Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sir Winston and the Commons

Happy New Year 2012!
John Gillis introduces Sir Winston and the Commons, Vogue Theater Reunion Show 2004:

"Sir Winston and the Commons originally formed in 1963. The members of the band consisted of Don Basore from Northwest High School, Joe Stout and Gary Crawford from Ben Davis High School and John Medvescek and Ron Matelic from the old Cathedral High School. Don played bass, Gary and Ron played guitars, Joe played sax and John was the drummer. The band’s first name was The Illusions, but was soon changed to The Suspicions. Their repertoire at that time consisted mainly of instrumental surf music and other classics such as Honky Tonk and Harlem Nocturne. Their first shows were at parties, VFW dances, and promotions for Paul Harvey Ford and Dog & Suds drive in. With the advent of the British invasion in 1964, the band, like everyone else, assimilated the new British sound. The surf sound and instrumentals were eventually dropped in favor of the current chart toppers of the day, and Herb Crawford from Speedway High School replaced Gary Crawford on guitar. A new booking agent who wanted to capitalize on the ever growing English musical dominance suggested that the band’s name be changed to Sir Winston and the Commons. For several years, they played a number of college fraternity dances and were fortunate enough to have all the local teen venues like Party Time, The Flame Club, the House of Sound, Westlake Beach Club, Tiger a’GoGo, the Scene, the Indiana Roof Ballroom, and the Whiteland barn, to perform for the Indianapolis teen crowd.

They enjoyed local success and even chartered buses with friends and fans to several dates at The Cellar, a club in the Chicago area. They opened national shows for the McCoys, Beach Boys and Byrds and as they began to write and perform more original material, they recorded 2 singles “We’re Gonna Love” and “Not the Spirit of India”.

Through the remaining 1960’s, the band member count diminished from 5 to 4 and eventually to 3. The group finally discontinued performing as Sir Winston in 1970."

Just about covers all the bases for the band. They were known as the wild guys with costumes and Joe with the cape. This is one of the bands with the least amount of personnel changes over the years.

Sir Winston and the Commons recorded some great tunes and released 2 45's!
We're Gonna Love / Come Back Again - Soma 1454 (1966)
Not the Spirit of India / One Last Chance - Nauseating Butterfly 2207 (1967)

Also recorded during the Soma sessions were two unreleased songs

All Of The Time & No Sorrow - I'll only put up clips as these are for sale on the Norton records website. Hell, if I put up all the songs, who will buy the records?

Of course we previously covered Sir Winston and the Commons involvement with Rojay Gotee.

I've had more requests for this band than any other so far, so get the comments and additions in gear, and let them know they are remembered!


  1. Cool article and cuttings. I've got the 4 song Sundazed re-issue. They made brilliant music that's rarely talked about making your investigations very worthy indeed.

  2. Ron Matelic and Jon Medvescek formed another group called Anonymous, which released the sought-after "Inside the Shadow" LP in 1976. These recordings are often compared to the Byrds, albeit with dual male/female vocals. For an interview with Ron and further info, go to

  3. I remember when Patrick was scouting questions for that interview. I had the misspelled "Commins" ad (Columbus Republic '65) and suggested he ask about "Thunder and Lightning" since the ad stated "their Hit Record" and I didn't have it. Corrected that quickly.

  4. Lucifer Match of ISSSBJan 5, 2012, 5:57:00 PM

    These guys were great! Saw them many times and always a good show.

  5. Speaking of Big John Gillis, did anyone attend the premiere of "Naptown Rock Radio Wars" at the White River State Park IMAX Theater last night? has some clips. There are some additional photos on the linked Facebook page.

  6. I missed the premiere last night, but it's way up on my to-do list.

  7. I was 1st member of teen club "Party Time" Indpls in 60's owned by Jim & Ki Holcomb. My girlfriends n i met the band @ battle of the bands. Tom Mathis was a Indy DJ (still is) n was instrumental also in promote them. My friends n I followed them everywhere. Lol one time in winter we drove a Corvair w no heat 2 West Lake 2 see them. We lived in Carmel. My HS friend n I r still friends n that nite we froze! The other band that was killer was "The Kingsmen" Ron Bennett-Arlington HS. Ron now deceased I heard was lead sax n singer. The band was n a accident & 2 of guys died..was horrible! U should contact Tom Mathis he still lives in Indy n still DJ's for local station. There is more .... linda

  8. I may possibly have the only known "LIVE" recording of "Sir Winston & The Commons"!! The band was playing at "The Teen Club" located on Pendleton Pike in Lawrence at the time. I was a budding recording engineer while in high-school then.

    I had borrowed a professional audio mixer from someone I knew from the infamous "WQRK" Indy bootleg radio station and I had owned a professional 2-track stereo tape recorder. I set up some mic's and somehow interfaced with the bands PA system and recorded their show that evening!!

    This was sometime during the mid to late-1960's. As it turns out, I ** STILL ** have those tapes!! The unfortunate part is....although my recordings sound pretty good, the band had crummy mic cables and Herb's mic ended up being distorted and cuts in and out.

    A moment in history "LOST" because of a bad mic cable!! But, I still have the tapes and they're FUN to listen to once in awhile!! JBW

  9. I also had recorded another band that Ron Matelic and Johnny Medvescek were in called "Gandharvas". This recording was done at a rare "LIVE" concert which was held at The Zionsville Theater in late 1973.

    Their bass player was named Toby Gray and I just found out that he later on joined the band "It's A Beautiful Day" and also became a record producer and has produced several of his own CD's. Check out his really nice & great music at:

    I still have these "Gandharvas" tapes as well!! What makes the "Gandharvas" tapes rather unique is the fact that I had used a "4-track" recorder (in 1973!!!) to record this show!! So, it is a very rare multi-track "LIVE" tape recording of this great unknown band!! JBWilliams

  10. Good to hear from you again JB. My offer still stands to "safeguard" copies of the tapes (and Chancellors) for you!

  11. I am back in the 60's reading this article!! I had a huge crush on Herbie and he took me to a Battle of the Bands at the State Fairgrounds one time. OMG!! I was in heaven! Loved the band and never missed them playing. I saw them mostly at Sherwood on the southside.

  12. I cannot list all the memories from this time and..Don, Herbie, Joe, Johnny and Ronnie...Their .music always has been and always will be a big part of my life...
    Thank you guys..for all of the great memories...from Kokomo, Indiana and now in Homosassa, Fl...Brenda "Sunny" Pence....

  13. Herb was my guitar teacher when I was 12 or 13. He introduced me to the blues and blues rock, which is still my largest influence as a player. I followed him and the band wherever I could see them mostly around Indy. Especially fond memories of them at Le Scene in Fountain Square, where I later saw The New Yardbirds (Zepplin)thanks to Herb letting me know they were coming since I loved them and was learning Yardbirds songs (New York City Blues, I'm a Man etc.)A huge debt of gratitude there.If anyone knows how to contact Herb I'd appreciate the info. I can reached at or

  14. Kay Smith says: They also opened for Cream in Chicago and the Stones at Indiana Beach. Crawfordsville was a favorite venue, as was Le Scene. I think they toured for a short while with the Byrds.

  15. My uncle is Don Basore. Wonderful information and he's a very wonderful uncle and a blessed man by God!