Interview with Wayne Proctor of We the People

We The People, from left to right: Boyte, Ferguson, Duff, Proctor and Talton

We The People, from left to right: Boyte, Ferguson, Duff, Proctor and Talton, Jungle Auto Garage in Leesburg, Florida, 1966.

Hello lovely people! Today my guest is Wayne Proctor, singer, song writer and one of the two lead guitarists of We the People.

It was back in 2009 when I first heard the tune “In the Past”. I was truly astonished by the song and listened to it over and over. I went to look for more information on the band that created such a cool tune and there was almost nothing. I could find bits here and there but I thought the band deserved more recognition and I went on to create the Wikipedia article. It was my first ever attempt in Wikipedia and honestly, it wasn’t that easy! With the help of some experienced editors, the page went live. At this time I first met the band’s lead guitarist Wayne Proctor himself as he was actively online in YouTube. And we have been friends ever since, I still appreciate his music and his thoughts. Now, I am lucky enough to interview him.

We the People

We the People

Let me describe We the People briefly before we start hearing from Wayne himself. We the People were from Florida. Even though they were formed in late 1965, they were professionally active between 1966 and 1970. Some of their singles did reach the Top 10 of the local Orlando charts, as well as a few regional charts across the United States. Although the band did not release any album during the 60s, some compilation albums have been released over the years. Now let’s start our chat with Wayne.

Hello Wayne! I am glad you gave me the opportunity to do this interview with you.

Hello, again, Duygu! It is my honor to have this chance to talk with you. Before we begin, I would like to sincerely thank you for creating the Wikipedia article for our band, We the People. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was of you to do that…

My pleasure Wayne! It was an excellent experience for me and I got to meet you at the end of that journey. Thank you for all the good music. Would you briefly tell us how We the People were formed. I know it consisted of musicians from a number of different Orlando based garage bands. How did it all happen and how did you end up being in the band? And how did the name We the People come about?

You are correct regarding how the band was formed. In 1965, I was in another band based out of Clermont, Florida, called the Trademarks, along with Randy Boyte, our keyboard player and singer. During that same time, David Duff, Tommy Talton, and Tom Wynn, were in a band in Orlando, Florida, called the Offbeets. Both bands had the same manager as the Trademarks, and he suggested that Randy and I meet with the three members of the Offbeets, to possibly form a new band. We followed up on that suggestion, met with Duff, Talton, and Wynn, and we all decided it was a good match for the times. During one of our first meetings in the Jungle Auto Parts Garage in Leesburg, Florida, (Randy’s dad owned the Jungle Auto Garage where we practiced), we were discussing a name for our newly formed band.

I remember everyone suggesting various names for the band, when I noticed a copy of the preamble to the United States Constitution hanging on the office wall. It read in part, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

When I silently read the first sentence to myself, I then uttered out loud, “We the People!” Our manager and the guys loved it. And, so it was…..

The Trademarks

The Trademarks, 1965.

Excellent story, Wayne! “In the Past” is one of my favorite songs. The lyrics are truly amazing. Besides, there is this “octachord” accompanying the tune. Would you share the story of the “octachord” with us?

A friend and I were visiting another one of our friends one summer afternoon, and he took us into his attic where I saw an old, worn-out, eight-stringed instrument over in the corner (I still have it, and can give you a photo if you wish). I offered to buy it from him, and fortunately he sold it to me for a small amount. The instrument is similar to a mandolin, but larger, and apparently had been built by my friend’s grandfather. I was told only 50 had been handmade. At the time, I knew nothing about it, but later researched on the web, and found an instrument that was called a “Regal Octofone” that appeared to be very similar.

I couldn’t find mandolin strings long enough to fit it, however, so I had to buy two sets of four-string banjo strings to make it work. It was an eight-stringed acoustic instrument, and someone before me had cut a large hole between the neck fingerboard/fret area, and the bridge. Later, I found an acoustic guitar pickup to fit the hole, which was a Kent WC-18, with one volume and one tone control. I found a cord that converted the small-hole on the pickup into a regular guitar jack, and plugged it into a Fender Bandmaster amp head, ran it through my Fender Reverb unit, and then into a large homemade speaker cabinet with two 15” Jensen speakers.

After I tuned it like a guitar (like the first four strings of a guitar) and cranked it up through the Jensen speakers, it sounded no less than awesome, in my opinion. Not long after that, I wrote two songs especially for the “Octachord” as I called it (because it had eight strings), one being “In the Past,” and the other called “Half of Wednesday.”

I took the instrument to practice with the band one night, and plugged it in for the other guys and for our manager to hear. I remember them staring at it with their jaws dropped. The decision was made that we would record “In the Past” first. “Half of Wednesday” was recorded, as well, but never released until Sundazed Music somehow found it and released it on our two CD set, called “Mirror of Our Minds.” That’s the short story…. 🙂

Proctor's octachord

Proctor’s octachord.

Thank you for sharing! And I know there is French version of “In the Past” sung by Belgian singer Delphine. From what I know, this was not a cover but more like she was singing over the original recording. On the other side, Chocolate Watchband was covering it. This was all in the 1960s. These days, garage revival bands regularly cover it. What did you think about all the attention the song you initially wrote has received?

I have only one answer to that question, Duygu. I feel totally honored! It’s difficult to believe that my song has become so popular all over the world. Unfortunately, I don’t receive any royalties from any of the releases by other artists, and that makes me a little sad. But, it’s wonderful to know those recordings are still alive in the hearts of many, many people, even today.

Proctor and Duff

Proctor and Duff, at 70’s high school reunion, 2013.

Indeed so unfortunate about the royalties. I know other 60s musicians who are also in this situation. I hope things will improve. You left We the People in early 1967 and returned to college. Can you tell us a bit of those days? Did you get involved with music again? Do you know what happened to rest of the We the People members?

Yes, I did leave We the People in early ’67 for several reasons. At that time, the Vietnam War was going on and I was listed as 1-A for the American military draft. At that time, as well, We the People had tried almost everything to become famous, but it just wasn’t happening for us. I felt the need to go back to college to avoid being drafted into the military. It is my opinion the Vietnam War was a senseless, no-win situation for America, and didn’t feel like dying in a war that we could not win. I didn’t stay in college long, however, and I was called by the draft board anyway. Upon my initiation into the Army, they learned of a serious back ailment that reclassified me as 4-F. In other words, 4-F meant they would not take me into any of the military branches for fear they would injure me worse. Regarding the other members of WTP, they continued their efforts to make it big, and added a few other members to replace those of us who left the band. After I was rejected by the military, several years later I helped form another small, local Central Florida band called The Kolor Korporation around 1970. The Kolor Korporation included two African-American singers and musicians (John Rivers and “Mac”), as well as a few “white” musicians. They were Mike Stegall, Wayne Corbin, Jimmy Chambers, Bob Pennington, and myself. It was rare in those days to find a mixed band, but we did pretty well. We weren’t the greatest, but we were a great “party band,” and had a large following in the Central Florida area. We recorded one 45 rpm record, and had a great time! Check it out.

Love That Drives Me Crazy ~The Kolor Korporation

Nice! Thank you for providing me the link! I think we are coming to the end of our chat. Would you mind telling us how you find the current interest in the 1960s music scene?

I am astounded and amazed at the current, international interest in 60’s music. Funny thing about that music, however. When I was younger and in the band, I never even dreamed it could go away. To me, and most all of us who lived during that era, felt the same way. We just couldn’t imagine a world without our music that was inspired by the Beatles, and so many other artists and musicians before and after them. I am just so thankful that people have chosen to keep it going.

We the People (2)We the People (3)

Thank you Wayne for this nice interview! It was a great experience for me.

Thank you for taking your time to talk to me, Duygu! I truly enjoyed it! And, many thanks to everyone who still love 60’s music!

My pleasure, Wayne! Lovely readers we came to end of this nice interview, hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! I am attaching couple of YouTube links for you to hear the great tunes of We the People. Enjoy!

In the Past ~We the People

My Brother, the Man ~We the People

You Burn Me Up and Down ~We the People

And here are couple of links if you are interested in reading more about We the People. Thank you all!

~We the People on Nashville Scene
~We the People on Dizzy Rambler
~We the People on AllMusic

** Interview made by Duygu S. – 2015 **

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Duygu

La fille qui danse avec le soleil, elle aime les sixties.

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