The Gants

From: Greenwood, MS, USA

Coming together in 1963, this Greenwood, Mississippi band were originally known as The Kingsmen. The original band consisted of Johnny Freeman (vocals, guitar), Sid Herring (vocals, guitar), Vince Montgomery (bass), and Don Wood (drums). They changed their name when Johnny Sanders replaced Freeman on guitar, changing to The Gants, a name taken from a local shirt manufacturer. Their early sound was reminiscent of The Beatles and by chance The Animals’ manager Mike Jeffries heard them playing in Mississippi and booked them as a support act for an Animals tour.

It wasn’t long before the band went to Alabama’s Muscle Shoals studio to record their own arrangement of Bo Diddley’s “Roadrunner.” The single was very popular locally and was eventually picked up by Liberty, helping propel the song to #46 on the national charts. They followed up with the release of an album which consisted of material recorded during the same session. It was a mix of covers (“Gloria”, “House of The Rising Sun”) and Sid Herring compositions like “My Baby Don’t Care” and “Six Days In May.”

For their next single, The Gants chose to record a Johnny Burnette composition, which failed to chart. Their third single was taken from their Gants Galore album which had been recorded in Los Angeles earlier in 1966. Compared to their debut album, Gants Galore was disappointing. It featured no Herring compositions and was instead made up entirely of cover versions, including The Standell’s “Dirty Water”, The Yardbirds “Shapes Of Things” and Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and “C’mon Everybody.”

Later in 1966 they were taken to Nashville, Tennessee, where they recorded an new single “I Want Your Lovin.” The song sounded fresh with a country and western influence showing through, while still maintaining a heavy Beatles influence. They also recorded their third and final album at this time. The album contained strong covers of Paul Revere’s “Hungry” and The Rascals’ “You Better Run”, as well a some more Herring compositions, most notably the Beatlesque “I Wonder.” With neither the single or album making much of an impression, the Gants returned to L.A. and recorded “Greener Days” with the assistance of David Gates. “Greener Days” was a good piece of harmony pop, but despite finding some regional success the song never broke through locally.

The Gants recorded one further harmony pop single in April 1967 before Johnny Sanders quit and Johnny Freeman returned to replace him. By the end of the year, however, the whole band had largely collapsed. The band performed some gigs that were booked in the first half on 1969 through a Memphis Talent Agency and The Gants went on the road with Alston Meeks and Johnny Jennings taking over Sanders parts. In 1971, Herring and Wood formed Watchpocket. Herring also released a solo album in 1982 titled All American Dream. Johnny Freeman is still active in the local music scene, playing together with Johnny Jennings in a band called Curb Service, where Gants’ songs form a part of their set. Sid Herring now resides in Nashville.

Artist info: Fuzz, Acid & Flowers by Vernon Joynson

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1966 album Gants Again

  • I Wonder