On March 24th 1963, the same day as The Rolling Stones were playing at Studio 51 in London and The Station Hotel in Richmond, three Americans in their early to mid twenties were recording an album at the Woman’s Club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. John Koerner, Dave Ray and Tony Glover had met at the University of Minnesota where Koerner and Ray were taking classes and Glover was hanging out to find like-minded Blues fans to play with. They were all, unusually for the late 50s, White boys high on the Blues. Lead Belly, Sonny Terry and Lemon Jefferson were their chosen mentors. When they began playing together they adopted the nicknames Spider (Koerner), Snaker (Ray) and Little Sun (Glover). They met E.D. Nunn, the heir to the Nunn-Bush Shoe Company. Nunn had his own record label, Audiophile, whose previous biggest seller was an album featuring a whole side devoted to a thunderstorm.
The album that Koerner, Ray and Glover recorded included Lead Belly’s ‘Hangman’, ‘Muddy’s Down To Louisiana’, Blind Lemon’s ‘One Kind Favour’, along with originals from the group. The album came out in June 1963; just 300 copies were pressed on translucent red vinyl. Mr Nunn would not give any of the band free copies of the album, but he did sell them at cost. Glover bought three copies, one of which he sent to Jac Holzman at Elektra Records. Holzman loved it and flew to Minneapolis to meet the band. He signed them over dinner with Ray’s parents, and purchased the master tape from Nunn. Elektra released the album in November, and the band played the Newport Folk Festival the following year.
Over the years music people would tell me about records that had influenced their lives, and Koerner, Ray and Glover always come up
Owner of Elektra Records.
“Koerner Ray and Glover were a step along the path towards what became a style that the Lovin' Spoonful drew upon” recalled John Sebastian the co-founder of the most commercially successful jug band group of all time. The twenty-year-old Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky met at ‘Mama’ Cass Elliott's house in New York to watch the Beatles US TV debut on the Ed Sullivan show in February 1964. John had played with Fred Neil and Tom Rush and been a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band, while Zal who was from Canada played with The Halifax Three. They spent the rest of ’64 playing with other members of the Greenwich Village folk scene before they formed the Lovin’ Spoonful in January 1965, naming themselves after a phrase in Mississippi John Hurt’s ‘Coffee Blues’. They quickly synthesised into what they called ‘good time music’ and the press named ‘folk rock’, but like many others in this period it was music that developed from the Blues. Band’s like the Holy Model Rounders whose 1964 debut album included ‘Hesitation Blues’ and New York’s Blues Magoos were all part of this jug band revival.