The Dartells formed in 1962 in Oxnard, CA, which is midway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. The members were: Doug Phillips (bass/vocals), Dick Burns (guitar), Gary Peeler (drums), Randy Ray (organist), and saxophonists Rich Peil and Corky Wilkie. They broke into the pop Top 20 their first time out with "Hot Pastrami" (1963), a reworking of Nat Kendricks & the Swans' "Mashed Potatoes." The Swans were James Brown's band and Kendricks was the drummer. Tom Ayers, who went on to bigger and better things, was the Dartells' manager, mentor, and producer. He got the hot local group a deal with Arlen Records in 1962 and the record started selling from day one. It became so popular that Dot Records picked it up and marketed it all the way to number 11 pop in 1963. An album titled after the song was hastily thrown together and the band briefly basked in its newfound success, which included a television appearance on The Munsters. The Dot deal was weird. Their follow-up and only other recording to make the pop 100, "Dance Everybody Dance" (number 99), came out on Arlen (Arlen 513) and Dot (Dot 16502). It seems Arlen must have released it first and when they started bubbling, Dot took over. The Viceroys, a band from Seattle, covered "Dartell Stomp," the flipside of "Hot Pastrami," but a third single, "Clap Your Hands," a cover of Montreal's Beau Marks original, did nothing. (The Beau Marks enjoyed a number one hit in Canada and Australia with the song.) Shortly thereafter, the Dartells, who were 18 -- 20 when they started, disbanded.
Tom Ayers went on to play bass in the Johnny Burnette Quintet. The Dartells' mentor also worked with the Sir Douglas Quintet, Ultra Violet, and Gene Vincent. He's most-known for bringing David Bowie to RCA Records. Ayers became a mover and shaker, working for Hanna-Barbara Productions, ABC, Columbia, United Artists, Kama Sutra, Buddha, and RCA Records. He passed May 30, 2000, in Shreveport, LA, at the age of 57. He was born in Sabine Parish, LA. Doug Philips formed New Concepts in the late '60s, but singles on ABC-Paramount and Atco Records were D.O.A. In 1971, he led the band Cottonwood, which cut a no-go album for ABC Records in 1971 entitled Camaraderie. Some other Dartells became members of Rain, a late-'60s recording group that shot blanks. ~ Andrew Hamilton