Mickey and the Clean Cuts

Lorain, 1964-82

This soul influenced combo was started by keyboard player Mickey Ward, guitarist Dan Walker, and drummer George Neuhoff, all high school students. With George's brother Sid on sax, they were the first rock-n-roll band to play Lorain's Beaver Park. Sid was replaced by Glen Mikaland who alternated between sax and bass. The Clean Cuts lived up to their name with matching uniforms and a set list largely taken from the soul side of top 40. During their original incarnation, they played the Lake Erie clubs like the Barn and appeared with Ghoulardi. Their strong following in the black community got notice of Elyria entrepreneur Donnie Barden, an African-American who arranged a couple sessions at Cleveland Recording. The first release on Barden's Donnie label, in late '65, was "Soapy" backed with the driving instro "Static Electricity". The record did very well locally and Wand records picked up the record for national release. Wand got airplay for "Static Electricity" in a couple places like Philadelphia. In '66 the group released their second 45, "Turning To Stone" b/w "I Need You". Gone was the sax and in place was a tense, menacing garage fuzz number backed with a nice soul harmony ballad, with Mickey Ward replacing his Farfisa with a Hammond B-3. For some reason Barden released the record under the name of the Gladiators, possibly to avoid a legal problem with Wand. The name change was on record only as they performed as Mickey and the Clean Cuts. Meanwhile, the group provided the band backing for a record by Dave Charles, an African-American soul singer who was found by Donnie Barden. The group also backed up Lee Rand on a recording date. Over the next year or so all the original members left besides Mickey Ward, who continued Mickey and the Clean Cuts in local nightclubs until the early 1980s. No other recordings were made.