The First Edition

The First Edition Just Dropped InFrom:  USA

The First Edition (later known as Kenny Rogers and the First Edition) was a country music/rock band. Its stalwart members were Kenny Rogers (lead vocals and bass guitar), Mickey Jones (drums and percussion) and Terry Williams (guitar and vocals). The band formed in 1967, with folk musician Mike Settle (guitar and backing vocals) and the operatically trained Thelma Camacho completing the lineup.

The First Edition signed with Reprise Records in the summer of 1967 and had its first big hit in early 1968 with the pop-psychedelic single “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” (US No. 5). After several hits and misses the group (now billed as “Kenny Rogers and the First Edition”) once again hit the top ten in the summer of 1969 with the topical “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” (US No. 6, UK#2). For the next six years, First Edition bounced between country, pop and mild psychedelia, enjoying worldwide success.

The First Edition were (outside of Mickey Jones) made up of former New Christy Minstrels who felt creatively stifled. In 1967, with the help of Terry Williams’ mother, who worked for producer/executive Jimmy Bowen, they signed with Reprise and recorded their first single together, “I Found A Reason”, which picked up minor sales. Like much of the work by the original lineup, this was an intensely performed Mike Settle vocal and composition with a distinctly contemporary feel. Settle had first came up with the idea of forming the band as his work took on the characteristics of rock. Over the previous seven years, Mike had been writing decidedly more folk-oriented songs, most notably the oft-covered “Sing Hallelujah”. It was their follow-up (sung by Rogers), the proto metal-psychedelic single “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” that earned them their first brush with fame. The single, with an arrangement by their producer Mike Post that had Glen Campbell playing the backward guitar intro and Mike Deasy providing various psychedelic sounds, became a hit early in 1968, climbing to No. 5 on the Hot 100. Terry Williams played the solo that later led Jimi Hendrix to tell Kenny that it was his favorite record.

Though they were interesting, the group’s next three single releases bombed, as did their second album. The fall 1968 release “But You Know I Love You” (composed by Settle) possessed a unique brass-tinged country-folk sound, broadening their fan base. In the group’s rendition on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that aired on 8 December 1968, the audience was unwittingly fooled into clapping too soon, right after the false ending but way before the real ending. The record peaked at No. 19 on the Hot 100 just under a year after “Just Dropped In” was at its Billboard summit. According to Mickey Jones’ book “That Would Be Me”, Thelma was fired from the group in late 1968 (soon after the release of “But You Know I Love You” and the aforementioned Smothers Brothers television appearance but before the record would chart on the Hot 100) after missing too many gigs and rehearsals and replaced by her roommate, Mary Arnold, an Iowa born singer who beat out newcomer Karen Carpenter for the job. By the end of the decade Rogers had long brown hair, an earring, and pink sunglasses. Known affectionately in retrospect as “Hippie Kenny”, Rogers had a notably smoother vocal style at the time. In the summer of 1969 the band, by then re-chrsitened Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, scored another Top Ten hit with Mel Tillis’ “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” Ruby was a global smash which firmly established the First Edition’s longevity in the business.   ~  Wikipedia

Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1967 album The First Edition

  • Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)


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