The Fabulous Wailers The Fabulous Wailers

"One of the most important bands
in the history of rock and roll."
Michael Tomasnetsky - Blue Suade News #42

The Boys from Tacoma

 From Jimi Hendrix to Heart to Nirvana, the Northwest has  produced some musical giants. Geographically isolated,  the area's cultural scenes have always been a bit skewed  from major metropolitan centers. And through it all, the  "Northwest Sound" has been influential in rock music for  the past 40 years. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who,  The Kinks & David Bowie all can be linked to this corner  of the country by their quotes or music.

 The fifties in the Northwest were an interesting melting  pot. Clubs such as The Black and Tan, Birdland, and the  Evergreen Ballroom routinely brought black R&B acts to  town, and Ray Charles was based in the area.  Rockabilly had made its presence known, and Elvis  Presley was huge. It was out of this environment that five  teenagers from Tacoma, Washington formed the  Fabulous Wailers.

  The Boys from Tacoma hit nationally while still in high  school. "Tall Cool One" reached the national charts at  #36 in June of 1959. Fame called the band to the East  Coast for some appearances, including the Alan Freed  Show and American Bandstand. Turning down high-  powered management, they returned to the Northwest to  dominate the local entertainment scene.

 As with any band with a ten year longevity, membership  changed in the Wailers. Kent Morrill (keyboards, lead  vocals) was there for the band's entire history. Buck  Ormsby (bass, guitar) joined immediately after "Tall Cool  One" and lasted the duration. Over the years they had  several guitar players: Rich Dangel, John Greek, Neil  Anderson and Denny Weaver. The band's original  drummer was Mike Burk and later Dave Roland. Mark  Marush played tenor sax, and was replaced by Ron  Gardner who also sang lead and developed into a  compelling front man. Frustrated about the way they were  handled (or mishandled) by the major record labels,  Ormsby, Morrill and Rockin' Robin Roberts formed their  own "indie" record label "Etiquette".

 Thus, their material was self-recorded and self-promoted.  They produced a number of other acts, and Etiquette has  left a fine history of some of the Northwest's most gritty  recordings.

The Wailers were always experimenting and pro- gressing musically. They had several fine vocalists, and with Rockin' Robin Roberts cut the definitive version of "Louie Louie". The band also featured singer Gail Harris. She was only 13 years old when she first sang with the Wailers, and eventually became a regular during the early sixties.

Audiences were so awed by the powerful performances
by this group of musicians and singers that an album was produced called "The Wailers At The Castle" recorded live at the then famous Spanish Castle Ballroom this was the first record featuring The Wailers, Gail Harris, and Rockin' Robin Roberts All together.

They often toured and recorded with female back-up singers The Marshans thus emulating and updating the R&B revue/extravaganzas that had been so influential years earlier. Songs such as "Hang Up" and "Out of Our Tree" showed their abilities with mid-sixties "punk rock", but they were certainly as talented in any other musical sub-genre of that magical decade.

The Wailers are probably directly responsible for the 60's rock explosion in the Northwest. Paul Revere and the Raiders aspired to be as big as the Wailers. The
Kingsmen had a hit with the Wailers / Rockin' Robin's arrangement of "Louie Louie".

The Sonics were groomed and produced by the Wailers. The list goes on and on. Beginning in the late seventies and through the 80's The Wailers joined together for a number of successful reunion concerts. Today a new wave of interest and fans all over the world have enticed "The Boys from Tacoma" to once again pick up their instruments and play their rock 'n' roll. A new Wailers CD 'Cadillac to Mexico' was released on October 10, 2001. A 'Cadillac to Mexico' West Coast Tour followed.

The fabulous Wailers

The Original Wailers

Kent Morrill - piano, organ, vocals 
Richard Dangel - guitar 
Buck Ormsby - bass, background, vocals
Kim Eggers - Sax, Vocals
Russ Kammerer / Gail Harris - Drums
Featured Vocals - Penny Haydon-Anderson,
Kay Rogers-Allotia, Mary Ellen Jerkovich-Hanson


John Greek - Guitar, Trumpet
Kent Morrill - keyboards, vocals
Richard Dangel - Guitar
Mike Burk - Drums
Mark Marush - tenor sax
Rockin' Robin Roberts vocals


Kent Morrill, Buck Ormsby, Richard Dangel, Mike Burk, Mark Marush
Rockin' Robin Roberts records Louie Loui in '61
1st Etiquette Records 45 single

Kent Morrill, Buck Ormsby, Ron Gardner, Mike Burk, Richard Dangel
Kent Morrill, Buck Ormsby, Nell Anderson, Ron Gardner, Dave Roland
Kent Morrill, Buck Ormsby, Denny Weaver, Dave Roland, Rod Gardner

Kent Morrill Buck Ormsby Neil Rush John Hanford Ricky Lynn Johnson
Roll over the snapshots for bio information

Bio Image

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