Jerry did it all and did it like no-one else could. He recorded a load of high-octane, low-down, all-original exploitation projects and several great records under his own name. There was nothing vanilla about Jerry’s music and he had the unique ability to understand which way the trends were going and to make them his own.
Jerry’s career as a “fictitious” band leader began with his work on the Crown label. In 1963 he wrote the music, produced and played on several hotrod/motorcycle-themed LPs for the label by fictitious artists including the Hot Rodders, the Blasters, the Winners, the Scramblers and the Strokers. While these LPs include some fun and sometimes dreadful vocals, the instrumentals are raw, take-no-prisoners slabs of hot rod music at its best. That same year he recorded the first of three Joe Saraceno-produced themed LPs for Capitol, “Outer Limits” (exploiting the exploiter!) as Jerry Cole & the Spacemen. Introduced to Capitol by Bobby Darin, Jerry went on to record “Hot Rod Dance Party” and the seminal “Surf Age”, regarded as probably the most sophisticated surf LP of the era. He also appeared on several Gary Usher Capitol projects including “Hot Rod High” by the Knights. At the same time, Jerry was recording loads of drag racing, motorcycle and speed boat-themed instro albums for the Liberty label under the the Hornets banner. While this is not a complete list of studio instro LPs he appeared on, all of his efforts were fast-paced, balls-to-the walls original LPs that hold up well today.
With the advent of the go-go craze, Jerry recorded three themed LPs for Crown between 1965-66. Being situated in Hollywood, working the Sunset Strip and band leader of television’s smash dance/music show Shindig, Cole was smack dab in the middle of the swinging go-go scene. The first LP, “Guitars A Go Go” by the Stingers, included a few of the same tracks from the hotrod LPs, sans the hotrod sound effects with alternate titles. ‘Dang Thing’ appears as ‘Bad Rubber’ from the Blasters’ “Sounds Of The Drags”, ‘Coming On’ as “Pealin’ Out’ from the Strokers’ “Hot Rod Alley” and ‘Unchained Soul’ is an alternate version of ‘The Green Monster’ from the same LP. Also compare ‘Great Scott’ with the Champs’ ‘Red Eye’ – Jerry worked this riff on several tracks during the 60s. The next LP, “A Go Go Guitars” was credited to him and is somewhat more polished. All 10 tracks are standouts and ‘Curfew’, ‘Really Got it Bad’, ‘Sloppin’’, ‘Tower Of London’ and ‘Teen Age Fair’ are featured here. “Guitars A Go Go Vol 2”, this time by Jerry Cole and the Stingers, features Jerry playing a ferocious, twangy, rubber band-sounding Telecaster backed by Leon Russell’s signature piano and long-time band mates/brothers Glen and Norm Cass with Don Dexter on drums. This was one hell of a tightly-wound rhythm section and deserve much credit for Jerry’s overall sound on most of his instrumental recordings. This just might be some of the fastest and rockin’-est guitar playing ever recorded.
By Mike Vernon