The Del Rays
History, photos and music of the Del Rays courtesy of Jack Griffin.
The Del-Rays started out in the early 60”s as The Chasers. This was the true beginning of the group. The Chasers was the brain child of Bill Higgins (now owner of Bill’s Music in Catonsville) with Bill Higgins (guitar), Dick Warnsmann, (drums) and me, Jack Griffin (bass). There was also Jack Hyatt (lead guitar), Rael Sushman (sax) and Johnny “Soul” McNulty (vocals). We also had a trumpet player whose name I can’t recall. The name of the group was changed to The Del-Rays around the time that Jack Hyatt joined the group.
Bill Higgins left to do his six months in the Army, and when he came back he opened, Bill’s Music. Johnny “ Soul” McNulty moved away and Rael Sushman left to attend Peabody. We then found Frank Willoughby who sang and played guitar and went forward for a time with four pieces: lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, and drums. Sometime around 1966 Jack Hyatt left the group to get married and became a lawyer. We then enlisted a great sax player by the name of Mike Mitchell. He was a meek guy who reminded you of Don Knotts, but boy could he play. Mike played with us off and on, and then we ended up with two, and sometimes three, horn players from the Naval Academy band.
There was Bruce Austin on sax, who was a graduate of Easton School of Music on oboe, and a trumpet player by the name of John Gatchell. He was a young guy, maybe 24, but had already played in the Tonight Show band with Skitch Henderson. He also played with Woody Herman and Stan Kenton. He was the studio musician who played trumpet in the recording of “Time Won’t Let Me” by the Outsider’s. He was the ultimate. How did we get so lucky to have these guys? They were in the Navy to fulfill their military obligations and were selected to serve in the Naval Academy band. When John and Bruce left the Navy, we brought on a noted Baltimore sax player by the name of Joe Adams. The last time we saw John Gatchell he was playing trumpet with Simon and Garfunkel on their famous 1981 “Concert in Central Park.” We’ve learned that John passed away a few years ago.
We played many clubs around Baltimore in our roughly ten years together: Terrace Lounge, Carl’s Club 33, Imperial Lounge, Green Door, Club Deville, Club Vista, Hollywood Park, Pete’s Lounge, Sunset Lounge, Backfin Palace. Our longest stint was at Pete Mangione’s wonderful Green Dolphin. We played there three to four nights a week for almost three years straight, something we considered quite an achievement.
Having reacquainted and reformed in 2008, we've been having great fun playing together again. Our new configuration includes many of the original players, plus the addition of old Baltimore hands Paul Watkins on guitar, and Mike Glorioso on sax. The new lineup also includes young whipper snapper Wes Freeman on trumpet
The Del Rays regrouped in 2008 to play at J408. They remain together, rehearsing and playing and below is a photo of the band today:
The Del Rays, 2011
Del Rays, recorded circa 1968
I'm Your Puppet
Just A Gigolo
Love Is The Thing
Things We Said Today