Central Washington University

Ask Wellington: Did a group of CWU students form a band in the 1960s and record a song based on a popular canned tuna TV ad slogan?

In 1963, a group of CWU students from the Seattle area formed a band known as The Avengers. Two years later, band members renamed themselves as The Scotsmen, put on kilts, and began appearing in clubs throughout Central and Eastern Washington as well as in venues in the Seattle area, such as Parkers Ballroom, the Spanish Castle, and the Target Ballroom.

The Scotsmen’s line up included Mike DeChenne and Tom Yook on keyboards, Richard Lawson on drums, David Lucas on bass guitar, Gary Reynolds and Bruce Robertson on vocals, and Robert Shomer on guitar.

The group cut a record in 1965 for the Panorama label, which was based in Seattle. Panorama was launched by recording impresario Jerry Dennon, who also founded the more well-known Jerden Records (famous for releasing the Kingsmen’s hit song, “Louie Louie”) and about a half-dozen other labels.

In fact, it was the Kingsmen’s second major hit song, “Jolly Green Giant,” based on the frozen vegetable company’s televised advertisements, that provided the inspiration for the Scotsmen to cut their most famous song, “Sorry Charlie,” based on a popular televised advertisement for Star-Kist canned tuna.

In July 1965, the band recorded “Sorry Charlie” on side A and “Tuff Enough,” a catchy but misogynistic song about a troublesome girlfriend on side B. The 7-inch single was released to record stores and radio stations in August and September of 1965 and achieved some airplay but not enough attention to merit a follow up record.

Despite being from the PNW, the band affected British accents for “Sorry Charlie” in an attempt to ride the British Invasion wave popular at that time.

According to the website, pnwbands.com, the Scotsmen continued to perform on and off until 1968. Some of the band members also appeared in other groups. Mike DeChenne was also a member of the Hustlers from 1966-67, while Bruce Robertson sang with International Brick from 1966-69.

The Scotmen’s small discography (two songs) was rediscovered in 2001 with the release of The Northwest Battle of the Bands, Vol. 2, Knock You Flat!, which featured a number of 1960s era Seattle rock ‘n roll bands.

The CD included both “Sorry Charlie” and “Tuff Enough,” and introduced a new generation to the guitar and organ-driven sound of what has been described as “fuzz-punk” rock. In attempt to appeal to hipster audiophiles, the songs were also reissued by Sundazed Records in 2018 on a vinyl record version.

Here’s a link to the Scotmen’s two recordings: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XcfInqIq5I.

So, the answer is Yes.


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