Maybe it was in the water. Scratch the surface of anyone who was a teenager in Plainfield, New Jersey during the 60’s and you’ll find yourself regaled with tales of wonder. The Doughboys played a role in this collective memory. What set them apart from the competition was an authentic passion for the music and presentation. The band was formed in the fall of 1964 when Mike Caruso asked Richie Heyman if he wanted to get together with a couple of guys from Hubbard Junior High (the school they all attended). Mike and Richie clicked right away, and Mike recruited two other guitarists, one of whom was Willy Kirchofer, with his big Gibson acoustic/electric – a rarity in those days – who blew them away with his playing. They called themselves The Ascots. A year later they merged with two members from a rival group The Apollos, guitarist Mike Farina and singer Myke Scavone.
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The Ascots changed their name to The Doughboys in 1966 and won a recording contract with Bell Records as part of their first prize winning of a year-long battle-of-the-bands on Zacherle’s Disc-o-teen TV show. They put out two singles – Rhoda Mendelbaum and Everybody Knows My Name, which received airplay on WMCA in New York City in exchange for the band playing the weekly Good Guys shows, which were live package performances at various venues in the tri-state area. They were the house band at the Café Wha? in Greenwich Village during the summer of ’68.
They stayed together until the end of the decade, but as the 60’s faded into memory, so did The Doughboys and the founding members went their separate ways. Myke Scavone led the band Ram Jam, who scored a hit with Black Betty, Willy Kirchofer played with Jake & The Family Jewels and fronted his own band, Richie Heyman (a/k/a Richard X. Heyman) has played drums with legends like Brian Wilson and Link Wray and embarked on a solo singer/songwriter career, Mike Farina got into TV production and moved to L.A. and Mike Caruso went into session work and even jammed with Hendrix!
But in the year 2000, Richie’s wife Nancy decided she wanted to see the band for herself and organized a reunion gig. The moment they set foot onstage together, the years melted away and they were the tight, rockin’ unit they were back in Plainfield. Sadly, Willy passed away in 2005. The Doughboys have welcomed Gar Francis into the fold as their guitarist (Gar’s worked with Stones tribute band Sticky Fingers, done session work with Billy Idol and released solo recordings as Plainfield Slim). The next logical step was to get The Doughboys down on tape (or hard drive, as the case may be). The result, Is It Now? is a record (pardon the pun) of who they are and how they sound, doing both great obscure songs from the past as well as their own instantly classic originals. It took a while to get from Rhoda Mendelbaum to Is It Now?, but don’t let any more time go by – get groovin’ to The Doughboys today!
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