Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Recently I heard a very interesting story, and I would like your thoughts on the matter along with any additional information possible.

At one of Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry's campaign rallies, someone showed up with an album they wanted him to sign. It is supposed to have been made in the 1960s by Kerry and some band.

It seems John was quite surprised to see the album again, and commented that he didn't even own one and would very much like to have a copy.

What is the name of the group? When did this LP come out? Do you know any of the songs? Any chance of digging up the names of the others in the band? What instrument does Kerry play?

Why doesn't the biography posted at his web site make mention of him being in a band?

What would something like this be worth if he wins the election, a real good possibility according to the most recent polls?

A few years ago you wrote about an instrumental CD made by President Bill Clinton, playing the saxophone. Is a rock and roll background thought to be helpful to Democratic politicians?

That's enough questions, I better leave you some room to respond.
—Tina D. Morgan, Kirkland, Wash.

DEAR TINA: I can answer all of your questions, except that last one.

The name of just about everything here is the Electras: the group, the label, and the title.

Issued in 1962, “The Electras” (Electras ELT-201), by the Electras, is a typical garage band collection of 13 tracks, most of which are late '50s and early '60s hits popularized by other artists.

Among the well-known songs (original artist shown in parenthesis) chosen by the Electras for their LP are: “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” (Virtues); “You Can't Sit Down” (Phil Upchurch Combo); “Greenfields” (Brothers Four); “Summertime Blues” (Eddie Cochran); “Bulldog” and “Torquay” (Fireballs); “Because They're Young” (Duane Eddy);” “Sleepwalk” (Santo & Johnny); “Ya Ya” (Lee Dorsey); and “Yellow Jacket” (Ventures).

Rounding out the collection are: “Three Blind Mice; Shanghaied” (Wailers); and “Electra.” All but two of the tracks, “Summertime Blues” and “Ya Ya,” are instrumentals.

The front cover has an abstract drawing of a generic trio that seems to have nothing whatsoever to do with the Electras. The back side does have a nice black and white photo of the seven members.

John Kerry, then just 19, is the Electras' electric bass player.

The other Electras are: Larry Rand (vocals, lead guitar); Peter Lang (drums), John Prouty (rhythm guitar), Andy Gagarin (maracas), John Radcliffe (piano), and Tim Norris (saxophone).

Tim is an official member and is pictured, though he does not appear on any of these tracks.

Reportedly, the Electras made only 500 copies of this album, thus it is definitely rare.

As for the online bio, it is understandable that such minutia be deemed irrelevant to the campaign, especially considering the relative unimportance of the Electras.

Were John the bass player for the Rolling Stones, it would likely have been mentioned.

After Kerry won enough primaries to ensure his candidacy, a couple of copies of “The Electras” sold for $2,500.

More recently, however, prices have tumbled to the $500 range as potential investors await the outcome of the November election.

If John Kerry becomes the nation's 44th president, its value will surely reverse course and skyrocket, especially for a signed copy.

While he is campaigning and fairly accessible is definitely the best time to seek a signature.

Should he lose in November, the album could drop to about half of what it is now.

Clearly, there is more riding on the outcome than we as a nation previously realized.

If not for Kerry being in the spotlight, “The Electras” would still appeal to collectors of obscure 1960s garage bands, but far more for its rarity than for the quality of its content. The Ventures they are not.

See the Electras (1961-'62) and their LP cover here!

I would like to thank Martin Mettee for providing valuable research assistance on the Electras.

IZ ZAT SO? Similarities such as party connection, first name, religious affiliation, Massachusetts senatorship, and, oh yes, big hair, cause some to equate John Kerry with John F. Kennedy.

Add valuable recordings to the list.

Shortly after recording his huge hits, “High Hopes” and “All the Way,” Frank Sinatra created custom versions of those two songs specifically to boost the 1960 Kennedy campaign, though he sings only on “High Hopes.” The flip, “All the Way,” is by a vocal chorus.

Made by Capitol Records on a 45 rpm, and with lyrics appropriately rewritten, are “High Hopes with Jack Kennedy” and “Jack Kennedy All the Way.”

Coveted by record (especially Sinatra) collectors as well as political memorabilia fans, this single — of which they made only 1,000 as promotional handouts — can fetch around $300.

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