Willie Garcia (vocals, trombone)
Larry Rendon (sax)
Romeo Prado (trombone)
George Dominguez (lead guitar)
George Salazar (drums)
Roy Marquez (rhythm guitar)
Benny Lopez (bass) replaced by Jimmy Espinoza
Ronnie Gigueroa (keyboards)
Little Ray Jimenez (vocals)
Al Anaya (vocals)
Called "The Best Latino Rock Band Of The 1960's," Thee Midniters were to those of us growing up in East Los Angeles our equivalent of The Beatles. Thee Midniters were a crossover group influenced by the British Invasion (i.e. The Rolling Stones), soul and rhythm & blues. Their music spanned all of the diverse genres of music in the late 1960's including, pop, garage, psychedelia as well as Latin jazz and Mexican bolero. They were the first Eastside band to have a greatest hits album as well as a compact disc box set.
Thee Midniters evolved from a nucleus group called "The Gentiles" which included Willie Garcia on vocals, Romeo Prado on trombone, and Larry Rendon on saxophone.
In 1963 the group became jnow as Benny & The Midniters named after conga player and manager Benny Ceballos.
LITTLE WILLIE G & BOBBY COCHRAN AT ABTTLE OF THE BANDS, ST ALPHONOS AUDITORIUM CIRCA 1963
BENNY & THE MIDNITERS REHEARSE FOR BATTLE OF THE BANDS
In 1964 Thee Midniters performed at the Salesian High School Rock & Roll Show and shortly therafter Eddie negotiated a record contract with Chattahooche Records, a small Hollywood label.
The band's first single was released two ways. First, "Land Of A Thousand Dances (Part 1)" and "Land Of A Thousand Dances (Part 2)" released by Chattahoochie (Chattahoochie 666) in January 1965.is a live version.
This record was recorded live at a high school show. Little Ray Jimenez who was still in the band at the time was supposed to be the lead singer didn't show up because he was stuck up north near Fresno. Willie Garcia sings lead & does a masterful job. This would be the band's highest charted record peaking at number 67 on Billboard's pop charts.
For the second version of the single, Thee Midniters would go into the studio and re-record "Land Of A Thousand Dances" and Chattahoochie would release in backed with a instrumental track, "Ball Of Twine" under the same record number (Chattahoochie 666) also in January 1965.
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Land Of A Thousand Dances" Here:
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Ball Of Twine" Here:
For their second single, Thee Midniters recorded "Sad Girl" (a cover of the Jay Wiggins penned classic) backed with "Heat Wave" (a cover of the Martha & The Vandellas smash hit) and released by Chattahoochie CH-674 in 1965. "Sad Girl" would become one of the band's signature tunes and Little Willie G's souful vocal make it one of the best of the Eastside classics.
In France, Disques Vogue released on EP (EPL 8314) combining the "Land Of 1000 Dances" single with the "Sad Girl" and "Heat Wave" single.
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Whittier Blvd" Here:
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Evil Love" Here:
In Canada, "Whittier Blvd" and "Evil Love" were released on the Quality label (Quality 1735X)
For their fourth single, Thee Midniters recorded "Empty Heart" and "I Need Someone" released in 1965 by Chattahoochie (CH-693), "Empty Heart" was written by Nanker Phelge and recorded by the Rolling Stones and Thee Midniters do their own spin on it by using a thumping horn-rock arrangement.
:"I Need Someone" was written by Lenny Welch and the band does a superb version
This album will be reviewed in the VINYL CLASSICS section.
For their sixth single on the Chattahoochie label, Thee Midniters recorded "Brother, Where Are You" and "Heat Wave (CH-695)
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Brother, Where Are You" Here:
"Brother, Where Are You" is a remake of an old Oscar Brown Jr tune and "Heat Wave" is a remake of the Martha & The Vandellas' classic and previously issued as the B side of "Sad Girl"
For seventh and final single for Chattahoochie Thee Midniters recorded "I Found A Peanut" and "Are You Angry" (CH-706) released in early 1966.
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "I Found A Peanut" Here:
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Are You Angry" Here:
Writer credit on both sides of the single are credited to Thee Midniters. "I Found A Peanut" is a hard-driving garage-rock track while "Are You Angry" is a superb ballad.
In 1966, manager Eddie Torres (thinking that he could duplicate the success Herb Alpert had at A&M Records in Los Angeles) started his own label, Whittier Records to further promote the band. He would re-release Thee Midniters first album on his Whittier label (WS-1001).
Thee Midniters first single on Whittier label was "Love Special Delivery" and "Don't Go Away" released in 1966 (Whittier 500). The song was written by the band & has a great garage-rock feel to it.
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Love Special Delivery" Here:
Thee Midniters "Love Special Delivery" (Anaheim Stadium 1966)
"Don't Go Away" was also written by the band and is another superb Willie G vocal ballad.
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Don't Go Away" Here:
A Black Label reissue of the record came with a picture sleeve.
Their second single on Whittier was "It'll Never Be Over For Me" and "Thee Midnite Feeling" in 1966 (Whittier 501). "It'll Never Be Over For Me" was written by Sam Bohrich and Norm Blagman and was an R&B hit for Baby Washington. This is my favorite Midniters tune, a true Eastside classic with the soulful touch that only Willie G could deliver.
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "It'll Never Be Over For Me" Here:
"Thee Midnite Feeling" was written by the band and is a garage rock instrumental.
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Thee Midnite Feeling" Here:
Either this record or it's later reissue came with a picture sleeve.
The band's third single for Whittier was "Dragon Fly" and "The Big Ranch" in 1966 (Whittier 503).
"Dragon Fly" is a haunting instrumental track writen by Danny Lamont & Roy Marquez of Thee Midniters. "The Big Ranch" subtitled "El Rancho Grande" is a traditional Spanish tune.
In 1967 Thee Midniters would release their second album entitled "Thee Midniters Bring You Love Special Delivery" released in mono & stereo (Whittier W-5000 and WS-5000)
This album will be reviewed in the VINYL CLASSICS section.
Thee Midniters fourth single was issued two ways in 1967 as (Whittier 504). Version one was "Never Knew I Had It So Bad" and "The Walking Song"
On this release, "The Walking Song" a simple pop tune was intended to be the A side and "Never Knew I Had It So Bad" a garage-psych tune was intended to be the B side.
On the second version "Never Knew I had It So Bad" was released as the A side and "Everybody Needs Somebody" an old Solomon Burke tune was issued as the B side.
You May Listen To "Everybody Needs Somebody" Here:
Thee Midniters fifth single on Whittier was "Look Out A Window" and "Jump, Jive And Harmonize" released in 1967 (Whittier 507)
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Look Out A Window" Here:
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Jump, Jive And Harmonize" Here:
This double sided garage-soul record is highly sought after by collectors not for the A side but for the B side "Jump, Jive & Harmonize" considered a classic by those with knowledge of this genre of music.
Eddie Torres would release Thee Midniters second album on Whittier "Love Special Delivery" in late 1966 issued as (W-5000)
This album will be reviewed in the VINYL CLASSICS section
Thee Midniters fifth single for Chattahooche was "Chile Co Soul" and "Tu Despedida" (Whittier 508). "Chile Con Soul" is another of the band's signature instrumentals. "Tu Despedida is an earnest romantic Spanish-sung bolero.
The band's sixth single was "Breakfast On The Grass" and "Dreaming Casually" for Whittier (Whittier 509) also in 1967. "Breakfast On The Grass" with lyrics written by Eddie Torres is further proof that the band could play the music of the times as they ventured into psychedelic rock. " Dreaming Casually" written by Willie Garcia & Larry Rendon is a dreamy ballad and a true Eastside classic.
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Dreaming Casually" Here:
In 1967, Thee Midniters would release their third album entitled "Unlimited" in mono (Whittier W-5001) and stereo (WS-5001)
In 1968 Thee Midniters recorded their seventh single for the Whittier label. "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" and "Making Ends Meet" This is the rarest and most sought after Thee Midniters single. "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" is a lively uptempo soulful tune that every Northern Soul collector has on their want list. "Making End Meet" is another of Willie G's outstanding vocal ballads.
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" Here:
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Making Ends Meet" Here:
Thee Midniters' eigth single for Eddie Torres was "The Ballad Of Cesar Chavez" and "La Copla de Cesar Chavez" (Whittier 512) in 1968. The band recorded this song as a favor though their hearts were not in it. Eddie Torres became involved in the Chicano movement of the late 1960's and the recording of this song was on his agenda possibly trying to capitalize on the notoriety of Cesar Chavez. After this recording Willie Garcia would leave the band. Without their lead vocalist, the band's popularity would suffer.
Their ninth single was "Chicano Power" and "Never Gonna Going To Give You Up" first released on Eddie Torres' La Raza label (La Raza 711) and also on Eddie's Whittier label (Whittier 513). "Chicano Power" was written by Romeo Prado while he was in the Army and recorded after he left the service to rejoin the band full-time. The tune is a fusion of Latin jazz, soul & rock. "Never Going To Give You Up" is a cover of the Jerry Butler classic.
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Chicano Power" Here:
You May Listen To Thee Midniters "Never Going To Give You Up" Here:
Also in 1968, Thee Midniters would release a compilation album entitled "Giants" (Whittier WS-5002) which I believe was issued in stereo only.
This album will be reviewed in the VINYL CLASSICS section.
In 1969, Thee Midniters sans Willie G, would move to the Uni label for one release, "She Only Wants What She Can't Get" and "I've Come Alive"
Please note the spelling of the bands' name as Midnighters on this record. Try to use both spellings when searching for any Midniters records.
In 1966, manager Eddie Torres decided to start re-issuing some of the Chattahoochie singles but with different B sides. I have not been able to find a complete discography of these re-issues but they rare & collectible because of their B sides. The re-issue series would late be bootlegged.
"Sad Girl"/"Come Back Baby" (Whittier 200) 1966.
"That's All"/"To Be With You" (Whittier 201) 1966.
"I Need Someone"/"Strangers In The Night" (Whittier 202) 1967.
"Are You Angry"/"Giving Up On Love" (Whittier 203) 1967.
"Whittier Boulevard"/"It'll Never Be Over For Me" 1967.
"Chicano Power"/"Could It Be" (Whittier 205) 1968.
"Breakfast On The Grass"/"Dreaming Casually (Whittier 509)
Also in 1968 Eddie Torres would again reissue "Sad Girl" and "Heat Wave" (Whittier 674)
In 1969 Eddie would reissue "It's Not Unusual" and "That's All" (Whittier 694)
There is also a series of Black Label Whittier reissues but nowhere could I find a discography for these releases.
BOOTLEGS OR REISSUES???
The most interesting and highly collectible unofficial Midniters record appears on the ELA label. "The Original Are You Angry" and "Hey Little Girl" do not appear on any Thee Midniters discographies but continue to pop up on record auctions.
A great name for a record label, East LA Oldie released "Are You Angry" and "Don't Go Away"
Here is a favorite of mine released on the Loreli label. It makrs the first appearance of "The Town I Live In" on a 45RPM record & is backed with the classic "Dreaming Casually"
Here are a couple of other 45's from my collection. I am sure there are many more out there & welcome your comments & additions to what I have posted.
In 1983 Rhino records released a compilation album and cassette entitled "Best Of Thee Midniters"
(Rhino RHLP 063)
2. Empty Heart
3. Love Special Delivery
4. That's All
5. Dreaming Casually
6. Land of a Thousand Dances
7. The Town I Live In
8. Everybody Needs Somebody
9. Sad Girl
10. It'll Never Be Over for Me
11. Chicano Power
12. Are You Angry
13. Giving up on Love
14. Jive and Harmonize Jump
2. Whittier Blvd.
3. That's All
4. Empty Heart
5. I Need Someone
6. Giving Up on Love
7. Sad Girl
8. Brother Where Are You?
9. It'll Never Be Over for Me
10. Love Special Delivery
11. Are You Angry?
12. Don't Go Away
13. Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
14. Dreaming Casually
15. Never Knew I Had It So Bad
16. Making Ends Meet
17. Welcome Home Darling
18. The Town I Live In
19. Jive and Harmonize Jump
20. Chicano Power
"Jump, Jive And Harmonize"/"Thee Midnite Feeling" (Norton 874)
"I Found A Peanut"/"Love Special Delivery" (Norton 875)
This album includes the never before released "Hey Little Girl' and a a bonus cut Godfrey's Down Whittier Blvd"
On July 7,2009 Micro Werks released a four CD boxed set entitled "Thee Complete Midniters: Songs Of Love, Rhythm And Psychedelia (1965-1969). This long awaited box set is any Thee Midniters fans' dream come true.
The 69 track compilation features all four albums and includes rare B sides and previously unreleased recordings.
Tracks on Disc 1:
Tracks on Disc 2:
Tracks on Disc 3:
Tracks on Disc 4:
Thee Midniters were undoubtedly the best band to come out of the Eastside area. Their musical versatility, onstage presence and volume of work attest to that fact. There is no telling what kind of stardom they could have attained had they not stayed with Eddie Torres' Whittier label and signed with a major label. They never got the distribution and publicity that a major label could offer but they will forever remain near & dear to our hearts and the best that the Eastside Sound had to offer.
It's hard to imagine a Midniters band without Willie Garcia but the band has continued to perform under the leadership and management of bassist Jimmy Espinoza and saxophonist Larry Rendon. Since 2006 the band has featured Greg Esparza as lead vocalist,
Willie Garcia would go on to other musical project and join the band Malo.He continues to perform today and sounds as good as he ever did. He reunites with some of the original members from time to time. I will feature Willie's post-Midniters career in another post.
For more information on Willie G & Thee Midniters please check out Mark Guerrero's article at this link.
NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED!!!!
For Historical & Educational Purposes Only And For Listening Pleasure.