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Grand Rapids' Grandest Garage Band
The Kingtones History
With Pete Mervenne: 1957-1968
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In 1963, they released their third and most successful record, "Twins." After reaching No. 7 on the local Top 40 charts, Cadet Distributing, a promotional firm in Detroit, signed them to a record contract. Cadet then re-released "Twins" in 1964 with a slightly different arrangement, on the Derry label. Cadet promoted the record heavily in the western states. Just when it looked as though it was going to take off, the "British Invasion" struck like lightning. The record stopped receiving airplay and died.

Discouraged, but unwilling to give up, the Kingtones cut their fourth record, "The Girl I Love" in 1965, released on the Drummond label. Cadet promoted the record and it soared to No. 4 on the Top 40 charts. The Michigan Review reported it as one of the biggest selling records in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Flint, Detroit, and in neighboring Toledo, Ohio. Nationally however, radio stations did not give it enough airplay to keep up the momentum, and another record died. Cadet soon relinquished any hope for The Kingtones, and their next recording, "I Am the One Who Stands Alone," never went to vinyl.

In the spring of 1964 the band traveled to Fort Lauderdale. They decided to try to book a gig in Florida and went to discuss the possibility with the management of Lenny's, one of the largest clubs in the area. They struck out there, but refused to give up and auditioned at Porky's, another large club.


The owner hired them and they played from 9:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m., six days a week. The kids loved them and filled Porky's.


Then the owner of Lenny's tried to lure them away from Porky's, but they turned him down.

That summer they were booked at the Old Crow, a club in the small resort town of Saugatuck, Michigan.


After spending days on the beach, the kids filled the streets at night.

One night, the mayor of Saugatuck called Tom Johnson, the owner of the Old Crow, and asked if The Kingtones could play on the porch of the club to accommodate the large crowds that couldn't get into the club.

The mayor's request was honored and the kids loved it.

The band continued packing local clubs such as Westgate Bowl and the Shamrock lounge. Their fans never minded having to wait in long lines to hear them.




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