Interview and story by Al Goldberg
With the recent passing of Davy Jones and Dick Clark, it brought to mind a performer with a rich history on the Nippertown music scene. Bobby Dick, whose band the Sundowners toured with the Monkees back in the day, had kept up a close friendship with Jones over the years.
His band’s history goes back to the very early ’60s in their native Brooklyn. An act called the Del-Phi’s, were in attendance when Bobby won a talent contest at the local CYO. They were impressed enough to ask him to join their instrumental group, which was looking for a vocalist. He graciously accepted, and after learning to play bass – took on that duty as well. Members left and new ones came along, as they continued to evolve. The sax and keyboards were done away with, resulting in a tighter five-piece outfit. Almost everyone now assumed the vocal chores to some extent, in order to achieve the proper harmonies on certain songs.
Eventually, another lead vocalist, Eddie Brick, would come onboard. This made them somewhat unique, as most of the inner-city bands at that time were instrumental. Since the name “Del-Phi’s” was considered too urban in nature for their style, Bobby came up with a new name – the Sundowners, taken from a Robert Mitchum film. Playing covers by artists such as Elvis, Chuck Berry and the Everly Brothers, they performed at high school dances in the beginning, then moved on to the Catskill resorts and also the popular New York City clubs of the time, including Trudy Heller’s, Cafe Wha and the Wagon Wheel.
One night, they were thrown out of the Peppermint Lounge for being too young. Indeed, some of the guys were barely in their teens. Dick believes that a member of a competing band reported them to the state liquor authority for being under age. It was decided that a move northward would be better, where perhaps they wouldn’t come under as much scrutiny. In 1963, the group relocated to Lake George.