Wildlife at the Inferno in Mansfield - L-R: Charlie Barker, Terry Van Auker, Tom Zinser, Lou Basso, Bob Ross
The Wildlife was formed by Mansfield musician Terry Van Auker, who had been in a band called the Collegiates. The original band included Terry on lead guitar, John Kinkle on rhythm guitar, Bob Ross on bass, Charlie Barker on durms, and Lou Basso as lead singer. After about 4-5 weeks John left for college and Tom Zinser, from Tommy Z and the Sleepers replaced him.
In late '66 or early '67 a producer for Columbia, John Walsh, got a tip and came out to hear the band perform at Greter's Lake in Mansfield. Walsh was impressed and signed the band on the spot. Within a few weeks they travelled to New York City and started recording. "After a month or so, our producer (John Walsh), and some other Columbia people, (including a much younger Clive Davis), told us that they wanted Lou Basso to go. We were young and green and pretty much did what we were told. Lou was replaced by Jim Krause, who had been in the Sleepers with Tom." (Terry Van Auker)
Circa late 1967 - Bob Ross, Jim Krause, Tom Zinser, Terry Van Auker, Charlie Barker
The group recorded 6 sides for Columbia, although some of the recordings used studio musicians. One of the Wildlife songs, the ace folk-rocker "Time Will Tell" was a re-recording of the Tom Zinser penned song that had appeared on the Sleepers 45. Back in Ohio the group was very popular on the teen club scene and toured the state and region extensively, playing a variety of songs that concentrated more in the style of harder blues rock than exhibited on the 45s.
"About a year and a half later we recorded Mississippi Mama, a new Zinser tune, and shopped it around. The Wes Farrell Organization in New York bought it, signed us up, and released it on a small label called Janus Records. It reached #81 on Cashbox. Then Tom wrote Never Goin’ Home, which was released on Janus. It did very well regionally, but did not make the national chart. After that our relationship with Wes did not last much longer – he wanted us to start recording tunes supplied by his A&R men, and we wanted to continue to record our own material. Ultimately we parted ways." (Terry Van Auker)
"During this time, Charlie Barker was replaced with Bob Tousignant on drums. Bob had been the drummer in the Music Explosion, another Mansfield band. Shortly before the release of Mississippi Mama the name of the group was changed to Owen B. During the Wes Farrell period, we recorded and self-released an album titled Owen B. It was only distributed regionally; Wes was not interested in us doing an album at the time, but gave us permission to do it locally on our own." (Terry Van Auker)
This Is What I Was Made For / Sometimes I'm Up - Columbia 44213
New Games To Play / Where Do You Go - Columbia 44285
Time Will Tell / Hard Hard Year - Columbia 44369
Mississippi Mama / Nowhere To Run - Janus 107
Never Goin' Home / Zig Zag Man - Janus 123
My Friends / Share - O-B 1831/2
LP - Owen B - O-B 101209/101210
Thanks to Terry Van Auker and Nancy Wasen