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Retro Redux: Connections – The Castells And Beyond

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It doesn't take a pronouncement from Mr. Obvious to recognize that the decade of the Sixties was a volatile time in pop music. It was an era that saw a lot of strange combinations and connections — not only in the music itself, which included everything from folk music to R&B — but also in the performers.

A while back I wrote about the Hondells, a Sixties group that included Glenn Campbell and had a link with the Beach Boys, but there was another connection I didn't mention. One of the group's members began his career as part of another popular combo, one with a similar name — the Castells.

It all began in 1959, when four high-school buddies in Northern California decided to form a musical group, one that would combine traditional vocalizations with modern pop sounds. Chuck Girard, Bob Ussery, Tom Hicks, and Joe Kelly called themselves the Castells simply because they liked the name. (It's unlikely they'd even heard of an earlier R&B group called the Castelles.)

The guys began their career by appearing in Santa Rosa teen spots, and as time passed they became so popular that a local DJ helped them get a record demo made. Unfortunately they couldn't get a deal, even after trying a number of different Hollywood record companies. Finally, Era Records decided to take a chance with them, and they began to churn out a few records. One of their earliest, 1961's "Sacred," did well on the charts (although not into the Top Ten) but "Make Believe Wedding" fell far short. However, a later piece called "So This Is Love" (clip) again charted high for the group, and it was probably their best song.

It would be the pinnacle for the Castells, although they did continue to perform for a couple of years, usually appearing as supporting acts for bigger stars like Bobby Vee and Jackie Wilson. The group eventually disbanded and its members went their separate ways. Decades later, it appears that Chuck Girard has been the most musically active, with his service in — you guessed it — the Hondells, and by later becoming a popular part of the Christian music movement.

 

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