documenting the optical sounds of '60s pop, Acid Punk & Psychedelia

The Mo-Shuns: An interview with John Sherwin

The Mo-Shuns – “The Way She Walks” / “What Can I Say” (20th Century-Fox Records 45-6645) August 1966

Back in August 2008 I reviewed this amazing single. Here are my thoughts

Both sides of this disc sound like they were recorded by an underground English band circa mid ’66. However, The Mo-Shuns were not from England but Long Island, New York.

’What Can I Say’ is a primitive rant with a Bo Diddley beat, then all of a sudden a talented lead guitarist unleashes a perfect freak beat style solo that lifts the song well above average. It’s one of the few times I’ve heard this type of guitar sound on an American record. It was compiled some years ago on Garage Punk Volume 4.

’The Way She Walks’ is virtually the same song displaying a similar beat, caveman vocals and another blinding freak beat guitar sound.

*****The powers of the internet never cease to amaze me and I was contacted by John Sherwin who was the lead guitarist in The Mo-Shuns. John kindly answered some questions I sent to him via email. I think it’s an important thing to document accurate information about long forgotten 60s teenbeat groups. I’m sure many people who frequent my website think, like I do, that both sides of this disc are killer…and any information that paints a fuller picture is indeed worthy and dare I say….essential.*****

1. How/when did the group get together? Were you school friends.

We were school friends and lived in the same neighbourhood in North Babylon, Long Island NY.  We started playing school dances and church dances etc.  Played on the Murray the K Radio Show, “Swinging Soiree” and you went from one school or church to another all night long. 

No money, but the band got named on the radio..  That was very cool..  Nobody knew who we were, but they loved the band.. I guess they loved all of them.

2. Who were the group members and what instruments did they play?

The Mo-Shuns were: myself John Sherwin, I was the lead guitarist, and studied for a short time, classical music, but had to get to Rock.

Drummer, John Ofrias, Rhythm Guitar, Carl Schifano, Lead Singer and Bass, George Abruscato.( George passed away 15 years ago)

3. How did the name Mo-Shuns come about? Were you called anything before this name?

The name Mo-Shuns came from us, but we also had eventually, Managers  Glen Moore, Sandy Yellin, 20th Century Fox Recording, who liked the name The MO-Shuns.. instead of  (The Motions.) 

4. How long were the group together?

We were together for about 5 or 6 years. 

5. Where was the single recorded? Studio used?

Our single, was recorded at Decca Studios in Manhattan, on the 20th Century Fox label.  

6. Where did you play gigs, names of venues etc. Did you play any gigs with other groups?

We started playing bars on Long Island.  Islip Bowl, a bowling alley was actually a very big venue at the time – very popular for dancing.  We played there about 4 nights a week for a while, all cover songs, except for our only record “The Way She Walks” and ”What Can I Say”

The latter song became more popular on radio for a short time, because I wrote the simplistic music at that time and I was moving towards more of a “metal” type sound.

The guys did not like it that much, but I did and so did a lot of others. We signed with Broadcast Music Inc and joined the musicians union. That got us playing in bigger venues in Manhattan, Like Trude Hellers  and Arthurs in Greenwich Village.

We backed up Monte Rock the Third at Trude Hellers, only one session but it was a riot – the guy was a little eccentric! 

We did play at the Metropol once, and backed up the Shangri-Las, and also The Cyrkle played there that day (“Red Rubber Ball”) I think our drummer sat in on one of their songs for some reason..

We also played at the Barge, Southampton NY, where the Young Rascals played.  We were the cover band, but only for a couple of weeks.

The big bands back then were, The Rascals, Vanilla Fudge, The Hassles, Mitch Ryder, The Vagrants. ( later to be Leslie West, Mountain)

We were playing sometimes 4-5 nights a week and, out on Long Island and back to Manhattan, and it was getting tough. So the group did break up so that the guys could get “regular jobs”. 

I kept playing with a lot of other musicians for a couple of years. Played at the Action House as a cover band for a while. Vanilla Fudge were there as the highlight band. Wow were they great. Carmen Appice, Tim Bogert!!  We listened to them and felt like we really needed to practice a lot! ha ha!!! 

We Changed the name to Motion for a while, played a lot of small venues on Long Island also, back to Islip Bowl and some bars in the area, but could not keep together for many reasons, I stopped playing and got a real job as well. 

7. Any other memories that you have not already covered?

Memories?? bands like The Vagrants, ( Leslie West ) one night he got feed back from the microphone, so he smashed his guitar into the amp, and they walked off the stage, came back later that night.  Crazy!  We were playing at a club down the road, forgot the name of the club, and wanted to go see them.

I think the one thing was that we had fun, we were close friends. I still email the drummer John Ofrias. He lives in Riverhead NY and I live in The Villages, Florida. So miles apart.

Like I said, I am now retired. Still have a Marshall 1/2 stack in a small bedroom in my house and play along with stuff like Yngwie Malmsteen, Van Halen, Eagles, The Beatles music. So I got to be a much better guitarist later in life. 

But just for fun and I need to play my guitar all the time. Have a great family, son is 28, he played guitar in a band here in Florida, went to Nashville for a couple of years and played there, now back in Florida, works at Walt Disney World.

Hope this is not too much but about all I can remember. I am sure there is more but we were just a little cover band, along with thousands of others – But we had FUN!!!

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