“Best known for their hit ‘Dirty Water’, The Standells released a string of snotty, aggressive garage singles in the mid to late 1960s which are now rightly regarded as proto-punk classics ‘Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White’, ‘Why Pick On Me’, ‘Riot On Sunset Strip’ – the songs of The Standells have been covered by everyone from Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith and U2 to Spacemen 3, Minor Threat and a million ’77 punk bands as well as many subsequent scene bands.
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- Pat Long, Music Critic
The Standells were formed in 1962 by keyboardist and lead vocalist Larry Tamblyn. Their first hit single on Tower Records "Dirty Water" reached #11 on the Billboard charts, #8 in Cashbox, and #1 in Record World. Other chart records include "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White", "Why Pick On Me," and "Riot On Sunset Strip.", which is featured as the kick-off song in the new Rhino Records boxed CD set Where the Action Is.
Prior to their success on Tower Records, the group was signed by Liberty Records and issued an album "The Standells In Person At P.J.'s" in 1964 (later re-released as “The Standells Live and out of Sight”). After having no success with Liberty they signed with Vee Jay in 1965 for two singles, one of which was produced by Sonny Bono Sonny & Cher. Cher did backup vocals on one of the songs “The Boy Next Door”.
The group appeared in several movies, including “Get Yourself a College Girl, performing their first Liberty recording “The Shake” and “Riot on Sunset Strip”, performing the film’s title song. The Standells also frequently appeared on television. The Standells guest starred as themselves in an episode of the The Munsters. They were also featured in an installment of The Bing Crosby Show, and as a nightclub band on an episode of Ben Casey. In addition to TV shows like Shindig, American Bandstand and Where the Action is, they were featured on Art Linkletter's House Party, debating moral majority broadcasting mogal Gordon McLendon who banned their recording “Try It”. McLendon deemed the song’s lyrics to be obscene. (By all accounts, the Standells defeated him pretty handily.)
Despite the references to Boston and the Charles River in "Dirty Water," The Standells are not from Massachusetts. Nevertheless, "Dirty Water" is still played after every home victory won by the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, and Boston Bruins as well as at Northeastern Huskies' hockey games. One would be hard-put to find either a sports fan or rock music lover in Massachusetts who had never heard of the Standells.
The band still actively performs in concert. Recently, they completed a successful European tour where they headlined at venues in over half dozen countries.
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