Monday, May 3, 2010

R.I.P. Floyd Dakil, 1945-2010

[via garage hangover. floyd dakil is 2nd from left, in the snappy suit]

Rock and roll hits hardest when you're a teenager. For me (and many, many, many others) it offered an escape from a sometimes difficult period of life. Yet it could still feel intangible, music created by weird others a million miles away for your community, life, and livelihood.

And this is what makes a hometown musical hero so special. Floyd Dakil is probably the best known musician from my alma mater, a high school more known for churning out future business majors and lawyers than raving rock and rollers. Even though a forty-year gulf separated me from his music, it still hit extra hard because of his ties to the very streets I once roamed.

Floyd Dakil formed the Floyd Dakil Combo in Dallas in 1963 and produced a handful of singles on a few tiny, regional labels. Besides some generous local airplay, they never received too much notoriety outside of North Texas, but the songs add to the general garage rock tapestry. As any frequent reader of this blog can tell, garage rock is my favorite genre: it's wild, fun, and uniquely American (albeit with a little help from our British cousins). For Dallas teenagers in the 1960s, the Floyd Dakil Combo were bonafide rock stars, heroes to a microcosm of a microcosm. Just a momentary flash, but big enough to warrant thoughtful words and strong memories half a century later.

The Combo's big 45 was "Dance, Franny, Dance" b/w "Look What You've Gone And Done," released in '64. It was recorded live at the Pit Club in Oak Cliff, and drummer Geoff West, later reminiscing on "Dance," remarked how long it took to get "several hundred teenagers to clap together!" The two songs are rocket-fueled rock and roll, no doubt earning just as much disapproving parental scorn as teenage adulation in their day. Close listeners of my radio show on KVRX probably recognize these; whenever I needed a mid-set pick-me-up, I'd spin some hometown pride.

Floyd Dakil later went on to play with his idol, Louis Prima, and he had a bit of a solo career, but like many of that era, he faded into the footnotes of rock history. Hopefully he'll provide another dash of local excitement to some future Dallas teenager as he did for me.

I got much of my supplementary info on the Floyd Dakil Combo from this write-up at Garage Hangover, the Smithsonian of all things garage rock. Also, a small obituary is located here. Big thanks to big sis for alerting me to the sad news.

Floyd Dakil Combo--Dance, Franny, Dance
Floyd Dakil Combo--Look What You've Gone and Done

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