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April 10, 2012

Count Five Classic Band Photo Gallery

by Kenn

The history of the Count Five begins in 1964 in San Jose, CA with two friends Roy Chaney (born 1948) and John “Mouse” Michalski (born 1949). They formed a surf band known as the Citations. An additional member was Skip Cordell who played drums. In 1965 Roy and Mouse wanted to add a lead vocalist and change the direction of the band so after auditions they added as lead vocalist a long time friend Kenn Ellner (born 1948) and a piano player Phil Evans. All of the members went to Pioneer High School in San Jose, CA except for John Michalski who attended Blackford High School but later also attended Pioneer for a short time.

The band’s new direction and genre was English Invasion music and some rhythm and blues. The name of the band was changed to The Squires. Both Skip and Phil exited the band. A new neighbor moved in across the street from Kenn Ellner his name was John “Sean” Byrne (1947-2008). John was a prolific song writer a guitarist and great vocalist. One day while at Pioneer High School Kenn heard John playing his guitar and singing Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter. Kenn asked John if he would like to come to rehearsal that night at his house and see if he would like to join the band. John joined the band and a few months later at Kenn’s kitchen table the two band members came up with both a new name for the band Count V and style of Dracula capes and “Tom Jones (the movie)” styled shirts as stage outfits.

The band had gone through several drummers and Kenn Ellner talked to Craig “Butch” Atkinson (1947-1998) who also attended Pioneer High School and asked if he would come to a rehearsal at his house and see if he wanted to play with the band. The first song he played was an original and Butch played it as if he had been playing the song for years. Butch was a perfect fit and he joined the group. The band shifted genres to mostly garage style rock and roll with influences from The Yardbirds, The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones. The Standells were not an influence. The line up for the band was Kenn Ellner vocals and harmonica, John “Sean” Byrne vocals and rhythm guitar, Roy Chaney, Bass Guitar, John “Mouse” Michalski, Lead Guitar, and Craig “Butch” Atkinson, drummer. The band members were rejected by several record labels before they got signed to the Los Angeles-based Double Shot Records. The band decided to pursue their collegiate endeavors and disbanded in 1968 and reunited as later described.

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