Atlanta Georgia Stray 45 by The Hondells

April 30, 2012

Gary Usher was a songwriter and producer who gained fame through his association with the Beach Boys.

He also liked to put together studio bands. The best known was The Hondells who had a top ten hit during 1964 with the Brian Wilson song, “Little Honda” and the equally brilliant flip side, “Hot Rod High.”

Usher used studio musicians to record as the Hondells including Glen Campbell and Hal Blaine. He did assemble a touring band for a short time. The Hondells had three singles make the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart while recording for the Mercury label.

By the time they recorded “Atlanta Georgia Stray” for the Columbia label the group was about finished and Usher was about to move on to his next project.

Hot Rod High 45 by The Hondells

February 16, 2011

Gary Usher was a noted producer (The Byrds) and songwriter (with Brian Wilson), but his greatest claim to fame was gathering studio musicians together to create music. Some of these created groups would have hit singles and some would even tour.

One of his best known bands was The Hondells. Their big hit, “Little Honda,” was in The Beach Boys tradition with soaring and tight harmonies. It was a rare Beach Boys cover that equaled or even surpassed the original.

The flip side of “Little Honda” was even better than the A side. “Hot Rod High” was two minutes of 1960’s surf/car bliss. It was up-tempo with more tight harmonies. It remains one of the better flip sides of the 1960’s and a prime reason you should always give the B side of a single at least one play..

Little Honda 45 by The Hondells

February 5, 2011

A whole book could probably be devoted to Gary Usher. He was a studio musician who created a number of groups from session musicians to create music. His death from cancer at age 51 in 1990 deprived the music world of alot of fun.

He had a Beach Boys connection during the 1960’s and much of his work reflected their style. He wrote several songs with Brian Wilson.

One of his best remembered groups was the Hondells, who took The Beach Boys song, “Little Honda,” and had a huge hit during 1964 when it reached number 9 on The BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. He got the tempo and harmonies just right and it remains one of the better Beach Boy covers.

Usher provided some of the vocals and was joined by vocalist Chuck Girard, guitarist Glen Campbell, guitarist Richie Podolor, drummer Hal Blaine, and backing vocalist Ritchie Burns. Usher would tour with a rotating cast of musicians.

“Little Honda” remains one of his finest creations.