L-R Lamar McClellan, Gerald Emerick, Eric (Ric) Smith (rear center), Billy Albert, Mike Pate
The Muphets (part 1) started out as the Marauders in 1962. Several of the band members, students at Germantown High School, were taking guitar lessons from Dale McIntosh and decided to start a band. They added Lamar McClellan on vocals (who had been in the Impacts) and started hitting the clubs in the Hamilton/Dayton area. The Marauders often competed in band battles at LeSwordsville Lake and Forest Park. In '64 they participated in a band battle (against Rick and the Raiders, amongst others) and were spotted by Andy Apperson who became their acting manager and gave them a makeover, adding choreography, uniforms, and a new name - the Muphets (a name suggested by Ric Smith). Apperson took the band to record at Megacity in Dayton where they cut two original songs, "All I Want" and "Why Did You Go', both sides nice British style beat-garage (a studio player overdubbed piano). The band paid the $1000 cost for studio time and 45s, money they borrowed, and repaid to a girl from Germantown. The record was issued on Sound Spectrum, a Chicago label run by soul producer Don Talty, who had a relationship with Apperson to produce and publish various acts. In the summer of '65 Cleveland based producer Shelly Haims, who had worked with Andy at Prism, nearly got the band signed to Golden World records in Detroit. In August of '65 Apperson, having sold his interest in Prism records, took the Muphets to New York City in an attempt to get them signed up with a major label. The group stayed in New York until December '65, playing engagements at the Peppermint Lounge and the Metropole Cafe, billed as 'direct from Montreal', and using faux British accents! The band worked the Metropole's tiny stage hard, bringing a harder, soulful edge than on their 45. Andy had contacted a NYC entertainment lawyer about promotion, and the lawyer, who happened to represent Muppet creator Jim Henson as well, pointed out the similarity of the names and suggested the band change monikers, to which they play some gigs as the Mupps. One day the group went shopping at Macys, where Lamar McClellan was mistaken for Mick Jagger and chased around the store! NYC producer Bo Gentry caught the Muphets at the Metropole, was interested in signing the band, produced a recording session under the Kama Sutra company authority. The A-side was to be a Gentry song called called "Please Give Me One More Chance", with a full 8-10 piece backing band. The music track was cut at Miro Sound and the vocals at Bell Sound with Artie Ripp attending. Nothing came of this recording (no copies are known to exist, amy trace probably gone when Apperson's effects were destroyed after his death), but Andy did make connections with Jeff Kasenetz and Jeremy Katz, connections that would pay off big in the future. The band did record four songs at Allegro Sound, including the first version of "My Money", and three other band originals. They also bought about $3500 worth of top equipment at Manny's. On their way back to Ohio they had planned to play a gig in Brockton, MA but their equipment did not arrive on time and they cancelled. Upon their return to Ohio they resumed their busy circuit in the SW Ohio clubs, including Kips A-Go-Go outside of Hamilton. Eventually Andy and the band parted ways, and Lamar McClellan left. The band recorded two more songs in Louisville, with Bob Patton producing and Darryl Friend playing piano. The songs were "Cold Winds" and a second version of "My Money". At some point Apperson had a copy of the Allegro Sound recording of "My Money" passed to the Kasenetz/Katz team because the Music Explosion song "I See the Light" is an acknowledged copy. The sides went unreleased until somehow, probably through Bob Patton, they ended up with Shad O'Shea who released a 45 of the sides in 1968. The 45, credited to the Muffets, was unknown to the band members until some time later. Gerald Emerick was drafted in early '66 and most of the other band members decided to control their own destinies by enrolling in the Marine Corps, figuring they would have better chance at survival. This brought an end to the Muphets. The group took all their equipment and sold the lot for $900! Bill Albert partnered with Dale McIntosh, Harry Urschel, and Nevin Cox to open the Sound Shop recording studio in '68 or so. Albert also joined the Jordan Parker Revue and the Hopple Street Exit. Gerald Emerick, upon his discharge in '69, joined the Grey Imprint, a hard soul/horn band that added Sonny Flaharty as front man for a while. The Grey Imprint shared similar territory with the Hopple Street Exit. Ric Smith was killed in a car accident in March of '69, and Lamar McClellan was last known to be serving time for a felony. Mike Pate is also deceased.
Muphets summer/fall 1964, L-R: Ric Smith (bottom), Mike Pate (standing), Billy Albert, Gerald Emerick (standing), Lamar McClellan (bottom)
Muphets 1966, in the lobby of the Flamingo Club in Newport, KY, L-R: Gerald Emerick, Ric Smith, Billy Albert, Mike Pate. Lamar McClellan had left the band.
See the story on the Muffets for a strange twist to the fate of the Muphets Counterpart 45...