The Syndicate of Sound were one of the premier garage bands and forerunners of psychedelic rock, establishing a national following based on one massive 1966 hit, “Little Girl.” Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Don Baskin guitarist/keyboardist John Sharkey, lead guitarist Larry Ray, bassist Bob Gonzalez, and drummer John Duckworth, the predecessors to the Syndicate of Sound were groups called the Pharoahs and Lenny Lee and the Nightmen. After winning a Bay Area “Battle of the Bands” the Syndicate recorded an unsuccessful single for Del-Fi, “Prepare for Love”. On January 9, 1966, the Syndicate of Sound recorded “Little Girl”, penned by Gonzalez and Baskin, at a studio in San Francisco for Hush Records; it became a regional hit in California after San Jose radio station KLIV latched onto it, attracting the attention of executives at Bell Records in New York, who later asked the group to record an album. “Little Girl” began to break nationally first in Oklahoma City, and the record entered Billboard Magazine’s Top 40; just before the single broke, original guitarist left the band, and was replaced by Jim Sawyers. Bell Records was anxious to get their group on the road, the Syndicate of Sound toured constantly for the latter half of 1966, taking time off to tape TV shows like “American Bandstand” and “Where the Action Is”. James Brown, who appeared with them on one of the TV shows, was so impressed that he invited them to open his Cow Palace show in San Francisco. Drummer Duckworth joined the 6th Army Band rather than risk being drafted, and was replaced by Carl Scott. The pressures of constant touring and the need for a second hit caused tension in the group that ended with Sharkey’s leaving. As a four-piece group the Syndicate of Sound went back on the road and toured with a number of notable bands. They shared the stage with the Yardbirds, Mitch Ryder, Neil Diamond, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Association, ? and the Mysterions, Janice Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Sam the Sham and the Pharoes, the Left Bank, the Rascals and many others. Little Girl topped out at number 8 on Billboard in May of 1966. The group recorded three additional singles up to the end of 1969, “You’re Lookin’ Fine” (a Kinks cover), “Brown Paper Bag,” and “Mexico.” Baskin moved to Los Angeles in 1970— the only remaining original member of the band — mounted an unsuccessful attempt at recording another album for Capitol Records in 1970, and then he disbanded the group. Over the years, other artists have rerecorded “Little Girl” such as England’s the Banned, who made it a Top Ten hit, and a “Punk Rock” classic. The DeVinyls made a video of their single, “Little Boy” (a gender change from the original “Little Girl”) which became a hit on MTV, and Dwight Yokham featured the song on his La Crox D’Amour album and subsequently made his recording of “Little Girl” part of his acclaimed “reprise Please, baby” boxed set. Not too surprisingly, a new radio-programming concept called classic rock was catching on and began kicking the dust off the hits of the 1960s up to current. “Little Girl,” naturally, was among those getting significant airplay. In June 2007 reached the milestone of having over 1,000,000 major market plays, spurring on renewed interest in the Syndicate of Sound. In 1990, original members Bob Gonzalez, and Don Baskin, along with John Duckworth, put the band back together. They called on Jim Sawyers for guitar and Ned Torney for keyboard. Jim was with the band during all the heavy touring after “Little Girl” became a hit. After the passing of Ned Torney in the fall of 2005, the band continues on as a four piece. With its current line-up, the band features three of its original members. In 1995, Gonzalez and company were informed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum that they were installing a plaque with the bands picture to be displayed in the museum citing “Little Girl” as a pivotal song in the history of rock & roll. Next to it is a tape-looped recording of “Little Girl” played at 20-minute intervals. The band achieving status as one of the most notable “One Hit Wonders”. “Little Girl” was picked up by Touchstone in the spring of 2002 to featured in it’s movie; “Sorority Boy’s”. And Dick Clark featured “Little Girl” during a few episodes of his NBC series “American Dreams”. The Syndicate of Sound was inducted into the San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame during its inaugural induction ceremony, October 2006. The constant resurgence and ongoing popularity of their hit “Little Girl”; and their cult status as one of the greatest “Garage Bands” ever; will give the Syndicate of Sound their place in Rock and Roll history.
- Alisha Cole
- Adria Michelle