1964: The Fifth Estate

 Jan, 24 - 2014   no comments   1960s Music


The Fifth Estate

Best remembered for their 1967 novelty smash “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead,” pop combo the Fifth Estate began their career in Stamford, CT, in 1964 as the Demen. Originally comprised of singer Don Askew, guitarists Rick Engler and Ken Evans, bassist Doug Ferrara, keyboardist Wayne Wadhams, and drummer Bill Shute, the group soon changed its name to the D-Men, honing a British Invasion-influenced garage approach that resulted in a contract with the tiny Veep label. Their debut single, “Don’t You Know,” appeared in the fall of 1964, soon followed by “I Just Don’t Care”; neither single earned notice outside of the Stamford area, and the D-Men adopted a folk-rock sound for 1965’s “So Little Time,” their lone effort for the Kapp label. Following the addition of lead vocalist Chuck LeGros, the band adopted the name the Fifth Estate, relocated to New York City, and in May 1966 returned with “Love Is a Game,” one of the last-ever singles on the venerable Red Bird label, which closed its doors soon after the single’s release. Although Askew and Wadhams were enjoying some success as songwriters, placing material with the Brothers Four and Reparata & the Delrons, the rest of the Fifth Estate were growing increasingly disenchanted with the music business — frustrations reached their peak in late 1966, when LeGros stomped off-stage during the middle of a set and never returned.

Ding Dong! The Witch Is Back!: The Fifth Estate, 1964-1969 While performing at a Christmas party not long after, Askew reportedly cracked that given the proper production and promotion, any song could become a hit; his bandmates took the bait, and Askew and Wadhams set to work on adapting the Wizard of Oz chestnut “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead,” basing their arrangement in part on Michael Praetorius’ dance suite “Terpsichore.” Jubilee Records heard the demo and quickly signed the group, with “Ding Dong!” falling just shy of the Billboard Top Ten in mid-June 1967; the Fifth Estate spent the summer touring as part of a package headlined by Gene Pitney and the Happenings, and in August released the follow-up, the Lovin’ Spoonful sound-alike “The Goofin’ Song.” The record went nowhere, as did the subsequent “Heigh Ho!” As some of the lineup returned to college, the Fifth Estate recorded and performed sporadically — later Jubilee singles including “Do Drop Inn” and “Coney Island Sally” substituted session musicians for members who were MIA, and 1969’s “The Mickey Mouse Club March” featured none of the official members at all. When Jubilee called it quits later that year, the Fifth Estate followed suit; Wadhams later enjoyed a career as a producer and arranger of some note, also teaching at the Berklee School of Music; in 1995, his Boston Skyline label issued the 27-track D-Men/Fifth Estate compilation Ding Dong! The Witch Is Back.

  • The D-Men in 1964 & 65
  • Garage Rock
  • Power Pop
  • Rock and Roll
  • Rhythm and blues
  • Stamford, CT
  • 1964 – present
  • Rick Engler
  • Bob Klein
  • Doug Ferrara
  • Ken Evans
  • Bill Shute
  • Former members:
  • Wayne Wadhams
  • Chuck LeGrow
  • Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead (Jubilee Records JGS 8005 / 1967)
  • Ding Dong! The Witch Is Back: 1964-1969 (Boston Skyline BSD 116/1992)
  • Time Tunnel (Roxon Records LLC RR1001/2011)
  • The Fifth Estate – Anthology 1 1964-1969 (Fuel 2000 / Universal Music Group 2012)

as The D-Men

  • “Don’t You Know” b/w “No Hope For Me” (Veep/United Artists 1206-A / July 1964)
  • “I Just Don’t Care” b/w “Messin Around” (Veep/United Artists 1209-A / March 1965)
  • “So Little Time” b/w “Every Minute of Every Day” (Kapp 691-A / May 1965)

as The Fifth Estate

  • “Love Is All a Game” b/w “Like I Love You” (Red Bird RB 10-064 / 1965)
  • “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” b/w “Rub-a-Dub” (Jubilee Records 45-5573 / 1967)
  • “The Goofin Song” b/w “Lost Generation” (Jubilee Records 5588-A / 1967)
  • “Heigh Ho” b/w “It’s Waiting There for You” (Jubilee Records 5595-A / 1967)
  • “Morning, Morning” b/w “Tomorrow Is My Turn” (Jubilee 5607-A / February 1968)
  • “Do Drop Inn” b/w “That’s Love” (Jubilee Records 5617-A / April 1968)
  • “Coney Island Sally” b/w “I’ll Let You Know” (Jubilee Records 5627-A / July 1968)
  • “Night On Fire” b/w “I’ve Never Been” (Evolution Records 1011 / September 1969)

In 1969, two unauthorized singles were released under the band name and without their participation.

Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead being played by The Fifth Estate


Supreme Confusion by The Fifth Estate from the Time Tunnel album

Fifth Estate – The Three Best Songs from DING DONG…

  • United Artists
  • Kapp
  • Red Bird
  • Jubilee Records
  • Fuel 2000 / Universal Music Group
  1. http://www.thefifthestateinfo.com/
  2. http://www.60sgaragebands.com/fifthestate.html
  3. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-fifth-estate-mn0000059350/biography

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