The Story of the Psychedelic Band From Kalamazoo In The 1960’s, “The Thyme”
Over the weekend I got an email from someone who claimed to be the grandson of a a guy who was in a fairly popular band from Kalamazoo called "The Thyme." They were apparently a psychedelic garage rock band originating in Kalamazoo, Michigan, locally popular in the late 1960s. Ralph Cole was the lead in the band and also played sitar, Steve Vandenberg played guitar, Ed Linenthal played drums, and Al Wilmot on bass, as the main lineup. He told me about how how they opened up for bands like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Cream, and MC5 at venues such as the Grande Ball Room and The Union Street Station and how they almost made it big:
They had held the top charts in Ann Arbor, flint and Detroit, with there cover of “love to love” the band also had a great single called “somehow” that sat at the top of the charts for sometime. ‘A squared records’ decided to sign Neil young rather than my grandfathers band, tiring his dreams of making it big. He’s always talked about hearing his songs on the radio, and how much he missed it. It’s my goal in life to make that happen just once for him.
It turned out that he was correct and that members of the band also belonged to other bands throughout their playing days locally.
Several members of The Thyme had previous or side bands that they played in. Al Wilmot had The Twang Brothers, Groove Monsters, Lighthouse, Road Runner, The Zooouts, and Love Sum (with Doug Wagner, Mark White, and Randy Underwood). Steve Vandenberg had Beyond (with Mike Rousch and Bob Reilly). Ralph Cole had The Hitch Hikers, which were the early The Thyme, back when they were in Kalamazoo.
Another cool piece of info I found out looking into this band was that they also recorded on Phalanx Records out of Portage at the time. I haven't been able to find out exactly where that was located. The band ended up making the name change to "Thyme" and was supposedly signed to a developmental deal of sorts with the for mentioned Ann Arbor based A-Square records for a while along with the likes of bands like MC5, Rationals, and The Stooges. You can check out their cover of The Monkees song "Love To Love" below:
From what we know, Steve Vandenberg still lives in Kalamazoo, so this may be the grandfather of the kid who reached out. It's a shame they didn't make it, because this is full on hippie nostalgia.