FREDDY & THE
In 1954 the stars must have been perfectly aligned. The events that were about to take place can only be explained with a touch of divine guidance.
Two young boys living on Convent Street in Pascagoula, Mississippi, became best friends and played together after school. Fred Anglin played in the Beach Elementary School band and Pete Killingsworth was being inspired by his father and older brother who played guitar. The Christmas of 1954 Pete received a guitar and Fred a drum set. Together they formed their first group called the SCARLETT ANGELS. They practiced on Fred's front porch and in Pete's bedroom. To be honest they probably drove most of Convent Street crazy with their sound.
At that time the music movement sweeping the country by storm was called ROCK N ROLL with stars like Big Joe Turner, Bill Haley & The Comets, The Penguins, and The Crows: later would come Elvis, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, Little Richards and a host of others; The country was being swept by this new sound.
Fred and Pete wanted to be a part of ROCK N ROLL. They changed their name from the Scarlett Angels to THE FLAMES. They needed more members. Fred was friends with Christine Hiley from Moss Point. Her brother David was a drummer in the Moss Point School Band. Fred asked if he would like to play drums with the Flames. He was excited but later left the group. Fred's mother and sister were accomplished piano players who taught him to play cords. Fred played piano with the group. The Flames were still developing their sound with new talent. Buddy Ussery had just moved to Pascagoula. Fred saw the opportunity for a new drummer to join the group. The sound of a Tenor Sax came from Gerald Hooker, who is probably the best sax player on the Gulf Coast. Gerald was also the only member of the group who could read music. The Flames now had Pete on guitar, Gerald on sax, Buddy on drums and Fred on piano; Rusty Naill and Luther Bishop supported the group and were always there to help them set before dances. The FLAMES were still searching for their own sound.
One Saturday morning while the Flames practiced at Fred’s home Chris Miller, came to the back door and wanted to listen to the group. Chris asked if he could play piano. Fred listened and realized that he had built a band that did not include him. He told Pete that he was bowing out and wished Pete and the others the best of luck. He told them he would support them in any way he could. Pete said, "How can we have a group that you built without you?" They decided to call themselves, FREDDY & THE FLAMES.
Fred still played piano on several songs and drums when Buddy had to be excused, but for the most part he became the manager. The FLAMES were on their way. Next to join the group was Jerry Alexander who approached Fred at school. His guitar was great and helped to mellow out the overall sound of the Flames. Next Fred wanted to add a female voice to give it a better sound on vocals. When he heard Ellie Sager sing at a talent show at PHS, he knew she was the right one for the group.
Fred's homeroom teacher asked if the FLAMES could play for the 1958 Christmas program. They were excited to get the exposure. Ellie sang ROCKING AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE, JINGLE BELL ROCK and her favorite, SILVER BELLS. The audience went wild just like the girls screaming over Elvis. The Flames were a big hit that day and the exposure was just what they needed.
About this time Fred approached the Assistant Principal Kenny Seay about opening the school cafeteria on Friday and Saturday nights for dances. He agreed and the Flames had more exposure.
In 1957 and 1958 THE Flames won the PHS talent shows. The Flames had their own Saturday mornings radio program on WPMP.
Other members who played with the Flames over the years were Robert Hardy on Valve Trombone, Billy Palmer on sax, Leo Fortner on Trumpet, Sonny Killingsworth on Bass Guitar.
Many wanted to be a part of the Flames from 1956 to 1959, but for one reason or another they did not fit in with the group.
In 1959 the Flames started playing up stairs at the old firehouse on Delmas Avenue which is SCRANTON’S restaurant today.
The 50's were drawing to a close. Fred entered the military in 1959 and the band changed their name back to THE FLAMES. An era ended. A group of young boys who came together in the 1950s had fulfilled their dreams of being a part of the world of ROCK N ROLL.
The crossing of
paths by a small group of young boys who loved music was heading in a
BIG MUSIC BREAK THAT NEVER HAPPENED…
CHERRY PIE was the Flames' theme song in 1958. Gerald Hooker found it and brought it out of mothballs. The Flames were the first band in 30 years to make the lyrics popular again. In no time Cherry Pie became the theme song of the entire Gulf Coast. Groups from New Orleans to Mobile were playing it.
The Flames thought they had a sure path to becoming ROCK N ROLL stars. Together they traveled to New Orleans and under the guidance of a disc jockey named Jim Stewart the band recorded CHERRY PIE. Returning to Pascagoula thinking they were about to become ROCK N ROLL stars. Two weeks later while driving down Market Street the group pulled into the parking lot of the FROST TOP ROOTBEER stand to hear the latest number one record on the billboard charts. Jim Stewart introduced SKIP & FLIP singing CHERRY PIE. The recording stayed number one for five weeks. The FLAMES never received a cent from it. Fred called but was never able to find out why SKIP & FLIP had used the FLAMES arrangement to record CHERRY PIE.
Recent reunion of FREDDY & THE FLAMES
In September of 2007 Fred received a phone call from Margaret Doescher in Houston asking if he could get the Flames back together for her 1961 class reunion. He had not been in touch with the group for 48 years. He told Margaret he would try. Even though they were scattered all over the country he was able to find all of the FLAMES.
On October 28, 2007, they converged on Pascagoula at Indian Point for a double reunion. They held each other and had fellowship; they shared stories and wept. Young boys who came together so many years ago were back together again. The group cheered when the flames broke into CHERRY PIE. To the FLAMES time had stood still and for a brief moment they were back on top once again. Fred looked at Pete and smiled…they both knew that something special happened that night…something they thought would never happen again…
LATEST FLAMES NEWS
A FALL FLING is being planned for September 13, 2008. The dance will be opened to all graduating classes from PASCAGOULA HIGH SCHOOL, MOSS POINT HIGH and OLV...PLUS any and all who loved the ROCK N ROLL sound of the 50s...During the night a group of singers will perform the alma mater from each school. They have decided to call this event the BIG REUNION…the gathering of memories…they are urging all classmates from each school to come and visit with old friends…and relive memories…
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