By Highlight Central

initially printed: 08/08/2020

"Full Cyrkle!" Spotlight on The Cyrkle

The Cyrkle is a 60s-era rock band which is well-known for his or her hits, “Crimson Rubber Ball” and “Flip Down Day.” Based by lead singer/guitarist Don Dannemann, the band toured with The Beatles, opening for them on the Fab 4’s remaining present at Candlestick Park in 1966. After breaking apart, The Cyrkle reunited practically a half-century later with Dannemann on the helm, performing live shows across the nation, together with their first revival present at The Strand Theater in Lakewood, NJ.

Highlight Central just lately caught up with Dannemann to ask him about his early musical recollections, his rise to fame with The Cyrkle, his recollections of touring with The Beatles, and what he’s been as much as these days.

Highlight Central: We perceive you have been born in Brooklyn to a mother who performed the piano. Is it true that your mother stated you have been already buzzing songs whenever you have been solely 10 months previous?

Don Dannemann: Sure, that’s truly true. My mother instructed me that once I was solely 10 months previous, she was diapering me and she or he was buzzing the music, “Little Brown Jug,” and I hummed it again to her. Now, I don’t keep in mind that, clearly, however that’s what she instructed me.

 


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Highlight Central: You’ve stated that in fifth grade, you may recall listening to Alan Freed’s 1010 WINS present in your transistor radio. What sort of music have been you interested by on the time?

Don Dannemann: As a household, I keep in mind after we would journey within the automobile, we might take heed to Martin Block’s Make Consider Ballroom, and I used to be at all times within the music he performed. However round 1955, for my birthday, I obtained a transistor radio, and I used to be sitting on the entrance porch of our dwelling in Brooklyn once I came across Alan Freed’s rock and roll present on WINS in New York and I used to be transfixed. The primary music I heard was a music referred to as “Story Untold” by The Nutmegs and it simply caught me. I keep in mind listening and listening — to the purpose the place I even missed my favourite TV reveals — and pondering “I wish to try this! That is nice!”

 

Highlight Central: After taking piano classes, influenced by Elvis, you began taking guitar classes. Inform us about how, as a teenager, you started your recording profession with a tape recorder you obtained as a present.

Don Dannemann: It’s fascinating you point out that. This could have been, in all probability, round eighth grade or so. I had gotten a tape recorder as a gift, and never lengthy after, I used to be given a second tape recorder. As quickly as I obtained the second tape recorder, the very first thing I did was put the 2 tape recorders subsequent to one another to report myself performing the music, “Within the Nonetheless of the Night time.” I recorded the primary half [sings] Sh-doo, shoo-be-doo/Sh-doo, shoo-be-doo” into the primary tape recorder. Then I put my head subsequent to the speaker of the primary tape recorder and I took the mike of the second tape recorder and I put it in entrance and sang the second half, the concord. Then I went backwards and forwards a couple of occasions with that between the 2 recorders, and eventually sang the lead. It was an terrible recording — it was hissy and there was room noise and all that — but it surely was appropriate. It was the way in which overdubs have been accomplished afterward and even now — the place you may sing together with your self — and I did precisely that with my two tape recorders, so I suppose you may say I obtained began with multi-track recording fairly early on.

 

Highlight Central: As a highschool pupil, you performed in several teams after which, at Lafayette School in Easton, PA, you based a band referred to as The Rhondells. What sort of music did you play and the place did you carry out?

Don Dannemann: The Rhondells obtained began at a freshman mixer at Lafayette School throughout my freshman 12 months. A few guys began taking part in when the employed band took a break and a pal of mine stated, “Hey, Don, it’s best to go play with them.” I obtained my guitar and went down and began taking part in with them, and it was a type of magic moments the place all of us went, “Wow, we are able to play the identical stuff!” It was principally rock of the time — Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, and a few doo-wop stuff. Quickly after, we began rehearsing and a serious factor occurred at Christmas when my highschool girlfriend broke up with me. It actually made me very unhappy, but it surely freed me as much as say, “All proper, my girlfriend’s gone. I don’t care about seeing women on social gathering weekends, so when you guys wish to get some jobs for the band, let’s do it.”

My bandmate, Jim Maiella, who was our first drummer at school — Marty Fried, the unique Cyrkle drummer, took place two years later — obtained us a job taking part in a fraternity social gathering at Lehigh College, which was simply down the highway a bit from our faculty. So we began taking part in fraternity events doing the rock and roll music of the time and, over the course of our keep at Lafayette, we grew to become the band to get for fraternity events.

"Full Cyrkle!" Spotlight on The Cyrkle

Highlight Central: For 2 summers in a row, The Rhondells had a summer time gig taking part in in Atlantic Metropolis on the Alibi Bar. That’s the place you have been heard by a New York Metropolis lawyer, Nat Weiss, who launched you to his enterprise associate. Inform us what occurred there?

Don Dannemann: We have been taking part in on the Alibi Bar throughout our second summer time there — this was the summer time of 1965 — once I had already graduated from Lafayette, our authentic keyboard participant Earl Pickens had graduated, our bass participant Tommy Dawes had about six months left to go, and Marty Fried our drummer had a full 12 months to go. Mainly, we have been going to interrupt up and go our separate methods — we’d already acknowledged what a good time we’d had collectively — when Nat Weiss walked into the Alibi Bar, heard us, and launched himself. He stated, “My title is Nat Weiss and I’m an excellent pal of The Beatles’ supervisor Brian Epstein. We’re forming a administration firm right here on this nation and when you’re , give me a name,” and all of us thought, “Baloney, baloney, baloney — we’d heard all of this earlier than.”

So summer time was over and I used to be again dwelling with my dad and mom in Eastchester — which is a suburb of New York Metropolis in Westchester County — and Tom and Marty and I have been nonetheless taking part in sometimes again at Lafayette, and I used to be working for my dad on the sheet metallic manufacturing facility, and I believed, “Properly, why don’t I give this man Nat a name? Possibly it’s for actual?”

So I referred to as Nat and he remembered me and stated, “Oh, yeah, Don! Nice to listen to from you!” and he gave me an tackle and a time and stated, “Come right down to this place and I’ll introduce you to Brian.”

So, gulp, “OK!”

I drive down with a buddy of mine. It was the Higher East Facet of Manhattan, and it was a small walk-up constructing in the midst of the block. I stroll as much as the primary ground the place he instructed us to go and there was a celebration occurring, however Nat wasn’t there. It took awhile, however he lastly confirmed up and I stated, “Hey, Nat, right here I’m.” He stated, “Oh, yeah, Don, observe me down.”

And I observe him down, and there’s a limo parked proper outdoors on the road, and with a really magnanimous gesture together with his fingers, he opens the door and beckons me into the limousine. I observe him in and he sits me down and, son of a gun, I’m now sitting face-to-face with Brian Epstein! To me, this was simply unbelievable, and I’m simply attempting to be very cool about all of this. So Nat introduces me — and at any time when I inform individuals this, I’ve to preface it by saying that I’m a fairly good guitar participant, however I’m not an unbelievable guitar participant — however Nat, nonetheless, introduces me saying, “Brian Epstein, I would love you to satisfy Don Dannemann, one of many best musicians I do know.”

So, gulp, once more.

I shake Brian’s hand and there’s a bit trade backwards and forwards. I say, “Brian, wow! We’re such huge Beatles’ followers and it was nice to satisfy Nat, and now it’s nice to satisfy you, and perhaps we are able to get one thing going.” And Brian, who in all of our interactions with him was at all times a gentleman; only a very pretty individual — says in his very English accent, “Oh, sure, Don. Nat has spoken very extremely of you. We’re wanting ahead to, maybe, getting one thing going with you, so keep in contact with Nat and I’ll be backwards and forwards and we’ll see what occurs.”

Then, as graciously as Nat beckoned me into the limo, he now opens the door and beckons me out, and I’m out standing on the street watching the limo slowly pull off into the darkish the place, like in a video, it simply fades out.

"Full Cyrkle!" Spotlight on The Cyrkle

Highlight Central: So Brian Epstein grew to become your supervisor and the band grew to become The Cyrkle. The place did the title come from and who got here up with the distinctive spelling?

Don Dannemann: So right here we have been with our new administration contract with Brian Epstein and Nat Weiss, together with our new Columbia Data recording contract. We have been nonetheless within the early levels of all this and nonetheless referred to as The Rhondells from Lafayette School, however we knew we wanted a brand new title and have been always pondering, “Properly, what might the brand new title be?” At some point, we have been recording at Columbia and Brian Epstein was on the town and he got here to the studio. He walked as much as me and stated, “Hey, Don, check out this,” and he handed me his enterprise card. It was a typical enterprise card and I might clearly see it stated “Brian Epstein” on it, however he stated, “Oh, no, no — flip it over!” so I turned the cardboard over the place I might see some scribbling that was a bit onerous to learn: “CYR… KRR…?”

“I’m sorry, Brian, what am I studying right here?” I ask, and he says, “Don, this will probably be your new title! As you may see, it’s ‘The Cyrkle,’ however discover the humorous spelling. After I was again in Britain, I talked to ‘the boys’…” — he at all times referred to The Beatles as “the boys” — “…and I instructed them we’ve a brand new American group and we’d like an fascinating new title for them, so I requested, ‘Does anyone have any concepts?’ And it was John who got here up with ‘The Cyrkle’ with the humorous spelling. You know the way John thinks — he at all times has an fascinating creativeness — he’s the one who got here up with the title.”

So there we have been. We have been now The Cyrkle. It got here from John Lennon, and I’m so honored to have been named by him. It’s an incredible little piece of historical past.

"Full Cyrkle!" Spotlight on The Cyrkle

Highlight Central: And it’s so cool how your group title has an uncommon spelling similar to The Beatles! You talked about that The Cyrkle signed a cope with Columbia Data. One of many first songs the band recorded for Columbia was “Crimson Rubber Ball,” which was co-written by Paul Simon. Though you’ve stated that it took you guys till 6am to report it, you’ve additionally prompt you weren’t notably enamored with the music at first. Why not?

Don Dannemann: Properly, that is simply me, personally. I believed it was a cute music, however that’s about it for me; I believed, “Yeah, it’s cute. Let’s report it and let’s see what occurs.” So we recorded it. The recording clearly turned out fairly effectively and it grew to become an enormous hit. Even through the time it was a success and through the time we have been on the market performing it, I nonetheless thought it was a cute music, however not unbelievable. That stated, let me provide you with my sense of how I came upon that “Crimson Rubber Ball” — and our recording of it — truly is unbelievable.

Means later — we’re speaking within the mid-’80s — after the group had damaged up and we had gone our separate methods, I obtained into producing commercials, and I had a really pretty profession doing that. A small report firm referred to as Sundazed obtained the license to launch our stuff — they specialised in oldies music — and so they wished feedback in regards to the materials. I used to be all on my own in an airplane flying someplace and I believed, “All proper, let me take heed to what they gave me.” It was a cassette with a Walkman and a pair of headphones. I put my head down and began to take heed to the tape and “Crimson Rubber Ball” was the very first thing that got here on. I hadn’t listened to it for awhile, so now I’m actually listening to it, and within the first second or two, I even have an epiphany.

The sound of “Crimson Rubber Ball” — as quickly because it comes on — it simply seems like a success. It has its personal distinctive sound high quality. It has components that simply carry you in — there’s the organ [sings] Bah-bah, bah-da-bah-pah” and the guitar [sings] “Bah-dah, buh-dah, dah da-dah-da-duh” After which it goes on to our vocal, which I begin out, after which my bandmate Tommy — who, sadly we’ve misplaced — joins me, and the concord is simply our sound. No one else sounds precisely like us, and I begin to understand, “Wow! I perceive why it was a success report.” In order that’s one factor.

"Full Cyrkle!" Spotlight on The Cyrkle

The subsequent factor I can share with you when it comes to my newfound appreciation of “Crimson Rubber Ball” is: fast-forward to the present revival that we’re now in, the place we’ve revived The Cyrkle. I’ve discovered that in meet-and-greets which we do after live shows, I’ll get feedback.

Typically, it’s easy stuff the place individuals will simply come as much as me and say, “Wow, I like ‘Crimson Rubber Ball.’ It was my first 45. I performed it to loss of life. It’s an incredible, nice music. Nice recollections.” That’s one.

Second, a man comes as much as me, shakes my hand, and he says, “Thanks.” I say, “You’re welcome, however why are you thanking me?” He says, “I need you to know that ‘Crimson Rubber Ball’ obtained me by my divorce. I’d stand up within the morning and that music would come on the air and it simply introduced me up! That lyric, ‘The morning solar is shining like a crimson rubber ball…,’ was simply wonderful.”

And the final one I’ll share with you is one which introduced me to tears. An older gentleman with a veteran’s hat got here as much as me and stated, “I need you to know that in ‘Nam, we had a bit battery-operated tape recorder that had ‘Crimson Rubber Ball’ on it. I can’t inform you what number of battles that music obtained us by.” And we hugged and teared up.

And so, what I’ve realized — and it’s wonderful that it took me this lengthy to appreciate it — is that “Crimson Rubber Ball” was, has turn out to be, and continues to be, an “up anthem” of that period. You realize? It actually affected hundreds and hundreds of individuals — it had an excellent impact on hundreds and hundreds of individuals — a few of whom I’ve gotten to satisfy since our revival and, because of this, I’m honored to have been part of that music.

 

Highlight Central: In 1966 “Crimson Rubber Ball” offered over one million copies, it earned The Cyrkle a gold report, and it went to #2 on the Billboard pop chart, the place it was solely saved out of the #1 place by The Beatles’ “Paperback Author.”

Don Dannemann: Yeah, “Paperback Author” saved us out of the #1 spot, and I truly point out that in our present. After a couple of songs, as part of the present, I’ll tackle the viewers and say, “You all know the way huge ‘Crimson Rubber Ball’ was — it was an enormous music with plenty of affect on lots of people — however I’m unhappy to say that ‘Crimson Rubber Ball’ solely made it to #2.” Then I’ll put my head down and the viewers will often say, “Awww….” After which I’ll end it up by saying, “However the next music was #1” at which level we bang into “Paperback Author.”

"Full Cyrkle!" Spotlight on The Cyrkle

Highlight Central: The Cyrkle’s subsequent single, “Flip Down Day,” grew to become a High 20 hit for the band in 1966, however we perceive that in the future within the studio, Paul Simon stated to you, “Right here’s a music we’re recording on our newest album which I believe can be excellent for you guys.” Which music was that — and did you are taking his recommendation?

Don Dannemann: No! That was in all probability one of many greatest mind freezes of the 20th Century! I additionally speak about that within the present, too. Mainly, we have been within the studio and Paul Simon — who was simply ending up his newest Simon and Garfunkel album — got here as much as us and stated, “There’s a music on the brand new album that I believe is perhaps excellent for you guys. The album’s not popping out for awhile so if you wish to do it, you may put it out as quickly as you need and it’ll be your music.”

We listened to it, and everyone within the studio was bopping round. It was only a great “up” second the place all of us agreed, “Yeah, it’s a success.” And the music ended — after which this huge mind freeze minimize in — and we checked out one another and agreed, “It’s actually good, however simply not for proper now. Possibly this could be higher to do in six months. Let’s simply proceed with what we have been doing.”

After which, at our reveals, I’ll say to the viewers, “So, girls and gents, we didn’t do the music, however I’ll allow you to resolve if we made a mistake, as a result of had we accomplished it, it might have seemed like this…” after which we bang into our model of “The 59th Avenue Bridge Track (Feelin’ Groovy).”

Highlight Central: Yeah! In the summertime of ’66, Bobby Hebb, well-known for singing “Sunny,” and The Ronettes, well-known for “Be My Child,” joined you in opening for The Beatles throughout their US Tour. You have been even there for The Beatles’ remaining live performance at Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966. Do you could have any particular recollections of that historic remaining efficiency?

Don Dannemann: The factor I keep in mind most about that final live performance at Candlestick was George Harrison taking private footage and saying, “Simply in case we don’t play these sorts of live shows anymore, I believed I’d prefer to have some private recollections” — and it turned out that was their final in-person live performance. Evidently, that they had been speaking about perhaps not taking part in in-person reveals anymore and simply doing the extra intricate studio stuff they wished to do. So that truly is my important reminiscence of Candlestick — George taking footage and making that remark about The Beatles presumably not taking part in stay live shows any extra.

"Full Cyrkle!" Spotlight on The Cyrkle

Highlight Central: Undoubtedly some foreshadowing there! It’s been stated that The Cyrkle was one of many bands that was the inspiration for the Tom Hanks’ film, That Factor You Do. Are you aware if that’s true?

Don Dannemann: I don’t, however I can inform you that whenever you have a look at that film, the band’s story is a bit like ours. So whether or not that was an inspiration, I don’t know — I by no means had any contact with anybody related to the movie — however when you have a look at our historical past and our story after which have a look at that film, there’s a relationship.

 

Highlight Central: You talked about that after so a few years of the band being aside, The Cyrkle was just lately revived with a number of new members, and one in every of your first stay live shows was at The Strand Theater in Lakewood, NJ. In spite of everything of these years, how did it really feel to be again on stage and taking part in stay music once more?

Don Dannemann: I can’t inform you what a kick it’s been! I’m 77 years previous now — and we began this a few years in the past — however to have the ability to get on stage and to play rock and roll and to nonetheless be in fairly good well being? Thank God, I’m in fairly good well being and I can bop round on stage and my voice has held up — however it’s a thrill to be on stage. And after we performed in Lakewood, that was truly our first business live performance after the band’s revival, and we didn’t know the way it was gonna go. We solely obtained to play it as a result of one other band needed to cancel and there was a gap so the promoter, Joe Mirrione, requested us to be part of the present. With this being our first business efficiency, we didn’t know what was going to occur, however after “Crimson Rubber Ball” completed, the gang responded with a standing ovation and we thought, “Wow, that is nice!”

Highlight Central: With live shows usually being postponed these days, what have you ever been as much as?

Don Dannemann: Properly, I’ve truly been doing a good quantity of interviews, which is form of cool; I get plenty of requests for them and I’m joyful to do them. There are a couple of recording tasks that we’ve occurring, as effectively. The Cyrkle is doing an album. And I used to be additionally approached to see if I’d be focused on doing a duet of a doo-wop music with a younger singer named Chris Ruggiero. I did it — and I additionally produced the music a part of it, which I combined in my studio in my basement — and we did a video of it which has already gotten hundreds of views on social media up to now, and we’re gonna do extra of these, truly. So between that and The Cyrkle undertaking, I’ve been type of busy.

 

Highlight Central: Is there something you’d prefer to say to music lovers who’re wanting ahead to seeing the group stay in live performance — or the rest you’d like so as to add?

Don Dannemann: I’d recommend they go to thecyrkle.com, or go to “The Cyrkle” on Fb, and on the level after we’re capable of begin performing once more, they’ll be capable to see the place and after we’re doing it. Proper now, we simply don’t know — however we definitely do miss it. Simply to reiterate, nonetheless: It’s been an actual honor to have been part of “Crimson Rubber Ball” and to have had an affect on so many hundreds of individuals and to get to satisfy a few of them, so I suppose you may say I’m simply wanting ahead to all of it persevering with!

"Full Cyrkle!" Spotlight on The Cyrkle

To be taught extra about Don Dannemann and The Cyrkle, please go to thecyrkle.com.

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