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John Townsend
(son of a gun we'll have big fun on)




One of my earliest childhood memories was around the age of 2. I had been squirming and
falling in and out of sleep on those old hard wooden church pews at the Circlewood Baptist
Church in my home town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I can still see my dad towering above me,
Broadman Hymnal in hand and singing gloriously in his tenor voice. I remember thinking my
dad is the world's best singer. Like any kid, my dad was the strongest and best at whatever.
So, I suppose I owe it all to him...........

All my early attempts at singing were imitations of my father. Later on in life, it was imitations of Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, James Brown and just about any male R&B artist of the 60s.
Because I seemed to have some musical capabilities, I spent my grade school years fighting with my mother over one basic issue. She thought that I should grow up to be the next Van Cliburn at a time in my life when, more than anything, I wanted to be the next Mickey Mantle.
At about the age of 17, I was with some high school friends driving back from Columbus, Mississippi where, bythe way, you could buy beer as long as you were tall enough to see over the counter. As we were rolling along we started singing loudly in the car.
My pal Jimmy Wilson commented on my voice and said he had been playing some guitar and that he had been wanting to start a band with some other friends, but couldn't find anybody that could sing worth a damn. Then he said,"you're it". Well that pretty much started it all off. We played our first gig some months later at a local Jr. High School Prom and the principal came up after we had finished playing and said "how much do we owe you". One of the guys spoke up and said "is 50 bucks OK with you?" We were all thinking that if they paid money for us doing something for fun, something that we all enjoyed, that it was time to get serious. In the next few years that followed I was in several blues/copy bands with some of those same friends and little by little we found ourselves slowly moving up the musical food chain.
Fast forward to college: I entered the University of Alabama at age 18 fully intending to get through pre-med and go on to become a doctor. About the end of my sophomore year I was losing my mind studying for a chemistry final one night when I got a call from a guy named Johnny Wyker.
He was putting together a band and already had some things booked and convinced me that it would be the perfect way to finance my college education. I said I would do it on one condition. That condition was that my friend Tippy Armstrong, with w ihom I had played in my first bands, could be the guitar player. We formed a seven piece band with some horn players and called ourselves The Magnificent Seven. The magnificent part about it was that we soon became the most popular band on campus an in no time at all we were doing gigs at all the major colleges in the southeast.< We headlined beach clubs in Florida and eventually some recordings we did at Boutwell Studio in Birmingham found their way to a big time producer in New York named Charlie Calello. We had to change the name of the band because The Magnificent Seven was a copyrighted movie title. Overnight we became The Rubber Band.
Our first record made with Calello came out on Columbia records and was a big turn table hit in pretty much every city in the U.S. We didn't sell a lot of records because, for one, Columbia didn't even realize it was their record and didn't follow up with records in the stores. Live and learn. We were novices at big time show biz but we had the taste of success and wanted more. That record, by the way was titled Let Love Come Between Us.

Listen to:

It was later recorded by James and Bobby Purify and The Pointer Sisters and went near the top of the charts as I remember. As time went on, and as happens with all bands, we eventually broke up. By that time medical school was only a memory. Tippy became a Muscle Shoals session guitarist some years later. Johnny Wyker is an entrepreneur of sorts in the music industry in the Muscle Shoals area.



© 2013 Johnny Townsend
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