Winter Haven, Florida

Buddy Owen - Tommy Patton - Jon LaFrandre (sitting) - Terry Shipe - Jerry Mincey
Photo taken in 1965 at Cypress Gardens for their Nashville promo package.

The Spades  were probably the most popular of the Winter Haven, Florida garage bands, playing from mid-1964 through early 1967. The group would sport a wide selection of members over it's almost four year life span. Foundational member, Jon LaFrandre (who was there for the band's entire history) along with his younger brother Halsey, would later be instrumental in the creation of local rock legends, "Purple Underground" and even later Jon would record and play keyboards for country superstars, "The Bellamy Brothers", through much of the late 1970s and '80s. The Spades boasted a large and loyal following in the Winter Haven area during the mid-60s. We have both photos and audio from the Spades.

The Spades first came together during the fall of 1964 and continuing until early 1967. The original members were Buddy Owen (vocals), Robert Taylor (guitar), Richard Tedder (bass), Jon LaFrandre (organ), Bill Tripp (guitar) and David Lemons (drums).

The group sported a wide variety of members over it's almost four year life span. Jon LaFrandre was the foundational member who was there at the beginning and stayed through the band's entire history. Singer Buddy Owen and bassist Terry Shipe also served long tenures with the group, being onboard for most of it's existence.

By the summer of 1965 the band had "morphed" into one of it's more well known editions with: Jerry Mincey (lead guitar), Buddy Owen (lead singer), David Lemons (drums), Jon LaFrandre (organ), Terry Shipe (bass), and Bill Tripp (rhythm guitar). The group was being managed by Doug Montgomery, who was the owner and General Manager of WINT-AM, one of the two top Winter Haven radio stations at that time.

Jon LaFrandre - Jerry Mincey - Terry Shipe - Buddy Owen - Bill Tripp - David Lemons

The Spades were a hot commodity on the local music scene during 1965, playing the municipal teen center circuit around Central Florida as well as frequent appearances at teen clubs like the Derry Down in Winter Haven (as a sort of house band) and The Palladium in Lakeland. In the fall of '65 their popularity landed them a Florida tour with British recording giants, the Zombies and the Searchers. That exposure led to a recording contract with Dyno Productions and subsequent recording session at the RCA studios in Nashville. Unfortunately, due to small town naivety and a crooked distribution company in Nashville, the original single of  "I Won't Want You Anymore" was never released. During the winter of 1965, Gayland Gilbert replaced Jerry Mincey on lead guitar and Halsey LaFrandre, Jon's younger brother, was brought in to replace Tommy Patton as the group's drummer. The band often had to lie about Halsey's age to get him in some of the places they were playing.


Buddy Owen - Tommy Patton - Jon LaFrandre (sitting) - Terry Shipe - Jerry Mincey
Photo taken in 1965 at Cypress Gardens for their Nashville promo package.

The band continued on the teen center circuit including regular stops at the Bartow Civic Center, Winter Haven's American Legion Hall, the Hurricane Hut in Mt. Dora, WFLA television's "Hi-Time" show, the Auburndale Teen Center and even once, played a one-nighter up in Valdosta, Georgia. About those days, guitarist Gayland "Gil" Gilbert recalls, "I think it was the summer of '66 that we got a gig at the Pier in Daytona Beach for a number of weeks. We lived in a couple of rooms in the back of the St. George the II Hotel, where all the people who worked nights slept. The problem was, WE DIDN'T SLEEP! We almost got thrown out a couple of times. Talk about poor; we lived on Krispy Kreme donuts and White Castle hamburgers that summer. It was a blast! Playing in the band at night and hanging out on the beach during the day!"

It was also during this time-frame that the Spades made a trip to Naples to cut the single  I'm Alright b\w I Won't Want You Anymore  for the second time. Although the single was actually pressed this time, lack of a marketing strategy pretty much doomed it to giveaways and some local sales.

Some internal problems, college, and the draft - plus, the lack of an original musical direction - were the elements that led to the band's complete shakeup during the fall of 1966. Buddy Owen left the group and was replaced with Randy Battle, a young singer with a flair for mic stand manipulation (a la James Brown), from Florida's east coast. Bill Lemons (David Lemons older brother) was the lead guitarist who took over when Gayland Gilbert had gotten his draft notice and Jim Carlton hired on as the bass player. This configuration of players lasted only a couple of months when both Bill Lemons and Randy Battle were replaced by Tom Nay, a talented singer and guitarist from Sarasota. Both Jon and Halsey LaFrandre remained with the group which was now a quartet.

In early 1967, Jon's dad, Jack LaFrandre (a marketing specialist), arranged a recording deal for the Spades with Charles Fuller Productions in Tampa, who were riding on the wake of their recent hit Snoopy Vs the Red Baron by Ocala's "Royal Guardsmen". It was decided that a name change was in order and the "Spades" became "Purple Underground". On March 31, 1967, the singleCountback b/w Soon was recorded and the subsequent release did quite well regionally. Jim Carlton left the group for college soon after the recording session and Purple Underground became a trio, with Jon playing left hand Rhodes bass.

The Spades will always be remembered as one of the most popular bands to come out of Winter Haven, Florida in the mid-sixties. Several members have continued to have success in the music industry.

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