A BRIEF HISTORY
(by Dick Stewart)
Lance Records began as a little, off-the-wall, indie label in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the mid-'60s and in spite of its size, the company had its share of regional rock hits in the Southwest during its short two-year run. I formed the record company shortly before my group, King Richard and the Knights, threw in the towel, so to speak. The Knights were an Albuquerque guitar rock instrumental band during the early '60s when The Ventures, The Fireballs (New Mexico's own), and other guitar rock instrumental combos ruled. (We called them combos back then.) But when the British invaded the U.S. in 1964, American rock'n'roll aficionados quickly turned their attention full-time toward the new expressions from across the Atlantic.
Of course, we were pissed as were the other American rock musicians of the early '60s especially when our fans swiftly dumped us for the rock bands that sang with English accents, played those hideous-looking Vox guitars (especially when compared to the Fender), and grew their hair long! I admit that The Knights performed some of the early British hits shortly before calling it quits, but it was done purely out of necessity. We were still nursing career ambitions of being able to make money off playing music for a living. Nevertheless, I just couldn't shake the lead guitar rock styles of the early '60s much less develop a passion for performing the new age of rock that was completely dictated by the British. That attitude, in fact, ultimately caused the demise of the original Knights.
So I put away my Fender Jazzmaster guitar shortly after I began publishing an Albuquerque Newsletter called The Lance which was designed to cover the rock happenings of the Southwest. Lance Records followed soon after (November 1966) with, at first, a strong interest in the newly "in" garage band psychedelic expressions. Both the label and the newsletter had a very active two-year existence (1966 - 1967) in which Lance Records released more 45-rpm records (no rock albums) than the rest of the large numbers of New Mexico labels that were humming energetically during that time. Soul and British influenced garage efforts were Lance Records' specialty and New Mexico groups such as Doc Rand and the Purple Blues, The Sheltons, Fe-Fi-Four Plus 2, The Kreeg, and The Lincoln Street Exit were some of its leading artists. Nevertheless, none of us made any real money as was usually the case for the little indie label back then, and when I discovered a more lucrative market in Mexican-American music in January 1968, I stopped The Lance newsletter presses and dissolved the record company. Shortly thereafter, Casanova Records was formed, which is another story.
But my fascination for the reformation of Lance Records as well as The Knights came about when Collectable Records (via Michael Greisman's Cicadelic Record Company) reissued the band's early '60s material in 1996 because of the group's regional 1964 hit entitled "Precision." Friendships developed shortly thereafter with others who specialize in '60s rock'n'roll collectables such as Lee Joseph of Dionysus Records, Mike Stax of The Ugly Things fanzine, Japan's Hitomi Ishikawa of Trans World '60s Punk, Mike Dugo from Lombard, Illinois who is a contributing writer for Great Britain's Delerium and staff writer for "The Lance Monthly" webzine, and Germany's Harry Vee of D.C. Records who, in 1999, masterfully compiled two 12 inch vinyl albums for Lance Records of The Knights' early efforts including a good selection of the label's mid-'60s catalog.
Lance Records officially reformed in 1998 as did the Knights, and the Internet was the deciding factor. Can you imagine what the cost would have been in the '60s trying to obtain worldwide exposure? Only the big labels were able to afford that. Now little indie labels like Lance Records have a fighting chance.
The Knights in 1961
…..Dick Stewart …...,.......Gary Snow…,...,.......Gary Butler…..... .....Larry Longmire…..."Corky" Anderson….
(A 1963 Knights Xmas dance ticket)
The Knights Today
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