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 regrouped first for their high school twenty year reunion in 1986 all original members in tact. Then again in 1987 they appeared at “One Step Beyond” in Santa Clara California, with a new drummer Rocky Astrella for most of the set, though Butch did perform on Psychotic Reaction. That was the last time all of the original members performed together.
Since that time the band has performed periodically through the years to present. However, the group now consists of the original members, Roy Chaney on bass, Kenn Ellner Vocals and Harmonica, and John “Mouse” Michalski, lead guitar, Phil Indovina, Rhythm Guitar, and Rocky Astrella on drums. John “Sean” Byrne occasionally appeared with the group at some performances, notably at the induction into the San Jose Rock’s Hall of Fame and a reunion performance at the Edge in Palo Alto, California.
The Count Five is still performing as of this writing in April 2012 with the latest line up consisting of Chaney, Ellner, Michalski, Indovina and Astrella and information regarding the group can be found on www.countfive.com.
As they were in 1966 (left to right in the photo below):
John “Sean” Byrne, 19, vocalist, rhythm guitar, composter, sophomore at San Jose City College, a native of Dublin, Ireland.
Craig “Butch” Atkinson, 19, drums, sophomore at San Jose State College, originally from Springfield, Missouri.
Kenn Ellner, 18, leader, vocalist, tambourine, harmonica, freshmant at Los Altos Foothill College, born in Brooklyn, New York.
Roy Chaney, 18, fender bass, freshman at San Jose City College, home-town Indianapolis, Indiana.
John “Mouse” Michalski, 18, lead guitar, senior at San Jose Pioneer High School, hails from Cleveland, Ohio.