The Chocolate Watchband  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Chocolate Watchband, was a garage rock-band formed in San Jose, California in 1965. The band had finally broken-up indefinitely by 1970. The band's music was largely described as a blend of 1960s-style garage rock. The group's early music appeared to contain blues influences, and later it developed psychedelic elements through use of instrumental experimentation. Ed Cobb was well-known as their producer. The band also appeared in the 1967 film Riot on Sunset Strip.



Early Line-Up (1965)

The Chocolate Watchband was formed in the Summer of 1965 by Ned Torney and Mark Loomis, who had previously played guitar together in a local band known as The Chaparrals the previous year, 1964.

The Chocolate Watchband's founding line-up consisted of members:

  • Ned Torney, as a guitarist.
  • Mark Loomis, as a guitarist.
  • Rich Young, as a bassist.
  • Pete Currey, as a drummer.
  • Jo Kemling, who played vox organ for the band.
  • Danny Phay, who provided vocals. Phay was well-known for his on-stage presence as a charismatic frontman.

This line-up quickly dissolved after a number of factors that included the draft; which claimed Rich Young, then the departure of their drummer; Pete Currey, who was replaced by Gary Andrijasevich; a jazz drummer from San Francisco's Cupertino High. The final blow to band came as a result of other bands around the area, fond of the Watchband, successfully attempting to poach some of the group's members. A San Francisco-based combo known as The Topsiders offered Ned Torney a position as the band's guitarist. Torney's departure coincided with that of frontman; Danny Phay and organist; Jo Kemling, who also left the Watchband in order to join The Topsiders. As a result of their departure; Torney, Phay, Kemling, as well as Ken Matthew and Tom Antone (members of The Topsiders) formed a new band called The Other Side.

Initial Success - Loomis/Aguilar line-up (1966-1967)

Mark Loomis started to play guitar for a popular young local band known as The Shandels, but quickly became bored with playing for a target audience of pre-teens. Loomis decided to recreate The Chocolate Watchband with The Shandels' bass player; Bill 'Flo' Flores, and former-Watchband drummer; Gary Andrijasevich. They enlisted the help of former-Topsiders guitarist; Dave "Sean" Tolby, and the charismatic frontman of a local band known as The Early Morning Rain; David Aguilar.

The Watchband's next incarnation consisted of:

  • Mark Loomis, as lead guitarist.
  • David Aguilar, who served as vocalist, replacing Phay as the group's lead singer and frontman.
  • Gary Andrijasevich, as the group's drummer.
  • Sean Tolby, as a guitarist (usually serving as rhythm guitarist).
  • Bill 'Flo' Flores, as a bassist.

Mark Loomis acted as somewhat of a leader during this time, although the band never really had a definite leader, Loomis obtained the latest in Vox equipment and provided and ensured daily rehearsals. The band performed at various places in the teen-circuit in San Francisco's South Bay, playing a range of blues cover songs and even more obscure import tunes.

The Chocolate Watchband's success and popularity was beginning to pick up at the same time as an interest in signing the band began. The band were offered a deal by Bill Graham after a show in which they opened for The Mindbenders at the Fillmore in San Francisco. However, with the help of their new manager; Ron Roupe, the band eventually secured a deal with Green Grass Productions, which they ended up choosing instead, and began working with producers; Ray Harris and Ed Cobb. Cobb gave the band a song he had written called "Sweet Young Thing", which was recorded and released in December 1966 on Tower Records, which featured the group's cover of Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" as the B-side.

The Watchband began to experiment with writing their own material around this time, creating originals like "By My Side"; however, the producers deemed Watchband-penned songs not yet sufficient for recording purposes. Although "Sweet Young Thing" gained strong airplay around San Francisco during the Spring of 1967, the band proved to show a lack of interest in a recording career at this time, preferring to perform original and cover material at shows. The Watchband's second single was a commercial-sounding "Misty Lane", released with a orchestrated ballad; "She Weaves a Tender Trap" as its B-side, a choice that the band openly questioned.

During this period The Watchband also starred in two films; Riot on Sunset Strip, and The Love-Ins. The latter film inspired The Watchband's next single; "Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In), which was written and recorded in one day, the single was released with the B-side; "No Way Out", an instrumental that spawned from a studio warm-up.

The band broke up in mid-1967, shortly after the release of their single "No Way Out". Mark Loomis, a considerably valuable member and some-what of an acting leader for the group, decided that he was tired of the band's punk/hard-rock direction. Loomis quit the band to form a psychedelic/folk-rock band known as The Tingle Guild (which would featured ex-Watchband frontman Danny Phay as lead singer). Loomis' departure sparked the departures of drummer; Gary Andrijasevich, and then the group's frontman; David Aguilar.

Continuation - Tolby/Abbott line-up (1967)

After the departure of Loomis, Andrijasevich and Aguilar; Tolby and Flores were left with the duty of fulfilling a month's worth of bookings. They decided to enlist the services of Tim Abbott, Mark Whittaker and Chris Flinders; members of the San Francisco Bay Blues Band.

The Chocolate Watchband's resurrected line-up (after their breakup in mid-1967) were:

  • Sean Tolby, as a guitarist (handling lead guitar).
  • Bill 'Flo' Flores, as a bassist.
  • Tim Abbott, serving as a guitarist.
  • Mark Whittaker, as the group's new drummer.
  • Chris Flinders, a "Paul Butterfield disciple", served as the group's new frontman.

The band still maintained a level of success, but no where near the level of the previous line-up. They managed to secure a place as the opening act for The Doors and also performed at the KFRC Magic Mountain Festival. In late Autumn of 1968, Abbott and Flinders had a disagreement with Tolby and manager Ron Roupe over financial matters; which ensured the indefinite break-up of the Watchband in December 1967.

Reformation - Break-Up (1968-1969)

The Chocolate Watchband was reformed in Autumn of 1968, its line-up consisted of:

  • Sean Tolby, as a guitarist.
  • Bill "Flo" Flores, as a bassist.
  • Mark Loomis, as a guitarist.
  • Gary Andrijasevich, as a drummer.
  • Ned Torney, as a guitarist.
  • Danny Phay, as the frontman and singer.

The Watchband recorded with Cobb to produce their third album, the relatively original One Step Beyond.

Ed Cobb's influence and disputes

The band was involved in disputes with their manager Ed Cobb, because they were presented as being more psychedelic on record than they were live due to Cobb's innovative production methods. In addition, Cobb recorded parts of the Watchband's albums without them - in fact, less than half of The Inner Mystique was originally recorded by the band, with most of the material performed by session musicians.

The Chocolate Watchband recorded a Cobb tune already done by The Standells, "Medication" (on The Inner Mystique).



  • "Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love-In)" / "No Way Out" : Tower 373 (1967)
  • "Baby Blue" / "Sweet Young Thing" : Uptown 740 (1967)
  • "Misty Lane" / "She Weaves a Tender Trap" : Uptown 749 (1967)



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