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Considered to be the godfathers of punk rock., the Standells were formed in 1962 by vocalist / keyboardist Larry Tamblyn.and guitarist Tony Valentino.
The group is said to have influenced many rock performers. In 1966, after the addition of bassist Gary Lane and vocalist / drummer Dick Dodd, the Standells had their first national hit single “Dirty Water”, sung by Dodd..
The song reached #11 on the Billboard charts on June 11, 1966, #8 in Cashbox on July 9th, and #1 in Record World.
Other chart records included “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White”, “Why Pick On Me,” and “Riot On Sunset Strip” One of their later recordings, “Try It”, regarded by some to be one of their best songs, embroiled them in controversy and perhaps solidified their punk image. The song featured lyrics which by today’s standards would be considered tame and naive, however it was successfully banned by moral majority Texan radio chain mogul Gordon McLendon. The group appeared on Art Linkletter’s House Party, debating their nemisis (and by all accounts defeating him pretty handily), but to no avail. Even though the single was a top-seller in many markets, most radio stations had followed McLendon’s lead and refused to play the song.
The Standells appeared in several movies, including Get Yourself a College Girl, and Riot on Sunset Strip. They were also seen in number of TV shows.
They guest starred as themselves in an episode of the The Munsters, “Far Out Munsters” . They were also featured in an installment of The Bing Crosby Show, portraying the fictional rock group “The Luvbugs”, and as a nighclub band an episode of Ben Casey.
Although “Dirty Water” was written and produced by record producer Ed Cobb, it is widely known that the Standells greatly contributed to its success.
The famous guitar lick was created by guitarist Tony Valentino; the song’s raunchy introductory chant “I’m gonna tell you a story…” and asides such as “Ah but they’re cool people” were created by singer Dick Dodd.
“Dirty Water” is played after every home victory won by the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, and Boston Bruins as well as at Northeastern Huskies’ hockey games. However, many may be surprised to learn that the group is not from Boston; they are all natives of Los Angeles.
Amazingly, unlike most name rock groups of that era, all of the original Standells are still together and continue to play selected concert dates.
They performed at Game 2 of the 2004 World Series, as well as Game 1 of the 2007 American League Division Series, at which time they also sang the National Anthem. That year, the Massachusetts House & Senate passed a joint resolution honoring “Dirty Water” as the “official victory song of the Boston Red Sox”, officially declaring the band members “Honorary citizens of Massachusetts.”
Dirty Water is listed in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The book Love That Dirty Water: The Standells and the Improbable Red Sox Victory Anthem is currently available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Target, and in other retail outlets.