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Talent, Tenacity, Tequila & a Tale of Two Texas Teenagers

Alan Bryson By

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A January 19, 1976 People Magazine profile of Seals & Crofts gave this impression of how their situation changed during their time with the Champs: "Money poured in, and soon there were flashy mohair suits, fleets of two-and four-wheel vehicles, reckless races and motel-room brawls. When shirts got dirty, they were simply replaced, not washed." According to the official Seals & Crofts website they were earning between $500 to $600 a week in 1960. A 1960 dollar is worth 8.55 dollars in 2019—thus Jimmy and Dash, 19 and 20 respectively, were making between $4,275 and $5,130 a week in today's money.

In 1962, Dash was drafted into the Army and returned to the Champs in 1964. By the following year the British invasion was in full swing with the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, the Who, Yardbirds a couple of dozen other groups dominating the American charts. The Champs and their management saw the writing on the wall and the band came to an official end in 1965. It's hard to imagine, but Seals & Crofts, thought to be so mellow, actually came to blows when the Champs ended. In an interview with Tony Bentivegna, who operates the Seals and Crofts website, Dash Crofts shared this about the demise of the Champs:

"We decided at the last minute we were gonna go to [tour] Japan. And he [Jimmy] waited until the last few days and said, 'Well, I've decided I'm not gonna go.' And we got in a big fight over it, and we even got into a fist fight and kind of tore up the club we worked in! And it was just one of the only fights that we ever had. And I said, 'You're betraying me, you're not going.' And so, we went on to Japan. And Jimmy and I didn't speak for awhile, 'cause we were in Japan and Jimmy was here. And when I came back, a month or so later, ah, I was called to do a recording session and I went there, and Jimmy showed up at the same session, and we were glad to see each other. We became friends all over again."

Mushrooms & Dawnbreakers

In 1962, 63, 64, and 65 Challenge Records gave Jimmy Seals, while still a member of the Champs, a chance to record some singles under his own name. It's clear he was listening to what was selling and was able to cover a wide range of styles. One single in particular "The Yesterday of Our Love," was a funky soul song that sounded like it had the potential to have been a hit in the '60s. He left no doubt he was capable of writing some funky music and putting down a funky vocal. It's a recording that will no doubt surprise those who know him only from Seals & Crofts.

In the thick of the flower power era, Jimmy and Dash were in a short lived band called the Mushrooms. Through that they developed an important relationship with a guitarist who would eventually become their producer and the electric guitarist for their Seals & Crofts recordings. That guitarist is the legendary session player Louie Shelton.

Dash, Jimmy and Louie left the Mushrooms and joined a band called the Dawnbreakers. They were often booked in Las Vegas and sounded a bit like a cross between the 5th Dimension and the Mamas and the Papas. The band was managed by Marcia Day, and three of her daughters sang with the band. The Day family were members of the Bahá'í Faith. In the above mentioned People Magazine feature on Seals & Crofts, Marcia Day's role was described this way:

"The stars themselves aren't in charge. Rather, it is a matriarchy managed by Crofts' mother-in-law, an aggressive 45-year-old former actors' agent named Marcia Day. All five of her daughters are active in the operation, as are Marcia's four other sons-in-law who play backup or production roles with the duo. Not surprisingly, S&C have their own soft-ball team and 17 Day grandchildren around the offices."

Less is More

After the demise of the Dawnbreakers, Seals & Crofts, according to People Magazine, holed up in the basement of the Day HQ, then a "decrepit five-bedroom house in Hollywood," and began writing the material that launched them as a duo. Dash Crofts and Louie Shelton each married one of the Day sisters. They were attracted to the Bahá'í teachings and eventually became Bahá'ís. Some months later Jimmy also became a Bahá'í. When speaking to the LA Times in the 1991 article mentioned above, Jimmy described that time in 1966 with Marcia Day and her family.

"She and her family were Bahá'í, and they'd have these fireside gatherings at their house on Friday nights. There were street people, doctors, university teachers and everybody there. And the things they talked about, I couldn't even ask the question let alone give the answer: the difference between soul, mind and spirit, life after death. We'd discuss things sometimes until 3 in the morning."

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