IN THE LATE 1950s there were still plenty of folks – especially established musicians – who were rock 'n' roll haters. The long list of nationally prominent stars who specifically dissed the music (& its fans) included bobbysoxer idol Frank Sinatra, classical cello master Pablo Casals – & the biggest A&R wig at the largest label in the world: Columbia Records' Mitch Miller. Even the greatest singing star to ever emerge from the Northwest – Bing Crosby – figured (as late as 1962) that, not to worry: rock music had already "run its course."
Along the way a number of songs with a clear anti-rock spirit, & containing outright mocking condescension, were produced. Examples include: Stan Freberg tunes like "Try" (a histrionic satire of the Northwest's pop phenom, Johnnie Ray, & his international hit, "Cry"), "Sh-Boom" (a spoof of the Chords' 1954 doo-wop hit), & "Heartbreak Hotel" (a slam on Elvis Presley's breakthrough 1956 hit, in which the King rips his pants and a studio's backslap echo goes berserk) -- & The 3 Haircuts' "You Are So Rare To Me" (Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner & Howie Morris' 1956 sendup of a twitchy & pompadoured teen vocal trio), & Mitchel Torok's March, 1959, dig against Johnny Cash's rockabilly sound, "All Over Again, Again."
Seattle's contribution to this artistically dubious field is highlighted with this single: The Byron Gosh Trio's "Disgusting" / "By Gosh." Issued by New York's Golden Crest label – their archives show that it was mastered on May 15, 1959 – the tunes were cut at Joe Boles' fabled West Seattle home studio. We also know that those songs were published by Bolmin Publishing -- Boles' firm in partnership with Tacoma's music man, Art Mineo. The music itself is nothing much more than a cocktail lounge-worthy parody of real rock 'n' roll – it does feature a quite fluid electric guitar solo & is backed by crazy beatnik bongo-style drum fills – & the tune's structure emphasizes the utterance of exactly one repeated word. But while a few different radio hits of the day -- like the Champs' 1958 smash, "Tequila" -- had periodic breaks where the song's title was invoked in an enthusiastic manner, on this one the term "disgusting" is articulated with a sense of, well, sheer disgust.
So who were the Gosh gang? Well, that's a bit of a mystery. Virginia Boles – widow of the audio engineer – once told me that this disc was created as a slam on rock music by a group of professional local jazz stalwarts who deeply begrudged the new sounds. So, even though it is not firmly established, I'll risk taking my best shot at snitching on the culprits. A review of the contents of Boles' old studio guest log reveals evidence of a session in the spring of 1959 which featured these jazzmen: Chuck Bennett (guitar), Hal Champ (bass), Peter Lederer (piano), & Keith Purvis (drums). Interestingly, what I know about them is that the first two men also performed on another, later, Golden Crest 45: Stan Boreson's send-up of big-beat music: "Swedish Rock And Roll." Beyond that "coincidence," about all I know at this time is that Purvis – who grew up in North Seattle & graduated from Roosevelt High School – became a first-call AFM 76 union drummer & opened his own Burien-based store – the Keith Purvis Drum Shop (218 SW 153rd Street) – in 1955. That store – where, by gosh, I bought a set of new black Ludwig tubs in 1977 – became a mecca for generations of Northwest drum nuts, right up until his death in October 2004. But: if those Seattle players weren't the Byron Gosh Trio I'd certainly love to know who was!