the Crickets / the Operation(s) / Merdec / Jabberwocky
Oxford/Hamiltion, 1966-1970, 1974-5
The Crickets emerged in 1966 from teens in the Hamilton/Oxford area. The founding member was keyboard player Mike McGuire, and together with Mick Chandler (drums), Kim Rose (bass), Bob Ulreich (sax), and Gerry Sawyers (guitar). Mike and Mick were from Hamilton, Kim and Bob were from Talawanda High School in Oxford.
The group played numerous teen dances in the two cities, as well as college parties and benefits. The group played a midwest tour under the umbrella of Dick Clark Productions, similar to their rivals from about 25 miles south, the Heywoods. In 1968 Ron Leichman, from Talawanda HS, replaced Gerry Sawyers on guitar.
In mid 1968 Gary Eyler, from Hamilton, joined the band as songwriter and arranger. Gary was a few years older, and had been in miltiary since graduating from Taft HS in 1966. On his plane flight back to Ohio after dischange, he read a book about reincarnation which inspired him to write a song about it. The band took that song, and another song by Gary, "The Enter Gentle Presense (Of Yout Love)" and recorded them, along with two other original songs, in a rural Kentucky studio. Gary knew the people behind a record label in Cincinnati called Chance who wanted to get into the teen band action. Chance sent the band to the studio and released the 45 in November 1968.
The band and Gary came up with one of the best 2 sided 45s from the late 1960s Ohio band scene. "Reincarnation" has it all, cool lyrics, band attitude, and high - but not too high - production values. The flip side is an excellent mid tempo dreamy song that could have been a hit on its own, with another strong arrangment and production. The band needed a new name to replaced the dated sounding Crickets, so they became the Operation, with no plural. The label added the 's'.
The other two songs were only cut to a couple acetates.
The band continued to play locally into 1970 when they experimented with a new name, the Merdec. Kevin Williams replaced Kim Rose, and Bob Ulreich was gone. This band doesn't seem to have lasted long.
In 1972 Ron Leichman and Mike McGuire were playing in the lounge band the Three Of Us.
The band, or part of the band, got back together in 1974 under the name of Jabberwocky. The restarted band was led by Ron Leichman and Gary Eyler. They were based out of Oxford and in a move that seems be unique,, re-recorded the two songs from the 1968 45, with contemporary, progressive, arrangements. By now, Gary was living in Indianapolis so the record was issued from there on the ELI label, which represents the Eyler and Leichman initials. Jabberwocky played locally for a year or so.
The band's main 'rival' was the Patriots who were all from
Talawanda HS. In the 2000s, Ron Leichman played with a few former
Patriots members in a classic rock band, Round Again. Mike McGuire
passed away in 2019.
Reincarnation / The Ever Gentle Presence (Of Your Love) (Chance 1301-C68) Nov 1968
Ever Gentle Presence / Reincarnation - ELI No #, 1974
Thanks to Gary Eyler