I recently got a call from a friend who played music with me in the “Luv Minus Zero” during the 1960’s and now lives out of the area. He needed help selling his mother’s house as well as handling her furniture, car, and the whole house full of personal items. We have a broad experience with this at Hornsby Real Estate Co., and I was able to bring together my team of auction professionals, estate appraisers, charitable organizations, and cleaning crews and provide this very important service. Once the personal items were taken care of, we staged the house and completed a successful sale with a positive result on all fronts.
During this process, I went into the small back bedroom at the end of the hall and discovered the 1966 Fender Bassman amp and two matching speaker cabinets which we had used for the original “Luv Minus Zero” PA system. I called and confirmed this “provenance” and we laughingly agreed that these were three items that were not going to auction.
Old music gear like this can be valuable and often sounds better than current equipment. How many of us wish we had never sold a particular guitar, bass, keyboard, or amplifier? I know I do!
This visit to the past reminded me of an interview I gave to Jake with “Peninsula Garage (Bands)” about my musical experiences and the Williamsburg music scene in the 1960’s, and I’m pleased to share it with you here.
**Excerpts from Bobby Hornsby of Luv Minus Zero interview**
Jake) Who was in Luv Minus Zero, and what instruments did each person play?
Bobby) All of the members of Luv Minus Zero were from Williamsburg and went to James Blair High School which had grades 8 through 12. Band members were Dean Roberts, Lead Guitar; Russell Brasted, Rhythm Guitar & 12 string; Bobby Hornsby, Bass Guitar; Ted Baxter, Drums; Bruce Raynes, Lead Vocals.
Jake) When did the band start, and when did it end?
Bobby) The Gentlemen broke up and morphed into the Luv Minus Zero over the summer of 1966. The band Luv Minus Zero was together about a year and a half, ending in early 1968, when the Soul Solution started.
Jake) Where did the name of the band come from?
Bobby) The Luv Minus Zero was named for a Bob Dylan song called Love Minus Zero/No Limit. The spelling was changed, I guess to reflect the times, maybe by our manager, Richard Lester. Dick Lester was a news guy and part time disc jockey on WGH. He heard Luv Minus Zero and offered to manage the band, and we were psyched because of his WGH relationship, a very powerful thing at that time. All went fine until he came to us with “uniforms” that consisted of Dutch Boy hats and polka dot shirts with ascots. We thought that was a bad idea but Lester convinced us to wear them on one gig. I think we looked like fugitives from a “Beach Blanket Bingo” movie. We were so embarrassed we played like hell and our outfits generated a lot of laughs. We took off the hats and put on t-shirts on a break, and Dick Lester told us that if we did not wear the uniforms he was through with us. We told him we were through with him and that was the end of our management deal, most likely the best thing for Luv Minus Zero.
Jake) What were some songs that you covered?
Bobby) Luv Minus Zero was largely influenced by the Beatles, Byrds, Nightcrawlers, Standells, Lovin Spoonful, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and Kinks. Big songs were Mr. Tambourine Man, Nashville Cats, For Your Love, Little Black Egg and Basket of Flowers, Dirty Water, 19th Nervous Breakdown, etc. In order to be different, we would do our songs in medleys, linking 5 or 6 songs together to keep people on the dance floor longer. This seemed to be very popular and we won most of our battle of the bands based on this idea. Our most popular medley was with the 12 string, with segues from Byrds and Nightcrawlers songs, all very jangly.
Jake) Do any particular gigs or concerts that your band played stand out in your mind?
Bobby) Near the end of the band we were able to play one time at the “Hullabaloo Scene” club in Newport News which was one of the first “rock clubs” to open in our area (right about the same time as the “American Lighthouse” in Hampton) so that was a big time for our band. Other than that, I think playing gigs on fraternity row at William and Mary was quite a learning experience for us.
Jake) Were you in any bands before or after Luv Minus Zero, but still during the 1960s?
Bobby) The Williamsburg music scene was actually pretty strong for the size of the town, I think mainly because of the College of William and Mary – In 1966 I saw the Byrds (Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs opened) at W&M gym, along with many other national acts. The fraternities and college parties provided numerous paying gigs for the local bands. There were many good drummers around because they were trained from childhood by the Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps.
Williamsburg also had an active “Youth Center” with “Sock Hops” at least one weekend night each week, and that is where we would see the Garden of Eden, Del Notes, Swinging Machine, Sheepherders and more. My three bands during the ’60’s, the Gentlemen, Luv Minus Zero, and the Soul Solution played these venues with regularity. * * *
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