The Penthouse 5 were one of dozens of unsung bands floating around Texas in the mid-'60s. Based on the recorded evidence, however, they were also one of the great ones; lots of acts claim the Beatles as inspiration, but the Penthouse 5 translated the Beatles (and, to some extent, the Byrds) influence into garage rock terms about as well as any of them. The mix of Beatles-like harmonies, crunchy guitars, and pumping, grinding Farfisa organ is compelling and always surprising in its details and nuances. Justin Brown (lead guitar), Rob Graham (vocals), Mark Porter (drums), Steve Wood (guitar, vocals, keyboards), and Bill Looney (bass) came out of Oak Cliff, not far from where Stevie Ray Vaughan hailed. They were part of an orbit of Beatles- and folk-rock-influenced musicians in the area that included songwriter Ron Price, who wrote "Don't Mess Around with My Dream, " the B-side of the Penthouse 5's debut single, "Bad Girl," and Jon Williams, who had been with a band called the By Fives and then with the WordD. By 1967, internal conflicts had driven Brown, Graham, and Porter out of the Penthouse 5's lineup, and they were succeeded by Jon Williams (vocals, keyboards, harmonica), Richard "Lurch" Keathley (lead guitar, vocals) -- who had both come from the Dallas-based the WordD -- and Mike Echart (drums). The new band, renamed the Penthouse, made another half-dozen records with producer Edward Greines; the Beatles influence was still discernable on songs like "You're Gonna Make Me," but the reconstituted Penthouse was more self-consciously heavy and serious, and cut singles for the Solar and Hawk labels.
By the end of 1967, however, the band had split up as Steve Wood moved to California, where he led a band called the New Life (who turn up on the soundtrack of The Sidehackers, a Gus Trikonis film that subsequently provided Mystery Science Theater 3000 with perhaps its funniest non-sci-fi moments), and played with Kenny Loggins. The rest of the group left the music business.