October 23, 2015


The Bostonians, going for the majestic look. All images courtesy of Ken Baxter. Click for larger view.
It's unfortunate enough to cut a killer record and then vanish. But it's a double whammy to suddenly change your established name when you release said record as well, guaranteeing a legacy of former fans and potential record buyers saying, "the who?" Such is the case with The Shyres from Brighton, Mass. Known for the bulk of their existence as The Bostonians, the original lineup featured Steve Wells on lead guitar, Paul Black on bass, Joe Healy on rhythm guitar, Bob Laurenti on keyboards and Ken Baxter on drums. Steve Wells was replaced by lead guitarist "Buddy" Gilman and Bill (Billie) Cox replaced Paul Black on bass. Cox wrote the a-side "Where Is Love," while Healy attributed his songwriting credits on "My Girl" to his then-girlfriend Camilla Beckmann. Ken Baxter recalls his time in the Bostonians / Shyres:

The connection for making the record was Dick Summer of WBZ radio, who did the night show there for years. We would often drop off coffee and donuts at the studio for him — we practiced right near there in Brighton. He eventually had us do a couple of jobs for him that he would sponsor. One was in Dorchester, where they Tallysmen played — another really good band.

That was a great time with a great music scene! The best way I could explain is to say that when you went to go hear one of these bands, everything was vibrant and there was an incredible energy in the air, as the places were usually packed. The Rockin' Ramrods packed The Surf in Nantasket Beach (Hull, Mass.) on a regular basis. They were pretty much the big dogs of the music scene then, as I recall. I also remember going to see Little John & The Sherwoods in Lowell, and was blown away.

The Portland (Maine) gig was great, as it was live on WGAN radio. Also, we taped a TV dance show that afternoon called Club 13.

For years, we were The Bostonians (ok, not very original, but we had high expectations). When we went to make the record, they asked us to change our name due to the similarity to the Improper Bostonians. We were part-time teens; the Improper Bostonians were an older, professional full-time band. We were a very straight group — our guitarist Joe Healy's father was our manager (he was a mentor to all of us, and we all called him "Pop"), and we went to Dunkin' Donuts after a gig and drank coffee. We played the CYO circuit, some teen venues (i.e., Teen Haven in Hingham, Mass.), a few frats, and regularly at Metropolitan Hall in Brighton, Mass. The Doors played at the Met — renamed the Crosstown Bus shortly before the gig — on their first U.S. tour, in August 1967. The place could only hold 300 or so, but yes, the Doors played there (who knew?). In fact, Billie Cox and I went and saw them — stood right at the stage the whole time!

One thing that I'm sure you've noticed by now is that a lot of these bands broke up because of the draft and the Vietnam war — including us, soon after the record.

— Ken Baxter, December 2014

Where Is Love / My Girl
(CR 31011 • WB 218/219) May 1967

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