Originally created 11/14/97

Ramblin' Rhodes



The popularity of Alabama's new single and album, both titled Dancin' on the Boulevard, again show that many fans of country music also are devoted lovers of beach music.

Alabama's 20th RCA Records album, which includes Bruce Channel singing background on his self-composed '60s hit Hey Baby, is a tribute to the summers that Alabama spent performing at a Myrtle Beach, S.C., nightclub.

Alabama has had radio time recently with Dancin' On The Boulevard, a tribute to the summers the band spent performing at a Myrtle Beach, S.C., nightclub.

The popularity of the single and the album of the same name (Alabama's 20th for RCA Records) is not surprising, since many fans of country music also are devoted lovers of beach music. }Two of beach music's most popular acts with Augusta roots will come together this weekend in Charlotte, N.C., for the third annual Cammy Awards celebration saluting the best in Carolina beach music and the blues.

Augusta native Sammy O'Banion will perform with his beach band Mardi Gras from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday at the Amtrak/Welcome Party in the Morehead Street Chopper, 300 E. Morehead St.

Now a resident of Nashville, Tenn., Mr. O'Banion once was host of a country music show on WAGT-TV (Channel 26) and fronted a country band that played at Horne's Motor Lodge.

The Cammy Awards Show is from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. It will include the induction of an Augusta-founded band, the Georgia Prophets, into the Cammy Awards Hall of Fame.

Original Prophets members include Walter Stanley, Roy Smith and Barbara Goudy, who all live in Augusta; Janet Helm Dearstone, who lives in Thomson; Jimmy Campbell of Atlanta, Fred Williamson of Nashville and the late Tommy Witcher of Augusta, who is to be represented by his widow, Carol.

Tickets for the awards show are $20 advance or $25 at the door. Call (800) SHAGGER or (910) 281-4400.

The Georgia Prophets are as legendary to devotees of beach music as the Bluegrass Boys are to bluegrass fans or Bill Haley & the Comets are to rock fans.

Recently released on Ripete Records is the anthology Billy Scott & the Georgia Prophets featuring Don't You Think It's Time, I Got the Fever, For the First Time, Every Day I Have To Cry Some, and Come and Get My Love. The album costs $14.98. Write to Ripete at 111 S. Main St., Elliot, SC 29046, or call (800) 230-5668. Or you can check the Web site at http://www.ripete.com/billyscott.

Mr. Smith wrote many of the group's hits, including its top seller, I Got the Fever.

It was in 1965 that Mr. Witcher started the Prophets, according to Billy Scott, the group's long-time lead vocalist, who now lives in Raleigh, N.C.

Mr. Scott, a native of Huntington, W.Va., was a platoon sergeant at Fort Gordon in the early 1960s. He and Augustan Ms. Goudy married in December of 1963 and began singing together.

They were hired for the Prophets about a month after the band was created.

"We were brought into the group by Roy Smith," Mr. Scott said. "We were making records in Augusta with Roy as Roy Smith and the Hi-Lites, but we never made any personal appearances with him as the Hi-Lites. The first recording we did as the Prophets was in Sing Studios in Atlanta in 1965."

According to Mr. Scott, the band was known as the Prophets from 1965 until 1969, when it became the Georgia Prophets. It remained under that name until 1971, when the Scotts and Miss Helm left the group to create the Three Prophets, which lasted until 1974.

In 1974, the band became Billy Scott and the Georgia Prophets, and it lasted under that banner until 1985, when Mr. Scott opted to pursue a solo career.

What made the band especially memorable other than its unique sound was that it was one of the first multiracial musical groups in the South.

"Yes, it did create some problems where we couldn't go in certain restaurants," said Mr. Scott. "They'd lock the doors and say, `They can't come in here,' referring to Barbara and myself. This was a shock to me, since I grew up in West Virginia and had not experienced anything like that."

Mr. Scott moved away from Augusta in 1978 when his marriage to Barbara was breaking up. They had two children: Angelique, who died at 16 months, and Sonia, who now is 33.

"I have wonderful memories of Augusta," Mr. Scott said. "Wonderful memories. I grew into adulthood in Augusta. We had a great time together in the Prophets."