Monday, January 16, 2012

Merrell and the Exiles - The Early Years 1964-1967


Merrell Wayne Fankhauser (b 23 December 1943, Louisville, Kentucky) is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist who was most active in the 1960s and 1970s with bands including the Impacts, Merrell & the Exiles, HMS Bounty, Fankhauser-Cassidy Band, and MU. In addition, 12 songs recorded by Merrell & the Exiles were later released under the group name Fapardokly, even though that group never actually existed.
After moving to San Luis Obispo, California in his teens, he began playing guitar, and got his first break playing in movie theaters and talent shows. In 1960, after one of these shows, he joined a local band called The Impacts as lead guitarist. Their Ventures-influenced sound developed a strong following at the start of the surfing scene. In 1962 they recorded an album which was later released, without the band's knowledge, by Del-Fi Records, and which included a tune "Wipe Out" which Fankhauser suggests later provided the (uncredited) basis of the hit by the Surfaris, although his view is contested [1]
Fankhauser left the band and moved to inland Lancaster, California. There he met Jeff Cotton (later of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band), and in 1964 they formed The Exiles. The band - which also included John "Drumbo" French - had some regional success with songs including "Can't We Get Along", but then broke up. Fankhauser moved back to the coast, formed a new band, Merrell and the Xiles, and had a minor hit with "Tomorrow's Girl" in 1967. An album followed which included old Exiles songs and newer psych folk material. For the album the band was credited as Fapardokly, taking its name from the surnames of the original members - Fankhauser, Dan Parrish (bass), Bill Dodd (guitar) and Dick Lee (drums). Despite its later cult acclaim, the album was not a success. Fankhauser and Dodd then formed another, more overtly psychedelic, band with Jack Jordan (bass) and Larry Meyers (drums), naming it HMS Bounty. They won a recording deal with Uni Records, and their self-titled album was released in 1968, followed by the single "Tampa Run". However, success was again thwarted, by personal and record company problems, and the band split up.
Reuniting with Jeff Cotton in 1970, Fankhauser then formed the group MU. In 1971 their first album was released and became a radio hit. Increasingly fascinated by legends of the lost continent of Mu, Fankhauser then relocated to the Hawaiian island of Maui in Feb. 1973. Material for a second MU album was recorded on Maui in 1974, but not released until the 1980s on the two LPs "The Last Album" (Appaloosa, Italy 1981) and "Children Of The Rainbow" (Blue Form, US 1985). Mu disbanded in 1975. Fankhauser recorded a solo album, "Maui", issued in 1976, before returning to California in the late '70s. All his 1970s recordings have been reissued repeatedly in the CD format.
Fankhauser continued to record, occasionally with friends including John Cipollina and more recently Ed Cassidy of Spirit, as well as producing new surf albums credited to The Impacts. Fankhauser has also produced radio and TV shows.



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