You are about to learn more about a 200-selling single than you ever thought possible, and you’re going to love every minute of it.
I picked this record up for one reason when I found it in the bins: It was clearly an early Rhino release. Not just early, but look at that serial number: RNOR-002. Only Wild Man Fischer’s “Go To Rhino Records” predates the Winos’ “Savage Surf” in the Rhino discography. Now, that one I get. Rhino was a record store long before it was a record label, and Fischer was such a fixture in the store that the staff considered him something of a mascot. The store released Wild Man’s “Go To Rhino Records” on their own imprint as a promotional item.
But who were the Winos? The internet usually answers all questions, but I just couldn’t find much info on the band. I found a band named Mogan David and His Winos, who released an album named Savage Young Winos in 1973 on Kosher Records, a label I’d never heard of. I found “All the Wrong Girls Like Me” on YouTube, but the song was credited to the Low Numbers rather than the Winos. I couldn’t depend on my usual internet stops for any biographical information on the band.
Kosher Records was a good lead. My new (circa 1975) Rhino single’s label announced that it was “produced by Harold Bronson for Kosher Records,” so there you go: The Savage Young Winos of 1973 were more than likely the “All the Wrong Girls Like Me” Winos of 1975. That’s still not much of a story, so I looked up the record’s producer, Harold Bronson.
That’s when things got interesting. These days Bronson is an author, and his Rhino Records Story: Revenge of the Music Nerds proved invaluable to closing the gaps in my Winos knowledge. The internet is great, kids, but not everything you need to know is at your Googling fingertips. Books still matter. And where Bronson the author couldn’t answer my questions, Harold Bronson my fellow record nerd happily replied to my questions. Well, maybe not happily. I couldn’t actually see him on the other side of our email exchange. He might have been flinging poison dart frogs at his monitor for all I know. Regardless, he entertained my questions, and I greatly appreciate it.
Mogan David and His Winos “was a loose affair formed during high school to pass the time during summer vacation,” Bronson writes in The Rhino Records Story. Like every high school band, they played covers primarily to entertain themselves. The band name is familiar to anyone of a certain age: Mogen David is the “MD” in “Mad Dog 20/20,” the preferred wine of kids too broke to afford Boone’s Farm. The band changed the spelling slightly to avoid lawsuits, which is an awfully sophisticated thing for a bunch of teenagers to consider, but Bronson wasn’t a typical teenager.
After high school, Bronson entered UCLA in 1968, and while there wrote about music for the school newspaper. He also revived the Winos name, adding a couple of fellow writers from the Daily Bruin. This lineup of Winos recorded a single, “Nose Job,” which was a cover of a Mad Magazine record. Bronson cooked up the name Kosher Records and had a few printed up. UCLA’s radio station played the record and CBS Record’s campus representative, Paul Rappaport, heard it. Rappaport ordered 20 copies of “Nose Job” and paid for them with a swap for some CBS promos, thereby making the single Bronson’s debut as a record man.
Rappaport would go on to join the Winos, incidentally, and during his senior year Bronson would take the role of CBS’s campus representative. Other Winos during that era include Jonathan Kellerman, who later became a best-selling novelist, and future record label executives Mark Leviton and Jim Bickhart. Not too shabby for a bunch of guys in a local band.
In April 1974, Bronson joined the team at Rhino Records, a fledgling record shop that had only been open for about a year. He became manager of the store and then, eventually, partnered with store founder Richard Foos to become “the Rhino Brothers,” the founding fathers of one of the all-time great independent labels. Rhino essentially created the reissue market as we know it, and they did so with a keen intuition for both marketing and business (remember that kid who wanted to avoid a lawsuit from Mogen David?) along with a passion for music. Bronson tells it all in The Rhino Records Story, right down to the sad end of that once great label. (The Rhino name still exists, but these days it serves as the catalog division of the Warner Music Group.) It’s an amazing read, essential for anyone who truly loves music.
So yeah–what we have here is the first Rhino release of a track by the founder of Rhino Records, who then became one of the most influential record executives of the last 40 years: History at 45 revolutions per minute. (And while we’re on the subject of history, that “Rocky Rhino” logo on the label is the work of the great William Stout.)
Here’s what the head Wino and Rhino Brother had to say about his time as a guy making records:
Why It Matters: Your first release, Wild Man Fischer’s “Go To Rhino Records,” was purely a promotional item. What was the motivation behind this one, given that you guys weren’t really a label yet? (Note: Rhino Records didn’t officially become a label until 1978; these two singles were released in 1975.)
Harold Bronson: I wrote it to be Peter Noone’s [of Herman’s Hermits] comeback hit, but he didn’t like it. When he passed, I recorded it. I thought it was a good record. I’m sure I played it for a few people who worked at labels. None were interested, so we put it out on Rhino.
WIM: Do you remember how many you pressed?
HB: Probably 500, maybe 1,000. I don’t have records on that.
WIM: And of those how many did you sell?
HB: I’m not sure. My guess is 200-300.
WIM: Was “All the Wrong Girls” written at the same time as the Savage Young Winos material?
HB: No, I believe [cowriter Mark Leviton and I wrote it in] Fall 1973.
WIM: What was the lineup that recorded “All the Wrong Girls”?
HB: Harold Bronson, lead vocals; Richard Foos, bass; Steve Rosen, guitar/backup vocals; Don Kraig, organ; Rob Lampl, drums; Mark and Linda Leviton, backing vocals. We recorded it at Rolf Erickson’s Garage in Lawndale, March 1975.
WIM: Why the name change from Mogan David and His Winos to simply The Winos?
HB: Because it was three years later [than Savage Young Winos], and the Winos were different. Although I wrote both sides of the single with [ex-Wino] Mark Leviton, he chose not to play on the record–but he did sing backup on “All the Wrong Girls Like Me.”
WIM: Both “All the Wrong Girls” and its B-side, “Savage Surf,” showed up again a few years later on 1979’s Twist Again With the Low Numbers (Rhino album RNLP004) attributed to The Low Numbers as opposed to The Winos. How did that come about?
HB: We were short on tracks [for the Low Numbers LP], and being that the single didn’t sell that well I didn’t think anyone would mind.
WIM: Do Savage Young Winos and “All the Wrong Girls Like Me” constitute the entire Winos discography?
HB: There’s two tracks recorded in 1993 with the original members [a cover of the Pursuit of Happiness’s “I’m An Adult Now,” and a song Bronson and Leviton wrote during the ’70s named “Cover Girl.”] I used the second track, “Cover Girl,” for a scene in My Dinner With Jimi.
WIM: You built a career out of being on the other side of this equation. How does it feel four decades later being asked about a song you put out into the world?
HB: I’m glad you’re interested. I would have preferred more sales/visibility at the time. I still think it’s a good song and a good record (considering our meager budget).
Categories: From the Stacks