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

Starbuck & the Rainmakers – Let Your Hair Hang Long (Valiant Records)

“Let Your Hair Hang Long” / “I Who Have Nothing” (Valiant Records V-744) August 1966

Los Angeles label Valiant Records released some magical records during 1965/1966 and had a very high ratio of compelling folk-rock janglers and garage rockers. One such release that rarely gets a mention and has not received much acclaim is this two-sider by Starbuck & The Rainmakers.

‘Let Your Hair Hang Long’ is folk-rock genius with fuzz, 12-string jangle action and rattling tambourine. Sadly it doesn’t seem to have left much of an imprint on L.A. music history, although the record did get a mention in Billboard during August 1966.

I’d love to know more about this group but my investigations have drawn a blank. Maybe one day someone will come forward with more information. Songwriting credits for this side is E.Gurren – R.Keith.

The other side ’I Who Have Nothing’ is the often covered classic by Lieber and Stoller. Here, Starbuck & The Rainmakers have recorded a moody gem of a version with a folk-rock backbeat and fine background harmonies.

Since I wrote my article on Starbuck & The Rainmakers I have been in touch with Gene Thompson and Everett Clark who were members of the group. Both gentlemen sent me some excellent information about their 60s group. Thanks for the photo Gene!

Gene: Thanks for your interest there were two rendition of this band I was in the first we originated in a small coastal town called Encinitas California about 90 miles from LA we all came from local surf bands in the area the lead singer is Eddie Gurren twelve string guitar Randall Keith rhythm guitar Eugene Thompson drums Tony Valencia….. bass guitar Jack Conrad.

There are pictures were still trying to get Eddie to find them he still has the master tape hopefully soon he will have it digitized we did four recordings I could write a book on the bands in this area just for my info.

It’s funny you mentioned The Byrds when you emailed me. I went to high school with Chris Hillman we got kicked out for smoking in the bus barn, best thing that every happened to us senior year Eddie keeps in touch with him there’s a lot of old song writers and rockers that live around here check out billboard mag August 1966 and you’ll find Starbucks record there.

Everett: I was with Starbuck & the Rainmakers for a short time. I was recruited by the bassist Jack Conrad who I had been with in another band back in Denver.
Actually, it was my first band as well as Jack’s. The lead singer was Ed Gurren who lived in Santa Monica at the time. Our practice house was in the Hollywood Hills and we shared a rehearsal room with a group called The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.

Jack Conrad later teamed up with Paul Williams to co-author several hit tunes for other groups. He is still in the ’business’ and does studio work as well as touring with other well known groups and solo artists.

Doug Hunsaker contacted me recently to tell me about his time with Starbuck & the Rainmakers. Here’s what Doug had to say:

Hi Colin,

The following is as accurate as I can remember. It conflicts a bit with the story on Flower Bomb. I do remember Eddie and Randall had a band in San Diego and they may have done some recording. But the San Diego band did not record the Valiant songs.

Also, Starbuck and the Rainmakers recorded another single (Sinner Man and Treasure of Your Love) released on Bonjo records that went no where. I might be able to send you a recording sometime of that.

Anyway, for now my story:

Sometime in 1965, Eddie Gurren and Randall Keith moved from the San Diego area to Hollywood, CA. In late 1965, Doug Hunsaker (guitar), Bob “Bullet” Bailey (drums), and Leonard Logue (bass guitar) joined Eddie (vocals) and Randall (lead guitar) and became Starbuck and the Rainmakers (after the Burt Lancaster movie). 

Ed funded the recordings of the demos of ”I Who Have Nothing” and ”Let Your Hair Hang Long.” Ed and Randall took writing credits for Let Your Hair Hang Long, but it really was an old blues/folk song they rearranged. The musicians above were the ones who recorded this demo at the RCA studio in Hollywood in about February of 1966. 

Dave Hassinger was the recording engineer who a month or two later recorded the Rolling Stones “Aftermath” album at the same studio. Eddie shopped the songs, landing a contract with Valiant Records (who had the Association) probably about April-May 1966. About this time Eddie and Randall had a falling out and Randall left the group. 

The Valiant promotion picture of the band included Doug Hunsaker (upper left), Eddie (Starbuck in wig), and Bob Bailey (lower right). The person in the upper right (Mike Briggs) was a high school friend of Doug and Bob but was not in the band. He was in the photo shoot because he looked like a rock star and because Leonard Logue (fired) and Randall were no longer with the band. 

After signing, Valiant wanted to add a bit more guitar to the A-side of the single (I Who Have Nothing), which Doug Hunsaker played. The single was released about July and had some air play in various cities in the US (plus the Billboard mention). However, the original band broke up for a while after the release but reformed with some new and old members in early 1967 and became just the Rainmakers. 

The Rainmakers included Eddie, Bob, and Doug, plus Reese Sheets on lead guitar, and Jack Conrad on bass. The new band signed with Dot records in 1967 and cut three songs, including two that Reese Sheets wrote.

However, Dot stalled putting a single out and eventually Reese, Bob, and Jack left the group. Finally, in late 1968, Eddie and Doug (with studio musicians) recorded two original songs they wrote (No Easy Way Down and Waiting For Wednesday).

The band on the Dot single was now called Eddie Todd and the Rainmakers. Eddie Todd was Ed’s stage name when he was a child actor in the early 50’s. With no promotion of the single and no band, Eddie and Doug went their separate ways in late 1968.

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