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Madhatters

Not to be confused with a handful of other bands using the same name at the time, the Mad Hatters were a garage band from Annapolis, Maryland who began working together in 1964. Featuring Dave Vittek on lead vocals, Tom Curley on lead guitar and harmonica, Alan Fowler on bass, and Richard Kumer on drums, the Mad Hatters had been playing local clubs for about a year when they were spotted by producer and manager Barry Seidel. Seidel liked the band and signed them to his production company, Traydel Productions. Seidel and his business partner Tony Traynor promptly took the Mad Hatters into the studio and produced their first single; the A-side was a tough rocker written by Curley called "I Need Love," while the flip was an uptempo cover of "Blowin' in the Wind." Seidel and Traynor licensed the single to Ascot Records, a division of United Artists Records, and it was released in the fall of 1965. "I Need Love" was a strong seller in Baltimore, Washington D.C., and a handful of other markets, but it failed to break big nationally, and though the Mad Hatters cut a second single for Ascot ("This Is How It's Gonna Be" b/w "Go Find a Love," both sides written by Curley), the label scrapped the release after pressing promotional copies. The Mad Hatters managed to score another deal with Fontana Records, who released "I'll Come Running" b/w "Hello Girl" in late 1966. The record didn't make an impression commercially, and a pair of folk-rock tunes the group recorded under the name "the Loved Ones" were never released. In early 1967, Dave Vittek left the group, and while the Mad Hatters continued for a while with Bobby Howard on vocals, the band had lost momentum and within a few months they'd broken up for good. Drummer Richard Kumer would go on to play with another noted Washington D.C. area band, the Fallen Angels. "I Need Love" belatedly became a favorite of garage rock collectors, and the Mad Hatters' small body of work has since been reissued on several compilation albums. ~ Mark Deming
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