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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mystery Solved! (Who Were The Exports?)

by John Timmons

Several months ago I wrote an article soliciting help in finding out and learning more about the 1960s instrumental rock group, The Exports. As I noted in the article, their hit record, "Car Hop", was certainly a favorite instrumental of mine and my intention was to write an expose on this band that contributed to 1960s Hot Rod rock music. Despite many hours of research, I found it odd that there was virtually no information on this group, but rather just a few references to "Car Hop" (A side), the B side, "Seat Belts, Please", and one other recording, "Mustang '65". In all my time researching 60s bands, from the super star groups like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, etc., to "one hit wonder" bands like The Rivieras, The Shadows of Knight, The Murmaids, etc., I have never failed to find biographical information. However, when it came to The Exports, thats when I hit the proverbial "brick wall" and could find absolutely nothing. Hence, my plea for help.

One morning recently, help arrived in the form of an e-mail The 60s Official Site Webmaster received from a gentleman by the name of "Bruce". To make a very long story short, the few bits of information Bruce provided were enough for me to do a bit more sleuthing and voila, I hit paydirt! After one enlightening telephone call to a music store in Lansing, Illinois, I found myself talking to Ron Jongsma in northwest Indiana, one of the founding members of The Exports. After two very cordial and helpful telephone conversations, the mystery of the 60s rock group, The Exports had been solved. Here is the very first story ever written post 1960s of The Exports as told by the group's co-founder and guitarist, Ron Jongsma.

The Exports formed in late 1963 or early '64 in Glenwood, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The band consisted of four members, Ron Jongsma (guitar), his 2nd cousin, Tom Barnhart (guitar), school classmates George Felaney (guitar), and Howard Friedman (drums). Ron's father had been a musician and the whole family often got together, including cousin Tom, to do some heavy "jammin'". One thing led to another and soon the four musicians formed a band called Bubba and The Crossmen, later to become The Exports. The band would often play at Maduras Dance Land in Whiting, Indiana, a previous 1930s swing dance venue that in the 60s became a dance outlet for rock and roll. A promoter at Maduras had a connection with the Midwest record label King Records, who at the time, was the recording label for the late, great James Brown. Shortly thereafter, The Exports found themselves recording their first and most important hit record, "Car Hop".
The Hot Rod rock instrumental was primarily heard throughout the Midwest with little to no airplay on either coast. This was ultimately the major reason why the band never achieved significant acclaim as other instrumental groups such as The Ventures. The song did well in the region, especially on Chicago's powerful and influential rock station, WLS, where it peaked at #9 on the stations famous Silver Dollar Survey. In Windsor, Ontario, Canada, "Car Hop" topped the charts at #1. The popularity of "Car Hop" made The Exports a favorite of the WLS Hot Bands who frequently were engaged to play rock and roll gigs in the Chicagoland area. The band members often were able to work with such well-known station DJs as Ron Riley, Clark Weber, Dex Card, and others.

By 1966, differing opinions on the type of music the band should play led to the groups disbanding. Ron Jongsma went on to work with Summit Distributors, a branch of Epic Records, where he worked to get major airplay on radio stations for many nationally known 1960s bands. Jongsma would later continue his work in the music industry, working for such noted companies as Peavy Electric, Fender and Ovation Guitar. Currently Ron works in sales for a national company involved in the sales, installation, and service of wine cellars. Tom Barnhart, now deceased, worked for many years at King Records in Cincinnati. George Felaney, also deceased, worked at various entities in the music industry, along with Howard Friedman who was employed for over 30 years at Fender Guitar.

Today "Car Hop" may be heard on five or more Hot Rod rock compilation CDs. In addition, Ron related that in the 1980s the song was actually heard fairly often on several national TV shows that reflected a brief resurgence in Hot Rod and Surf Instrumental rock music.
There are a few interesting factoids about The Exports and their single big hit, "Car Hop" that are noteworthy. These interesting bits of trivia include:

* The Exports initially tried to emulate the already successful rock instrumental band, The Ventures

* The idea for "Car Hop" came from the band members frequently going to Dog 'N Suds hamburger drive-ins and always talking to the car hops. Ron stated he would always go to the burger joints in his '55 cream and red Chevy that was a real "chick magnet"!

* Guitarist George Felaney was the actual writer of "Car Hop"

* At the beginning and end of "Car Hop", a loud and powerful car engine can be heard being revved up and down. The sound was that of a Corvette whose V8 engine was revved and recorded on a very inexpensive portable tape recorder in the alley in back of Ron's home and ultimately integrated into the recording of the record.

* The only lyrics for "Car Hop" are heard in the beginning of the song when you hear the phrases, "Hey car hop. I want a hamburger with mustard and onions, give me two coffees with cream and sugar, how 'bout a milkshake, I want onions, man". These few words are spoken by Ron Jongsma.

* "Car Hop" can be heard on the Antique Automobile Club of America website at: http://local.aaca.org/junior/cartunes/mp3/1960.htm, along with other 60s Hot Rod music selections.

The mystery surrounding one of the 60s Hot Rod rock music bands is now solved. It is my hope, however, that this short expose may serve as the jump-start needed to prompt other enhanced biographies to be written about this hard-working band from Chicago that certainly deserves acknowledgment for their contribution to 1960s Hot Rod music. Thank you Ron Jongsma for your assistance in making The Exports story known to 60s music afficionados around the world.

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9 Comments:

  • At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Mark said…

    My dad was George Falaney, and I know he would have found it funny that after all these years somebody was trying to find out where all the band members went. I grew up hearing all stories about that time in his life-a time that i know he was very proud of. My memories of the stories differ a little bit from your story but I'm sure Ron told you everything as he remembered it. I currently have a CD made up of everything the band ever did-both released and unreleased songs, mostly stuff of them "messing" around, but I didnt receive it until after dad passed away so i don't know much about it. Still pretty cool though. Again, thanks for the article and I'm sure dad would've gotten a kick out of it.

     
  • At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Mike said…

    Thanks for the info here...I still have my orig 45 copy of this from 1964...I grew up in detroit and it made a big hit here...you say it hit No 1 in windsor, ontario....windsor had one of the most powerful stations around CKLW, so we grew up with it along with our detroit stations.

    I decided to check out youtube today (5/1/2011 ) to see if this song was on here and sure enuff, it is, but the antique car club cartunes has a better sound to the song than whats on youtube...interesting to note also, I ended up living in chicago heights, IL thru most of the 2000's and its right next to where you say the band started, Glenwood,IL....well a long standing restaurant there called Glenwood Oaks has a car show there every week in summer to fall..and they play music outside, so this song should absolutely be a staple there!.....Thanks guys and hats off to you too Ron, it was a great song and will live on forever !

     
  • At 5:59 AM, Blogger Gustaf said…

    Yes! Thank you for getting to the bottom of The Exports and Car Hop. My older brother Dave was a student at Northwestern when Car Hop came out. He loved what I call "greaser instrumentals." Duane Eddy, The Ventures, The Astronauts, etc. We played the grooves off Car Hop. For years I've been hoping someone would put Car Hop on YouTube. I can still see the blue label on the record. Very cool tune, and it makes perfect sense that it came from a Chicago area band. I'm sure The Exports bumped into The Del-Vetts and The One Eyed Jacks and The Troys while playing all those shows.

     
  • At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Lou Holly said…

    You forgot to mention Wayne Johnson as being a member of The Exports. We feature a picture of The Exports with all five members in our October Keep Rockin' Newsletter. To sign up for our free rock & roll oldies newsletter go to www.krmag.com.

     
  • At 1:55 PM, Blogger BlitzMagazine said…

    The information about the Exports and their monster classic King label 45, Car Hop is most appreciated. However, it appears as though there might have been a minor oversight on the part of your interview subject. At the time that Car Hop was running its course (late 1964), the major station in the Windsor/Detroit area was WKNR Keener 13 in suburban Dearborn. In late 1964, CKLW in Windsor, Ontario was still about two and a half years away from making its mark as a contender amongst rock and roll stations. CKLW was at that time trying a mix of MOR, rock and other formats, but not with much success. Nonetheless, WKNR did play Car Hop, which made its top fifteen in November of that year. Great article, though! Your diligent research definitely paid off in this case.

     
  • At 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My girlfriends Dad was the bass player in that band and it was his 61 corvette that made the intro to the song, I just met him tonight for the first time and he's been telling me the stories about being in the right place at the right time.... there is more to this story....

     
  • At 9:24 PM, Blogger Larry Frisk said…

    I remember seeing the Car Hop 45 in my Dad's collection, and when I asked him about it he said that not only did he know the group, he actually was their lead singer for a few years before they went the instrumental route with Car Hop. He just passed away last Friday and I have been searching the web for more information about my Dad's old band. So if any of the old members of the Kritters, Crossmen or Exports has any old pictures of the band with my Dad singing, I would love to have one be part of his memorial.

     
  • At 7:19 PM, Blogger Tonya Farias said…

    OK, My uncle Eliseo Farias (aka Alex Farias) that was his Silver, 1962, Fuel injected corvette Seabring. He was a base player and played in the band. He passed away this past Friday May 22, 2015. If any one has more info or pictures I would really appreciate it.
    tonya.farias@facebook.com
    fariastonya@gmail.com

     
  • At 7:30 PM, Blogger Tonya Farias said…

    The car you hear in this song was my Uncle Eliseo Farias (aka Alex Farias) 1962 Seabring Corvette. He was a base player and also played in the band. He passed away this past Friday May 22, 2015. I would really love any more information and/or photos. I don't see his name listed any where on this website regarding this band, not sure why. He lived in the Chicago/Indiana area, was a Chicago cop after coming out of the Navy. He told me stories of how the band got together and used the left over 45's for target practice (not sure why).https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfp1/t31.0-8/326196_2607358152315_901360077_o.jpg
    This is an old family photo Alex is in the front left base guitar. Again any info would be greatly appreciated, as he really didn't talk to much about his past, just would smile and laugh and say he loved playing music but the Ventures sucked and Car Hop was better music.

     

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