“Best known for their hit ‘Dirty Water’, The Standells released a string of snotty, aggressive garage singles in the mid to late 1960s which are now rightly regarded as proto-punk classics. ‘Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White’, ‘Why Pick On Me’, ‘Riot On Sunset Strip’ – the songs of The Standells have been covered by everyone from Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith and U2 to Spacemen 3, Minor Threat and a million ’77 punk bands as well as many subsequent scene bands.”
- Pat Long
The Standells are considered by many to be the godfathers of garage punk rock. The group was formed in 1962 by keyboardist / lead vocalist Larry Tamblyn and guitarist Tony Valentino. The name was created by Larry, derived from "stand'ing around booking agents offices trying to get work. Their first hit single on Tower Records "Dirty Water" reached #11 on the Billboard charts, #8 in Cashbox, and #1 in Record World. Other chart records include "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White", "Why Pick On Me," and "Riot On Sunset Strip.", which is featured as the kick-off song in the new Rhino Records boxed CD set Where the Action Is: LA Nuggets. Prior to their success on Tower Records, the group was signed by Liberty Records and issued an album "The Standells In Person At P.J.'s" in 1964 (later re-released as “The Standells Live and out of Sight”). After having no success with Liberty they signed with Vee Jay in 1965 for two singles, one of which was produced by Sonny Bono, of Sonny and Cher. Cher did backup vocals on “The Boy Next Door”.
The group appeared in several movies, including “Get Yourself a College Girl, performing their first Liberty recording “The Shake” and “Riot on Sunset Strip”, performing the film’s title song. The Standells were also frequently seen on television. The Standells guest starred as themselves in an episode of the The Munsters. They were also featured in an installment of The Bing Crosby Show, and as a nightclub band on an episode of Ben Casey. In addition to TV teen shows like Shindig, American Bandstand and Where the Action is, they were featured on Art Linkletter's House Party, debating moral majority broadcasting mogal Gordon McLendon who banned their recording “Try It”. McLendon deemed the song’s lyrics to be obscene. (By all accounts, the Standells defeated him pretty handily.)
Despite the references to Boston and the Charles River in "Dirty Water," The Standells are not from Massachusetts. Nevertheless, "Dirty Water" is still played after every home victory won by the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, and Boston Bruins as well as at Northeastern Huskies' hockey games. One would be hard-put to find either a sports fan or rock music lover in Massachusetts who had never heard of the Standells.
The band still actively performs in concert. Since the early 1990’s Dirty Water has been the Red Sox victory anthem. They appeared at Game 2 of the 2004 World Series as well as the first game of the 2007 American League Division Series at Fenway Park, where they sang the national anthem. More recent US performances include the Cannery Casino amphitheater in Las Vegas, the Hollywood landmark Amoeba Music, the EchoPlex, and as the featured performers at the June Lake Loop Mountain Music Festival. Their 2010 six - nation European tour included knock-out performances in Madrid, Bordeaux, Rennes, Paris, London, Oslo, Berlin, Athens, and Frankfurt.
“Dirty Water” is listed in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped Rock & Roll.. A biography entitled “Love that Dirty Water: The Standells and the Improbable Red Sox Victory Anthem” is currently available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Target, and in other retail outlets.
Today, the Standells consist of original members Larry Tamblyn (lead singer & keyboardist), John Fleck (bassist), Mark Adrian (guitarist & co-lead vocalist), and veteran drummer Greg Burnham.
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