The Ramrods (instrumental group)
|Origin||Connecticut, United States|
|Years active||1956–late 1960s|
The group was formed in Connecticut in 1956 by Claire Lane (born Claire Litke) and her brother Rich Litke. Claire played drums and arranged the songs; Rich played saxophone. They added Vinny Lee on lead guitar, and Gene Moore on second guitar. At the end of 1960 they recorded their instrumental arrangement of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky", a song written by Stan Jones which had been a big hit in 1949 for Vaughn Monroe. The Ramrods' version contained eerie and evocative overdubbed shouts, whistles and cattle calls, and was placed with Amy Records, a subsidiary of Bell Records in New York City. The record was made a "Pick of the Week" by Cash Box magazine, and rose to # 30 on the Billboard pop chart in early 1961. Released on the London label, it also reached # 8 on the UK pop chart.
Gene Moore left the group in the early 1960s and was replaced by Russ Cook (born Russ Mumma) on bass. Vinny Lee later died and was replaced by Bernie Moore (no relation to Gene Moore), who was in turn later replaced by George Sheck, with Cook taking over on lead guitar. Claire Lane left the group in the late 1960s to pursue a solo career, and the remaining Ramrods became the Russ Cook Combo before disbanding in the early 1970s.
A later (early- to mid-60s)"garage-rock" band from the Boston area, originally called The Rockin' Ramrods, later shortened their name to just The Ramrods, and had a series of 45s out on various local labels --- but this was a completely different band (formed by two brothers from Revere, Massachusetts) with no affiliation to the Connecticut Ramrods. Besides the similarity (eventual uniformity) of names, confusion between the two different outfits is exacerbated by the fact that the Boston Rockin' Ramrods' first 45 was 2 instrumentals.