Really Early History – Mick Orton

Mick Orton

Can you say “Beatles”?

Note: Corrections below are in bold with the date they were entered in [brackets].

I remember well sitting in my last period study hall at Williams Jr. High school in 9th grade. The girl next to me was reading a teen magazine that was talking about this British group called the Beatles. They looked weird with bowl haircuts and pointed shoes. Needless to say, I was not impressed. Little did I know the British invasion was about to be on.

That summer I took swimming lessons. The young woman running the classes had just gotten a new album, “Meet The Beatles” and put it on the loud speaker. She left the arm up on the record player which caused the songs to play over and over almost endlessly! Still, I wasn’t that impressed, though I did like the progression of “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. I was also taking piano lessons, so I recognized its uniqueness from other rock and roll songs.

At 16 I had my first job as a janitor with Peterson’s Department Store. Jon Ludtke, my school mate and best friend, also got a stock boy job there worked in the mail room with his manager, Hap. Hap tried to get our goats by purposely mispronouncing the band Herman’s Hermits calling them Herman’s Germans [6/26/13]. It was there we first met Ken Wiles. One of our fun things was to head off to the “pillow” warehouse area and have dart kicking competitions. We’d take turns place kicking darts that were stuck in the floor into the rows of pillows. The farther it went the more points the kicker earned. I still remember that if we heard the sounds of footsteps (probably Mr. Webb, the store manager looking for us) we would scatter!

I think we were all trying to play music by then. Ken was in a band called Morninglight the Avengers [6/26/13]. Jon and I were in Assassination of Sound. We thought if we made fun of ourselves first, we would avoid negative comments. It didn’t work.

Anyway, my first guitar purchase was a special they were running at a local discount store (much like a K-Mart) Jewell [3/15/15] for a guitar and amplifier. My sister convinced me I should get cool and grow my hair out, buy some blue jeans and a couple of madras shirts and start playing guitar. She said I sounded like Paul McCartney. As it turns out, I was keeping spare change in my ceiling light fixture and saved up enough to buy the kit. My mom (probably trying to get me to give up the idea) gave me a cause for concern by saying that I am left handed and this was a right handed guitar. But when I went and tried it out, the right handed version felt right to me. So I bought it.

When I finally warmed up to the Beatles, I think they had just released “Rubber Soul”, so I was way behind the curve. The good news? There was a lot of older material to listen to and learn. Paul was always my favorite, so, naturally, I wanted to play bass. Ken can confirm this but I used to tune my first 4 strings down on my 6 string guitar to play bass! He still kids me about it to this day. (On 3/14/15 I wrote that I was totally vindicated since McCartney did the same thing!)

Jon and I started practicing at his house in the finished attic room of their home on the Ludtke pony farm. I had to get serious so I bought a Sears Silvertone amplifier (remember, Sears has EVERYTHING! was their advertising slogan) and a copy of the Hofner violin bass Paul McCartney played. I don’t remember the name of the company who made it. My mom’s nephew worked in a music store and got it for me at wholesale. It was then that Assassination of Sound was born. Paul Hardesty was on drums, and, if memory serves, a guy named Steve Lee (not the one in our graduating class, but a few years younger) was our lead guitarist.

I didn’t get my first Hofner violin shaped Beatle Bass (as it became known) until years later when I joined The Contents Are:.

Mick Orton



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