ORPHEUS Discography

This page has been reconstructed from a cached version of the original, which was a part of the now defunct Boston Rock & Roll Museum web site www.dirtywater.com.

Click on the blue links to play sound clips.

Note: One of the founding members of Orpheus has requested that his name, likeness, and any audio clips of performances including his voice or his instrumental work, or of songs that he has written, be removed from this page. As a courtesy to this individual, we have replaced his name with (name deleted), despite the fact that it was a part of the original text. Similarly and also as a courtesy, we have obscured his likeness to make it unrecognizable except in group pictures, the copyrights for which reside with Iris Properties, Inc. These photographs are used with permission.

We have not removed the audio clips below, because:
(1) our posting of these short clips constitutes "fair use;"
(2) similar clips of these performances are widely available on dozens, if not hundreds of web sites; and
(3) rights to these songs and / or performances reside with Iris Properties, Inc., not with the aforesaid
      individual, and we have posted these clips with the permission of the copyright holder.

Orpheus logo

One of the best known of the early Boston groups, whose popularity has endured into the Twenty-first Century, was the soft-rock quartet Orpheus. This is a part of their story.


The original Orpheus included (name deleted), first guitar; Jack McKennes, second guitar; Eric Gulliksen (a.k.a. the Snake), bass guitar; and Harry Sandler, drums and percussion. All contributed to vocals, with leads shared between (name deleted) and Jack. Unlike many artists, Orpheus didn't rise to fame through the “gin mill” circuit. All four Orpheans (?) (Opheusans? Orpheites?) had “paid their dues” in other groups. Orpheus was formed for the express purpose of landing a record contract, and spent many months writing songs and rehearsing in Jack's cellar. It paid off.


It was the summer of 1964, and the height of the “folk era”. Two young men from Worcester, MA, (name deleted) and Jack McKennes, both already veterans of the local folk scene, decided to try playing and singing together. They found that their voices blended perfectly, and their guitar styles complemented one another. In short order, they were booked at a small coffee house in Yarmouth called the Villager, where they became the “house band” and took the club's name as their own - the Villagers.

Although originally the Villagers were an OPS (Other People's Songs) group, during the fall and winter of '64-'65, as they polished their act, they began to incorporate some of (name deleted)'s original songs, and even tried their hand at some non-commercial recording. By the summer of 1965, they had matured into a real “class act”, and had a regular stint at the Carousel in Hyannis.

The Carousel was one of the best-known folk venues on the Cape - a family restaurant by day, and a “music Mecca” by night. One fan remembers “The Villagers weren't at all what I expected, not at all like the Kingston Trio. They were regular guys with sand in their hair who loved what they were doing and sounded great.” Another fan recalls that the two came across as two distinctly different individuals: “Jack was the handsome, carefree, bronzed guy with the sports car that always wore a rugby shirt with the big wide stripes (he still does, by the way), and joked and kidded with the audience, especially the ladies. (name deleted), on the other hand, was more 'ultra-cool'. He'd be just as likely to show up wearing an Oxford shirt and a necktie.” Despite these differences, they were one with their music, and gained a large and very loyal group of fans that followed them for the next twenty months or so.
In 1962 and 1963, Jack and Eric had played together in a Worcester-based folk trio called the Wanderers. This group had cut a budget album called Folk Festival for Strand records under the name of the Minute Men in April of 1963. Unfortunately, Strand ran afoul of the IRS, and all of their assets were seized before the record was released. A battered test pressing was located in December of 2000 and, after 37 years, was the subject of a CD “archival release” on Cricket Power records. Several tracks received air play in Europe.

Eric had also recorded three singles with a wildly popular Central Massachusetts rock trio called the Blue Echoes. One of these, Blue Bell Bounce, was picked up by Swan records, and released nationally on their Lawn subsidiary. Both sides of this single have been included in CD compilations.

Upon the death of JFK, the Wanderers reunited to record a tribute single called The Man. This was released internationally on the Swan label, under the banner of Blue Echo Productions. Swan renamed the group the College Boys.

“They played places like the Loft, the Odyssey, the Unicorn and the Pesky Sarpint. We'd get seats in the front row and would listen enraptured, mouthing the word in adoration.” The Villagers became one of the area's premier folk acts, and were twice voted “Best Folk Duo” by the readers of Broadside magazine.

However, by 1967, the folk craze was waning. The guys were advised to follow Dylan and “go electric”, shift their focus to rock and roll, and to round out their act by adding bass and drums.

Jack called bass guitarist Eric Gulliksen, whom he had known from previous endeavors (see sidebar). The three “clicked” and, for several months, the group was a trio without a steady drummer. Jack then discovered Harry Sandler, who was then playing with a Surf band called the Mods, and who became the fourth Orphinoon. The group spent several months writing songs and rehearsing in Jack's cellar.

Of course, audience reaction is a prime indicator of potential success in the music business. Harry was able to get the group a few free 5-song “intermission sets” at the various Surf ballrooms, and the reception was phenomenal. The guys knew they were on to something.

The group, still unnamed, did a live audition for indie record producer Wes Farrell in late summer of 1967. This included the classic tune Can't Find The Time To Tell You. Farrell was enthused and said, in essence, “Write some more songs and you're in.” The name Orpheus was selected on the way home that night.

With the help of Boston psychologist Dr. Bill Wolk, who had recorded many live Villagers performances including the version of Just A Little Bit featured on the Ace Big Beat compilation The Best Of Orpheus, the group recorded a nine-song demo tape at the Emerson School of Broadcasting. The four Oriphinos returned to New York, armed with the tape and several names, spent a day knocking on doors, and were offered seven contracts out of nine tries. Later, they did another live audition for Alan Lorber, father of the somewhat ill-fated Bosstown Sound, and got yet another offer. Eric remembers: “There we were, with nine record contracts dangled in front of us, and we had never even played a paying job together.”

Ultimately the group decided to sign with Alan, because of the combination of his orchestration skills, history in the business, placement with a major label (MGM), and the promise of heavy promotion.

…And On Down the Road

The first album, entitled Orpheus, was recorded in the fall of 1967. It, and the single Can't Find The Time, were released in January of 1968. The group played a few small clubs in Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia to polish their act, and made their official debut at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village in late February. Their first “major gig,” which took place at about that time, was opening for Cream at a concert at Brandeis University.

Despite being a major hit, Can't Find The Time did not reach Billboard magazine's "Hot 100" this time around (it peaked at No. 116 on the "Bubbling Under" chart). It reached the top 10 - or even number one - in most of the major cities on the East Coast, but the timing was staggered between these markets. Had it hit all of them simultaneously, it would surely have reached the "Hot 100." The album, however, did reach the charts, where it rode for many months.

A second single from this album, I've Never Seen Love Like This, suffered a similar fate. And, at about this time, the so-called “Bosstown Sound” had been dismissed by the press as mere hype. Unfortunately, Orpheus was tarred with this brush, even though they were mostly from Worcester.

The group's second album, Ascending, was released in late summer or fall. This also hit the charts, but no singles were issued. However, the album tied for no. 10 as Vocal Album of the Year in Playboy magazine's "Jazz and Pop Poll."

A third album, Joyful, was issued in the early spring of 1969. This, too, reached the charts, as did the single release Brown Arms In Houston. The latter reached number 97 on the Billboard "Hot 100."

“Joyful was, in my opinion, the best album we did,” says Eric. “The first was a bit over-orchestrated and the second mostly under-orchestrated. In Joyful, though, the balance between the group's instrumental abilities and the orchestra let them complement one another. I would think that this is one of the finest albums ever, even if I hadn't been a part of it.”

Later in 1969, MGM re-released the single Can't Find The Time. This go-round it reached number 80 on the "Hot 100," even though it had already been a hit in 1968 and the excellent album sales had surely pre-empted some single sales. It reached the top 10 for the second time in most of the major cities in the East.

Many of the group's songs were original, written by (name deleted), either solely or with Eric, or by Stephen Martin. Harry and Jack also contributed material.


Good as the records were, Orpheus live was absolute dynamite. “People would leave our shows on a fantastic high, absolutely flying,” reminisced Eric. “The highlight came at the end. We'd do Never In My Life from the first album - this was a three-quarter time waltz that shifted to a brief instrumental in 5/4 time at the end. Everybody would fade down, and (name deleted) would then play a short guitar phrase, which I would repeat. We'd do that a few times, (name deleted) would go quiet, and I'd do several minutes of bass guitar solo. Then Harry would fade in and I'd drop out. Harry was an incredible show drummer, and he'd give the fans several minutes of his artistry. Then he'd go 'rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat' and we'd break into Can't Find The Time. Audiences would go nuts!”

This finale was particularly called out in the New York Times' review of the group's performance at the New York Museum of Modern Art. The review occupied half of the front page of the entertainment section. No mean feat.

Orpheus frequently opened for “superstar” acts. Often, they went over better than the headliner. One major group (which shall remain nameless) went so far as to tell their agency not to put Orpheus on the same bill as them, because when Orpheus finished their set, most of the audience would leave.

The group disbanded in December of 1969, after having had quite a run. Besides a huge number of very funny “war stories” that can't be printed on a family web site, career highlights include the following:

  • Three charted albums (Orpheus, Ascending, and Joyful on MGM).
  • Two charted singles (Can't Find The Time and Brown Arms In Houston on MGM).
  • Two other single releases (I've Never Seen Love Like This and By The Size Of My Shoes, also on MGM. The first was a Billboard “Pick Hit.” The second was released from the Joyful album after the original group had disbanded.).
  • No. 10 Winner for Vocal Album of the Year, Playboy Jazz and Pop Poll (Ascending)
  • Recorded Little Sister, the theme for the MGM movie Marlowe (catch it on the Late Late Show).
  • Performed one of the very first “scripted” music videos, long before anyone had even thought of MTV (“Got to say it's one of the corniest things I've ever seen” - Eric).
  • Featured spot in the TV Special The Great Mating Game, sponsored by Clairol.
  • Write-ups in many major publications, ranging from the New York Times to Women's Wear Daily. Orpheus
  • Pictured on the front page of Billboard magazine.

Played many major and famous venues, including:

  • The Bitter End
  • Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.
  • Hatch Memorial Shell
  • Tanglewood in the Berkshires
  • Hancock Auditorium
  • Boston Common
  • Schaeffer Music Festival, Central Park, NYC
  • New York Museum of Modern Art
  • Westbury (Long Island) Music Fair
  • Carousel Theater, Framingham, MA
  • Many concerts at colleges and universities, particularly in the northeast quadrant of the US
Played on the same bill with many major acts of the day, including:
  • The Who (got to ride on the “Magic Bus”) Collage 2
  • Cream
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Janis Joplin
  • Young Rascals
  • Blood, Sweat and Tears
  • Spencer Davis Group
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Jeff Beck Group
  • Ten Years After
  • Tom Rush
  • Hugh Masekela
  • Muddy Waters
  • Vanilla Fudge
  • The Left Banke
  • The Troggs
  • Dennis Yost and the Classics IV
…just to name a few.

After the demise of the original group, (name deleted) joined an existing band called Congress Alley, led by Stephen Martin who had written several of the songs on the first three albums. This group released an album entitled Orpheus on the Bell label, produced by Alan Lorber, as well as a single, Big Green Pearl. Stephen wrote all of the songs on this album. However, these were not as commercially successful as the efforts of the original quartet, and the group disbanded altogether shortly thereafter.

Jack still performs, and owns a small candle factory and shop in New Hampshire. Eric spent many years traveling the world in the mining industry, has been awarded 17 patents and two Master's Degrees, and now does market research for a consulting firm. (name deleted) spent some time as a minister and, we think, now sells real estate. Harry stayed in “the biz” and became an accomplished guitarist and songwriter. Today he is a vice-president at a major international lecture agency located in Boston.

Jack, Harry and Eric are still very close friends to this day, and play an occasional reunion show as Jack, Harry and the Snake, featuring many of Harry's songs. Friendships like these never die.

A Last Word

Congress Alley does exist. Physically, it is literally an alley in Worcester lined with three-deckers. Historically, it was the site of Worcester's hippie community in the late '60s. Philosophically, it is a dream that is still a part of many of us. Late at night, especially in the warmer weather, one can still find an occasional aging flower child or two here on a pilgrimage, looking up at the stars through the trees and wires, just remembering.

Jack, Harry and I would like to thank all of our fans, both past and present, for their support and loyalty over the years. We're very glad that we were able to be a part of such an exciting time, and are proud of having been able to bring the music of Orpheus to so many terrific people.

We'd also like to thank folks like Alan Lorber, Bill Wolk, a host of DJs like Dick Summer and “Cousin” Duffy, and roadies Burton Swan, Bob Swan, Jeffrey Herdman and Van Leister, in particular, for having made our trip possible and fun. Thanks also to Max “Myndblown” Waller (contributing editor of Fuzz, Acid and Flowers) and Mike Dugo (Lance Monthly) for helping to keep the story alive.

We also want to thank Chuck White and his predecessor, the late Mickey O'Halloran, for dirtywater.com and the Boston Rock and Roll Museum, and for making us a part of their effort to preserve these wonderful times (even if most of us were from Worcester). And, yes, there is an Orpheus exhibit in the Worcester Historical Society's Museum.

Orpheus at Tanglewood Cover Versions of Orpheus Songs, as of March, 2003:

Can't Find The Time has been covered by:

Brown Arms In Houston has been covered by: Congress Alley has been covered by: Reissues, etc.

Can't Find The Time and Brown Arms In Houston were reissued several times on vinyl 45s. Can't Find The Time was also included in a couple of vinyl compilations.

CD reissues include, to date:

In addition, Can't Find The Time has been included on many other CD and vinyl compilations. It is considered to be one of the “classic love songs” of the late '60s.

Eric Gulliksen
May 2003

154 Adams Street
Suite 1
Waltham, MA 02453


The Blue Echoes: click here
The College Boys: click here
Eric Gulliksen: click here
Harry Sandler: click here
Jack McKennes: click here
The Mods: click here
The Minute Men: click here
Orpheus: click here
Orpheus Reborn: click here
Sandler & Dunlap: click here
Stephen Martin: click here or here
The Villagers: click here
The Wanderers: click here