, rather simply didn’t have a great deal of character. Image second rate Archies (‘Do Something To Me’), The Association (‘On To Something New’), The Cowsills (‘Ask the Children’), The Turtles (‘Girl On the Subway’), or something in that vein and you’d be in the right aural neighborhood. It certainly wasn’t as bas as the critics would have you believe, but by the same token had a distinctive ‘music as product’ feel to it. For anyone who cared, the best track was actually one of the two originals – the rocker ‘I’m the One Who Loves You’. Shame they weren’t allowed to record more of their own material …


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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

It Shouldn't Happen To A Dog

  • It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dog

Someday You'll See

  • Someday You’ll See
  • Tragedy