Shelley Ganz's Unclaimed - The unofficial website

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Shelley Ganz's story

Sheldon Shelley Ganz embodies the missing link between the sixties sound and the garage revival: his uncompromising music is able to compete in originality with the Chocolate Watch Band, Count Five, Music Machine, Seeds, Shadows of Knight, Standells and Syndicate of Sound without any reverential fear.
Shelley came from a well-off family; he left UCLA in 1978 and formed the Popes that became Unclaimed the next year: he was already thinking about this name… when he found out that Peter Case (of Plimsouls) knew a guy named Gurf Morlix, who had a band called the Unclaimed during the sixties in the state of New York, took this as an omen.
In early 1979 there was the turning point: Sid Griffin, formerly member of the Death Wish (a punk band), met with Shelley and… bang! The group was formed at Sid's apartment in the Palms district of L.A. by Shelley & Sid in April, then the others joined in: they made their live debut at the Nugget and entered the studio the following year, recording four tracks issued by Moxie later on.
At the end of 1981 two leaders' strong personalities came into conflict thus, Sid forsook the group and created a new band with Barry Shank, another ex Unclaimed who had left shortly before; Steve Wynn supported this combo for a short time and, after his departure, they evolved to the Long Ryders.
Shelley went on his way in the meanwhile, finding two worthy second leading musicians (Rich Coffee, ex Gizmos and Ray Flores IV) and releasing another masterpiece. Unfortunately Shelley's extremism caused the inevitable dissolution: the others kept on playing as the Fourgiven while Ganz left the scene.
A first attempt to reform the band failed in 1984: Lee Joseph, ex Jonny Sevin and leader of Yard Trauma, broke up his group after a tape and a great mini-LP, moving from Tucson to L.A., where came into contact with Shelley. Here Lee formed Yard Trauma again with Coffee's collaboration, keepin' always in touch with Ganz while running his own label Dionysus.
At this point rumours of an imminent album became more persistent, but it saw the light five years after its recording, credited to Attila & the Huns.
During the European tour, in 1987, the bad-tempered Shelley left the band slamming the door.

Once more I have to thank Claudio Sorge & Federico Ferrari: without their writings this summing up wouldn't be possible; a thousand thanks to Sid Griffin for the helpful info!

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…more info courtesy of Cathy Linstrom:

Back in the Danny Valentie days of the Unclaimed, Lee had been interested in switching to keyboards and guitar. Rick Linstrom answered the ad for a bass player and thusly started rehearsing with them in a little storage space on Western Avenue off Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles. Lee was still on the fence about switching, so Rick and his wife Cathy would go to every show and they'd bring Rick out to do a number or two. They always thought of him as the secret stealth Unclaimed member. Cathy doesn't remember how long this lasted or whether that was before or after Rick auditioned for the Long Ryders, but as far as the current scene goes, Danny Valentie (on guitar), Rick Linstrom (bass) and Jeff Utterback (drums) are playing around as The Boardwalkers (occasionally pulling out a version of Bikini Drag and Village of the Damned). Danny saw Shelley at a local market recently. Cathy saw Lee playing with Davie Allen and Arrows at Mr. T's bowl, where they put on a helluva good show.

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The Unclaimed discography

(U.S. unless indicated otherwise)

compilation appearances

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extended notes to The Unclaimed discography

The Unclaimed
Notes
Released as Moxie M1036 (7inch EP) in 1980
Recorded in Studio 9, Hollywood
Produced by Lou Louie
Executive producer: D. Gibson
Engineered by John Gillis
Photo by H.C. Van Rikxoord III
Personnel
Shelley Ganz
Sid Griffin
Barry Shank
Thom Hand
Matthew Roberts
Tracks
Time To Time (Griffin)
Run From Home (Ganz)
The Sorrow (Ganz)
Deposition Central (The Acid Song) (Griffin)

curiosities: Run From Home is You're Never Alone by The Five Canadians & The Sorrow is Train For Tomorrow by The Electric Prunes (same songs but new lyrics)

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The Unclaimed
Notes
Released as Hysteria HLP-1300 (mini-LP) in 1983 (aka Primordial Ooze Flavored)
Reissued as Resonance 33-8707 (Netherlands) in 1987
Produced by The Unclaimed
Engineered by Joe Weiss
Remixed by Bill Inglot & Shelly Ganz
Cover design of Primordial Ooze Flavored by Matthew Roberts & Shelly Ganz;
photos courtesy of Mike Parente
Front cover design of the reissue by Darian Sahanaja (concept by Shelly & Domenic);
art direction & back sleeve by Dave Larr;
photos courtesy of Surfin' Colours Productions
All songs by Shelly Ganz except Phunt Walk by Mancini, Davis
Personnel
Shelly Ganz: lead vocals, rhythm guitar, various percussion, solos on Things In The Past
Richard Coffee: lead guitar, backing vocals, organ
Ray Flores IV: bass, sitar, backing vocals
Matthew Roberts: drums, spiritual guidance
Sylvia Juncosa: keyboards on Phunt Walk
Tracks
Lost Trails (3:16)
No Apology (2:04)
Walk On The Water (2:16)
Things In The Past (Yeah O'Yeah) (2:32)
Ugh (3:31)
Phunt Walk (2:41)

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(Rock and hard Rolls) Live in Europe 1987!!
Album notes
Released as Dionysus ID123309 (LP) in 1988 credited to Unclaimed, Lee Joseph, Thee Fourgiven
Recorded at Cafe Atlantik, Friburg, Germany, Sept. 27, '87
Cookeys, Frankfurt, Germany, Oct. 12, '87
Thesaloniki, Greece, Oct. 15, '87
Club 22, Athens, Greece, Oct. 16, '87
Compiled by Lee Joseph and Rich Coffee with help from Zebra and John Tev.
Edited by Lee Joseph and The Legendary Starbolt at Westbeach Recorders, Hollywood, CA., 1/14/88
Mastered by Richard Simpson in Hollywood, CA., 1/26/88
Front cover designed by Dirk Bonsuma
Rear cover by Cornel
Rear cover photos by Monica Dueblin, Linda Valente, Bela Horvath
Liner notes by Paul (#1 Crispian St. Peters fan) Grant, Feb. '88
Personnel
The Unclaimed:
Lee Joseph - vocals and bass
Danny Valente - guitar and background vocals
Scott Forer - drums
Thee Fourgiven:
Rich Coffee - vocals and guitar
Ray M Flores III - bass and vocals
Bela Horvath - drums
Tracks
Lee Joseph:

The Unclaimed:
Thee Fourgiven:

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Under The Bodhi Tree
Album notes
Released as Music Maniac MMLP/CD 028 (LP/CD) (Ger) in 1991 credited to Attila & The Huns
Recorded at Westbeach Studios, Culver City, CA.
Produced by a bunch of Huns (Ugh)
Engineered by John Girdler
Cover concept by Shelley Kidd & Hans Kesteloo
Cover art: Terrapin Station, Manchester UK
All songs by Shelley Kidd except Teeny Bopper by Ellner, Choney, Byrney, Michalski, Atkinson and Village Of The Giants by Jack Nitsche
Personnel
Shelley Kidd: lead vocals, guitar, various percussion
Dan Valente: lead guitar
Lee Joseph: bass, backing vocals
Scott Forer: drums
Sylvia Juncosa: guest keyboard
Tracks
Hard To Find (2:29)
No Win Game (3:22)
Don't Love Me (3:18)
Well It's True (4:15)
Betty Cooper (3:37)
Village Of The Giants (3:07)
Let's See (The Eye) (3:25)
Great Mystery (3:26)
Teeny Bopper (2:08)
Haunted (4:04)
The Creeps (2:30)
Farmin' Man (4:38)
Bodhi Tree (2:27)
The Gull (CD only)
It's Raining Now (CD only)

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Battle Of The Garages
Album notes
Released as Voxx VXS 200.006 (LP) in 1981
Reissued on CD as Voxx VCD 2067 with different track listing
Art & design by Diane Zincavage
Tracks & personnel
Return To The Psychedelic (United States Of Existence)
Left In The Dark (The Vertebrats)
Let Her Dance (The Stepmothers)
Look Out Below (Pete Holly & The Looks)
Things I Should've Said (Eddy Best)
Tell Me (Brad Long)
RPM (Deniz Tek)
In The Dark (The Dark Side)
Pushin' Too Hard (The Embarrassment)
The Reason Why (The Wombats)
You're Gonna Need My Love Someday (The Crawdaddys)
Run From Home (The Unclaimed)
Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In) (The Chesterfield Kings)
Glendoral Going All The Way (The Slickee Boys)
I Dig Your Mind (Billy Synth & The Turn-Ups)
Office Skills (Plasticland)

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Liner notes to (Rock and hard Rolls) Live in Europe 1987!! by Paul Grant

What was intended to be a package tour with The Unclaimed and Thee Fourgiven turned into a near fiasco. Before they left the States, a tour poster was sent to Lee Joseph. Much to his surprise, he found his name on the bill along side the groups. The promoters were half serious when they added Lee's name, but he went along with the plan. He hit the stage, with a borrowed acoustic guitar in hand, performing many of his favorite tunes along with some originals. Lee went on to open almost all of the shows and the crowds loved it.
As for The Unclaimed, problems abounded in the name of Shelly Ganz. He mutinied the tour and pulled an AWOL on his own band. According to Ganz, it was too much trouble to wake up before 12 Noon, travel in a van and actually be forced to do some hard work. As his plane headed into the States, the remaining members of the tour breathed a sign of relief. The Unclaimed continued the tour as Lee (who had quit the group months earlier but re-joined for the tour) took over on lead vocals.
Last but not least, let's not forget Thee Fourgiven. As usual, they rocked and the crowds could not get enough of them.
Despite strip searches, getting lost, near death experiences and other typical tour problems, this near fiasco turned into a fabulous success for the groups. With all that said, listen and enjoy!

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Flashback Rock

by Bruce D. Rhodewalt
issued on L.A. Weekly (November 7-13, 1980)

The long-rumored psychedelic music revival said to be gaining a foothold in England is finally heading toward L.A. As expected, some of the bands are self-conscious crap, fully aware of what they want to do but not fully capable of doing it. About as mind-blowing as wet lint.
Such is not the case of the Unclaimed, however. Based in Hollywood, the Unclaimed are Shelley Ganz, the lead singer; Sid Griffin, lead guitarist; Barry Shank, bassist; Thom Hand, organist and second guitarist, and Matt Roberts, drummer. Evolving over the past five years and attracting personnel with a common interest - American punk-psychedelia of the 1960s - the Popes became the Uninvited and then the Unclaimed.
The sound and sights are genuine acid-punk: a steamy brew of Farfisa organ, fuzzy guitar, and snarling vocals, all in 4/4 and crawling with minor chords. The band members wear all black on stage. And Shelley Ganz, a true punk throughout, has long hair cut in the shoulder-length pageboy that was so popular in 1967.
Boasting such obscure influences as the Groupies and the Syndicate of Sound, Ganz and Griffin are very proud of their music's authenticity. They study the records, and they watch reruns of Gilligan's Island and The Munsters, hoping for a glimpse of the Standells or the Raiders. They got to every showing of Riot on the Sunset Strip to see their heroes, the Chocolate Watch Band.
Greg Shaw said about the acid-punk genre, "When I talk about psychedelic rock, I don't mean hippie music (like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, etc.) at all; I mean the all-too-few records produced by teenage bands in the short time between their discovery of hallucinogenic drugs and the end of their particular line of rock evolution. Obviously, psychedelic drugs affected different people in different ways. Tim Leary and his intellectual friends were wafted into oriental mysticism, but imagine the effects on the kids in punk bands whose mental worlds up to then had revolved around cars, girls, beaches, and detention. They saw the colors, heard the voices, and what else could they do? They freaked out!"
When the Unclaimed freak out, it's a bit like the old days, when the Music Machine, Count Five, and the 13th Floor Elevators blared out of '62 Impalas and old black Pontiacs; when a 14-year-old kid could go hear the Seeds at the Palladium, and people had parties - the kind of parties they warned you about in junior high.
The Unclaimed record (Moxie Records M1036) has a song called Deposition Central (The Acid Song) that says it all: "I went to a party and I took a little fizzy. Something happened to me, well, I started to get dizzy. Everyone around me, they just kept on groovin'. Scary thing was that the room had started movin'".

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Nightriders, Unclaimed play '60s rock

by Terry Atkinson
issued on Los Angeles Times

It was the '60s again Monday night at the Starwood, and one's appreciation of the show by two local bands, Jon & the Nightriders and the Unclaimed, greatly depended on how much one might like '60s rock to return in fairly pristine form.
If there are enough surf-rock devotees around in the near future to get a revival of that style snowballing, Jon & the Nightriders should be at the forefront of the movement. This instrumental quartet captures the early-'60s sound of the Ventures and Dick Dale with accuracy and a feeling born of true fandom.
The band performed fine versions of standards like Telstar and Hawaii Five-O, varying the old arrangements little except for faster-than-usual tempos. There were also a few originals, written by lead guitarist John Blair, but even these sounded as if they could have been obscure Ventures tracks.
Missing from this particular show were the surf films the group usually uses as a backdrop, but lots of movement and audience contact from the bassist and rhythm guitarist kept visual values high. The real total audiovisual package of the night, however, came via the Unclaimed. The quintet plays in a style that evokes psychedelic-era bands like Music Machine, Chocolate Watch Band and the Seeds - and it dresses to match. Particularly striking anachronisms: the lead singer's rampant Prince Valiant hairdo, the bassist's rose-lenses granny glasses.
Musically, the group also hits the properly nostalgic note. Each song, whether original or an obscure '60s tune, has that proto-punk mixture of crudity and corniness.

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The Unclaimed, Wong's West, Santa Monica

by Randall Wixen
issued on Music Connection

The players: Thom Hand, keyboards and guitar; Barry Shank, bass; Matt Roberts, drums; Sid Griffin, lead guitar; Shelley Ganz, guitar and lead vocals.
Material: the Unclaimed are fans of a bygone era-'60s punk. But rather than trying to re-live or recreate it, the band has chosen to integrate the period's finest elements into a contemporary format. Most of the material sounds like it could have been lifted from the Elektra (reissued on Sire) compilation Nuggets, but much of it is original. The best songs are their own The Sorrow, Cryptic Message, and Acid Song, and three obscure yet well-done covers. In general, simple, melodic, concise and very danceable tunes.
Musicianship: within the confines of relatively simple songs, there is little need for highly technical musical ability, but it's obvious that most of the Unclaimed are overly trained. This training is not wasted, however, as it allows the group to concentrate instead on showmanship. Lead singer Ganz is often hesitant with his guitar playing, but seems certain to get better with time.
Performance: clad in tight black pants and turtleneck shirts and wearing short, Brian Jones-styled hair, the group creates a stark image that contrasts with its vigorous, intense stage demeanor. Visually the band is stunning, as Shank and Roberts flail wildly at their respective instruments. Occasionally Ganz adds a jangly tambourine to fill out the sound. For all their care towards image, presentation and control, their set remains spontaneous.
Summary: look for the increased prominence of this band on the local scene. The group is capable of bringing tears to the eyes of grown-up rockers while easily satisfying the expectations of those newest to rock 'n' roll.

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Here are the Unclaimed

issued on Ouija Madness #1 1981

The day the Nightcrawler's Little Black Egg entered the KRLA top ten at number nine, the Whittier Legionnaire Little League held their opening ceremonies and annual carnival. The impetus for my attending these festive proceedings was the scheduled battle of the bands. To this day I remember the three finalists: the Shades of Blue, the Blue Shades and the Blue Knights. The judges must have been partial to blue. All three groups played Hey Joe, two played the Syndicate of Sound's Little Girl, one played Gloria. The lead singer of each outfit wore the same pair of dark glasses in an attempt to be as mysterious as Question Mark himself. As to which group won the contest, I've forgotten. All three were great. Each remained tied for the position of my favorite garage band until last year when I saw the Unclaimed.
With a set that included Little Girl and the Standell's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White this band boldly garaged where no band had garaged before. Clad in black turtlenecks vests, and beatle boots, they exploded on the stage. Their impact was that of cranking your stereo up to Blow Out and dropping the needle into the heart of the Blues Magoos' Ain't Got Nothin' Yet. Lead vocalist Shelly Ganz and lead guitarist Sid Griffin spearhead the Unclaimed's sonic assault, and in a moment of Ouija Madness confided the following:

Shelly: We're just doing what feels good. When we talk about sixties punk bands we're talking about bands like the Standells, the Seeds, the Count Five, the Chocolate Watch Band, the Music Machine, the list goes on. We do that kind of music, it's not like it's trite, it's just the best music. We want to see it happening again, whether we do it or someone else does it.

It seems you've captured the era in both fashion and sound.

Shelly: It goes hand in hand, how you look and how you play. If it doesn't look good it won't sound good. It may not be true in all instances, cause a lot of squidy bands in the sixties sounded real cool. Like I'm sure the Castaways looked like Bozos. I don't know that for a fact.

What sort of audience reaction are you receiving?

Shelly: People really dig us. You're not always going to play to a crowd which digs what you're doing. You can be the greatest band in the world and play for a bunch of Quakers; it's not going to matter because they're just not hip to what you're doing. We've experienced that on occasion, but more often than not we play to an audience that really digs it.

Sid: Some in the audience who are completely uninitiated to the sixties thing too. I think we're neoclassicists. What we do we do real well… It's not just sixties punk, it's rock and roll.

Shelly: The latter day writers refer to those bands as sixties punk bands, because they were kind of grungy and punky. The American bands were always trying to emulate the Stones, Yardbirds or Pretty Things… the grungier bands. Other bands tried to emulate the Beatles, which had a lighter, popier sound. But those punk bands with snarling vocals, the nasal twangs, and guttural whatever were based on the early Rolling Stones type things. It was all rock and roll, but it was punkier for that time. Themes like Dirty Water, Sweet Young Thing, and Little Girl are kinda kick in the face type songs. You've got punk classics then, you've got Little Girl, really amazing, a cut above.

Does it get a noticeable reaction when you perform it?

Shelly: Oh yeah. It's one of the highlights of the set. It's a good set. There are stronger and weaker moments. There are moments when people go get cigarettes, but Little Girl blasts them every time, good energy, good feel to it.

Most people can't tell your originals from the classics you cover.

Shelly: Yeah, that was the idea, it took a long time for us to write because it's rather difficult to write in this style, to get something good. Now we're so attuned to it and so acclimated that we can pretty much turn out maybe not classics yet, but originals that are getting to the point where it's going to be hard to pick them out from the classics.

Sid: Which is the ultimate compliment.

What are your thoughts on your first EP (The Unclaimed, Moxie Records M1036)?

Shelly: Sid, I gotta say it. It doesn't matter.

Sid: Well, I wouldn't badmouth it.

Shelly: I'm not real satisfied with it. It's not thoroughly indicative of the Unclaimed. The Unclaimed are capable of much better… writing-wise. Of course the performances are rather mediocre, due to budget.

Sid: I think the material is pretty good, frankly. We learned a lot of things like what not to do. It was produced under what I call the shotgun budget. It's done by nine o'clock or else… You live and learn. The next one will be much better.

Are any major labels interested in you?

Sid: Yes, Verve, Tower, Crescendo…

Shelly: On a minor level. We've been approached.

Sid: If nothing else, I'd like to hear a song or two on the radio and have people say "the Unclaimed, weren't they great".

Shelly: I heard Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind today. If you listen to all the subtleties in that song you really see what an ingenious group the Lovin Spoonful were… Magnificent band. They were real American.

Sid: Yeah, extremely American. They haunt the punk discography of the sixties.

They're sometimes overlooked because of the idea that the punk bands were imitating the British bands.

Shelly: That's a good point. I suppose every single one of them wanted to be Jagger. But that's not entirely true. Because you have Dick Dodd (the Standells), he was amazing. Listen to the vocals on Dirty Water, what a gutter punk. It's like he took lessons in how to snarl and twang. Much different from Jagger. Louie Louie is as American as apple pie and all that. It's a God-classic. Before any of these Britishers were into anything. So punk bands were American. There were no British bands on earth who could have written Talk Talk. I was telling someone the Chocolate Watch Band were so amazing… the Rolling Stones could have been the Watchband. If the Stones were really wicked they could have been the Watchband. That's what it really boils down to. Listen to the Standells' 19th Nervous Breakdown. The Stones version is a killer, but the Standells version is almost deranged. It's so cool…

As the evening drew late the three of us became more introspective. Shelly mused whether girls would ever scream for the Unclaimed as they had for the Seeds. Sid pondered the fate of Rodger Kaputtnik. I wondered if they would consider changing their names to the Unclaimed Blues. It might help at the next battle of the bands.

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Authentic Garage Band Music

by Mike McDowell
issued on Blitz #39 March/April 1981

Since the beginning of the new wave movement in the mid-1970s, its musical practitioners have (for better or worse) frequently been compared to earlier artists whose music reflected the same ideals and goals. With the exception of a handful of performers (most notably the Beat, the Tweeds and Joe "King" Carrasco), very few of the newcomers have been able to match the high standards of those artists whose music they claim to emulate.
Los Angeles' Unclaimed is probably the most prolific exception to that rule. Taking their name from a legendary mid-western garage band known as the Uncalled For (whose Do Like Me on the Dollie label remains one of garage band music's definitive classics), the Unclaimed has rapidly proven itself to be the most perceptive of all collector rock bands active today. Individually, their line-up is as follows.
Vocalist Peter Sheldon "Shelley" Ganz hails from Los Angeles and became an avid collector of garage band records in the early 1970s. His musical influences include the Chocolate Watch Band, Seeds, Music Machine, Syndicate Of Sound, Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Lovin' Spoonful, Merry-Go-Round and the Cyrkle. Ganz's musical career began with the now-defunct Popes, whose musical approach was not unlike that of the Unclaimed.
Guitarist/harmonicist Sid Griffin surveyed the Los Angeles scene for several years and spent a summer in the Greenwich Village district of New York City before finally moving to California from his native Louisville, Kentucky late in 1977. Before joining the Unclaimed, Griffin was a member of a Kentucky band, the Frosties and also played briefly in a group with Johnny Perez, drummer of the Sir Douglas Quintet ("Although we had little in common outside of our musical interests", adds Griffin). His most recent pre-Unclaimed musical venture was with a short-lived L.A. band, Death Wish, whose repertoire is assessed by Griffin as "stupid new wave music".
Bassist Barry Shank bears the dubious distinction of being a former session musician for the Titan label in his native Kansas City, Missouri, where he also played with J.P. McLain And The Intruders, another Titan label act. Shank migrated to Los Angeles in January, 1979 and was introduced to Shelley Ganz through Bo Clifford of Bomp Records. Though much of his interests lie in contemporary commercial rock, Shank is also a devoted enthusiast of the music of the Beau Brummels, Zombies, Hollies and Remains, and considers Rari by the Standells amongst his favorite records. Shank is also intensely proud of his amazing physical resemblance to the late Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones.
Though originally from Orlando, Florida, keyboardsman Thom Hand spent his early years in frequent migration as the son of a career military man. Hand was not initially enthusiastic about the Unclaimed's brand of music (save for his penchant for Love and the Count Five), though his preferences for mainstream rock and roll have expanded into what the group calls "catholic tastes". Hand is generally considered by the group to be their most technically proficient musician.
Rounding out the group is drummer Matt Roberts, from Orange County, California. Roberts' musical experience prior to the Unclaimed included a brief internship with a band called Big Wow, described by guitarist Griffin as "a Sears And Roebuck new wave band". Roberts holds a master's degree in art and is a former lecturer at Cal State University in Fullerton. He is a devoted Rockpile enthusiast and is also the humorist of the band. Roberts' long-range goals include a television series for the Unclaimed.
The Unclaimed began in early 1979 as an outgrowth of Ganz's former band, the Popes. "I was attending UCLA as a philosophy major", recalls Ganz. "I knew something was wrong when I started drawing guitars during lectures. It got to the point where I knew I couldn't do both". Ganz dropped out of UCLA in his junior year (1978) and formed the Popes at the suggestion of Moxie Records' president, Dave Gibson, whom Ganz had met at the now-defunct Bomp Record Store late in 1977. "It took me three years to get the Popes together, based upon an idea I had from my interest in record collecting", muses Ganz. "I advertised in a local paper for musicians to play Chocolate Watch Band-type rock. The irony of it was that ex-members of the Surfaris and the Leaves turned out for the audition. Unfortunately, they had lost their perspective. I told them what I wanted to do and they said, 'That's fine and dandy, but what about some current top 40 rock?' Not only that, but they lost their visual immediacy that made them great in the first place. We feel that image is very important".
The Popes called it quits in May, 1979. Ganz immediately began to discuss the idea of a new band with Griffin, whom he had met that April. "I knew Shelley had great ideas when he suggested 'Unclaimed' as a name", explained Griffin. "I'll never forget our first meeting. Shelley brought a stack of obscure garage band singles over to my house. We sat there listening to them while he played guitar in accompaniment with them. He put Louie Go Home from Paul Revere And The Raiders' Midnight Ride album on the turntable. When it was over, he said, 'Everybody who likes the guitar solo in that record, raise your hand', and he raised both of his hands. It caught me off guard, and I looked around the room to see who else had put their hands up. Of course there was nobody else in the room! I put my hand up anyway. From that point on, I knew we were going to hit it off".
Recruiting drummer Steve Galloway from the Popes, the Unclaimed played their first gig on July 21, 1979 at the Nugget. The group lasted several months, calling it quits in November. After an eight months hiatus, Griffin and Ganz reformed the band with its present line-up, with drummer Galloway going on to work for the Robbs at their Cherokee Studio in Los Angeles and Griffin forsaking his studies towards a master's degree in journalism at USC to devote more attention to the band.
Since their reformation this past July, the Unclaimed have recorded one EP for Gibson's Moxie label, a record that the band is less than pleased with. "It was rushed", complains Griffin. "Dave Gibson pressured us into doing it. Those songs are not at all indicative of the group's potential. In fact, John Gillis, the engineer fought us all the way at the recording session. The record was cut on an eight-track machine. Gillis kept pushing us to try for a clean, sterile sound. He couldn't understand it when we told him we wanted a sound like the production on the Ventures' Walk, Don't Run. I'm not happy with the record at all. I think we have much better original material now".
To be sure, the band's on-stage show by far outshines the comparatively tepid EP. In concert, the band combines such great garage band standards as the Sonics' The Witch, the Syndicate Of Sound's Little Girl and the Chocolate Watch Band's Sweet Young Thing with similarly compelling originals like Cinderella and Time To Time. Griffin's guitar work compares favorably with that of the Standells' Tony Valentino and Ganz proves to be a showman on par with the Chocolate Watch Band's Dave Aguilar. "Dave Gibson has a video tape of the Chocolate Watch Band live", says the enthusiastic Ganz. "I made him show it to me again and again until I had their moves down perfectly".
With such noble aspirations, the Unclaimed are certain to become one of the finest rock and roll bands of the 1980s. Nonetheless, the band is very image-conscious and quick to point out that they have no intention of becoming what Griffin terms "the Sha Na Na of garage band rock". He explains thusly: "I wrote Deposition Central (The Acid Song) on our EP based upon my impression of the movie Riot On Sunset Strip. But a lot of people took it the wrong way. They think we're out to revive the Jefferson Airplane. What are we supposed to say, 'Do you remember your first acid trip?' How ridiculous! We're a contemporary band and we 're just playing what we feel. And what we feel just happens to be garage band rock".
Though the Unclaimed has but nineteen gigs to their credit at the close of 1980, they have already proven themselves to be a major draw on the Los Angeles club scene and one of the area's most proficient and accomplished bands, as well. After countless false starts and letdowns from dozens of other seemingly promising bands during the course of the last several years, the Unclaimed may well be the band ready to help guide rock and roll through its uncertain future.

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Unclaimed Central L.A.

by Don Waller
issued on New York Rocker (September 1981)

If they gave gold records for looks, the Unclaimed would be on their way to platinum by now. With their black leather vests over black turtleneck sweaters and Prince Valiant haircuts atop curled-lip sneers, they've got the mid-'60s garage band/Standells/Music Machine look down Rolling Stones cold. I mean, the only thing missing is a black leather glove on the organist's hand.
This mastery of period aesthetics extends to the group's sound as well. Basically, it's a flashback to the daze of 1966, a melange a trois of folk-rock, first generation punk, and primal psychedelic trips. In fact, the whole scene tonight at the Central (located half a block from the Whisky in the heart of Hollywood) is appropriately reminiscent of the Chocolate Watch Band footage in Riot On Sunset Strip. Even mad blues avatar Eric Burdon, who knows a thing or two about the psychedelic experience, is in attendance, soaking up booze and deja voodoo.
More importantly, beyond the postures (lead singer/guitarist Shelley Ganz, a ringer for Sean Bonniwell, does a nice line of vintage Jaggerisms), the Unclaimed play even better than they look. Bassist Barry Shank and drummer Matthew Roberts make up a particularly explosive rhythm section, while granny-spectacled lead guitarist Sid Griffin alternates between six-string Jeff Beck rave-ups and Byrdsy 12-string jingle-jangles. Organist/guitarist Rich Coffee, the new kid in the band, has completely erased the guy he replaced from the memory banks.
The Unclaimed crank out kinetic covers: Little Girl (Syndicate of Sound), He's Waiting (Sonics), The Rains Came (Sir Douglas) and Sweet Young Thing (Chocolate Watch Band) as well as more obscure numbers by the Hysterics, Wee The People, and an unreleased Syndicate of Sound tune. But the group's original material, by and large, lacks danceability (remember, such psychedoodling was the genesis of Genesis) and distinctive melody (more da doo ron ron, please). Still the live band is much more potent than their sole recorded product (a Moxie EP consisting of The Sorrow, Time To Time, Run From Home and Deposition Central (The Acid Song) - all of which the Unclaimed still perform) would indicate. Some of the newer songs, notably No Apology and a lunatic instrumental called Dream Scream, show more attention to structure, though that may be of scant relevance in light of Shelley Ganz's cooked-out-on-10,000-mikes-of-Blue-Owsley obsession.
As it stands, the Unclaimed are a first rate club band, worth anybody's five bucks to see once. In '66 they would have been the hippest thing going. In '72 or even '76, they'd have been a godsend. But the musical advances from '77 on have shown this sort of return to a used-to-be-that-never-was style to be altogether too limited. Until the entire group develops a more dynamic visual stance and a set's worth of grooves suitable for dancing, I'm afraid their appeal will be restricted to aficionados of the genre and curious kids who missed it the first time around. Myself, I've got a date with Mimsy Farmer to see the Unclaimed at the Starwood next Wednesday, and we're gonna score some 'shrooms. Hope she doesn't freak out… freak out… freak out…

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The Unclaimed

The Unclaimed is a name which immediately recalls the honor roll of garage bands past and is perfect for what the band is doing on the rock scene of today.
Yet some still are not aware of what it is the Unclaimed are doing. Singer Shelley Ganz refers to their music as "traditional Los Angeles rock 'n' roll" and while that phrase rings a responsive bell with many there are still some who prefer to call the Unclaimed's hard-rocking sounds 60's punk, psychedelic or even folk rock.
The Unclaimed are based in Los Angeles and their music reflects many of the rock 'n' roll genres discovered in the city they call the Big Orange. Keeping the focus on very danceable rock 'n' roll the Unclaimed trade in surprises by shifting the emphasis from first generation punk like the Standells to acid rave-ups ala the Chocolate Watch Band to the 12-string jingle jangle of the Byrds.
This psychotic reaction to the more horrific sounds of the day explains the bands' attitude and purpose quite well as the Unclaimed are five distinctly individual musicians who share a love of a common music all but forgotten to the average music fan of today, a fan trapped by insincere AM ballads on one side and equally unrealistic tales of urban terror coming from the underground.
The Unclaimed were launched in April of 1979 by vocalist Ganz when guitarist Sid Griffin and bassist Barry Shank answered an ad placed by Ganz in a local musician's newspaper.
That edition of the Unclaimed splintered under the pressure of too much attention too soon but in 1980 the band found drummer Matt Roberts and in early 1981 the present Unclaimed line-up was complete with the addition of keyboardist/guitarist Rich Coffee (his real name, by the way).
In some ways it is odd the band have such a similar overview of what they want to do in rock 'n' roll since Ganz is from Hollywood, Griffin is from Kentucky, Shank is from Kansas City, Roberts is from Orange County and Coffee hails from Indiana. All learned to play rock in their early teens and their musicianship shows they've learned their lessons well.
The Unclaimed have made quite a name for themselves in a relatively short time, becoming well known as a musician's band and having their first EP (on an independent label) climb to the number one spot on the LA Weekly's New Wave chart.
The Unclaimed plan to spearhead a growing movement of bands toward a more Vox and Beatle-booted attitude and sound, a movement away from pretentiousness and pop snobbery. The band has changed the climate of rock 'n' roll in Los Angeles like no one since the Seeds and now they are set to do the same thing everywhere else.

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Riot on the Sunset Strip

issued on BAM November 21, 1980

The Central will be presenting a Riot on the Sunset Strip when the Unclaimed, one of the most exciting new bands around town, play the new Sunset Strip Avenue. For those who haven't heard about the Unclaimed, we'll tell you that they take their cue from American psychedelic-punk bands of the late '60s, performing original material that sounds remarkably and chillingly like the Standells, the Seeds, and the Chocolate Watch Band. The Watchband, of course, appeared in the classic film Riot on the Sunset Strip, which showed rebellious Hollywood teens taking acid and clashing with brutish local police. Great stuff. Central booker Howard Paar says he's searching for members of the cast of that film to come to the show, and he also adds, "Bring your own acid!" Meanwhile, anyone who wants a crash course in psychedelic-punk is advised to pick up a copy of the Sire Records compilation album Nuggets, which was compiled a few years back by Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye.

Review of The Unclaimed EP

issued on New York Rocker

This L.A. band, which uncannily recreates the sound and look of the 1966-67 Sunset Strip punk explosion in person, sounds a bit muffled on its debut release. But the songs, the sound, and the acidic lyrics are all here, especially on Deposition Central (The Acid Song) and Run From Home. Without a doubt, one of L.A.'s finest.

Incense and peppermints

by Patrick Goldstein

Now that the acid-drenched '60s are back in vogue - even the Fonz has grown a beard - it was only a matter of time before rock 'n' roll got on the bandwagon. England has the Psychedelic Furs, but now the local scene has its own entry, a mop-topped crew called the Unclaimed.
Sporting black turtlenecks and hairdos that only Brian Jones' hairdresser could love, the quintet plays the kind of psychedelic-punk rock popularized by '60s garage bands like the Seeds and the Chocolate Watch Band. The band does nearly all originals, with apt titles like Cryptic Message and Acid Song. The Unclaimed play the Central Dec. 19 - just keep an eye on the punch.

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The Bomp psychedelic compilation, Battle of the Garages, is in the stores. It's got a really bitchen cover that looks like a comic book and songs by the Unclaimed and Crawdaddys. The Unclaimed, about whom I cannot say enough since the addition of Rich Whatisname on guitar and keyboards and the addition of a new pawnshop-bought National guitar to the instrumentation, will be at the O.N. Klub this Thursday with 100 Flowers.

Shelley Ganz's playlist

  1. The Seeds - The Seeds
  2. No Way Out - Chocolate Watch Band
  3. Psychotic Reaction - Count Five
  4. I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night - The Electric Prunes
  5. Little Girl - Syndicate of Sound
  6. Turn On! - Music Machine
  7. Dirty Water - The Standells
  8. Primitive - The Groupies (single)
  9. 96 Tears - ? and the Mysterians
  10. Psychedelic Sounds - The Thirteenth Floor Elevators

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The Unclaimed

by Ron Rimsite
issued on 99th Floor #4 Spring 1983

The Unclaimed washed ashore on the California coast in a mystic tide from 1966. They'd been together since 1979 as a five-man sound attack in black turtlenecks. Most fans outside of LA know them from their EP (and only publicly released recordings) on the Moxie lable, which most readers will remember as the company that released the Boulders records. A track from their EP turned up last year on the Voxx Battle Of The Garages album, even though it has nothing to do with their current sound or line-up.
The Unclaimed consist now of the mysterious Shelley Ganz (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rich Coffee (lead guitar, organ), Ray Flores (bass plus one-time skateboard champ!) and Matt Roberts (drums). This line-up has developed their style & sound to an authentic representation of the great garage bands we all love. They sound like an evyl potion consisting of Count V, the Caravelles, Electric Prunes, the Chocolate Watch Band, the Combenashuns… You get the picture - raw cryptic sound!
Their image, though, has caused them some problems in LA! For example, some squares with crewcuts took offense at their cool hair & clothes and threw bottles & verbal abuse at the Unclaimed! Shades of early Rolling Stones!! I guess those "new wave" dorks don't know what cool is!
The Unclaimed plan to record their first LP record and to bring their groovy message to kids on the East Coast, too! I can't wait! The future is Unclaimed!

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The Unclaimed

issued on Splendid International #1 early 1986

Shelley Ganz, interviewed by Chris Huhn, tells the story of the Unclaimed.

Let's start from the very beginning, when and how did you form the Unclaimed?

It was my last year at high school and I really wanted to put a band together. You know, sixties punk is the only music I ever listen to. I didn't even recognize that there was anything else in the 70s, cause to me it all sucks - it was just the most mindless, boring crap. Why listen to the radio when you can go home and listen to the Count Five, the Syndicate of Sound or the Mysterians on your record player? To me that was the greatest music in the world, nothing could even come close to it.

And how did you find out about that music?

I grew up with it, I was really young in the mid-sixties, but I had an older sister and she would bring home records all the time and of course I'd bring home records, too. There was a whole teen culture in America at that time, so if you were young it didn't matter, you could still have a good grasp of the music. I had a radio in 1963 that I got for Christmas and I knew everything that was going on. I knew all the Top Ten hits of my local radio station for the whole period, from '63 on, until it was worth following.

Until when was it worth for you?

Until you could see how things started to get worse every year, by '68 things where really take a nosedive, although there were still some good things around. But surely by the close of the decade it was all gone. Any way, what were we saying? Yeah, I wanted to put a band together. I was sitting in my car, sometime during that last year in high school and I heard "Time all that means" by the Outsiders coming out of the radio and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. Of course I knew the song very well, but it just hit me like some kind of Buddhist revelation. To get a band together is just the coolest thing to do. So that's when I started about nine years ago.

Could you already play an instrument then?

No, not at all. I thought I would be the singer and get other people behind me. But over the years I learned how to play guitar and harmonica, write songs or whatever else I picked up. I started putting bands together then and there. First I started doing al lot of old Stones' material like "Grown up wrong" and "Off the hook". And a lot of Pretty Things and early Them and of course some obscure American stuff, too. About seven years ago we became the Unclaimed - before we were called the Uninvited, the Creeps, the Creatures, the Forgotten Few, the Forlorn. We had all these different names, because they were different line-ups. By the way these were pretty good names, which I could try out and see what happened.

How did you get hold of people to join your band?

I put ads in local papers and on the school's blackboard. You wouldn't believe the people I met, like these complete Heavy Metal idiots with a Rod Stewart hairdo - absolutely nobody looked right. I was really specific and telling them "Yeah, I want us to be a sixties punk group like the Standells, the Music Machine and the Chocolate Watchband". And those guys would turn up, playing those horrible 70s metal pop. It was terrible - it took me years to put it together.

Is that the reason why you've changed the line-up so often?

No, that was in the early days, before the Unclaimed. The turning point was when I hooked up with Sid Griffin; he joined years ago. It was around the time that I was getting very close to solidifying my plan once and for all. Sometimes people got tired of doing it, they got tired of wearing black. I guess they just weren't cool. They got tired of turtlenecks, complained it's too hot. They just were wimpy to be in the Unclaimed. We're not a colour group, man, we're too primitive, and we're into black and white. We are white but we wear black. Not in the sense of a racially statement, actually I would have killed myself to get some Mexicans in my group. First of all I think the ethnic cultures have the most rock 'n' roll in them. Secondly I have a great admiration for the Latin bands like the Mysterians and the Sir Douglas Quintet. All the Texas groups had a lot of Mexican-Americans in them. I think they look really cool for that reason, man, they look great and they play great. I have profound respect and admiration for Latins in American music. You know, I dig Sam The Sham so much, these cats really inherent it. Anyway, in the early days I had this cat, he was a Mexican and he looked like he stepped right out of the Mysterians. But he couldn't get it together.

Music-wise?

No, it's just too many hardships. People think it's easy, but it's really hard to be in a band. You got to have so many things that you need like equipment. In LA you need a car, and you gotta live somewhere. You gotta be a pretty much together person if you gonna be in a band seriously.

Do you do anything outside the Unclaimed?

No, this is all I do. But back to your former question. Sid was in for a couple of years and I guess he wanted to do other things musically and he was sick of wearing black all the time. I remember he said that, when he quit and that is really the scoop.

Are there any recordings from that time except the Moxie one?

No, that's all that's out. I'm rather embarrassed about that single, I wish it had gone away already. It's recorded pretty badly, it's like a Zero production and I wasn't happy with the group. It just wasn't happening, there's too much internal dissension. Sid was always trying to do something else than I was doing. Even though he joined the Unclaimed and I'm sure he feels that he supported me, he wasn't, because he didn't have those kinds of guts. He was more into a kind of lighter sound. I loved the 60s punk first of all and I liked folk music and pop music from that period. He loved folk music and liked 60s punk. We never could come together on it. Also he wanted to write a lot, too. He was so much into the Byrds. I like the Byrds but I don't think he could write like they did. I thought, I could write more like the Count Five or the Watchband than he could write like the Byrds. Just because he had a twelve string that didn't make him a McGuinn. I mean, we're friends, I like him a lot; he's one of my favourite people in the whole scene. We just couldn't get together musically.

What about your second record, the mini-album on "Hysteria"? It was released on a very low profile, wasn't it?

The songs on that one are pretty good, the performance are fine, too, really hot. What I don't like again is the production. We have a hard time with production; hopefully the next one will be better. The songs are good; it just wasn't recorded very well. You know, the engineer fucking hated us; he was just disgusted by us. Thought we were out of our minds or something. Again it was done very rapidly - like one take. It was done so fast that we spend a lot of time trying to correct the mistakes in recording. I suppose, if it sounded better and more people would have heard it, maybe better things could have happened. The next one is kind of an Unclaimed adventure; it's Lee Joseph and myself on the production end of it. The songs are all done, it was hard to record about two weeks ago, but we're gonna pick it up again. In the moment everybody is out of town, but we'll pick it up shortly.

What were the circumstances when Lee joined you?

He came out one summer; well I think there are a lot of things involved. I think he wanted to move to LA, maybe he was tired of what he did and he likes to be involved in many projects. So when he came out to LA a couple of years ago, he saw us playing and he liked the band. I talked to him for a while. I told him, that he was welcome to join the band, cause he looked real cool and he knew the music well. A couple of months later he came out to LA and became a member, after an audition. He joined the band playing guitar and organ, because we still had a bass player from the old group and another lead player. We played one or two shows like that and then I got sick of the old band, because they wanted to get a kind of metal sound, a modern metal sound.

Those were Rich Coffee and the others who are now the Fourgiven right?

Yeah, they're all good players, but I can't say anything better than that. Musically we weren't getting along anymore. They used to break into like ten minutes renditions of God-knows-what, stuff I know nothing about. So we parted and it took a couple of months to regroup. We were auditioning people at that time and Lee was playing bass in the audition and when we finally put the band back together again, he played bass ever since. He's a fine musician; his conceptual ability is great. He can think up a lot of good parts.

Who else is in your group now?

There is Danny Obler on guitar and Scott Forer on drums, a brilliant drummer.

Were they just hanging around you or how did you find them?

Well, Danny was bugging me about summer, he wanted to join the band and I wasn't too sure, it just didn't click. He bugged me for weeks and he was really dedicated. He had a great guitar, he knew the music and then one night, I called him saying: "Hey, you're in it man". He was after me for weeks and then he finally came to me in that Friday night at two in the morning. And he's brilliant, really excellent. I thought Rich was great and I can't take away anything from Rich, he's fine. I never thought I would find anyone this good, but then I found Danny and I was really pleased. We got Scott some time later. We had a couple of drummers in between that we played show with. But finally we got Scott and he's a fantastic drummer, he hits real hard, and he knows the music well.

Were Danny and Scott in bands before?

Sure, they played in bands before, but nothing cool. Excuse me, nothing trendy, because these guys are cool unto themselves and they decided to share it with the Unclaimed.

It seems that the Unclaimed are totally your group?

Well, people come and go over the years, but it was me who started the band years ago and the music for us never changed, our whole style and look never changed. We were there before the trend and when it dies we'll be there, if I'm still interested in playing at all.

Are there a lot of Latins, who are interested in the Unclaimed and their kind of music?

Actually, I don't know. I always wanted an audience like a Latin audience. We played with this band called Los Lobos a couple of years ago. We used to do some shows with them and they really knocked me out, cause they did this killer version of "Farmer John". They were really cool and I was talking to one of the members about playing to Latin audiences and he didn't know if they're into it so much. I admire Los Lobos because they are not into a trend, they're not copying anybody, they're just doing what they dig and I respect that. Most of the bands today, they are just trend hopping. They'll do something else tomorrow. I'm not trying to intellectualise the matter too much, but for me the difference is, most bands try too hard to do something and they go "We play these guitars and we grow our hair this way". But it doesn't work like this. You see, you can have it all down outwardly and it can be all bad, because it should come from the inside. The main thing is that you got it inside. It's kind of like the monk who tries to be the Buddha, so he shaves his head and he meditates. But, you know, the Buddha is not trying to be the Buddha, the Buddha is the Buddha, he is there. The monk has to look to the Buddha and he tries real hard, but he can't make it, so he's trying and trying, but he's still not doing it. Even though he looks like him and he meditates like him, he misses the whole point.

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Relevant links

on the web I wasn't able to find anything about Shelley: if there is something please let me know, thanks

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Revised: May 31, 2003