The Vinyl Kings:

Love and Desire

by Larry Lee

Introduction by Dale McCurry

“That was it/ the night I saw it all/ The Beatles on TV.” ~ Josh Leo, from the title song from A Little Trip by the Vinyl Kings.

Prelude:

An Eternal Flame

In November of 1963, I was in the sixth grade when my 11-year-old existence was exposed to the salty taste of national grief viewed in black and white. We watched through misty eyes as a boy barely beyond toddler years saluted the passing of his daddy’s horse-drawn casket on the way to his burial in Arlington National Cemetery. If the legend of the Kennedy White House as Camelot was in any way true, Arthur was dead.

The Vinyl Kings
Vinyl Kings: Lower left: Josh Leo. Center: Larry Byrom. Top L-R: Jim Photoglo, Larry Lee, Michael Rhodes, Harry Stinson, and Vince Melamed

The Fabs

In less than three months, The Beatles made their first American TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. An estimated 74 million people—40 percent of the U.S. population at the time—tuned in for the household event.

America was aching for a healing.

“[In February 1964] The Beatles made their first American TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. An estimated 74 million people—40 percent of the U.S. population at the time—tuned in.”

I can easily recall the hum throughout the school the following morning. You could feel it. The halls were a flash mob of bouncy girls with something to bounce about and somehow-suddenly-cooler boys. It was all set to a communal recollection of a Ringo backbeat and scream-veiled vocals encouraging us all to hold hands. The Fab Four were in the house.

Little did we know that the coiffed, choreographed, and carefully tailored pop combo who inspired that February ’64 frenzy—that the cute and dimpled counter to the Stones’ sneer—would mature at time-travel speed to become masterful musicians, composers, and innovators who inspired a generation of musicians to forever chase the dream of becoming … that.

Come Together

“The Beatles are the base camp. They broke all the rules and made it look like a plan,” bluegrass/newgrass/session veteran Tim O’Brien told us when asked about his early influences. Artist after artist, from diverse genres, have answered “The Beatles” since NoteWorthy Music started asking them about their early influences.

“The Beatles explored more and more new musical landscapes. Like journals left behind from their journey, in just seven years, there were 13 core albums that created the mold from which I’ve built songs my whole life,” said Larry Lee—native Ozarks singer-songwriter and decades-long Nashville producer and session musician.

“The Beatles’ music was our go-to place at the start, they were the match that lit my musical fuse,” said Harry Stinson of The Fabulous Superlatives, speaking of the Beatles and an earlier sidegig as a founding member of the Vinyl Kings.

The genius of the Vinyl Kings’ Little Trip is that they managed to create a chronological album echoing the evolving sound and feel of the Beatles—neither impression, tribute, nor caricature, but a pure, loving homage.

The Vinyl Kings

The Vinyl Who Whos?

While interviewing Lee for an in-depth feature to be published this summer, I learned of his days with the Vinyl Kings. The VKs produced their first album, A Little Trip, in 2002. The minute Larry told us about it, I had to have it.

A Little Trip is a gaggle of working musicians writing love songs to mutual first love, saying: “We hear you; we revere you; we thank you.”

Even if 20 years old, it’s as fresh as the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night.”
The genius of the record is that they managed to create a chronological album echoing the evolving sound and feel of the Beatles—neither impression, tribute, nor caricature, but a pure, loving homage.

A Little Trip is a gaggle of working musicians writing love songs to mutual first love, saying: “We hear you; we revere you; we thank you.”

~Dale McCurry

Liner notes from the Vinyl Kings CD A Little Trip:

To PAUL, RINGO, JOHN and GEORGE (wherever you are) and George Martin.

The intent of this project was to have fun, born of love and respect. It is important that you know that. The Beatles and the time in which the band existed were, for all of us, the gift of inspiration that drove us to a life of music. In its own way this album is our reconnection to that gift, that spark, that desire and love. And most of all, our way of saying, in a musical kind of way, THANK YOU!

Larry Lee Recalls

In 1987, Josh Leo, Larry Byrom, Jim Photoglo, Michael Rhodes, Harry Stinson, Vince Melamed, and myself got together to do something none of us thought we’d ever do again: form a “cover band.” At that time, every one of us was living in Nashville and was either a serious session musician, a songwriter, a record producer, or all three. In reality, we had very little spare time for a hobby band on the side. But we made the time for it because we found doing so to be such a welcome distraction from the world of session work where we were individually working sometimes six, even seven days a week. The big plus for us was that the idea of having our little cover band sounded like just way too much fun.

Vinyl Kings "A Little Trip"
The Vinyl Kings
First row L-R: Michael Rhodes, Jim Photoglo. Center: Larry Byrom. Top row: Josh Leo, Vince Melamed, Harry Stinson, and Larry Lee

The big plus for us was that the idea of having our little cover band sounded like just way too much fun.

In the beginning, we called ourselves The Del Beatles and our very first gig was at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe, a place known as one of America’s premier songwriter-showcase venues, and a place one would never expect to see a cover band After we sweet-talked our way in there and had several sold-out appearances, our little band soon became a must see (and hear) attraction at many venues in Nashville.

We were playing both well known and wonderfully obscure songs from the 60s, but mostly Beatles songs that represented the music of our youth.

Then, around the year 2000, Josh Leo called me one day saying he had written a couple of songs that were “Beatlesque” in nature and he thought that getting the Del Beatles together in the studio to record these songs would be a fun thing to do. And fun it was. That first recording session stirred the writing juices in several of us, and within a short time, more songs were written in that same vein.

It didn’t take long before we accumulated an additional 12 to 15 songs, and we started calling in favors from studio owners all over Nashville asking for some free studio time. We also imposed on one of our favorite engineers, Ben Fowler, to help us out. After about a year’s worth of off-and-on-again recording, our project was finally finished.

That first recording session stirred the writing juices in several of us, and within a short time, more songs were written in that same vein.

We really hadn’t talked about what we’d do with these recordings except just hand them out to friends. It wasn’t long before the word got out, and we started getting more and more requests for copies. Finally, the decision was made to press up some official copies to sell. The one thing we did know was that calling ourselves The Del Beatles on a commercially released CD was going to bring about major legal problems. So in short order, the name Vinyl Kings was agreed upon, and we went about preparing to put together artwork for a CD with our friend and renowned photographer, Alan Messer. Once we had CDs in hand, we went about acquiring online distribution and hired someone to handle PR and promotion in hopes that our CD might catch the attention of people besides our friends in Nashville.
The Vinyl Kings
Vinyl Kings: L-R Larry Lee, Larry Byrom, Josh Leo, Michael Rhodes, Harry Stinson, Jim Photoglo, Vince Melamed

The Vinyl Kings’ A Little Trip was released in 2002 and quickly received positive reviews and eventually became one of our online distributors top selling CDs.

Of all the music I’ve made or been involved with over these many years, this music made with these dear friends represents perhaps the high point of it all.

Although with the passing of time that CD itself is now out of print and not available anymore, the Vinyl Kings’ A Little Trip and our second CD Time Machine are still available for download at Amazon, ITunes, and probably other sites I’m not familiar with.

Of all the music I’ve made or been involved with over these many years, this music made with these dear friends represents perhaps the high point of it all.

~ Larry Lee

Vinyl Kings “What If It Were You”

Vinyl Kings "A Little Trip" Liner Credits

For more Larry Lee, read his premiere of our Muse Unveiled series Larry Lee: The Last Hoedown.

You may also enjoy Larry’s entry in our series The Day the Music Died.

Read more about Larry Lee in our High Notes piece Randle Chowning and Larry Lee: Beyond Daredevils.

For three songs written by Larry for Beyond Reach—with Lee and Randle Chowning, visit: https://larrymichaellee.com/with-beyond-reach

Larry Lee

Larry Lee

Singer-songwriter and performing and recording artist from Springfield, Missouri, Larry Lee is a founding member of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, a nationally recognized band in the early days of the country rock movement of the 70s. He wrote "Jackie Blue" for the Daredevils, which reached number 3 in ’75.

Larry has spent a lifetime in music, including 23 years in Nashville where he recorded and toured with Jimmy Buffet. He also was a Nashville producer, producing 13 number 1 hits for Alabama alone. He was performing and writing with The HigLeeWils—an Ozarks-based trio composed of him, Emily Higgins and David Wilson—when the pandemic canceled their schedule.

To learn more about Larry and his life in music as well as to view his outstanding nature photography, visit https://larrymichaellee.com/

Dale McCurry

Dale McCurry

Writer and Editor

Following years as a reporter and editor of a handful of weekly newspapers, Dale McCurry was co-founder and publisher, writer and managing editor of High Notes Magazine on the Western Slope of Colorado and The Wires and the Wood in his native Ozarks. Today, he wears all of those hats for NoteWorthy Music as well.
Contact: Dale@NoteWorthyMusic.org.

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