The Mods / Toledo, Ohio
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The Mods - Toledo, Ohio
The Mods biography, as best recalled by Larry Smith - former bass guitarist, co-founder and co-songwriter for the Toledo, Ohio group from the 1960's. Larry is not a professional writer; please excuse any spelling errors.
musical roots and beginnings...
The 1960's band from Toledo, Ohio that billed themselves, as The Mods did not start out using the name The Mods when they first formed a band. The original members of the band that was formed in Toledo, Ohio had several other names before they took on the name The Mods. The band was originally founded by two brothers Terry Smith and his younger brother Larry Smith along with their best friend Larry Music. I know what you are saying, (Larry Music)... yes, Music was his real last name... great name to have if you are going to be in a band playing music. The three teenagers first became interested in forming a band in 1963 shortly after the Beatles took America by storm.
As young boys the Smith brothers, Terry (age 12) and his younger brother Larry (age 10), both learned to play guitar on their own after their father showed them how to make a few basic chords on their father's guitar. Their father was very musically inclined and had the ability to play several musical instruments as did Smith boy's uncle's and grandfather. So I guess it must have been in the genes for the Smith brothers to play musical instruments too. The Smith brothers did inherit the ability to play music by ear on the guitar, and both eventually learned to play several other musical instruments between them. Terry Smith ended up teaching the brother's friend, Larry Music to play guitar in 1962.
In 1962 the two Smith brothers along with their best friend Larry Music, formed a small combo consisting of three electric guitars. The boys never thought of playing out anywhere but only played for their own enjoyment and for a few of their neighborhood friends. The three teens thought that they needed a name so they started calling themselves Terry and the Blasters. Early on the guys started learning and performing a lot of instrumental music from the late 1950's to the early 1960's. Examples of these instrumentals were; The Ventures (Walk Don't Run and Walk Don't Run 64, Perfidia, Apache, Out of Limits); Santo and Johnny (Sleep Walk) and a few other songs I can't even recall the names of now.
In 1963 THE BEATLES took America by storm. Soon on the heels of the Beatles came the other English bands that became known as the British Invasion. All of these bands changed the face and sound of Rock N' Roll forever. The songs by the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Kinks, and the many other English Rock groups that followed them inspired the three young guitarists. They boys soon learned to play cover songs of their favorite groups and in early 1963 a drummer by the name of Terry Fitzsimmons was added to the group. Terry Fitzsimmons left the band in 1965 when he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War.) Terry Fitzsimmons was replaced on drums with a great drummer by the name of Fred Jablonski in 1965. With the addition of a drummer and the three guitars, they now had a full-fledged band and that was when the group changed their name from Terry and the Blasters, to THE IMITATIONS. Around that same time, Larry Smith switched from playing electric guitar and started playing bass guitar. The four teens became quick friends with the local radio DJ's and started playing at local teen dances on the weekends with an occasional high school dance performance thrown in.
Battle of The Bands...
The IMITATIONS soon found out that there was to be a series of Battles of the Bands to be held at the Toledo Sports Arena, with the chance to win a recording contract. The name the group had chosen soon fit, because THE IMITATIONS performed the latest cover songs of all of the
popular big British bands of the early 60's. THE IMITATIONS entered the first series of the Battle of the Bands at the Toledo Sports Arena for three years in a row, 1963 - 1964 and 1965. In 1963 as Larry Smith says we just plain out and out sucked as a band. In 1964 the band had improved so much that they came in 2nd place in the Battle of the Bands. In 1965 the IMITATIONS finally won the Toledo area Battle of the Bands at the Toledo Sports Arena.
As for writing credits listed on the 45-RPM PECK record label, if you look at the label on the (A-side) I GIVE YOU AN INCH (AND YOU TAKE A MILE) the writing credits on the record label read (T. Smith - L. Smith) with copyright by Terry Smith (when the record had never been registered for a copyright). The (B-side) YOU'VE GOT ANOTHER THINK COMING the writing credits on the record label read (T. Smith) only. Larry Smith say's that he did co-write both songs and does not know why his name was left as co-writer on side-B of the Peck single. Larry says he wrote the chord structure, the melody and some of the lyrics for both songs at age 15. Terry Smith was 17 years of age when he co-wrote these two songs on the PECK record. Larry says, we did co-write several other songs before and after the PECK record. The only other original songs that we recorded were put onto a demo acetate record for band members only and never released. Those two songs were titled, A PLACE WHERE LOVERS GO and NIGHT AFTER NIGHT. These two songs were written and recorded as love songs to imaginary girls. Both of these songs were recorded prior to the PECK recording. In fact an interesting fact about the demo was that these two songs on the demo record were recorded in early 1964 or 1965 at A&T productions in downtown Toledo. While the band was recording another Toledoan, (John Pocisk) aka' Johnny Paris, of Johnny and the Hurricanes stopped in at the sound booth and gave the band a listen. I don't think Johnny was very impressed with our band.
The Mods gigs...
Before The Mods recorded the PECK 45 RPM recording we played the average gigs that high school garage bands play at, high school sock hops, proms, roller rink dances, CYO dances etc, local DJ sock hops, county fairs, private parties. After the PECK recording in 1966, we played a lot better venues and finally started to make some good money for playing music. We started playing in many nightclubs in the Toledo, Ohio area. For a while we were the house band at the PEPPERMINT LOUNGE in Toledo, Ohio on on Jefferson avenue, and I (Larry Smith) was only 15 or 16 years old.
The Mods play back-up for Chuck Berry in Toledo, Ohio in 1966 at the Peppermint Lounge...
The Peppermint lounge in Toledo, Ohio was on the club circuit where many of rock n' roll's early legends came to perform. Some of the rock n' roll artists that had performed at the Peppermint Lounge were, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Rivers. My greatest remembrance while playing there was when Chuck Berry; came to town and our band The Mods got to open up for Chuck Berry before he played his sets. Chuck listened to our music and when we came off stage he told us that he really liked our sound. To our surprise Chuck had arrived in town without a backup band to play with him and his classic rock n' roll songs. Years later I saw an interview on TV where Bruce Springsteen said that Chuck Berry always arrived in town and used the house band at night clubs to back him up. It turned out too that Chuck Berry didn't have his guitar because he shipped it ahead to Toledo, Ohio and it never arrived in time for his appearance at the Peppermint Lounge; so he asked my brother Terry if he could use his 1965 Gibson SG Deluxe to play his first set. How could anyone turn down a request like that? Chuck used a group called, Eddie Cash & Company to back him for his first set but, when he came back to do a second set he surprised our band The Mods by asking us to play back up for him on his second set. As a band we were star struck and we were simply awed that Chuck Berry would ask us to back him up. Just before we started the set with Chuck, we asked him what songs we were going to play? Chuck just smiled and said, “Boys, we're going to play some Chuck Berry songs.” Chuck Berry took off playing that set like a man possessed with us trying to keep up with him. Chuck didn't even tell us what songs we were going to play or what key we would be playing in, we just had to look at his left hand to figure out what guitar chord he was playing in and figure the rest out for ourselves. I guess you could say that was the biggest highlight of THE MODS tenure as a band, playing backup one night for rock n' roll legend Chuck Berry.
We also heard lots of other groups that toured at the Peppermint and opened up for a few of them. Some of those groups were, The McCoy's of "HANG ON SLOOPY" fame. We opened up for the Knickerbockers at some other venue in Toledo. The Knickerbockers hit song "LIES" sounded kind of like the Beatles I remember. The Mods played many gigs in northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan at many different venues. We played one of our largest gig's in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1966 at a large auditorium I don't even remember the name of place. The DJ at the concert played our 45-RPM recording before we came out to perform our set and he gave us a great introduction. When we finally arrived on stage there were approximately six thousand screaming teenagers cheering us on. We had our amplifiers miked through the house PA and we still could not hear ourselves playing music. I guess that we were Grand Rapids, Michigan's version of the Beatles or Stones that night. When we finally closed the concert and came off the stage we were chased by girls ripping at our clothes. That was kinda scary for me who had not even had a girlfriend yet.
The Mods sign a record contract in 1966 with Impact Records in Detroit, Michigan
With the success of that first 45-RPM record, my brother Terry tried getting us an audition with some record companies in Detroit, Michigan.
Believe it or not, he talked us into an audition with a major label in Detroit. Terry was the leader of the group and had, excuse the term, a-lot-of-balls. He cold called a bunch of record companies in Detroit, Michigan and got us an audition for a label just by talking on the phone. The A&R people of the label we auditioned for liked what they heard and we were signed to a two-year recording contract. The label for that record company was called, Impact Records and was owned Harry Balk an icon in the music industry in Detroit. That brought on another name change for the band. The record company told us that the name we were using, THE MODS, was already being used by another band that was recording records. So we had to pick a new name quickly to record under. We threw up a bunch of names in the air and came of with the name THEY. I think because it reminded us of another sixties group called THEM. So the name THEY was the name that we used when we signed with IMPACT RECORDS. We were all under eighteen so our parents had to sign the contract too. We were very excited because with our new group name THEY, we would be recording at Golden World Studios in Detroit, Michigan. We finally did two recording sessions for Impact Records at Golden World Studios. The Impact Records sessions were recorded on reel to reel tape and most of the material recorded by The Mods now known as THEY were cover songs from some of the most popular groups from the sixties.
None of the recordings from these sessions were ever released due to band members Terry Smith and Fred Jablonski receiving draft notices to join the armed forces during the Vietnam war. My brother Terry joined the Naval Reserve before opening his draft notice and due to his duties with the reserve and his additional duties with his regular day job, the group eventually disbanded as each member went their separate ways.
The Mods 45-RPM recording on the Peck Record label made the band local celebrities in our hometown of Toledo, Ohio for a short while in 1966 and through 1967. The original line-up for The Mods were together as a band from early 1963 through 1969. Two of our band members left the band in 1969. Larry Music our rhythm guitarist got married and our drummer Fred Jablonski got drafted into the U.S. Army and was sent to Vietnam. Freddie finished his tour and came back home safely. My brother Terry, and I kept the group together into early 1970 and we recruited another drummer and another guitarist. The group The Mods finally came to an end sometime in1970 when my brother got his draft notice and that ended our recording contract with Impact Records; and there were never any recordings released from that record contract.
The search for The Mods lost reel to reel recordings from Impact Records
In January of 2003, I contacted our former A&R director from Impact Records by e-mail after accidentally finding him on the internet. His name is John Rhys Eddins and he has a cool internet radio company called BLUEPOWER.COM. Blue Power's website has lots of pre-recorded radio shows that you can listen to as John plays music and interviews people in the music business. The website has lots of BLUES information and sixties music conversation in general on the radio shows. Here is a quote from John about his company Blue Power. (Quote from John Rhys Eddins) "bluepower.com has become the hub for Bluespeople from all around the globe and that is how I keep my hand in the business. (End-quote) Here is a link to bluepower.com John's website: http://www.bluepower.com
***UPDATE*** February 1, 2003
John Rhys Eddins, our former A&R man at Impact Records finally e-mailed me back and he says he will look around to see if has any of the tapes our group (The Mods) recorded as THEY for Impact Records. John says that the owner of Impact Records, Harry Balk is still alive and he will check with him to see if he has any tapes in his possession and get back to me. Cross your fingers for me!!! None of these tapes were ever released as records because my brother Terry and our drummer Fred ended up getting drafted into the armed forces in 1967 or 1968. I would love to hear these tapes again if they still exist. The studio we recorded at Golden Worlds Studios, had recorded a few of the major radio hits during the 1960's. Two of the groups that had recorded at Golden World Studios were Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and The Shades of Blue. I remember that The Shades of Blue had a hit song out at that time titled “Oh, How Happy”.
The Mods lost Impact Records tapes from 1966 - ***UPDATE*** March 12, 2003
I just received this e-mail from our former A&R man at IMPACT RECORDS back in the sixties about any lost tapes of The Mods music and it turns out he found nothing. So this closes the door on any future releases. Here is what he said to me in an email…
"Good Afternoon Larry,
I am sorry to say that due to all the moves since I saw you last, I don't have a copy of any tapes of The Mods. I have not had the chance
to speak with Harry Balk, the owner of Impact Records; as he has been out of town for the last couple of months. I will call him Friday as I need
to speak with him also. I doubt seriously that Harry would have a copy of something he didn't release. I just finished digitizing the Impact catalog and since there was no release by The Mods, the cuts were not included.
I think the only tape ever made was the one I cut that day and that's a shame. I too, have lost endless amounts of recorded work due to lack of room or just plain stupidity on my part. But, if I remember correctly, it certainly was a mighty time. I wish you all the best and I will check with
Harry on Friday."
John Rhys Eddins" - BluePower.com
***Update*** April 20, 2003 lost Impact Records found by Larry Music of The Mods.
The Mods rhythm guitarist (Larry Music); recently uncovered a lost reel to reel tape from Impact Records while going through his attic. As far as I can determine this is a reel to reel tape of the group from 1966 and it appears to have a few songs recorded in the studio along with a practice session from sometime in the year 1966. The quality of the tape however is pretty bad because of the age of the tape (37 years old), but there may be a couple of songs on it that are salvageable. I will keep you all posted after I review and listen to the tape some more.
***Update*** February 20, 2011 / No new music from The Mods
That's all folks! No more future releases of The Mods music as I haven't heard from Tim Warren since December 20, 2003. I called Crypt Records phone number and they say Tim has moved to Germany to work at the Crypt Records studios and offices there. So it looks like there won't be any future releases of The Mods original songs or any cover songs. I personally didn't feel that the lost Impact Records tapes that were found by Larry Music sounded good enough to issue any of the recordings. My decision is mainly due to the recordings being stored in an attic for 37 years where the tape was exposed to extreme heat and cold during the seasonal weather changes in Northwest Ohio where Toledo is located. I have had offers from other labels to review and possibly release some tracks but I don't see that as viable due to the condition of the recording tape that the songs were on. So I doubt there will ever be a release of any of the songs on that reel to reel tape.
***End of all News Release's***
Original band line-up for The Mods on the Peck records 45-RPM release in 1966
Terry Smith - lead guitar, harp, lead vocals, backup vocals 1963-1970
Larry Smith - bass guitar, occasional lead vocals, backup vocals 1963-1970
Larry Music - rhythm guitar, backup vocals 1963-1969
Fred Jablonski - Drums, backup vocals 1965-1969
Former members of The Imitations band (that later became The Mods)
Here is a list of other friends that were in the band when we were known as The Imitations before the group became known as THE MODS.
All of these guys were in the band for short periods but never appeared on recordings, with the exception of Terry Fitzsimmons, our
original drummer when we were known as THE IMITATIONS...
Terry Fitzsimmons (aka) Fitzy -(Drums) 1963 - 1965 appears on the A&T 45 demo (unreleased)
Gary Sims - 1964 (backup singer & percussion on marachas). - Gary had a striking resemblence to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and girls seemed to go crazy when he came on stage. I guess he now lives somewhere in the south, the last I heard.
Mike Mattoni (aka) Fingers Mattoni - 1964-1965, (Keyboards - Hammond B3 Organ). Mike became a member of the band due to being a friend and classmate of Larry Smith at Sylvania High School. Mike left the band before the Peck 45-RPM was released and he played keyboards in a couple of other Toledo, Ohio area bands.
(UPDATE - August 2015) I recently found out from another musician friend that Mike Mattoni passed away in the early 1970's; R.I.P. Mike "fingers" Mattoni.
Jerry Hunt 1969, (Rhythm/lead guitar) Jerry played with the band for only a few months and it has been so long ago that I can't really be
sure of the dates, but was a very good guitarist.
Where Are The Mods Now?
Larry Smith, former bass guitarist for The Mods lived in the Toledo, Ohio area for most of his life. Larry found a job in late 1969 as a
clerk/operator for the Norfolk & Western Railroad which later became part of the Norfolk Southern Railroad. Larry worked for the Norfolk Southern Railroad for 21 years in Toledo, Ohio and is now retired from the railroad and enjoying his retirement and resides in Seymour, TN.
Larry Music, former rhythm guitarist for The Mods resides in the Sylvania, Ohio and is now retired after working well over 30 years for the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Toledo, Ohio.
Death's of two members of The Mods...
Terry Smith the lead singer on The Mods recordings and also the lead guitarist for the group, passed away at age 52 on November 20, 1999 in
Toledo, Ohio after he developing sepsis due to complications from a surgical procedure at MCO Hospital in Toledo, Ohio.
(Note from Larry Smith) - My brother Terry Smith passed away in November of 1999 without knowing that the two songs that he and I co-wrote
in the sixties were reissued on several garage band compilations in the 1980's and 1990's. We recorded these songs in Toledo, Ohio in 1966
as The Mods along with our two best friends, Larry Music and Fred Jablonski. My brother Terry would have really gotten as big of a kick as I did if he had known that the two songs that he and I created were reissued and is now enjoyed by a larger audience then we both ever dreamed possible. If it had not been for the existence of the internet, I would never have known that our 45-RPM made it onto these LP and CD compilations. When I contacted Tim Warren of Crypt Records to give him some information on The Mods, he said that he had
been searching for information on The Mods for years.
Fred Jablonski the drummer for The Mods passed away at age 58 on March 24, 2007 after a long battle with cancer. Fred had been living in and around the Sedona, Arizona area for the last 10 years. While living in Arizona Fred kept busy with his main trade working as a barber, but he also kept his hand in the local music scene playing drums for many groups in and around Sedona, Arizona such as; Big Newton, Fred's Apple, Curry, and finally his last band called Grateful Fred!
Here is a note that Fred sent to me on February 21, 2004 to add to the website when someone asked what kind of drums he preferred playing. Fred wrote, "During my time as a member of The Mods, the drums I played were Ludwig gold sparkle - Hollywood set, although now I love Sonor drums. Thanks to all the wonderful people who loved The Mods music enough to keep it alive today."
I created this website for The Mods as a tribute to the band and for the many garage band fans that have heard our music on the Crypt
Records compilations in the 1980's and the 1990's and the Chosen Few compilation in 1982. Now fans of our music can know the story behind the 1960's garage band from Toledo, Ohio that billed themselves as The Mods.