|The Oxford Circle|
|Also known as||The Hide-Aways (1964)|
|Origin||Davis, California, USA|
|Genres||Psychedelic Rock, Blues Rock, Proto-Punk, Garage Rock|
|Years active||1964 - 1967|
|Labels||World United, Big Beat|
|Associated acts||Blue Cheer, Kak|
The Oxford Circle was an American garage rock and psychedelic rock band from Davis, California, active from 1964-1967. They became a popular garage rock act with a proto-punk sound influenced by Them and other blues-based bands of the British Invasion, that, in addition to heavy guitar feedback, came to encompass psychedelia. The group began to make appearances in San Francisco, where they became a top draw in venues such as the Avalon Ballroom.
Though the band never recorded an album and only released one single, The Oxford Circle has links and influences to the 1960s/1970s California psych/hard rock scene, most importantly ties to Blue Cheer.
The band had started out as The Hide-Aways in 1964. Gary Lee Yoder sang lead vocals, played rhythm guitar and harmonica, while Dehner Patten played lead guitar. The rhythm section was made up of Jim Keylor on bass and Paul Whaley on drums. Eventually the group would settle on The Oxford Circle. The group became known for their intense live performances which included occasional use of heavy feedback from their guitars.
Sensing a new market for their style of playing, the Oxford Circle began to make trips to San Francisco to play in the psychedelic pattern-projected, strobe-lit ballrooms there, where they became a popular live act, on several occasions sharing the bill with the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Big Brother and the Holding Company.They played at venues such as the Avalon Ballroom, operated by Family Dog and Chet Helms, where they made a live recording that would remain in the vaults for years, which is highly indicative of their performances at the time in which they mix garage-based proto-punk with psychedelic experimentation. At that show they performed a nine-minute feedback-laden version of "Mystic Eyes", previously recorded by Them, a version of the Yardbirds' "Mister, You're a Better Man Than I", and blues "war-horses" such as "Baby Please Don’t Go", later recorded by the Amboy Dukes and Bo Diddley's "I’m A Man". In January 1966, they released the single "Foolish Woman" b/w "Mind Destruction" on World United Records. Drummer Paul Whaley eventually joined heavy rock pioneers Blue Cheer in March 1967, but it created a vacuum in the band which led to their eventual dissolution. Future blues star Joe Louis Walker played with the group briefly. Yoder and Patten left to form Kak, who recorded for Epic, and Yoder subsequently joined Blue Cheer in one of their later configurations. By the end of 1967, the Oxford Circle were no more.
In recent years the Oxford Circle's reputation has grown amongst psychedelic and garage rock enthusiasts. Their entire 1966 concert recorded at the Avalon Ballroom, along with the single, "Foolish Woman" (both the live and studio versions of the song are included) and other studio tracks, were released in 1997 in pristine sound quality on the Nuggets from California: Live at the Avalon 1966 anthology, put out by Big Beat Records. The studio version of "Foolish Woman" was released on the 2004 deluxe 5-CD box set compilation Trash Box issued by Hit Records and on Uptight Tonight: The Ultimate 1960s Garage Punk Primer, put out by Big Beat Records.
- "Foolish Woman" b/w "Mind Destruction" (1966, World United)
- Live At The Avalon 1966 (1997, Big Beat)
- Gary Lee Yoder - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
- Dehner Patten - Lead Guitar
- Jim Keylor - Bass
- Paul Whaley - Drums, Vocals