Lloyd Salazar and Peter Martinez (aka Pete Martin) formed the Zircons while still in high school in Taos, New Mexico; after graduating they headed to Hollywood. During a stop in Las Vegas they met Wayne Newton and auditioned for his manager. He liked the band and said it would take six months to a year to develop the band into the kind of act he thought they should be. That’s a L-O-N-G time when you’re 18, so they declined the offer.
“We hooked up with Jerry Wallace and Jay Colona before our involvement with Jack Moon Elliot, Sam Reina and finally Chuck Cabot,” recalled Martin. “Jay rehearsed us for several weeks then set up an audition with Columbia Records for a major record deal. They liked us and wanted to develop us; that's when I asked them how long that would take. They said from six months to a year. We turned them down. We were idiots. That's when Bagdad came in and offered to release a singe in six months. That was ‘Surfing In The Sunset’. It was quite exciting with Jerry and Jay during that period. Jerry Wallace had just cut ‘Shutters & Boards’ written by Audie Murphy movie star. I remember them all arguing about the mix but it went on to be a hit.”
It was apparently around this time that the Zircons also recorded with Tommy Love on Bagdad, so they are probably the backing band on Love’s release (#1002) “Take My Heart”/”Dream In A Dream”. The Zircons also recorded with DeVille artist Bobby Vernon.
Sam Reina had an office in the same building as agent (and former big-bandleader) Chuck Cabot. They went on the road with bookings by Chuck Cabot. Martin said the record was played all over, but it failed to chart nationally and Reina reportedly wound up with legal problems. “Jack Moon Elliot produced ‘Frog In The Fog’, which actually was a Fats Domino song sung by Lloyd Salazar,” explained Martin. “They didn't like his vocal so they left it as an instrumental with the frog sound. Of course, this infuriated Lloyd and the other two members that later split from the band.”
It was Cabot – whose real name was Carlos Guillermo Casales – who, because of early 60’s race problems, suggested Martin’s name change. The Zircons quickly developed disagreements and broke up in Albuquerque. Martin and Victor Trujillo added Peter Apodoca and Tom Aldrich to become Pete Martin & the Features and spent about 4-1/2 years touring. At some point they recorded an LP in Kansas City but it was never released.
“In the early 90’s I met up with Jay Colonna again,” said Martin. “He and Kevin Young, aka Frank Loren, wrote a Christmas song that I represented. I later went on to arrange and produce an album by Frank Loren. Unfortunately, Frank passed away from Leukemia. Jerry also passed away about five years ago. My last performance was in the year 2000. The weekly heavy gigs ended in the early 90's during that recession.”
© 2011 by Gary E. Myers/MusicGem, PO Box 4777,
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