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Chan and the Ohio Rhythm Makers / Upper Hand / Serpents

Dayton, 1965-77

This Dayton band started as the Serpents, in 1965. The group was a family affair, with twin brothers John and Vaughn Higgins, brother Russell, and their two cousins Michael and Darrell Strong.

John played rhythm guitar, Vaughn on bass, Russell on drums, Michael lead guitar, and Darrell was the lead singer. The band started out doing R&B songs, with some Beatles and Rolling Stones hits. 

In 1967 they changed names to the Rhythm Makers and then Ohio Rhythm Makers. Michael decided to leave the band and he was replaced by Jimmy Baker.

Late in 1968 Darrell left the band to take an offer to be the singer for Big Jay Bush and the House Rockers, who were a bigger band in the local scene. Enter new lead singer "Chan". No one could recall the true identity of Chan., he was only in the band for a little while. It is believed he got in trouble with the law in the early 70s and no one has heard from him since.

This version of the band recorded a 45. The A side of the is a sparse folk rocker "downer lament" that sounds more like 1965 than the release date of October 1969. Although Darrell was not in the band for the recording, he is credited with John as songwriter. The other side is funky riff driven song that bears a little similarity to "Tighten Up". It's mostly instrumental but there is a spoken part during the song.

The label, a one shot custom called Help! - may have been a reference to Help! magazine published in the early 1960s by former Mad magazine creator Harvey Kurtzman. 

Not much is known about what happened with the band from 1970-2, but in 1972 they morphed into the Upper Hand. After jumping from lead vocals with Big Jay Bush, London Fogg, and Love Bones, Darrell rejoined his old band as the Upper Hand. They also added David Appleberry on reeds and trumpet. 

The Upper Hand recorded a 45 in 1975 at Frank Luhn's BMS studio in Dayton. The songs were the funky "Free Music" and the strong midtempo ballad "Get It Together". It was a self released 45 on their own SPY label.

The group disbanded a year or so later. John, David, and Vaughn are deceased.

Thanks to Matt Baker

Feelin' Bad / Ain't It Good Y'all  - Help! No#, QCA press, Oct 1969
Free Music / Get It Together - Spy 145, March 1976