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The Sparkles

Though affiliated with the fertile Texas garage and psych scene of the 1960s by virtue of their underground classic "No Friend of Mine," the Sparkles dated back to 1957 and continued their performing career until 1972, a longer run than virtually any of their Lone Star State contemporaries. Formed in Levelland, the Sparkles were originally comprised of guitarists Stan Smith and Carl Huckaby, bassist Bob Donnell, pianist Johnny Waller, sibling saxophonists Guy and Jesse Balew, and drummer Gary Blakey. They made their first recordings in 1958 for legendary producer Norman Petty, but the session never saw commercial release.

The Sparkles then dissolved, but soon re-formed -- lineup changes were common at this time, but the core roster at the turn of the decade included Smith, Blakey, and guitarist Charlie Hatchet. In 1962 the group recorded its debut single, "U.T." (for "Untitled"), for the tiny Caron label. The record went nowhere, and when Blakey and Hatchet relocated to Lubbock to form the Raiders, Smith formed a new Sparkles lineup from scratch, recruiting singer/drummer Lucky Floyd, guitarist Donnie Roberts, and bassist Bobby Smith. This iteration of the band proved enormously popular on the west Texas club circuit, playing Lubbock clubs like the Music Box and the Swinger -- in 2000, no less than Joe Ely called them "the best rock & roll band in town" in a history of Lubbock music published in Texas Monthly.

After Stan Smith -- the last remaining founding member -- and Roberts resigned circa 1965, Floyd and Bobby Smith recruited guitarists Gary P. Nunn and Louie Holt and drummer Jimmy Marriot to form the definitive Sparkles lineup; with Roy Orbison drummer Larry Parks installed as producer, the group signed to the Hickory label to release the 1966 single "The Hip," a major hit in Austin, where by most accounts they were the most popular act among University of Texas fraternity members. Two more Hickory singles -- "Something That You Said" and "Jack and the Beanstalk" -- followed by year's end, and in 1967 the Sparkles recorded their masterpiece, "No Friend of Mine," an incendiary effort distinguished by Nunn's snarling guitar lead and Floyd's remarkably anguished vocal. (The song was later immortalized via inclusion on the first Nuggets box set.)

After one last Hickory single, "Hipsville 29 B.C.," Nunn and Holt quit the band, and Floyd, Smith, and Marriot soon after relocated to California, rechristening the band the Pearly Gate. According to legend, they were scheduled to perform at a benefit for Robert F. Kennedy the night of his assassination -- they also appeared on the television series Judd for the Defense before returning to Texas and restoring the Sparkles name. Future John Denver guitarist Steve Weisberg played in this final go-round. After Floyd returned to California to join the folk-rock group Red Wilder Blue, the Sparkles finally dissolved in 1972. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era

Disc 1

1. I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)

2. Dirty Water

3. Night Time

4. Lies

5. Respect

7. No Time Like The Right Time

8. Oh Yeah

10. Moulty

11. Don't Look Back

13. Liar, Liar

14. You're Gonna Miss Me

15. Psychotic Reaction

17. Romeo And Juliet

18. Sugar And Spice

19. Baby Please Don't Go

20. Tobacco Road

21. Let's Talk About Girls

22. Sit Down I Think I Love You

24. My World Fell Down

26. Farmer John

Disc 2

1. Talk Talk

2. Last Time Around

3. Nobody But Me

4. Journey To Tyme

5. No Friend Of Mine

6. Outside Chance

7. Action Woman

9. Sweet Young Thing

10. Incense And Peppermints

11. I Ain't No Miracle Worker

12. 7 & 7 Is

14. Going All The Way

15. I'm Gonna Make You Mine

16. The Trip

18. Why Do I Cry

19. Laugh, Laugh

21. I Wonder

22. I See The Light

23. Who Do You Love

24. Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)

25. Live

26. Steppin' Out

28. Strychnine

29. Little Girl

30. (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet

31. Shape Of Things To Come

Disc 3

1. Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)

3. At The River's Edge

5. Follow Me

8. She's About A Mover

9. Little Bit O' Soul

10. Put The Clock Back On The Wall

12. Run, Run, Run

13. I Need You

14. Knock, Knock

15. Primitive

16. Psycho

17. So What!!

18. You Must Be A Witch

19. A Question Of Temperature

20. Maid Of Sugar - Maid Of Spice

21. You Ain't Tuff

22. Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White

23. She's My Baby

24. Story Of My Life

25. I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time

27. Bad Little Woman

28. Double Yellow Line

29. Optical Sound

30. Journey To The Center Of The Mind

Disc 4

4. Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl

5. Wooly Bully

6. I Want Candy

8. One Track Mind

9. Out Of Our Tree

10. I Think I'm Down

13. Johnny Was A Good Boy

14. Stop - Get A Ticket

16. The Witch

17. Get Me To The World On Time

20. Just Like Me

22. I Live In The Springtime

25. Love's Gone Bad

26. Why Pick On Me

27. Bad Girl

30. Blue's Theme

x

Track List: Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole

2. Comin' On Strong

3. Soul Melody (Yam Who? Remix)

4. Bail Out

5. Free

6. Striving For Tomorrow

7. French Fried Boogie

8. Trying To Get Over

9. Scorcher (Instrumental)

10. Funkyfied

x

Track List: Smooch Records

1. Bull In The Dell

2. Jacob Dumb

4. American Wheeze

7. Tube City, Pakistan

8. The Denver Boot

9. If They Cheered

10. Joanna

15. Angel

Comments

Report as inappropriate
lmliro
OK, with two more years of Pandora education, now I can see the ties to early Deep Purple. I agree with dorubo, let your mind wander back to 1966, and this is pretty good.
Report as inappropriate
Who knows?
But they're still good, in my opinion at least.
Report as inappropriate
lmliro
This is supposed to be like Deep Purple?

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