60s Rockers The Tygers Return With New Album
"Releasing a solid debut album is one of the tougher accomplishments in the music industry," says Drew Olson of OnMilwaukee.com "The only thing more difficult, it seems, is making a good sophomore disc. The old saying in the recording industry holds that bands have 'a lifetime to make the first record and six weeks to make the second.' The Tygers broke that mold ... and it only took 40 years!"
The tale of The Tygers is one of the great "one that got away" rock 'n' roll stories of all time. Back in 1967 Tony's Tygers, comprised of five Milwaukee teenagers (Tony Dancy, Craig Fairchild, Dennis Duchrow, Fred Euler and Dave Kuck) entered and won the Wisconsin State Battle of the Bands, sponsored by the Jaycees. As a result, local pop music impresario Jon Hall became their manager.
The Tygers went on to Boston to compete in the National Battle of the Bands, where one of the judges was Les Paul. He immediately took an interest in the group and decided to visit them in their hotel room. He played for them on Tony's Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar, and exclaimed to the band, "I haven't been this excited about a band since I saw The Young Rascals when they were starting out in New Jersey." Les Paul invited Tony and the boys to come and stay at his home in Mahwah, New Jersey, where he wanted to produce a record with them. The Tygers placed 3rd in the nation and soon after their return to Milwaukee, Les Paul came to town and met with the band at Tony's house. He made his pitch to the band members' parents and to Jon Hall, but Jon, realizing that he had a hot property, refused to give anything up or make any sort of deal with Les. Reportedly, Les Paul confessed that he couldn't work with the band's manager in any event. Likewise, the parents were indecisive. Sadly the whole thing eventually fell through. Why did the parents and the band allow such a golden opportunity to slip away? We'll never know.
In early 1968 The Tygers ventured into RCA Studios in Chicago and recorded "Little By Little" and another Dancy-Duchrow composition, "Days and Nights", in two hours. Jon Hall released the record locally on his Teen Town label and with the support of WOKY's Bob Barry, the number one disc jockey in Wisconsin (the guy that brought The Beatles to Milwaukee), the record soared up the charts to #2. Only The Monkees "Valleri" prevented the song from hitting #1 in March of 1968. Upon the success of The Tygers new single, Herb Alpert, head of A&M Records, bought the master and released the single on A&M, making it a national record. In the March 2, 1968 issue of Billboard magazine, "Little By Little" was picked as a Spotlight Single. The write-up declared: "A hot master out of Milwaukee, purchased by A&M, features the third place winners in the nationwide Battle of the Bands contest. The easy-beat rocker is aimed right at the teen market and should spread fast nationally." Jack Devaney of Record World magazine raved in his Coast Capers column on March 16, 1968: " 'Little By Little" A&M's Tony's Tygers will take the nation by storm."
In order to "strike while the iron is hot", The Tygers rushed to create a debut album but did so without the services of their lead arranger and singer Tony, who was ill. The album failed to gain traction and the record deal evaporated. Duchrow left for the Vietnam War, two other members left for personal reasons and the remaining four members - Tony Dancy, Craig Fairchild, Lanny Hale and Fred Euler - kept up the fight for a few years, only to find frustration. Hale was accepted into medical school and became a cutting-edge ophthalmologist. Euler left to pursue a very successful career in hotel management. Dancy and Fairchild headed for California, where they created music for "The Brady Bunch" and "The Flintstones." Dancy reformed The Tygers, with new and old members, for shows in the 1980s and '90s. About a year ago, Dancy and Fairchild gathered at Hale's home studio and began working on the long-awaited follow-up record, 'Second Album'.
"It wasn't easy to have a hit record in Milwaukee back in the 60s, not even locally. The music charts were dominated by the East and West Coasts and the British invaders. The Tygers were one of the few local groups to make the charts. When I appeared on stage with The Tygers back in the '60s and '70s we had a lot of fun. Now that we're older, does that mean we can't have that same fun again? It's about time we bring all of those good times back with 'The Tygers Second Album'. Then is now, yesterday is today. The music we enjoyed then we can enjoy today, only it's brand new. However I say it guys and gals, moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas …THIS IS OUR MUSIC! - "Beatle" Bob Barry on The Tygers new album
And why a reunion now? "It really wasn't a 'reunion," says Lanny Hale, "it was a break in the timing of our lives and a burning desire to create new music for ourselves and a generation of people who really had nothing but 'oldies' to listen to. We believed the time was right for a 'neo-retro' movement, a term we first heard from our mastering engineer Gary Tanin after he had mastered the album. It was also fulfilling a need to complete some of the things we had come so close to many years ago, like produce a real hit record. We didn't believe our age should present a barrier to that goal."
The Tygers today feature: Tony Dancy - vocals, guitars and keyboards, Lanny Hale - vocals and guitar, and Craig Fairchild - vocals, piano and B3 organ. The Tygers 'Second Album' showcases an array of musical styles and intelligent themes throughout, with lush vocal harmonies, catchy hooks, and exciting arrangements and performances, all wrapped in a top notch production by the band. The influence of many of The Tygers contemporaries, like CSN&Y, Poco, Buffalo Springfield and Simon &Garfunkle, can be heard throughout the band's music, whether by conscious effort or not. The pedal steel featured on "How Long Does It Take" is by Kenny Knoll, who has toured with such greats as Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, The Browns, Carl Smith, Crystal Gayle, Marty Robbins and Dottie West. The sophisticated horn arrangements were by Joe Turano, who was a Tyger in the 1960s along with Tony, Craig and Lanny. Joe went on to tour with Michael Bolton for a number of years and is currently musical director for Al Jarreau. Joe replaced some of Tony's synthetic horn arrangements with live horns and created fresh arrangements for other songs.
The finely-crafted songs were penned mainly by Lanny and Tony: "There are many things that inspire one to write a song," says Tony Dancy, "but the songs on our CD were inspired by one thing: the project itself. When we came up with the idea of being the first group of 60 year old guys to start a new band and have a hit record, it became necessary to write some new songs. The idea was so revolutionary and exciting that the inspiration came easily. As for the message that we're trying to transmit to our audience, the music IS the message. We want to show people that they don't have to pack their dreams away just because they've reached a certain, arbitrary age. If we can do this, so can you. So can anyone."
The Tygers Second Album CD can be obtained through iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, eMusic, Napster and soon on CD Baby, as well as the band's official website. A limited vinyl edition of the new CD is also available through the band's website.