I helped start the “semi-legendary” psych/garage band, the Velvet Illusions, in 1966, in Yakima, WA. I sang lead on three of our ten released singles, and played second lead guitar. Since finding out in 1987, from my friend, mega-record collector Neal Skok, that our music and memorabilia are collected all over the planet, I’ve made it my mission to keep the band in the public eye. Here is my latest shameless attempt!
Although some of our photos were originally released in color, our band existed in an era where much of the photography was done in black and white. Recently, a young friend took it upon himself to colorize several of our black and white photos. (One of the coolest things about my involvement with the band has been meeting amazing young people from all over the world.) I thought it would be fun to present “The Velvet Illusions In Living Color”, in one spot. Feel free to copy and share. Here we go, in approximate chronological order.
We began our career as The Illusions, in 1966. Here we are, playing a teen dance in Yakima. L-R: Danny Wagner (RIP), Chuck Funk, Randy “Jimmie James” Bowles, Larry “Lurch” Linse (RIP), George Radford. This photo was originally released in color.
This is the iconic Velvet Illusions photo, which has gone around and around the planet. Our friend Aldrik Auth colorized it for us. L-R: Dewayne Russell (RIP), Danny Wohl, Danny Wagner, Steve Weed, Dale Larrison (RIP), Randy “Jimmie James” Bowles, George Radford.
Londoner, Grey Newell, who made the release of our 2011 CD happen, psychedelicized the same photo for us, which I used on my Facebook Page, Velvet Illusions Fans.
Here is our core recording lineup: the group that did the bulk of the recording. Our management is also in the photo. Back row, L-R: Steve Weed, Dewayne Russel, George Radford, Sr., Manager, Randy “Jimmie James” Bowles, George Radford, Gene Weed, Assistant Manager. Front row, L-R: Danny Wagner, Dale Larrison, Danny Wohl. This photo has been color-corrected by our friend Aldrik Auth.
What a happy lot we were…. This photo of the classic lineup was taken, to the best of my recollection, in the Radford’s yard. It came out in color.
Here we are in early summer 1967, playing on Steve Montgomery’s “Summer Wild Thing” show on Yakima, Washington’s KIMA TV. We shared the bill with the New Yorkers, aka The Hudson Brothers. Same classic lineup. This photo was originally released in color.
Here is a still shot taken the day we were on “Summer Wild Thing”, when we were interviewed for KIMA’s local news hour. We were shown on the news, discussing how disappointed we were that our “Acid Head” was banned by U.S. radio, even though it was anti-drug. Color-corrected by Aldrik Auth.
In the summer of 1967, we welcomed England’s hit recording artist, “Two-Ton Tessie O’Shea” to L.A. International Airport, now known as LAX. Surrounding her (with our new rhythm guitarist), we are L-R: Steve Weed, Randy “Jimmie James” Bowles, Dewayne Russell, Dale Larrison, Bruce Kitt, George Radford, Danny Wagner. Colorized for us by Aldrik Auth.
Thanks to Aldrik, here is how we wished we had of looked! This is just for fun.
Aldrik colorized this sweet photo of Tessie planting one on Steve Weed. Our management made up the story that Steve wrote to Tessie asking for ukelele lessons, which was how we eventually met her. That was pure PR — also spelled BS. Steve was a great Vox Continental organ player who did not need ukelele lessons!
The poor Beatles! You’ll note that they only have the black and white photo with Tessie! Tessie told us that they were very sweet young men.
Mid-late summer 1967 saw several lineup changes. Here is a photo of the remaining guys, with some new recruits meeting Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty. Your left to right: Mr. Radford, George Radford, Mayor Yorty, Jon Juette, Bruce Kitt, Roland Bautista, Steve Weed. Roland Bautista (RIP) later was a member of Earth, Wind & Fire. Colorized by Aldrik.
Although the photo is in black and white, I thought I should include this, due to the great use of color by the record company. It’s the front cover art for our 2015 LP, released on Moi J’Cannois Records. I’m not sure who to credit for the art; but people like it.
And, here is the back cover art for our LP.
Finally, from saxman George Radford, is a photo he took circa 2014 of one of our velvet uniforms, from which we took our name. They’ve been stored away, apparently in pristine condition, since 1967.
Well, there you have it: the oh, so colorful Velvet Illusions. Feel free to use these photos as you wish. And share this post for us? Thanks for being our loyal fans. We who remain, love you all.
Randy “Jimmie James” Bowles, Seattle, WA, May 2016
Here is a link to my Velvet Illusions Fans Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/fansofthevelvetillusions/
My thanks to Peter Garami for putting me in touch with Aldrik Auth. Peter is another one of those great young people I’ve met through the band.