Portsmouth, VA garage rock stalwart Dean Kohler got his start as the frontman for Dean & the Mustangs, an instrumental combo he founded in 1962. With the 1964 addition of keyboardist Cliff Eaton, the group -- also including guitarist Cecil Baines and drummer Lynn Gilliam -- changed their name to the Satellites and began honing a British Invasion-influenced sound: their lone recording, the 1965 acetate "When Will You Stay?," suggests a particular affinity for the Kinks. Kohler was then drafted, and while serving in Vietnam formed the Electrical Banana with bassist Jon Sudgen, organist Preben Jessen, and drummer Michael Ioli. Basing their look and sound on the Velvet Underground's debut LP, according to the book Fuzz, Acid and Flowers the group actually donned banana uniforms while performing at military bases; in 1967, the Electric Banana recorded Lou Reed's "There She Goes Again" in the confines of an Army tent, pressing ten acetate copies (one of which found its way to the compilers of the Aliens, Psychos & Wild Things CD, which also included the B-side, the Kohler original "She's Gone"). Upon returning to Portsmouth in late 1967, Kohler assembled the backing lineup of bassist George Newsome, organist Robert Craig, and drummer Johnny Johnston to record his lone official single, the Elko label release "Gooseberry Pie." During the '70s he formed Mad Wax, a power trio that recorded an unreleased album. In the '80s and '90s he played in the '50s and '60s tribute band Big Bubba & the Blockbusters. His years in Vietnam where chronicled in the book Rock 'N' Roll Soldier: A Memoir released by Harper Collins Publishing in 2009.
Share this page