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Fraight


“It came to Ted in a dream. Like Haight-Ashbury, but with ‘Fr-’ on the front,” said Rick Ambrose of his Manhattan, Kansas, combo. They’d started out as the Secret Agents in 1965 before morphing into the Original Red Barons after Dylan plugged in. By 1968, they’d heard Grace Slick’s call and added vocalist Nancy Schneider to complete their flyover-country version of Jefferson Airplane, under the somewhat San Franciscan banner inspired by Ted Umschied’s dream...though the “Ashbury” got crossed off entirely.

With Umschied and Schneider playing the roles of Balin and Slick, the remainder of Fraight was filled out by bassist Gene Linton, organist Bob Thompson, and drummer Rick Ambrose. Managerial duties were handled by local shoe salesman Charlie Bale, who had a loose connection to the Classmen’s Drew Dimmel. It was hard to ignore the Classmen’s many WHB chart hits, each waving the banner of Cavern’s Pearce label. For the princely sum of $300, Dimmel would help select songs from the greater K.C.-area talent pool and “produce” the resulting two-song session.

Although “One Girl” b/w “William Jones” was issued on the Cavern sub-label Pearce with visions of riding in the Classmen’s wake, neither song was recorded at Cavern. Dimmel instead brought the group to Damon—Cavern’s main custom studio rival. It wouldn’t matter. Fraight couldn’t be walked up local charts, much less elevated by a Dimmel co-sign. The group’s subsequent investment in matching roll & pleat Kustom cabinets made for a brave look, and certainly added continuity to their regular gigs at Manhattan’s Purple Cat club. But it wasn’t enough to keep Nancy from swapping tambourine for Bible and Rick from beelining to rival no-names Albatross at the turn of the decade. As a four piece, Fraight toured the midwest on and off for the next year before unloading permanently in the fall of 1972.


Fraight Appears on:

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