The Ramrods were one of those hundreds, if not thousands, of instru- mental rock 'n' roll groups operating in the USA in the late fifties and early sixties, when the genre was at its most popular. They fared better than most by scoring one substantial hit.
The group was formed in 1956 in Connecticut and was unusual for their era in that they featured a female drummer, Claire Lane, who also did the group's arrangements. Her brother Richard Lane played the sax and the other two members were cousins : Vincent Bell Lee and Eugene Moore (now deceased). They both played guitar.
At the end of 1960 the quartet made their first record for the fledgling Amy label in New York, a subsidiary of Bell Records. The A-side was a remake of Vaughn Monroe's giant 1949 hit (# 1 for twelve weeks), "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky", with overdubbed shouts, whistles and cattle calls. As with so many other guitar groups from that period, there was a strong Duane Eddy influence. Cash Box proved that they could spot a winner by making it a "Pick of the Week". In the USA, the record peaked at # 30 in February 1961. Released on London- American in the UK, it was an even bigger hit there, reaching # 8. The flip "Zig Zag" was a lazy sax-led boogie. Not bad at all for a B-side.
The follow-up was a familiar old Scottish tune, "Loch Lomond Rock", complete with an authentic-sounding bagpipe intro. Though this was at least as good as "Riders" (in my opinion), this time there was no chart success. The B-side was "Take Me Back To My Boots and Saddle", the old cowboy tune that Screamin' Jay Hawkins's mother liked so much. Two further singles on Amy were even less successful and by 1963 the group had ceased to exist. According to Stuart Colman, in his 1995 liner notes for "Teen Beat, Volume 3" (Ace 602), there were post-Amy releases on Plymouth, R&H and Queen, but these were probably by a different Ramrods group. At least the Plymouth records were by a Boston group called the Rockin' Ramrods: http://www.dirtywater.com/a2z/r/ramrods/
I think that the four Amy singles represent their complete recorded output. They can be found on the Spanish CD "Flamingo Express" by the Royaltones (Alvorado AL-CD 6310121, released in 1994), which contains 23 tracks by the Royaltones and eight by the Ramrods.
The track listing is at
[Comments by Russ Cook]
[Comments by Fred Clemens]
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