(More postings soon.)
This photograph has come from Dolan Ellis' private collection of NCM memorabilia, and it's a near-total surprise to many of us. I had heard rumors of such a piece of display art, but don't recall having posed for it, nor have I any memory of the group's inclusion of the fellow with the long-neck banjo (top, left corner). Some folks might ask, 'Weren't you in charge?' Apparently not, although there may be a better explanation. After the first recording was 'in the can,' and after we had been invited to become 'regulars' on The Andy Williams Show, there were a few vacancies in my ten-person folk group. The last slot to be filled was that previously occupied by Billy Cudmore, our hot-shot banjo-player. I remember that Billy was upset about NBC's requirement that every performer be able to read music, and his absence would leave us without enough of the group's signature sound; the very essence of the group was the banjo. Larry Ramos seemed to be exactly right for the job, and he brought much talent to our effort, but we wasn't absolutely 100% committed to the team, and in that brief space of time that Larry spent waffling, Art Podell came up with a qualified candidate: his housemate, Jim McGuinn. "You can check him out tonight," Art told me, "He's playing behind Bobby Darin on the Sunset Strip." I went there, saw and heard his playing and back-up vocals, deemed him eligible to fill our needs, and I asked Bobby if I might have a word with his musician, explaining that I was not trying to steal a member of his band. "You do so with my blessing," Darin told me, "I'm not doing the folk show after tonight, so
I'm glad that he'll have a job." I then spoke with McGuinn, and he had already been recruited by Art, so all I needed to add was an invitation to our rehearsal the following day, a Monday, at Columbia Studios. From my perspective, the tale gets a wee bit murky from here on. Jim McGuinn was a no-show at the Monday rehearsal, and I don't recall ever having seen him again until he magically reemerged as Roger McGuinn of The Byrds. So, what's with the picture? I'm told that it was shot for TV Guide (to ballyhoo our appearance on Andy's Show), and since Larry is nowhere to be seen therein, it's safe to conclude that McGuinn is standing-in for Ramos. Did I know he was back there? No. Did he ever perform with the group? No. Was he ever a member of The New Christy Minstrels? Yes. We have a picture to prove it.