The Shadows Of Knight was a garage/punk band out of Chicago that recorded one of the most electric songs that helped to define rock music in the mid-60's. Along with groups such as ? and the Mysterians and the Troggs, the Shadows Of Knight did their part to shake up the pop music world in 1966.
The group was formed in 1964 in Chicago. The original lineup had Jim Sohns on lead vocals, Warren Rogers playing lead guitar, Norm Gotsch on rhythm, Wayne Pursell on bass guitar, and Tom Schiffour on drums. All attended Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. A short time later Gotsch left the group, Rogers switched to rhythm guitar, and Joe Kelley came on board to play lead guitar. Guitarist Jerry McGeorge also joined the group. The group practiced in garages in the Chicago area and at one point agreed to play at the Cellar Club in Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago. A concert was set up at the Cellar Club to put on a show for any record producers who might care to stop by.
Among those in the audience were Bill Traut and George Badonsky of the struggling Dunwich Records label, which was a subsidiary of Atlantic. The showstopper that night was The Shadows Of Knight and their driving, frenetic version of Gloria. It was a song that had originally been recorded by a group from Northern Ireland known as Them. The song had been written by George Ivan Morrison, lead singer of Them. Ivan referred to himself as Van Morrison and eventually, after leaving the group, went on to a long and illustrious career as a solo act, with top ten hits such as Brown Eyed Girl and Domino. Although Gloria had been released by Them as a B-side record, when the Shadows Of Knight got a hold of it, it was the perfect blend of song and artist.
The Dunwich Records executives thought they may have found the act that would bring their label to national prominence, and as it turned out, they were right. The Shadows Of Knight signed with Dunwich. They were a group that played their songs loud, and with Sohns' forceful lead vocal and Schiffour's hard-driving drum accompaniment, the group recorded their version of Gloria, which would go on to become a rock classic. It entered the charts in April of 1966 and took off, eventually reaching the number ten position. Local amateur bands across the United States picked up on the song. Although Gloria was regarded as a somewhat risquè song for the mid-60's, it received plenty of airplay on the various radio stations.
The Shadows Of Knight recorded other songs and put four in the top 100 in 1966, including Oh Yeah which just made the top forty. The band underwent numerous personnel changes. By 1969 Jim Sohns was the only original member left with the group. They became involved with bubblegum rock producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, who had produced such top ten records as 1, 2, 3, Red Light, Yummy Yummy Yummy, and Little Bit O'Soul. Under this arrangement they recorded Shake, which became a top fifty record for the revised group. More songs were recorded, and more deals were discussed with other record labels. In the early 70's the group reformed once again, this time bringing in Lee Brovitz and Paul Roy as musicians and songwriters.
In the late 70's punk rock came into vogue, and the Shadows Of Knight were regarded by followers of that style of music as one of its forerunners. A group that includes Sohns, Brovitz and Roy was still touring in the early twenty-first century.
The recording of Gloria that was such a success for the Shadows Of Knight endures as one of the great songs of rock's most glorious decade.
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