West Michigan Mid-Sixties Interviews

Ray Hummel, of the JuJus

The following interview was published in R.P.M #4 back in February/March, 1984, pages 14 - 18. I have received permission from David Walters, author of Children of Nuggets, to use this interview here.

Dave Walters Talks with Ray Hummel of the JuJus

Among the many collectable independent labels of the sixties, Fenton Records, ranks high on the want lists of many collectors of "Garage Band" music. The label was started sometime during the early sixties, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by Dave Kalmbach. The vast majority of records released by Fenton, during its heyday, fall into the category of "Garage Band" rock. Because so many young American bands formed in the afterglow of the "British Invasion," it isn't surprising to find this phenomenon in Grand Rapids, Michigan's second largest city.

The following interview was conducted at the Grand Old Country Record Store in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with Ray Hummel, former lead singer of the JuJus, a Grand Rapids group from the mid 60's. The group had a hit with "You Treated Me Bad"/"Hey Little Girl" on the Fenton label that went as high as Number 2 on the local charts.

- Dennis Loren

Dave Walters: When did the band start?

Ray Hummel: in about 1963, but I joined the band in '64.

D: How did you come to join the band?

R: This is a really wild story. I had a friend who played what we called a "gut bucket" with an old Washtub and we were singing in a parking lot behind a restaurant called Don's Kitchen on Division Avenue in Grand Rapids and the man who owned the restaurant said, "You might as well sing in my restaurant." So we started singing at his restaurant. One of the JuJus who happened to live in that area heard me sing, liked my singing, and said "Why don't you join our group? It's called the JuJus."

The way they got their name was, the sax player's little brother couldn't say Junior which was a nickname for him, so he called him JuJu. And that's where the band got the name.

D: Would you name the members of the JuJus?

R: The original group: Rod Shepard played bass and did some lead guitar work; Bill Gorski played the drums; Max Colley played the sax; I played the rhythm guitar and harmonica and sang.

D: When and where were the first gigs you and the JuJus played? Do you remember?

R: We did a lot of gigs at Godwin High School, where a lot of the guys were from. We played all the high schools in this area. We played the Ponytail and a lot of clubs in Holland, Michigan and a lot of cities around Grand Rapids.

D: Where did you first record, and was that recording issued? Did you record a demo some place first?

R: I'm glad you asked that. A friend of mine let me use an audio disk for our first recording session and we did a tune called "Runaround" which is a song that I wrote. We also put on old George Gershwin tune called "Summertime," and "Hey, Little Girl," the beginning version without bass guitar in it as a demo.

D: When was your first single released?

R: In 1965.

D: That was the Fenton single?

R: Yes, "You Treated Me Bad"/"Hey Little Girl."

D: Why did you leave the group?

R: I left the group because I was getting married. The truth is, I shouldn't have gotten married and left the group because I had a real good recording contract offered me because I was the writer of the songs.

D: With who?

R: With Drummond Records in Detroit.

D: You left the band and recorded again for Fenton, when was that?

R: '67. What I did was, I took parts from two different bands and put them in the studio together, recorded the single, and released it under my own name.

D: Who were the members of that band?

R: There were some members from the Legends, and some members from the JuJus. Bill Gorski was the drummer, Max Colley directed that session and played the sax, Ray Vasques played the organ, and we had a couple of brothers who played on it but I can't remember.

Fine Day by Ray Hummel III on Fenton I recorded "Gentle Rain" and "Fine Day" in two different studios and I have two different versions of it: one at Chess in Chicago and one at Dave's Fenton studio. We chose his over Chicago.

D: That was the one issued on Fenton?

R: Yes, but I have the other one on tape, if people want it, I have the masters for both. They are both good, just different flavors to them.

D: How well did your solo project sell?

R: It never got that much exposure. About that time I got married and started traveling the circuit, and was not home enough to promote it. At that time I was quite young and did not know the right people to get it to. It never went as far as it could have because of lack of hype and promotion.

D: You talk about playing the circuit, where was that and what type of music were you playing?

R: At first it was 60's music because it was the 60's when I firsts started traveling. As I started traveling west and north and south, I saw there was a big call for country music, for contemporary music, for show tunes - there was a call for a lot of things. Because I was playing so many types of clubs, I had to be versatile, and that's what I strived to do during those years on the road. In the beginning, I to everything from Frank Sinatra to the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and Simon and Garfunkel; and then I began to get into country.

D: Did you record after leaving the Fenton label?

R: We recorded a lot of things that were not released.

D: When was the next actual released record?

R: That would be the release on Renegade Records, "You Can't Keep a Good Memory Down"/"Daily Grinds and Neon Signs," which was recorded in '78.

D: So you didn't record anything between '67 and '78?

R: No, there was a big time lapse there. It cost a lot of money and I was financially embarrassed at the time.

D: So you were basically playing the club circuit, but not doing any recording.

R: Yes, then I decided to come home, get off the road and concentrate on recording. I had just gotten remarried then and decided that this was a nice place to bring up my family.

That was when I got my new producer, went to Nashville and recorded in '78.

D: How did the Renegade records do? Did they chart at all?

R: Yes, they did, in Grand Rapids as well as in Windsor, Canada. Then I really started promoting it in Europe and Manfred wrote an article in Europe and we sold the records out of the magazine. Then Otto from Denmark wrote about me and offered me on a cassette with Danish artists. Also Country Korral in Sweden did an article.

D: Did it chart on Billboard's Country Charts?

R: No, but it was mentioned in The Gavin Report and Radio and Records.

D: What are your current plans?

R: I am releasing things on Renegade, but I am interested on getting on a major label.
Last updated on May 24, 2004.
Comments

do u still talk to max? he said he was in the band but i thought he was joking. hes actually my band teacher at northveiw. well bye.
bree

Posted by: bree at September 1, 2005 06:36 PM

john lubinskas, contact frank anderson at 5111 auriesville Ln Hazelwood Mo, 63042 or 1 314 291 6104
frank anderson Michigan Classic Country Museum and WPLB

Posted by: frank anderson at September 18, 2005 12:41 AM

Frank--Sorry,but John Lubinskas passed away several years ago.

Posted by: John at September 18, 2005 10:19 PM

Hey Ray, it's me Ray V., played keyboards in your session at Fenton (Fine Day/Gental Rain). Great times. I remember the crowded practice room you had at your dad's factory. I'm still in W. Michigan. Drop me a line some time.

Posted by: Ray V. at September 29, 2005 12:55 AM

Hey! Mr. Colley is my band teacher, and the most amazing guy ever! I think its soo cool that he was in the jujus! bye

Posted by: Laura at February 1, 2007 10:43 AM

I have ocassion to work with your band manager Marty. She says hello.

Posted by: Mike at August 6, 2007 08:54 PM

RAY HUMMEL III PRESENTS:

THE JUJUS - You Treated Me Bad (Ray Hummel III Records RH365) vinyl LP, with booklet

Compiled from the impressive mastertape collection of The JuJus lead singer, guitarist, and main songwritter Ray Hummel III. This all official LP includes no less but 14 of the very best cuts from 1964-1966 ever recorded by this legendary 60s garage rock and roll outfit from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Side one blasts off with The JuJus monster 1965 garage rock and roll hit YOU TREAT ME BAD in perfect soundquality, followed by four phenomenal previously unreleased studio tracks from early 1966 that are ONLY AVAILABLE ON THIS LP: AS TEARS GO BY (a faithful cover version of The Rolling Stones track from the unreleased 1966 Phil Robertís Studio recording session), ITíS GONNA BE ALRIGHT (unreleased studio version from 1966 that is different from all other versions), FINE DAY (killer different studio version from the unreleased Phil Robertís Studio mastertapes. It was recorded at the height of The JuJus career in February 1966), and COME ON CHILDREN (best version of one of their best cuts, also from the completely unreleased 1966 Phil Robertís Studio tapes) Side one is closing out with another killer high energy 60s garage nugget from 1965 entitled CRYINí, plus HEY LITTLE GIRL, the fantastic mid-fast 50s rock and roll blended flipside of YOU TREATED ME BAD. Side Two is opening with a fast surf instrumental from 1964 called FLAKE OUT. Next up is The JuJus beautiful unique arrangement of the 60s ballad DONíT LET THE SUN CATCH YOU CRYING, which is a gem of a track and another highlight on this LP. SHEíS MY GIRL appears in the by far best version (also from the unreleased 1966 Phil Robertís Studio tapes) complete with a rave up to close out the song, and fantastic lead vocals by Ray. Ritchie Valens would have been proud of The JuJus fabulous 1964 version of Donna, which as it turns out also used to be the name of Ray Hummelís girlfriend back then. The record is closing out with The JuJus debut studio recordings from May 1965: HEY LITTLE GIRL (an early alternate version that clearly shows the 50s rock and roll influence in the band), SUMMERTIME (killer rocking version played The JuJus way), and RUNAROUND (a colossal 50s blended 60s garage rock and roll track with harp and super cool lead vocals by Ray -- a bit like Bob Dylan meets Buddy Holly!)
Highly recommended to anybody into 60s garage, the British invasion, 60s beat, The Rolling Stones, Beatles, and folk-rock like The Dovers, Bob Dylan etc., but also to the surf and 50s rock and roll crowd too! Soundquality is better than on all other previous JuJus anthologies. Beautiful cover artwork, with ultra rare never before seen photo material from the archive of Ray Hummel. It comes complete with extensive liner notes + comments about each track by The JuJus frontman Ray Hummel on the photo packed booklet insert.
The best JuJus anthology ever made! Each track from this LP could have been a hit, and most of them are ONLY AVAILABLE ON THIS LP!

First pressing is limited to just 500 copies, and will be slightly different to all future issues, so you better be quick!

THE JuJus LP on Ray Hummel III Records is distributed by Feathered Apple Records, Clear Spot International, and some others. Checkout the website of Feathered Apple Records for full info, and ordering details!

Posted by: Ray Hummel III Records at March 21, 2011 03:26 PM

Hello, i'm a Hummel from the Netherlands who's related to Ray. Can anyone get me in contact with him? Greets,
GŠbor

Posted by: Hummel at April 6, 2011 08:44 AM

G'abor, Send your E-mail to me and I'll give it to Ray. He said a relative from Holland visited his Uncle Jim years ago but he don't remember
his name. my e-mail is thelighthouseguy1@yahoo.com
Regards, Doug

Posted by: Doug Taylor at April 14, 2011 11:41 PM

Where is Ray Hummel today?
Is he still singing?

Posted by: susie at April 22, 2012 07:26 AM

Susie, I had a nice chat with Ray Hummel a year ago
He says he is starting to wite, not sure on the playing, as we talked about the old days quite a bit.

Ray is really a nice guy, I wish I could have met him way back when.

Posted by: Doug Taylor at April 25, 2012 05:26 AM
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