#627: Never To Leave by Two Bits

Peak Month: January 1967
10 weeks on CFUN’s Vancouver Charts
Peak Position ~ #7
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Never To Leave

The Two Bits are rumored to have been the American band The Cascades, who had a big hit in 1963 with “Rhythm of the Rain”. The origins of The Cascades, a smooth pop harmony group, were born in 1960 aboard the U.S.S. Jason AR-8. When the ship wasn’t overseas in Sasebo, Japan, it docked in San Diego. The group initially consisted of singer and lead guitarist Lenny Green, singer and drummer Dave Wilson, bass player Dave Stevens and rhythm guitarist Art Eastlink. On and off ship they were known to other servicemen and local San Diegans’ as The Silver Strands. Fellow friend and serviceman on the U.S.S. Jason, John Gummoe, was a huge fan and started to serve as the group’s manager. Gummoe booked the group for five gigs a week. He also performed duets with Dave Wilson as part of the Silver Strands’ concerts. The group left the U.S. Navy and became billed as The Thundernotes. They released an instrumental surf single in the fall of 1961. “Pay Day” got airplay on the local San Diego radio station KDEO. Lenny Green left the group and John Gummoe officially joined the band as lead vocalist.

As the Cascades switched from being an instrumental band to a vocal group, the lineup changed. By the summer of 1962, Gummoe’s bandmates were guitarist Eddy Snyder, keyboard player G. David Szabo, along with original Silver Strands members, Dave Stevens and Dave Wilson. Soon they billed themselves as The Cascades, inspired by a nearby box of dishwashing detergent while waiting to audition and recorded “There’s A Reason,” making #10 in San Francisco and #12 in San Diego in July ’62. Their second release with Valliant Records was “Rhythm Of The Rain.” The song went to #1 in the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Ireland. The song peaked at #3 on CFUN and spent 15 weeks on the chart in 1963. It tied for the second longest chart run for a single in Vancouver that year behind “She Loves You” by The Beatles. While Rhythm of the Rain made it to #3 in the USA and was a #1 hit in numbers of other countries in 1963, it was their only single that climbed into the Top Sixty of the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA. The Cascades scored several more Top Ten hits in Vancouver with “The Last Leaf” and “Cheryl’s Goin’ Home“.

Apparently, while spending time in Vancouver, and still under contract with Warner, the Cascades recorded “Never To Leave” under the pseudonym “Two Bits.” The single was one of only two ever pressed on the label Vantown, a label created by local Vancouver DJ, Tom Peacock. However, their connection with Warner Records was through a subsidiary, Valliant Records. They had not released a record with Valliant since 1963. In the interim The Cascades released singles on RCA, Charter Records, Liberty Records, Arwin Records and in 1967 Smash Records. The Two Bits release of Never to Leave is concurrent with The Cascades April 1967 release on Smash Records of “Hey Little Girl of Mine.” So it may be a contract with Smash Records led to the group’s trek across the Canadian border to record “Never to Leave” under a different name.

Never To Leave by Two Bits

“Never to Leave” was written by Gabe Lapano, who later became one of the members of the San Diego pop group, The Cascades.  “Never to Leave” by their pseudonym, the Two Bits, would then be their fourth Top Ten hit in the Vancouver market. As the Cascades the group got successive record contracts with nine different record companies between 1962 and 1972.

“Never to Leave” is a song about having a love that is stronger and warmer then life itself. The lyrics exude about having a love in one’s life with “lips pressed to mine and never to leave.” It was a sunshine pop song with hopeful lyrics: “more then once you may be without anyone/but tomorrow will always bring another sun…” In Vancouver the Two Bits were kept at #7 eclipsed by songs like Keith’s “98.6”, The Seeker’s “Georgy Girl”, Aaron Neville’s “Tell It Like It Is” and Nancy Sinatra’s “Sugar Town”. No other radio market in North America featured “Never To Leave” on their weekly charts.

Singer-songwriter, Gabe Lapano, had previously written a number of songs for a San Diego group he was a member of named The Accents. The band formed in the fall of 1962 and featured guitarists Frank Mannix, age 14, and Don Lovas, age 17. Tony Johnson was the bands drummer. Gabe Lapano, whose family had just moved to San Diego in the summer of ’62, was 17 years old. He played piano and a Wurlitzer. In 1963, tenor saxophonist, Doug Meyers, joined The Accents. In 1964, The Accents added female singer, Sandi Rouse, to their lineup. They had a Top Ten hit in San Diego in the spring of 1964 titled “Better Watch Out Boy”. Gabe Lapano wrote the B-side, “Then He Starts To Cry”, for their second single release, “I’ve Got Better Things To Do”, a hit in San Diego, Seattle and Visalia, California in the winter of 1964. In 1965, at the age of twenty, Lapino wrote “What Do You Want Me To Do (Little Darlin’)” which was a Top 20 hit in San Diego in the summer of that year. After Gabe Lapano wrote “Never To Leave”, he wrote “Hey Little Girl Of Mine” for The Cascades which made the Top 40 in San Bernardino, Roswell (NM) and Missoula (MT). In 1969, Lapino wrote “”Floating’ Down The River”. The song was a Top 30 hit for The Cascades in San Diego, and made the Top 40 in Nashville. Gabe Lapano wrote other songs that were recorded by Cher and The Mamas & The Papas.

In 1967, The Cascades appeared in a comedy mystery film titled Catalina Caper. The film also featured Little Richard and Carol Conners, the latter was the lead singer of The Teddy Bears who had a #1 hit in 1958 titled “To Know Him Is To Love Him”.
John Gummoe left the Cascades in 1967, discouraged that the groups eight single releases after 1963 all failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100. Gummoe would later recall of his five years with the band, “we spent most of the time touring across the US and Canada playing small towns when we should have been playing big cities. It was all poorly handled.” After Gummoe left the band, Gabe Lapano joined the Cascades as lead singer in 1967. In that capacity, Lapano can be heard on The Cascades final Billboard Hot 100 single in 1969 called “Maybe The Rain Will Fall.” The country-rock song climbed to #21 on CKLG in Vancouver in September 1969.

After The Cascades split up, Gabe Lapano formed a country-rock band named Kentucky Express in 1970. In 1971, Lapano wrote a song for a band named Image which featured John Gummoe as lead singer. The Cascades reformed twice, in 1995 and 2004, touring the USA and the Philippines, where they still had a following. However, The Two Bits members never performed under that billing, only as The Cascades. As recently as 2013, Gabe Lapano was performing from Wednesdays to Saturdays at Churchill’s Restaurant in Spokane, Washington. At the time, Lapano was living in Chattaroy, a half hour drive north of Spokane.

November 6, 2018
Ray McGinnis

References:
John Gummoe, The Cascades, Rhythm of the Rain.com.
Gabe Lapano writing credits, Discogs.com
Lost local bands of the 60s/70s – Sandi & the Accents: “San Diego was considered creatively untouchable”, San Diego Reader, San Diego, CA, August 31, 2018
Lee Sholem, Director, Catalina Caper, Warner Brothers, 1967.

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