Los Angeles garage band the Ringers were formed in 1963 by singer/guitarist Keith Johnson, singer/bassist Rex Paris, keyboardist/saxophonist Dick Gabriel, and drummer Bill Lynn, who had previously appeared on the Champs' classic "Tequila," and as a Paramount Records session drummer backing Ray Charles, Brian Hyland, and Tommy Roe; during the late '60s, Lynn also split time between the Ringers and Elvis Presley's studio band. Originally dubbed "Richard and the Bowmen" the group members initially boasted a Robin Hood-inspired uniform consisting of green shirt, black pants, and large boots. After about a year of touring the L.A. club circuit, "Richard and the Bowmen" dissolved after Gabriel, the group's de facto manager, declined an offer to back then-unknowns Sonny & Cher without consulting any of his bandmates. Johnson, Paris, and Lynn continued on as the "Dead Ringers", soon after abbreviated to simply the Ringers; second guitarist Tom Crockett joined in mid-1964, and as the year drew to a close, the band recorded its debut single "Mersey Bounce" -- a beat-style rewrite of the Bob & Earl R&B classic "Harlem Shuffle," the record appeared on the Bil-Lou label and was produced by manager H.B. Barnum. The single went nowhere, and the Ringers swapped Barnum for former child actor Joey D. Vieira, who convinced friend and Lassie star Tommy Rettig to sign on as co-manager. In mid-1965, the group returned to the studio to record a slew of new tracks including the garage cult classics "Let It Be Known" and "Ask Me No Questions," as well as a Beatlesesque ballad titled "The Sun Also Rises." Credited to the TR-4 (Tommy Rettig Four), "Let It Be Known" and its surf-inspired flipside, "Never Too Young," finally appeared on the Velvet Tone label in 1966 -- the record was a local hit and earned the band appearances at the famed Hollywood Palladium and the Whiskey-A-Go-Go. Guitarist Paul Indelicato replaced Crockett in time for a third studio session in late 1966 -- credited once again to the Ringers, their third and final U.S. single, "Daydream," appeared on the AMP label and again proved a local favorite, although it failed to break out nationally. Indicato's subsequent resignation reduced the Ringers to a trio for their next recording date, which yielded the superb garage punk outing "Snake Pit" -- nothing from the session saw official release, however, and in early 1968 Paris, by then an expectant father, retired from music to find steadier employment. (He later returned to performing as a member of the Las Vegas group Rose & the Arrangement, appearing on their novelty hit "The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati.") The remaining Ringers tapped bassist David Turner for a studio trip that generated the harmony-pop tune "Bandsong" and the somber "Another Day," followed by a tour in Latin America. While in Peru, they signed to the El Virrey label, dusting off their most recent recordings and cutting new versions of their older material for a 1970 LP, Before & After. After returning to the U.S., Turner exited to join Poco, and Paris briefly rejoined the Ringers for a handful of live dates. Although Liberty Records expressed interest in releasing Before & After stateside, El Virrey execs admitted to taping over the master recordings, effectively killing the deal. The Ringers finally split in late 1972, with Johnson resurfacing in the country-rock outfit Moccasin, and Lynn recording behind Three Dog Night and Hall & Oates before working as the marketing director of the Elvis Presley Museum for 16 years. Paris, Lynn, and Indicato played a reunion show at Lynn's L.A. nightclub in 1989; sadly, Johnson was too ill to attend, and died not long after. In 2002, the Break-A-Way label compiled the Ringers' surviving U.S. recordings for the retrospective Let Them Be Known.
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