the Nite Watchmen
L-R: Denny Miles, Ed Johns, Fred Johns, Roger Merchant, Pursey Davis
The Nite Watchmen were Findlay's most popular band in the late 1960s. They recorded two excellent 45s and played countless shows, both on the teen dance and nightclub circuits.
The first version of the band started in the fall of 1965, with Findlay HS students Denny Miles and Roger Merchant as the founding member. Denny played keyboards and Roger started on the drums. The band was completed with Larry Tesnow on guitar and Dave Seitz on bass. A 1965 newspaper story lists Charles Cooper as their manager. The band played Greenmill Gardens, an old 1930s vintage dance hall that hosted teen dances. They also played the Union Hall. This first version of the band lasted for a year or so.
In 1967 the band reorganized, with Denny, Bob Nash on vocals and brothers Ed Johns (guitar) and Fred Johns (drums) joining the band. The new bass player was Jay Oman. The band really started to take off, and played Greenmill, The Pub in Findlay, the Brunsiwck Night Club, the My Place and Other Place teen clubs in Ottawa and Celina. The band is also listed playing several money-raising benefits for injured/ill teens. They also played a few times down in the Xenia/Dayton area. Later in 1967/8, Roger Merchant came back to be the lead singer, and Pursey (also listed as Percy) Davis was the new bass player. Pursey had been in the Wanderers, a popular FIndlay band, along with Bob Nash.
In the summer of 1968 the band went to Cleveland Recording and cut the two songs for their first 45. The songs "I'm Gonna Lose My Mind" and "Two Yards Of Dreaming" are both really catchy and well arranged/played songs. The record was released three times, originally having a Cleveland Recording studio logo on top, copied, apparently, from the CRC acetate label. A second press was done without any logo, just the name "Night Watchmen" across the top (the band's name was NITE, a mistake must have led to the Night spelling. The band got the recordings leased to the Brite Star operation and they re-released the record on a custom SIR label. Denny Miles said the SIR records were supposedly marketed to Baltimore and Philadelphia, and probably other major cities. The record did get airplay on CKLW. An August 20 1968 ad in the Findlay paper mentions a record release in 4 weeks and a Canadian tour.
The 1969 lineup
Denny and Roger wanted to change the direction and sound of the band, so they dismissed the Johns brothers and added Terry McClanahan on guitar, Benny McCoy on drums. The new band played more heavy rock and blues. A few months after the new lineup formed, they recorded their second and last 45 at CEI in Fremont. Roger wrote both sides. The result was a two sides of great bluesy rock, with tuff, raw vocals by Roger, some great fuzz guitar, and all the instruments really playing well together. The 45 was released on the Now!! label, a CEI subsidiary to reflect the 'now sound' of late 1960s rock.
The band continued to play all the time, with some 1969 gigs at 'Mildred's Electric Malt Shop' at Russell's Point, and plenly more shows at Greenmill and My Place. In the summer of 1969, Dave Phillips was the guitarist, replacing Terry. The band became a promoter of Sunn amps, and played a few equipment shows representing Sunn, at least one along with the Outsiders
The band lasted into 1971. Roger left and Denny took over on lead vocals. A couple other members came and went. There is an post in a music blog listing Paul Brickman as a bass player, which was probably at the end of the band's run. In 1971 they played a couple times at the Park in North Baltimore, a legendary outdoor rock venue that featured mini rock festivals for a couple summers.
The band also recorded a couple more songs at CEI that were never released. The songs had a country rock influence. They supposedly had enough recordings to make an LP, and put out the LP on a limited run of 8-track tapes. To our knowledge, nothing like that has every been found, other than the CEI recordings. A posting on the Discogs site has a cassette tape of a live recording from August 16, 1969, and a track listing that includes several Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival songs, including three that were released within a couple months of the recording. The tape also lists what are likely original songs, unfortunately neither of the 45 titles.
Denny Miles contiuned to be an active local musician, singing and playing in a few other bands. Fred Johns would start the Arden Cooper Agency, a management/booking operation that handled many bands in NW Ohio/NE Indiana.
I'm Gonna Lose My Mind / Two Yards Of Dreamin - Cleveland Recording Company / Night Watchmen 2119 // SIR 1100, Sept 1968
Mimic Jester / I Need It - Now!! 002, March 1969
Thanks to Denny Miles. Pics from Matt Baker.