Joe Stampley and the Uniques


Stampley, lead singer and keyboard player, was toting a tape made with his band The Uniques. It was 1964; he and his four partners were hot; three years on the dance and college circuit in Louisiana, and the surrounding states had proven them capable of creating real excitement with teens. Stampley sought out record industry powerhouse Stan "the Record Man" Lewis with the song he had written, one called "Not Too Long Ago." Lewis, owner of a chain of record stores and a blues label, Jewel Records, told the young performer "I'm really too busy right now", Stampley remembers. "I kept bugging him until (probably trying to get us off his back) he told us to go and see a guy named Dale Hawkins."

Hawkins, who had put Shreveport on the rock 'n roll map in 1957 by co-writing and singing "Suzie Q", loved the song. Within a few months Lewis, too, got behind The Uniques. "Not Too Long Ago" became a national hit for them in 1965 and the first hit for Stan Lewis's new label, Paula Records. It's considered a classic of the Southern sound.

"Not Too Long Ago" put The Uniques, guys from the North Louisiana paper mill town of Springhill (drummer Mike Love was from Magnolia, Arkansas), on the nationally syndicated Lloyd Thaxton Show on the Paramount Theater's "Soupy Sales Easter Show" with The Hollies, Animals, and Kinks, and on the hallowed American Bandstand with host Dick Clark.

They followed it with "You Ain't Tuff Baby", a song that reflected the Rolling Stonesy- spirit of the times. They then cut a song they heard on New Orleans radio station WNOE - Art Neville's "All These Things". "We had been playing the song ever since Neville released it", said lead guitarist, Ray Mills, "and the kids just couldn't seem to get enough of it, so we decided to record it in the summer of 1966". It, too, became a national hit. Today, Lewis remembers that "it was the most requested song in the history of Dallas station KLIF. It was number one there three weeks in a row".

"All These Things" is still one of rock's sentimental favorites. In the Deep South it's considered part of the essence of the 60's.

Joe Stampley and The Uniques were much more than hit records. "We were a dance band, a party band", remembers Stampley. "We let people get involved with the show".

The quintet was a regional phenomenon in an era when people were nuts for their local rock 'n rollers. They were a guaranteed smash in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. The Uniques consist of Joe Stampley/lead vocals and keyboards, Bobby Stampley/bass guitar and vocals, Ray Mills/lead guitar, Jim Woodfield/guitar and vocals, and Mike Love/drums. \

They sold out teen dances; they ruled college campuses. On the circuit, the 60's were simple times; all that mattered was dancing, partying, and listening to thrilling bands like The Uniques, part of the American scene from 1961 to 1971.