After decades away from music Modesto,California band The Ratz got together last weekend for a benefit. They played at 1425 Church Street, Modesto on September 21. Local bands like these are great frames of reference for many who spent their youth listening to these energetic young bands. Modesto and the Stanislaus County area had long had a great local music heritage right up to the time when Beatles changed everything.
The Ratz were one of the premier Modesto area bands of the mid-1960’s, drawing big crowds by performing incendiary covers of songs by the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and the Kinks, mixed with American rock and R&B standards. Distinctively attired in their trademark two-tone bell bottoms and velour shirts, The Ratz regularly whipped crowds into a frenzy with their trade-marked versions of Under My Thumb, I Ain’t No Miracle Worker, G.L.O.R.I.A, Scene of the Crime, and I’m Alright. They played every venue in the Modesto area, notably the California Ballroom and the Purple Turnip, plus did gigs in Monterey, Santa Cruz at the Coconut Grove, Lake Tahoe, and the Bay Area, including the Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco, home of Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests. All very good stuff but what's the Van connection?
It seems The Ratz opened for Van Morrison and Them at the old Strand Theatre on 10th Street. Though there were several changes in personnel early, the core of the band at the height of its popularity from 1965 through 1967 consisted of Ray Rector on drums, Daniel Johnson on keyboards and vocals, Patrick Durr on guitar and vocals, Rick Edmond on bass.
If you find this post a little tangential, perhaps it's time to investigate this whole area of garage bands. Them is considered a classic garage band. You've really got to go to Garage Hangover and check out all the weird and wonderful groups that burst forth in the 1960s.