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Ronny And The Daytonas

Nashville's greatest contribution to the hot rod and surfing craze of the early '60s came in the form of Ronny & the Daytonas. Centered around singer-guitarist-songwriter John "Bucky" Wilkin (son of country tunesmith Marijohn Wilkin, best known for composing "Long Black Veil" and "One Day at a Time"), their big moment in the sun came with their debut disc, the Wilkin-penned "G.T.O." After writing the song in physics class as a senior in high school, Wilkin's mom pulled a few strings, landed him a publishing deal, and had a session set up with Nashville producer (and former Sun session man) Bill Justis. Justis cut the tune with various Nashville session players who had a feel for rock & roll and instructed Bucky to come up with a group name to put on the record. Wilkin became Ronny Dayton with the anonymous backing group becoming the Daytonas. The record sprang to number four on the national charts, and an album was cut in two weeks using more or less the same personnel. Wilkin seems to have cared little about playing live and, after a short time fronting a thrown-together combo for selected dates (including a USO tour), simply put together a phantom group to go out and honor tour commitments. After the USO tour, Buzz Cason joined the group, becoming Wilkin's main writing partner. A shift away from the Beach Boys-styled hot rod and surf tunes came with the group's second hit, the ballad "Sandy." Another album, exploring the ballad side of the band, was recorded in Germany with Cason and various session players, including a full string section, then an innovative idea for a rock & roll record. The hits soon dried up, however, and the band moved on to RCA Victor with some success before Wilkin left to pursue a solo career with albums on United Artists and Liberty. He remains active today on the oldies circuit.

Ronny & The Daytonas were an American surf rock group of the early 1960s, whose members included Paul Jensen (vocals, guitar), Thomas Ramey (bass, guitar), Lynn Williams (drums), Lee Kraft (songwriting, guitar) and John "Bucky" Wilkin (aka Ronny) (songwriting, guitar, vocals), with contributions from others such as Larry Butler (organ), Ronny Clark and Buzz Cason.

 

The group was formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 1964 when Bill Justis (best known for his hit "Raunchy") became their manager and formed Buckhorn Music with the help of Wilkins' mother, Marijohn Wilkin, a country music writer.Their primary contribution to popular music was in injecting country-sounds into the burgeoning surf rock scene. Their 1964 debut single "G.T.O." reached #4 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart.
After an album and tour in 1964, Ronny & the Daytonas had another hit in 1965 with a ballad, "Sandy", and an album that reflected a similar country-inflected surfer sound. In 1968 Ronny and the Daytonas switched to RCA Records and released a romantic ballad called "Diane, Diane" and the upbeat "All American Girl", both of which had some success on the charts. The band toured for a short time after this before disbanding.
The mid-eighties saw some interest in re-uniting various band members for a few one-time engagements. The last known appearance of The Daytonas was a concert in upstate New York on 4 July 1995.
As of last edit in 2004, Buck Wilkin Music publishing was licensing Ronny and the Daytonas songs for the U.S. and Canada and occasionally publishes their music on 180 gram vinyl media in limited production runs.

 

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