The story of Mulligan begins with Peanuts. “Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron” was a huge 1966 hit for Ocala, Florida’s The Royal Guardsmen, landing at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. They stuck to the formula on followups “The Return of the Red Baron,” "Snoopy's Christmas,” and “Snoopy for President.” By 1969, with the novelty running thin, most of the original Guardsmen had vacated their posts, leaving vocalist/drummer Chris Nunley to recruit entirely new musicians to fulfill touring obligations and carry on the Schultz beagle’s legacy.
From Clarksville, Tennessee, he drafted Rubber Duck keyboardist John Mosley, guitarist Chuck Emery, and bassist Tom Armistead. One by one, they made the trek south to the Sunshine State, filling in for departed Guardsmen. “The Tennesseans took over by attrition,” Emery recalled. With Snoopy-free material and the music world changing around them, the band looked to a name change. “Since there was only one member left, we felt it was kind of lying to people, more or less,” said Emery.
They’d become Home and relocate to Clarksville, Tennessee, to gain proximity to its twin musical meccas of Nashville and Memphis. Their focus shifted to the reigning roots rock sound, rather than the faux–British Invasion of the Guardsmen. With time booked at Chips Moman’s American Studios, Home found themselves homeless, bumped from the studio schedule when Elvis decided to record 1969’s gold-selling From Elvis in Memphis. As a consolation, Home was shown the way to Cavern Sound. “We drove into the place going ‘Good god, this is strange,’ knocked on the door and introduced ourselves to John Pearson,” said Emery. Shacking up at a local motel, Home cut demos of 32 songs at Cavern from which to make their full-length debut album. From September 1969 to January 1970, the band so busily haunted Cavern—and Pearson had such faith in their ability to land a hit for the studio—that they were given the keys and invited to work on the self-titled album after hours.
Cavern’s resident pilot, TWA captain Jim Williams, took the Home tapes with him on a flight to London, hoping to sell them to the highest bidder. He scored a meeting with the Beatles’ Apple Corps, but could only land face time with Ringo Starr, who admitted he had no power within the troubled company. Williams’ dejected return also brought back news that Home shared its name with a none-too-pleased British band. The former Guardsmen soldiered another three years under the name Mulligan but never found a record label to release the completed Home album.
Frustrated, Armistead quit and the band briefly continued as a three piece. Eventually, Nunley returned to Ocala to work in plastics before reforming the original Royal Guardsmen in 2006 and releasing “Snoopy Vs. Osama.” Drawn to the caves, Mosley returned to Cavern and worked there for years as an engineer and arranger before retiring from music completely to become a Communications professor at Clarksville’s Austin Peay State University. “John had pretty much shut the whole music scene out of his life,” Emery said. But a dire cancer diagnosis lead Mosley to dust off his keyboards and recruit his old friend Emery to play again for the first time in decades, hitting open mic nights and cafes in his hours off from the University. John Mosley passed away February 9, 2014, only weeks before work on Local Customs: Cavern Sound began.