Memories

The Ascots Band

The Ascots were a group of Mid-Michigan teenagers who decided to try for a shot at the top at the ripe old age of 14 and 16.

The band lineup was John Neff, Lead Guitar,Backup Vocals and Songwriter; Chris Chappell, Lead Singer; Bob Pelmear, Bass Guitar, Backup Vocals and Songwriter; Dale Kath, Rhythm Guitar and Backup Vocals; and Frank Giglio, Drums.

The band started in 1964, rehearsing in the basement of St. Benedict’s School in Pontiac, Michigan.

Chris, John and Dale were big fans of The Beach Boys and the whole Surf/Hot Rod movement. Bob was into the emerging Beatles and English Beat scene, and Frank, two years older than the rest of us, was into the hard core ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’ era of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Kingsmen and the burgeoning Detroit-based Soul Movement.

In August of 1965, they had a chance to record a single, of a song written by Bob (“Who Will It Be”) and John (“So Good”). The songs were recorded in a two hour afternoon session, and mastered in a session in October of 1965, by Tom Neff, John’s older brother and a recording enthusiast.

In March of 1966, they played a ‘Sock Hop’ at Notre Dame High School in Detroit, with The Shades of Blue (“Oh, How Happy”) and The Capitols (“Cool Jerk”). Dave Prince, afternoon Drive DJ of AM powerhouse WXYZ was there as the hosting DJ, and he was given a copy of the newly-pressed 45rpm record. He announced a new song by “Detroit’s newest recording act – The Ascots”, and played the B-Side of the record – ‘So Good’. The kids got up and danced!

When the band came on to play live, the audience was revved up and ready! The Ascots received a huge ovation and even the other, more established acts were very kind in their comments about the young startup act.

Dave Prince asked if he could take the record back to the station, and John agreed. He started playing it in his shift, and Rosalie Trumbull, the Program Director for Windsor, Ontario-based CKLW, called him to say that she was getting requests from listeners for the record, yet she couldn’t find it.

Dave called John, who promptly sent her a copy, and she had the record played on the station.

Meanwhile, John’s Dad Robert, had the 45 re-pressed and sent to record stores.

The Ascots’ fame culminated in a Cobo Hall, Detroit performance opening for The Turtles, on the “Happy Together” tour in the Spring of 1966.

The Ascots broke up the following year, after Bob went back to the Felice brothers, starting a band which would yield John’s second record, “Maple Street Park”.

Jim Stiel replaced Bob as Bassist, and the band continued until mid 1967. John then went back into a band with Joe and Paul Felice and Bob Pelmear, called “The Tribe”. This band ened up being managed by Ed “Punch”Andrews, of Bob Seger fame.