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Michael & The Messengers

Michael & the Messengers are best remembered for their frenetic garage-rock reading of the Reflections' "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet." The band's history is so convoluted it required a book, Gary Myers' Wisconsin rock history tome, Do You Hear That Beat, just to make some sense of it: Originally dubbed simply the Messengers -- there was never a "Michael" -- the group was founded in Winona, Minnesota in 1962 by Greg Jeresek (aka Greg Jennings), also featuring guitarists Greg Bambenek and Roy Berger, keyboardist Chip Andrews, and drummer Jim Murray. Winona's very first rock & roll band, the Messengers were also notable for their on-stage apparel -- matching olive-green blazers -- and quickly earned a devoted local following, releasing their debut single "My Baby" on the Soma label in 1965. Bambenek soon left the group to attend college, and with new guitarist John Cader, the group continued until Jeresek likewise relocated to Milwaukee to pursue his degree. There he formed a new Messengers lineup with singer Jeff Taylor, guitarist Peter Barans, keyboardist Jesse Roe, and drummer Augie Jurishica. On the recommendation of DJ friend Paul Christy, the group recorded a frenzied rendition of the Wilson Pickett classic "In the Midnight Hour" in their living room studio -- Christy then managed to get the single released on the USA label in early 1967, where it cracked the Top Five in Chicago. While opening for the Dave Clark Five, the Messengers were spotted by representatives from Motown, ultimately becoming the first white rock act signed to the label -- as such, they no longer had time or interest in touring behind "In the Midnight Hour," so Christy and USA hatched a plan to recruit a new touring lineup, hiring a Leominster, Massachusetts-based band called the Del-Mars, consisting of vocalist Wayne Beckner, guitarist Tom Fini, bassist Ron Gagnon, keyboardist Jack DeCarolis, and drummer Paul Cosenza. Rechristening the group Michael & the Messengers, this second lineup cut their own soundalike rendition of "In the Midnight Hour," issued on USA later in 1967 -- this version reached as high as Number 116 on the national pop charts, while the original Messengers (colloquially known in trainspotting circles as the "Milwaukee Messengers") signed to Motown's Soul subsidiary to release "Window Shopping," which got as high as Number 132. Michael & the Messengers returned to USA by that summer with "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet" -- an energetic blue-eyed soul take on the Reflections' original, this single only hit the Number 129 spot, but was later immortalized via its appearance on the original Nuggets compilation. Two more singles followed -- "Run and Hide" and 1968's "Gotta Take It Easy" -- before the recording career of Michael & the Messengers came to an end, although various iterations of the group toured the Midwest well into the following decade. The original Messengers, meanwhile, toured in their own rock opera, The Evolution of Love, next resurfacing on wax in 1969 with a privately pressed single, "I Gotta Dance." A self-titled LP soon followed on Motown's Rare Earth imprint, but despite reaching the Number 62 spot with the 1971 single "That's the Way a Woman Is," the Messengers dissolved not long after. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era

Disc 1

1. I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)

2. Dirty Water

3. Night Time

4. Lies

5. Respect

7. No Time Like The Right Time

8. Oh Yeah

10. Moulty

11. Don't Look Back

12. An Invitation To Cry

13. Liar, Liar

14. You're Gonna Miss Me

15. Psychotic Reaction

17. Romeo And Juliet

18. Sugar And Spice

19. Baby Please Don't Go

20. Tobacco Road

21. Let's Talk About Girls

22. Sit Down I Think I Love You

24. My World Fell Down

25. Open My Eyes

26. Farmer John

Disc 2

1. Talk Talk

2. Last Time Around

3. Nobody But Me

4. Journey To Tyme

5. No Friend Of Mine

6. Outside Chance

7. Action Woman

9. Sweet Young Thing

10. Incense And Peppermints

11. I Ain't No Miracle Worker

12. 7 & 7 Is

14. Going All The Way

15. I'm Gonna Make You Mine

16. The Trip

18. Why Do I Cry

19. Laugh, Laugh

21. I Wonder

22. I See The Light

23. Who Do You Love

24. Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)

25. Live

26. Steppin' Out

28. Strychnine

29. Little Girl

30. (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet

31. Shape Of Things To Come

Disc 3

1. Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)

3. At The River's Edge

5. Follow Me

8. She's About A Mover

9. Little Bit O' Soul

10. Put The Clock Back On The Wall

12. Run, Run, Run

13. I Need You

14. Knock, Knock

15. Primitive

16. Psycho

17. So What!!

18. You Must Be A Witch

19. A Question Of Temperature

20. Maid Of Sugar - Maid Of Spice

21. You Ain't Tuff

22. Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White

23. She's My Baby

24. Story Of My Life

25. I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time

27. Bad Little Woman

28. Double Yellow Line

29. Optical Sound

30. Journey To The Center Of The Mind

Disc 4

1. Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In)?

4. Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl

5. Wooly Bully

6. I Want Candy

8. One Track Mind

9. Out Of Our Tree

10. I Think I'm Down

13. Johnny Was A Good Boy

14. Stop - Get A Ticket

16. The Witch

17. Get Me To The World On Time

20. Just Like Me

22. I Live In The Springtime

23. Mindrocker

25. Love's Gone Bad

26. Why Pick On Me

27. Bad Girl

30. Blue's Theme

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