Asheville’s ‘60s Garage Rock Scene: An Oral History (Part 6)

Left to right, in back: Jimmy Stroupe, Phil Sloan, Jack Seaver
Kneeling: Steve Hughes, Joe Edwards

Name: Jack Seaver
Band: The Misfits
High School: Enka High
Band Members: Joe Edwards (bass/vocals) — Class of ‘68
                Jack Seaver (guitar) — Class of ‘66
                Steve Hughes (lead guitar) — Class of ‘70
                Phil Sloan (drums) — Class of ‘68
                Jimmy Stroupe (saxophone) — Class of ‘68
Years Active: 1965 — 1968
Recordings: None. 
Current bands: The Nightcrawlers (Steve Hughes)

Meet the Misfits

Jack Seaver: I first started playing guitar in probably ’62, ’63. I remember seeing one of the first band that ever came over and played Enka High — and they were horrible. They knew about four songs, and I don’t think they even knew that many chords. They would just play the same old crap over and over and over again. But the girls just flocked around them. And I went, “Hmmmm … I think I might start playing the guitar.” [Laughs.]

Steve and I met through a mutual friend. The first job we ever had with that band was playing for his 8th grade party, at Sand Hill Elementary School. That was back before middle schools were even thought of. And we all kind of got together and just sort of gelled.

I don’t remember who came up with the name The Misfits. But we certainly were. We felt like we were misfits. Back then, if you were in a band, all the people your age either idolized you or hated you. And all the grown ups hated you. [Laughs.]

For that time period, yeah, we had long hair. It was over our ears a little bit. Of course, the grown ups all thought we were heathens back then. Yeah, we looked the part.

Our friend Bill Garrett lived up in Enka Village. Above Enka Lake, which is now Biltmore Lake. They had some money. They had a really nice house. And a big garage. We practiced in that on Saturday mornings, with the garage door open. And the rest of the neighborhood was just, like, “Uggh.” [Laughs.] It was terrible. But there was this old fella, Charlie Stanberry, who lived across the street. He’d come out on his porch, and sit and listen to us. And we were making a racket. Just noise. And he used to tell us, “I remember thinking to myself, those boys are going to go places.” [Laughs.] I don‘t think he’d want to know where the places are we were in.

The ‘60s Scene

I remember the first rock concert I ever went to at the City Auditorium, in 1964. It was Paul Revere & the Raiders. That was a big thing around here. I think tickets were like 4 or 5 bucks. That was a lot of money back then.

In the ‘60s, it was a hotbed around here. Everybody was in a band, just about. Each school— most of the guys went to either Lee Edwards or Robinson or Reynolds—had their premier band. And there were some good ones, too.

One of the best bands when I was in high school — the band everyone aspired to be like — was Bruce McTaggart’s band, the Wunz. They spelled their name W-U-N-Z, and it was really different. The four of them played a lot of Beatles music. This was in ’64, ’65, ’66. And they looked like the Beatles, they sounded like the Beatles, they dressed like the Beatles. They had the hair, they had the pegged pants and the boots and everything. Even the bass player, Coleman Ramsey, had a Vox Super Beatle amplifier to look just like Paul McCartney. I mean, it was amazing.

Bruce McTaggart and I, we were the same age. We’ve known each other for 40 some years. He had another band that was probably one of the best bands to ever come out of this area, [‘70s rock band] Flat Rock. But they never got their big shot. If they had I think they would have been there.

The Wunz had a 45 they put out, called “If I Cry”. Jim Stover, their rhythm guitar player — who’s an old friend of mine, a close friend of mine — he wrote that song. They were a hot band back then.

Johnny House was in that band the Centurions. They had two or three black guys sing with them called the Royal Primes. And they were a pretty hot, doggone band. And Johnny House was in another band that put out a record. They were called the Dirte Four. They were a pretty good little funky band back then.

I wish the Misfits had recorded. But it never occurred to us. We were just having too much fun chasing girls. [Laughs.]

Playing Live

A lot of the stuff we played was just social gatherings. You know, school parties and dances and stuff like that. And we played a lot of the clubs around here, and went to a lot of different clubs. Back then, back in the ‘60s, black kids and white kids got together and danced and went to clubs together, played in bands together. We never even thought about anything like that back then. It was never a big deal. If you were a musician it didn’t matter what color you were or where you came from, you know. You were in the band.

We actually had a group of girls — we called them go-go girls back then — and there was about six or seven of them that used to go to every place we played. And they all dressed alike and they danced. It was amazing. Some of them are still around. We were one of the only bands around that had go-go girls.

There was a contest at the old Asheville City Auditorium, which is now Thomas Wolfe. The first year they had it was just called the Battle of the Bands. The second year they had it was called the Festival of Sounds Unlimited. A guy named Ray Cain, he was the one that sponsored it. He ended up with cancer and died, and they did that for a couple years after as a memorial. Then all the bands kind of went away.

Well, we came in second place one year. I think behind Bee Bumble and the Stingers. We won a trophy. And respect and bragging rights, that kind of thing. No big deal. I mean, there was no money, no recording contracts or anything. We just got the second biggest trophy. [Laughs.] It was a little, cheap, $6 trophy from somewhere. And I haven’t the slightest idea what happened to that thing. It probably ended up in the garbage 30 years ago. Who knows.

That picture is of us when we won. It was a very professionally-made picture. It was made in … I guess it was ’65. And we’re all really spiffy. We had jackets and little [crossover-style] snap bow ties and white shirts. [Laughs.]

The End of the Era

In ’68 I went into the service, I got drafted. And I was gone. I played all the time I was in the military. We had a lot of fun doing that. We did a lot of jazz rock stuff, a lot of Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears.

I came back here in ’72, and kind of lost contact with a lot of people. After high school, some had went into the military and some went to college. And some just went other places. Some stuck with music and just dabbled at it. A few were serious. And some got out of it all together.

I didn’t play for a long time. And then I played with a band here from the mid-‘90s to about 2000 called Southern Comfort. We played all the bars around here, all the honky-tonks and juke joints and everything. We played southern rock, and a little bit of country. A little bit of everything.

All of us our pretty much in the geezer territory, now. [Laughs.] Most everybody is still playing, though. I played up until a couple years ago. I got so much arthritis in my hands, I can’t hardly play anymore to amount to anything. But I played professionally for about 45 years, I guess.

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