Barry Curtis Biography
In 1957 in Yakima, Washington, I
joined The Redcoats, the first band I ever saw. (It was also the
first band of Ned Nelter who later formed Jr. Cadillac in Seattle.) I
knew only two chords on my new guitar but was told I could learn
others as we went along. I did, and eventually played in several
other groups until graduation from high school in 1963. During those
years, I also studied piano and vocal music.
In late 1963, I joined Portland's Kingsmen to play Hammond organ and
soon embarked on an extended U.S. tour to support the band's hit,
"Louie Louie." Recording sessions in Seattle produced more chart
records, then The Kingsmen performed with The Beach Boys on their 1964
summer tour. Many other tours, recordings and TV appearances
followed. Norm Sundholm, Kingsmen bassist, founded the Sunn Amplifier
Company. We shared stages with nearly all the stars of the time.
1966 and most of 1967 found me on another "tour" in Viet Nam after
which I settled in Seattle and resumed performing. The Kingsmen's
heyday had passed and by late 1968, the band became dormant. I formed
a new band and found a few places to play including various rock
festivals around the Northwest.
Prosaically named "The Northwest Rock & Roll Band," the group was the
first to perform at the legendary Medicine Show on Pike Street and The
Library Tavern in Fremont. Thus, I can claim at least partial credit
for launching the Seattle Tavern Music Scene that included The Fresh
Air on Capitol Hill, The Buffalo in Ballard, The Rainbow in University
District and The Central Tavern in Pioneer Square, a significant venue
of the more recent "Grunge" era.
The Kingsmen reformed in 1972 in Seattle and played bars, fairs and
concerts around the Northwest and Western Canada. Another hiatus
ensued after which I did some recording and performed with several
Seattle groups including many guest appearances with Jr. Cadillac and
a two-year stint with Sweet Talkin' Jones. Eventually, the Kingsmen
reactivated and have since performed throughout America.
In 1977, I recorded in Los Angeles, then returned to Seattle and
co-founded Herb and The Spices, and then Freddie and the Screamers,
featuring past-Kingsmen vocalist, Fred Dennis along with Sonics
bassist and guitarist, Andy and Larry Parypa, and The Dynamics
drummer, Ron Woods. I've had the good fortune to guest-perform with a
number of other notable Northwest bands including The Viceroys,
Merrilee Rush, and The Wailers.
I retired from active participation with The
Kingsmen in September, 2005. Now, I am a member of the reconstituted
Daily Flash, Seattle's first
folk-rock/psych band. I also perform with East King County's
Orchids, Salem Oregon's Hoodoo Johnson, and I have my own