What do Dick Dale and Will Ferrell have in common? Well bear with me and I will enlighten you!
I ran across some old pictures the other day and it reminded me of a bit of trivia that some of you might find interesting. BTW my meanderings have no chronological order – it’s just how they happen to pop up.
After I returned from Vietnam in 1962 I was discharged from the Marine Corp and rejoined Dick Dale and The Del Tones (or His Del Tones as we were sometimes referred to). At different times Dick would have two sax players. The one constant sax player was Barry Rillera, who, as I have mentioned before was a great guitar player. The second player would change from time to time. I believe Barry was there before I left for overseas, but I’m not sure of the other. It may have been Armando Frank or someone named Jerry? (not sure, help!).
When I rejoined Dick in 1962 he was playing at Harmony Park. The second sax player was a new arrival from North Carolina named Lee Ferrell (OK, now you know where this is going!). Because Lee and I were the new guys in the band we became friends and went on to work in a number of little bands around the area (on our off nights with Dick). Lee was a quiet guy off stage, but we would be playing in these small local bars and some nights he would just do the craziest things – Jump up on the tables or the bar while playing, pull out a crazy wig and just generally cut up. You never knew when it would happen and he would be totally spontaneous. He was very, very funny.
Lee often talked of his girlfriend back home, Kay, and at one point he went back to North Carolina and married her. Will was born in 1967 and Lee and I worked together off and on up until 1971 when I moved to Los Angeles. I had always been a fan of Will Ferrell, even before I made the connection that he was Lee and Kay’s son. I only found out when I was visiting Bill Medley a few years ago and he mentioned it. Duh, I should of made the connection as I remembered how funny Lee had been those many years ago. I talked to Lee after I had spoken to Bill and he told me how Will’s success had evolved (from Lee’s perspective) but that’s another story.
Those are great shots of Lee, et al. My best (or most vivid) memory of Lee was that shortly after he arrived and started playing with Dick, it was nearing the end of the year and another (ho hum) New Years Day Parade. (Hi Art!) I was playing bass with Dick, Art, Lee Drew and the others at (first the Rendezvous) Harmony Park, and Lee was not taking NO for an answer. He was a damn country boy from Cherry Point, and he was NOT going to miss the (In Person) thrill of a Rose Parade. So, midnight or so, after the gig, we headed up to Pasadena. By the time we arrived, it was dark, and particularly drunk out that night. By about 4:30-5:00 am, I was having trouble keeping track of Lee. I finally found him climbing onto a roof of a business which he had accessed from climbing up a telephone pole. He was going to have the best seat in the house. Remember, this is at just before dawn, people by the thousands are arriving, staking out their vantage points, and here is Lee, hanging off that roof, shouting, as loud as possible, “Hey EVERYBODY-WAKE UP! The parade is gonna start.” “GET UP-the parade is comin’!” Luckily no one got irritated enough to physically accost Lee, or me, for coming to his aid, but it was close! But I gotta tell you it was HILARIOUS! I finally talked him down, and about three hours later, the excitement wore in, and he dropped off and slept through most of the parade. We finally found the car, and I dropped him off at his home. (An apt. in Hollywood-he wasn’t going to live anywhere else now that he had made it to his ‘launch-pad for success!)
Lee’s first BIG Southern California fantasy had happened for him. Too bad he missed about 3/4 of it.
Loved the little story on Lee. I worked with him with The Righteous Brothers. He’s a great guy & has a fantastic family. Thanks for sharing with everyone.
Thanks Harry, haven’t seen Lee in years but we had some great times together.
lee plays at mckennas every weekend in long beach marina
mike patterson lives in colorado
Thanks Rick, I’ll have to get down and see him. Haven’t seen Lee since the mid 90s.
"BIG" MIKE SIMPSON
GREAT STORY, JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW I HAD A CLUB IN WESTMINSTER CALLED J.B.’S INN CROWD. I WAS KNOWN AS BIG MIKE, LEE AND BARRY, AND BUTCH USED TO PLAY AS MY HOUSE BAND AND CALLED THEM SELFS UNNATURAL ACT, WHEN THEY WERN’T ON THE ROAD WITH BILL MEDELY WHO ALSO USE TO STOP IN NOW & THEN TO JAM AT THE LAST SET AND EVEN BOBBY WOULD STOP BY. THOSE WERE THE GREAT TIMES IN MY LIFE. LEE EVEN LIVED WITH ME AND MY GIRL FRIEND ( NOW MY WIFE OVER 40 YEARS) AT THE TIME IN OUR APT.IF YOU SEE ANY OF THEM PLEASE GIVE THEM MY E-MAIL AND I AM GOING TO TRY AND LOOK LEE UP IN DEC. WHEN WE COME TO CALIF FOR XMAS WITH OUR GRANDSONS AND DAUGHTER AND SON IN LAW. HOPE HE IS STILL AT MCKENNAS IN L.B. THANKS AGAIN HARRY.
Mike Simpson, I played at the Inn Crowd in Westminster, maybe only one night, in summer ’67, backing Ray Peterson. Do you remember the address of the place? On Beach, Bl, wasn’t it?
Name *Patti Russell Salerno
The Inn Crowd was my stomping ground in 1967-68 – Not old enough but had full proof fake ID. Loved the music from the Lee Ferrell Trio. You could call my friend and I Groupies. Fortunate to see Ike and Tina Turner as well in such a small venue. Saw Lee last night at O’Malleys in Seal Beach. Hard to imagine it was 50 years since the Inn Crowd Days. Lee was still going strong and the music was great. Thanks for continuing the memories.