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GENRE: William Penn and His Pals
Acid punk outfit William Penn & His Pals formed at the College of San Mateo in late 1964; originally dubbed the DiscCounts, the founding lineup comprised singer Neil Holtmann, guitarist Mike Dunn, bassist Steve Sweet, and drummer Ron Cox. Keyboardist Dave Lovell signed on in early 1965, and a few months later, the group significantly overhauled its lineup and look -- adopting the moniker William Penn & His Pals, the band (by then Holtmann, Cox, Lovell, guitarist Mike Shapiro, and bassist Steve Leidenthal) adopted Revolutionary War-era stage garb that included ruffled shirts and tri-cornered hats. The addition of former Nomads guitarist Jack Shelton swelled the roster to a six-piece, and for a short time, the lineup also included a second drummer, Mickey Hart, who would later sign on with the Grateful Dead. In early 1966, keyboardist Gregg Rolie replaced Lovell; in time he assumed the lion's share of vocal duties as well, resulting in Holtmann's dismissal from the group. William Penn & His Pals were a regular presence on the Bay Area live scene, opening for the Jefferson Airplane, Paul Revere & the Raiders, and Them; in 1966, they cut their lone single "Swami" (credited to the William Penn Fyve), later anointed an underground classic thanks to its inclusion on the third Pebbles collection. A deal with the Fantasy label was pending, but in 1967, the group dissolved, with Rolie subsequently joining Santana. In 2003, the Beat label collected all of William Penn & His Pals' recorded output on CD.
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