JAM 280 Home Recordings Photos Contact

Josefus Home

A History

The original band was together only a year and a half,
but Josefus' music has been reissued several times
in both bootleg and authorized versions.

This is the story of how the group came together,
their brief flash of success and how it all fell apart.

Before the Beginning

In the late 1960s, the music scene in Houston, Texas was exploding. We had Jimmie Vaughan and The Chessmen at the Catacombs;   Johnny and Edgar Winter at Act III;   Bubble Puppy, the 13th Floor Elevators and many others at a club called Love Street.

Love Street Light Circus and Feelgood Machine featured live bands in front of a psychedelic light show.   It was at the top of a 3-story building at Allen's Landing, a park on the north end of downtown. This was the closest thing we had in Houston to a Haight-Ashbury scene: music,   head shops and hippies everywhere. It was a terrific atmosphere for young guitarists wanting to be Yardbirds.

Three friends that would help shape the Josefus sound were still in high school together. They each played in a different band, but Ray Turner, Phillip White, and Dave Mitchell had frequent jams in southeast Houston. Some of these sessions were held at a house set way back from the street on Old Galveston Road, the home of the 13th Floor Elevators.

During high school, Ray and Dave did a few studio sessions in a group called Rip West. Two of those demos are on the Dead Man aLive CD. Dave and Phillip later formed a cover band that worked the clubs around Old Market Square, where they would share the stage with another group called The American Blues: Dusty Hill on bass, Frank Beard on drums, and Rocky Hill on guitar.

High school band Rip West in the Turner kitchen:
Ray Turner, Ronnie Wiesner, Dave Mitchell, Doug Karydas

United Gas

The next summer, Ray invited Dave to sit in as lead guitarist with his new band, United Gas. Doug Tull was organizing things and playing drums. He had just spent several months in California and seemed to have the right connections. Ray Hillburn was the other guitarist. He sang and wrote most of the songs. We spent that evening working out four tunes, and thought we were finished. But the next thing we knew, Doug had us hauling equipment up the stairs at Love Street and playing on stage.

We were quickly booked to come back the next month. At that next appearance, Pete Bailey got up and sang on a couple of songs. He had been in Colorado that summer and tried to convince Ray to join him there. But Ray didn't want to leave the band and Pete had returned to Houston. He immediately was made the band's new vocalist. Phillip was added as a second lead guitarist and the name of the group became Josefus.

We were scheduled to play at the club again, but that's when politics began to get in the way. The big record label in town was International Artists, and IA was closely affiliated with Love Street. Doug would always be getting off the drums and taking a microphone. He'd tell the audience to get off their asses and start enjoying the music. Usually people would. But this time he said some negative things about the way IA treated their bands, and we disappeared from the Love Street schedule forever.

A typical weekend night at Houston's Love Street

Free Concerts

After Love Street cancelled us, we set up across the street and played free on the night we would have been in the club. This was a benefit for KPFT, the new Pacifica radio station, which was bombed off the air twice in that first year.

Josefus continued to play for free concerts, and there were many. Milby Park was like a little Woodstock every Sunday. Groups like Josefus and Saturnalia could polish their material in front of huge crowds on a gently sloping hill.

The old La Maison club at McGowen and Bagby had become Jubilee Hall and hosted weekend concerts. Promoter Bob Gately was in town to watch Shiva's Headband play at one of these shows when he saw Josefus. He booked us as an opening act for the Texas cities on Grand Funk Railroad's tour.

The Houston date on Halloween was a classic, ending with a late show at midnight. The other acts included Bubble Puppy and ZZ Top. This was Billy Gibbons, but Frank and Dusty hadn't joined the band yet.

Shortly after these concerts, Phillip got upset with Doug over something and said he was quitting the band. At first we didn't believe him, but he quit coming to practice and we abandoned the double lead guitar sound.

Doug Tull on drums at an
early Josefus show at
Houston's Milby Park

The building that
housed Jubilee Hall
(Photo by Nancy Kuehl)

Come for a Record Deal

Within a month we got another call from Bob Gately hooking us up with a record producer in Phoenix. Jim Musil would put us in the recording studio to make an album. There was just one catch. We would have to change our name to Come. We really didn't like the idea, but we couldn't pass up the chance to make an album. Maybe we could convince him to let us keep our name after he met us and heard us play.

We loaded everything in a Ford van and headed west. Once we reached Phoenix, we began to feel like rock stars. Jim put us in a nice hotel and gave us a lot of freedom in the studio. That original master had some different tracks than the Dead Man album we would put out on Hookah. Dave played both his and Phillip's guitar parts on some.

When we left, everyone was pretty optimistic about the recordings and our new relationship with Jim Musil. But we couldn't change his mind on the band's name. For the next few weeks we would perform as Come. We came back to Houston knowing it would be after New Year before Jim could do any business with the record labels. But then we started to call him 2-3 times every week. He eventually released a 45 for us on his Dandelion label.

We took it to KRBE FM on a Saturday afternoon and knocked on the glass. The DJ saw us waving the record and let us inside. FM radio was a lot more open back then. He listened to a little of each side and then played it on the air for us. We really had a lot of support from Houston radio. That record opened a lot of doors for us.

In February we played our first major concert. We opened a coliseum show for four top acts: It's a Beautiful Day, John Mayall, Quicksilver Messenger Service & The Grateful Dead. Multiple headliners were not that unusual in the late 60s and early 70s. That was a magical time for music and for new bands, but we had played our first major concert using the wrong name.

Doug Tull & Ray Turner at Milby Park

Repeating Arizona

After several frustrating weeks, we had lost whatever hope we'd had of Jim landing us a recording contract. We were ready for some action. We borrowed money from family to drive back to Phoenix and re-record our album in the same studio. Dave Oxman was our engineer again and worth the 2400 mile round trip. He really was a wizard.

The entire album was recorded in a single day on March 30th. That date became the release number on our Hookah label, and we pressed 3000 copies for distribution in Texas. We were officially Josefus again.

KRBE put it on the air immediately, and even played the whole album uninterrupted one night. Having it brought us up to another level. We'd open for major concerts in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. We even headlined our own shows in smaller cities across Texas: Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Midland, Fort Worth, and many in between.

Josefus playing for a peace concert in
March of 1970 at the University of Houston

A Long, Hot Summer

As the road trips increased, so did the friction between the members. Our concerts were going well, but we were not spending enough time together creating new music. When a national record deal came our way, we had hoped to record a new and improved version of Dead Man. Our live concerts were really kicking by this time.

We had spent a full summer playing Texas cities, and we were ready to move out. But Mainstream wanted an all-new album, and we tried to be creative in an atmosphere where we didn't really care to be around each other any more. The result was an album that lacked energy and polish. They took us to Miami to record, but even a great studio couldn't help us.

The album came out that fall and was a disappointment to everyone. Plans were ready for us to play shows in New York, but we didn't want to go on the way we were. We all saw that things were falling apart, and we just played out our remaining commitments. In December of what started as such a fantastic year, we played for an auto show in Houston that would be our final performance.

The original Josefus at their final
performance in December of 1970


© Copyright 2002-2013 MVT