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Venable talks about K-Otics/Classics IV

By Michael Butler

"I'm proud to be here in my hometown Tallassee," Kim Venable exclaimed during a recent WTLS interview. Venable, a Tallassee High School graduate, now resides at Pike Road but stays in touch with his hometown friends.

Among them are his former bandmates from the band the K-Otics. Two are Tallasseeans; Tommy Mann and Ray Goss. The trio recently got together with Marvin Taylor and re-recorded their 1960s hit, "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)."

"We got enthused again," Venable said. "We were asked to play at the VFW Club in late summer for the Wounded Warriors Project. We hadn't played together in 47 years.

"The first gig we ever had, we played for our supper at the Cattleman's Association. We started playing some clubs in Montgomery. Then we knew we had to record something to get it on the radio. So, we went to Muscle Shoals and recorded a song called, "Old Charlena."

The idea to record "Double Shot" came after Venable heard a group perform the song in Panama City. "We started playing it at our gigs. The people went wild, and they had never heard it on the radio. We said, 'Hey that's a hit.'"

The Swinging Medallions also recorded the song at the same time.

"They were playing both versions. We got a lot of airplay," Venable recalled. "We made a fatal error by signing with a management company in Atlanta. They had the Medallions sign too. When they signed us, ours was no more."

Mann and Goss joined the National Guard shortly after. Then, another opportunity came along for Venable.

"That kind of broke us up," said Venable. "I was at home wondering what am I going to do now? We had built up a bunch of steam, and it was like the steam had run out. At that time the Classics IV were broken up. Emory Gordy called me. He had made arrangements for me to stay with Joe Wilson, the keyboard player."

From that point, Venable started playing and recording music with the remaining members.

The group released the song "Spooky." It reached No. 3 on the charts in 1968. It led to an album deal with Imperial Records. "Stormy" and "Traces" would follow, both reaching the top five on Billboard.

Venable (back row, left) with the Classics IV

""Stormy" and "Spooky" were on the same tape that our representatives shopped to every record company in the business. Every record company in the business turned it down. When you turn your radio on and go across the dial and you get your song about three or four times, it's a hit."

The Classics IV performed on three occasions on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.

"Johnny was focused," Venable noted. "He wasn't stuck up. He was nice to us."

A chance to play on the Ed Sullivan Show also surfaced, well almost.

"We were at Dennis Yost's house celebrating his birthday. We got a call from one of our managers. He said, 'You need to go home and pack your bags. We've got a flight out at six in the morning. We're going to do the Ed Sullivan Show.' We left the party and went home. We went to sleep thinking we were going to wake up in the morning and do the Ed Sullivan Show.

"In the morning, before we could leave to go to the airport we had been bumped off the show. I couldn't tell you who it was. We did the David Frost Show. We did the Dick Clark Show. When we walked in for the Dick Clark Show, Neil Sedaka was playing "Spooky." He was the nicest guy." Sedaka had more than 20 Top 40 hits, including three chart toppers.

Venable says he is still the same guy he was when roamed the streets of Tallassee decades ago.

"I talk very southern. I've got a very southern accent. All of us were about the same. We didn't cover up anything. We're just people."

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