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The Outsiders was an Americanmarker rock and roll band from Cleveland, Ohiomarker, that was founded and led by guitarist Tom King. The band is best known for its Top 5 hit "Time Won't Let Me" in early 1966, which peaked at #5 in the USmarker, but the band had three other hit singles in 1966 and released a total of four albums in the mid-1960s.

Allmusic described the act's style: "Part of the secret behind the Outsiders' musical success lay in the group's embellishments [with horns and strings], which slotted in perfectly with their basic three- or four-piece instrumental sound. . . . [H]owever bold and ambitious they got, one never lost the sense of a hard, solid band sound at the core. With Geraci's magnificent singing out front, it was impossible for anyone with an ear for soul not to love how this group sounded, on their album tracks as well as their singles."

History of the Band

First Single

The Outsiders were a continuation of the Starfires (see article); a total of eight former Starfires were members of the Outsiders at one time or another. In 1964, the Starfires had added future Outsiders frontman Sonny Geraci on lead vocals and his brother Mike Geraci on sax. In an interview, Sonny Geraci stated: "[The Starfires] were a few years older than me.... When I joined the group, I kind of like, pushed them to record and change the drummer and change the guitar player."

The band was signed to Capitol Recordsmarker on the strength of their late 1965 recording of "Time Won't Let Me" (written by Tom King and his brother-in-law, Chet Kelley), leaving a local recording label headed by King's uncle, Patrick Connelly (Pama Records); at this time, the band's name was changed. (Most of the band's original songs were written by King and Kelley, although another songwriter, Bob Turek was working with the band by 1967). Reasons for the name change were unclear, although most sources state that it was at the insistence of their new record label. One popular story about the new name was that Tom King and Chet Kelley had become "outsiders" within the family as a result of the label shift.

The Outsiders had a built-in advantage over the numerous American bands that formed in the wake of the British Invasion. Rather than being neophytes, the Starfires had been a very active rhythm and blues band in the Cleveland scene since 1958, often playing six shows a week. Tom King and Chet Kelley proved to be a formidable songwriting team, and the band was also adept at handling cover of R&B standards. King also headed the band's horn section and served as the arranger and sometime producer.


The Outsiders promoted their hit single with about a year of nationwide touring, as "Time Won't Let Me" stayed on the national charts for 15 weeks. (Although their music was released in other countries, the band never toured overseas). As recounted by Sonny Geraci in a recent interview, the band first toured with Paul Revere and the Raiders and then with Chad and Jeremy. Later, the Outsiders were part of a six-week tour of one-night stands headed by Gene Pitney, and which included seven or eight other acts, among them Len Barry, B.J. Thomas and Bobby Goldsboro. Afterwards, the Outsiders joined a four-week tour with several of the best garage rock and psychedelic rock bands of the period, as recalled by Geraci:
"[W]e did a tour after Pitney with the McCoys, ourselves and ? and the Mysterians, the Shadows of Knight and a group from the west coast called the Seeds...A guy called Pete Shelton from England joined us on bass for this tour. Pete stayed with us until we could find a replacement...he then stayed on for a short while as 'Tour Manager'. There were five rock bands. Was that a crazy tour!"

Later Records

As was true of many bands in the Cleveland area in this time period, there were several line-up changes over the years, with Tom King and Mert Madsen from the original Starfires along with new vocalist Sonny Geraci forming the core of the band in the early years. After drummer Ronnie Harkai left the band to join the Air Force, Bennie Benson and then Ricky Baker (real name: Rick Biagiola) handled drumming duties for a period of time. In a 1972 interview with the Raspberries, Jim Bonfanti – who was also a member of the Choir – told Phonograph Record Magazine that he was the drummer on "Respectable" and "Girl In Love." Following the charting success of their follow-up single "Girl in Love", which peaked at #21 in June 1966, former Starfire Jimmy Fox (who had left the earlier band to go to college) was brought in by King to be the drummer for the remaining tracks of their debut LP, Time Won't Let Me. Following these sessions, Fox decided to return to the music world and founded a band in 1966 called the James Gang that would enjoy considerable success over the coming decade.

A cover of the Isley Brothers' "Respectable" from their second album, Album #2 reached #15 in late August 1966. "Respectable" was their third single and had been performed by the band during their earlier years as the Starfires. Although it includes only this one single and few of their better known songs, Album #2 is regarded by many as their best album.

Some close to the band believe that the horn-laced "Respectable" exemplified the band's trademark "Mersey Rock-Motown" sound, and would have been a better followup single to their debut hit than "Girl in Love." That decision by the band's manager, Capitol Recordsmarker' A&R man Roger Karshner, may have slowed down the Outsiders' momentum. Similarly, some feel that "Lonely Man" and "Bend Me, Shape Me" had the potential to be hit singles.

A promising single by outside songwriters, "Help Me Girl" (from The Outsiders In) had to compete with a version that was released in the same time period by the hot English band the Animals as a follow-up to their hit version of "See See Rider". By some accounts, the Animals had already recorded their version, although they assured them this was not the case. Neither version made a huge splash, though, with the Outsiders' version peaking at #37, and the Animals' at #29. Continuing the Outsiders' streak of missed chances, they recorded another track by the same songwriters for their third album, but it was not released as a single. In early 1968, the song, "Bend Me, Shape Me" became a major hit on both sides of the Atlanticmarker when it was covered by the American Breed in the USA and by Amen Corner in the UK.

After original bandmember Mert Madsen left the Outsiders to get married, two other ex-Starfires, Walter Nims and Richard D'Amato, plus Richie D'Angelo on drums had joined the band. In the 1967-1968 period, other session players were brought in to beef up the band's recordings, among them drummer Hal Blaine and bassist Carol Kaye of the Wrecking Crew; also, some recordings were produced by Richard Delvy, who had worked with Sonny and Cher. Joe Kelley (apparently no relation to Chet Kelley), lead guitarist for the Shadows of Knight made a guest appearance on the 1967 single "Gotta Leave Us Alone" (one of many singles by the band that does not appear on any of their four albums).

Capitolmarker gave tentative approval to the band to proceed with their fourth album, which was to have been named after this single, Leave Us Alone. However, the project was abandoned midway through the studio recording process, in favor of a faux "live album" called Happening Live!, where crowd noises plus song and bandmember introductions by Sonny Geraci were added to stripped-down studio renditions of older recordings, along with some recordings by the new line-up. Not long thereafter, the group disbanded. One indication that the Outsiders were not a standard-issue 1960s American band is the last track of the Happening Live! album. Though listed as the familiar Rascals hit "Good Lovin'", the song is actually "Good Good Lovin'" by James Brown.

The Outsiders were one of the early white American soul-influenced bands. In fact, the band's "Lonely Man" was bootlegged by a small British label and released in the UK, miscredited to Northern Soul band the Detroit Shakers and retitled "Help Me Find My Way." The sound they first created, combining Mersey Rock & Motown, can be felt in the later hits of the Buckinghams and Chicago. Jim Guercio, who would work with both of these Chicagomarker groups as their manager, had toured with the Outsiders as a musician on the Gene Pitney Caravan.

Note: Roger Karshner chronicles the rise and fall of the Outsiders in his book "The Music Machine" and the band is referred to as the Misfits. It makes for an interesting read. The Karshner book is very well done.

Post Break-Up

In 1970, Sonny Geraci organized a new band in Los Angelesmarker that included Walter Nims and released two singles under the name the Outsiders featuring Sonny Geraci; on the 45 label, the "O" in Outsiders was a peace symbol. Meanwhile, Tom King was still heading a band called the Outsiders back in Cleveland, and this band also released a single as the Outsiders (featuring Jon Simonell); Simonell was the new lead singer who had replaced Geraci. King won a lawsuit in 1970 about the ownership of the name. Geraci's band name was then changed to Climax (see article) and later scored a Number One hit in 1972 with "Precious and Few", a song written by former Outsiders lead guitarist Walter Nims.

Geraci left the music business in 1980 and spent about five years in sales in his family's home improvement business. In about 1985, he began appearing with several other mid-1960s bands as "oldies" acts and continues to appear in live concerts to this day. Along the way, he has released a handful of solo CDs. Despite the earlier lawsuit about the name, Sonny Geraci began touring in 2007 as Sonny Geraci and the Outsiders.

The most recent album by the Outsiders, called 30 Years Live was released in 1996 and reissued in 2006; only two of the original members, Tom King and Walter Nims were on board. The performances were taken from two live concerts in 1991 in Cleveland, Ohiomarker and Las Vegas, Nevadamarker.


"Time Won't Let Me" is still prominent on oldies radio playlists, but this has created a false image of the Outsiders as a "one hit wonder" band. The song was also included on the box set inspired by the classic garage rock compilation album Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968. Another song, "I'm Not Trying to Hurt You" was included in Volume 9 of the Pebbles series. Bill Scheft's novel about a garage rock band being rediscovered by record collectors and then attempting to recapture their glory days as the bandmembers approached the age of 50 was called Time Won't Let Me.


Although the original Outsiders LPs have never been individually reissued as CDs, the band's four Capitol albums have been released on CD as "two-fer" packages on Liberty Bell Records, along with bonus tracks. Rhino Records released Best of the Outsiders in 1985, while Collectables Records has also released a Capitol Collectors Series retrospective album on CD.

Band Members

The Starfires/The Outsiders 1965 ("Time Won't Let Me" Single)

  • Tom King, rhythm guitar, tenor saxophone, vocals, arranger
  • Sonny Geraci, lead vocals
  • Mert Madsen, bass guitar
  • Al Austin, lead guitar
  • Howard Blank, drums

The Outsiders (Basic Line-Up)

  • Tom King, rhythm guitar, , tenor saxophone, vocals, arranger
  • Sonny Geraci, lead vocals
  • Mert Madsen, bass guitar
  • Bill Bruno, lead guitar
  • Jimmy Fox, drums

The Outsiders (Other Musicians)

  • Chet Kelley, songwriter
  • Bob Turek, songwriter
  • Mike Geraci, saxophone
  • Evan Vanguard, horns
  • Tommy Baker, horns and strings arrangements
  • Pete Shelton, bass

The Outsiders (1967 "Live" Album)

  • Tom King, rhythm guitar, tenor saxophone, vocals, arranger
  • Sonny Geraci, lead vocals
  • Richard D'Amato, bass guitar
  • Walter Nims, lead guitar
  • Richie D'Angelo, drums

The Outsiders (1991 "30 Years Live" Album)

  • Tom King, guitar, background vocals
  • Walter Nims, guitar, background vocals
  • Rob Mitchell, vocals, bass guitar
  • Eddie Soto, vocals
  • Ted Sikora, guitar, background vocals
  • Dave Hershy, horns
  • Joe Potnicky, keyboards
  • Dan King, drums
  • Rusty Schmidt, vocals
  • Nick Farcas, keyboards
  • Scott Ingram, bass guitar


(Numbers in parentheses indicate Billboard chart peak positions)


Initial Releases by the Original Band

  • "Time Won't Let Me" b/w "Was It Really Real" – Capitol #5573; rel. 2/1966 (#5), yellow/orange swirl label
  • "Girl In Love" b/w "What Makes You So Bad, You Weren't Brought Up That Way" – Capitol #5646; rel. 5/1966 (#21)
  • "Respectable" b/w "Lost In My World" – Capitol #5701; rel. 8/1966 (#15)
  • "Help Me Girl" b/w "You Gotta Look" – Capitol #5759; rel. 10/1966 (#37)
  • "I'll Give You Time To Think It Over" b/w "I'm Not Trying To Hurt You" – Capitol #5843; rel. 3/1967 (#118)
Picture sleeve erroneously shows B-side title as "I Don't Want To Hurt You"
  • "Gotta Leave Us Alone" b/w "I Just Can't See You Anymore – Capitol #P-5892, promo; pale green label
  • "Gotta Leave Us Alone" b/w "I Just Can't See You Anymore – Capitol #5892; rel. 5/1967 (#121)
  • "I'll See You In The Summertime" b/w "And Now You Want My Sympathy" – Capitol #5955; rel. 7/1967
  • "Little Bit Of Lovin'" b/w "I Will Love You" – Capitol #P-2055, promo; pale green label
  • "Little Bit Of Lovin'" b/w "I Will Love You" – Capitol #2055; rel. 12/1967 (#117)
  • "We Ain't Gonna Make It" b/w "Oh How It Hurts" – Capitol #P-2216, promo; pale green label
  • "We Ain't Gonna Make It" b/w "Oh How It Hurts" – Capitol #2216; rel. 6/1968

Reissues and Releases outside the U.S.

  • "Time Won't Let Me" b/w "Was It Really Real" – Capitol #5573, red and orange label with target logo
  • "Time Won't Let Me" b/w "Girl in Love" – Capitol/Star-line #K-6165 (two-sided hit reissue), violet label
  • "Time Won't Let Me" b/w "Girl in Love" – Capitol/Star-line #6165 (two-sided hit reissue), red and white label
  • "Time Won't Let Me" b/w "Girl in Love" – Capitol/Star-line #6165 (two-sided hit reissue), tan label
  • "Time Won't Let Me" b/w "Was It Really Real" – Capitol #K 23187; rel. 1966 in West Germanymarker, violet label
  • "Respectable" b/w "Lost In My World" – Jolly #J-20387; rel. in 1966 in Italymarker

The Outsiders feat. Jon Simonell

  • "Tinker Tailor" b/w "Oh, You're Not So Pretty" – Kapp #K-2104; rel. 1970

The Outsiders/Climax

  • "Lovin' You" b/w "Think I'm Fallin'"
  • "Changes" b/w "Lost In My World" – Bell #B-904; rel. 9/1970 (#107)


  • "Listen People" and "Keep on Running" b/w "Time Won't Let Me" and "Maybe Baby" – Capitol #EAP-4-2501; rel. 1967 in Brazilmarker, 7"
  • "Keep on Running" and "My Girl" b/w "Time Won't Let Me" and "Was it Really Real" – American #TK-45, black and yellow label; 7"


Studio Albums

  • Time Won't Let Me – Capitol #T-2501/#ST-2501; rel. 5/1966 (#37)
  • Album #2 – Capitol #T-2568/#ST-2568; rel. 9/1966 (#90)
  • The Outsiders In – Capitol #T-2636/#ST-2636; rel. 1/1967 (Did not chart)
  • Leave Us Alone – Capitol (No catalogue number, cancelled before release. However, a tentative album cover slick for this release is shown in the "collage" of The Outsiders' "Capitol Collectors Series" CD booklet)

Live Albums

Reissues and Releases outside the U.S.

Retrospective Albums

Compilation Albums

"Time Won't Let Me"

  1. Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 (box set)
  2. Nuggets from Nuggets (CD)
  3. Nuggets, Volume 3 (LP)
  4. Pride from Cleveland Past (LP)
"Time Won't Let Me" has also been included on many other compilation albums that are aimed at mainstream audiences; Allmusic lists more than 40 such albums.

"I'm Not Trying to Hurt You"

  1. Pebbles, Volume 9 (LP)

"Lost in My World"

  1. Nuggets, Volume 4 (LP)

"And Now You Want My Sympathy"

  1. Psychedelic Archives – USA Garage, Volume 1 (Cassette)



  • The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 7th ed. by Joel Whitburn (2000)

External links

  • Yahoo Music bio

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