They didn't make a big splash nationwide, but White Eyes were favorites on the rock ballroom and homegrown festival circuit in the Midwest during their heyday of the late '60s and early '70s, playing psychedelic rock with strong guitar work, impressive harmonies, and melodies that were catchy and clever without blunting the impact of the music. The White Eyes story began in 1965, when high-school friends Philip Jackson (guitars, vocals, keyboards) and Butch Dillon (drums) were attending Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri. The two were interested in forming a soul/R&B band, and recruited guitarist and vocalist Greg Camp and singer Cat Sherrell, the latter only 14 when she joined the band but already possessing a strong, confident voice. The band, known as Dillon's Children, didn't last long as the musicians embraced the changing sounds of rock music, and in 1969 they moved to Columbia, Missouri, home of the University of Missouri and a more friendly locale for those sympathetic to the hippie lifestyle. The group added another guitar player, Kent "Duck" Linneweh, and took up a new name, White Eyes, inspired by the titular creatures in the low-budget horror movie Plague of the Zombies. Hauling their gear in a rundown hearse, White Eyes gigged often enough that they were able to get along without day jobs as they played frequent local shows and regularly hit the road for out-of-town dates, with Kansas City and Lawrence, Kansas frequent destinations for the group.
In late 1969, an outfit called Anthony Comstock Productions staked the band to enough studio time to cut an album-length demo, which White Eyes would use to impress booking agents and hopefully land a record deal. By May 1970, White Eyes had cut eight songs live in the studio -- seven originals and a cover of the Lennon/McCartney obscurity "It's for You" -- and an A&R man at Chrysalis Records liked it enough to arrange for the band to open tours for two of the label's bigger artists, Procol Harum and Ten Years After. However, no record contract ever materialized, and a number of musicians drifted in and out of the group, including guitarist Larry Knight, who earlier sat in on one song for the demo, and keyboardist Jimmy Harlow. In 1975, White Eyes finally called it a day, and Greg Camp and Jimmy Harlow formed a new group, Camp Harlow, that became a long-running fixture on the Missouri rock scene, while Philip Jackson would form White Rock Prairie Band. After years of playing with Camp Harlow and as a solo act, Greg Camp died in 2009. In 2015, the archivist label Numero Group gave White Eyes' 1970 demo tape its first official release, making it their debut album 40 years after they broke up. ~ Mark Deming