Introduction to the Castells
The Castells were a vocal quartet who scored a few hits in the early 1960s, including “Sacred” and “So This Is Love.” They hailed from Santa Rosa, California where they started the band during high school days. Led by Chuck Girard, they were signed to Era Records, which released their first singles as well as their two Top 40 hits “Sacred” and “So This Is Love.” These hits encouraged the quartet to do some touring, giving them the opportunity to share the stage with some of their musical heroes such as Jackie Wilson and Brenda Lee. “Make Believe Wedding” and “Oh! What It Seemed To Be” were only minor hits. Subsequent singles failed to chart though, nevertheless they continued to record for Warner Bros. Records and Decca before disbanding in 1964.
Band lineup and lineup changes
The Castells were a male close-harmony vocal four-piece group formed in Santa Rosa, California in 1959. They are not to be confused with The Castelles, who originated from Philadelphia.
The Castells’ original members consisted of Tom Hicks, Warren Hays, Bob Ussery, and Jeff Bush. Bush didn’t sing with the group, but played the piano to accompany his singing band mates in their gigs. Since their formation the group had been experiencing constant shifts in their lineup. When the band was signed to Era Records, the band wanted to move to Southern California. Hays wasn’t permitted to go, due to being a minor also because of religious grounds; he was replaced by Joe Kelly. Bush also left the band to become a session pianist for Era. Ussery left as well to get married and settle down, and Greg Krugel went on to replace him. Krugel was hired initially as a temporary member, but after some live apperances with the band, he finally became a permanent member.
The Castells’ hit records
The Castells’ first single was “Little Sad Eyes,” written by Lou Duhig and Ruby Berry. It bubbled under the Hot 100 at #101 in 1961. It was soon followed later that year by another single “Sacred” (written by William Landau and Adam Ross), which became their biggest hit, barely making it at the Billboard Top 20.
After their third charting single “Make Believe Wedding” became a minor hit again, The Castells scored again with another big hit “So This Is Love,” written by Steven Howard. It just missed the Top 20 pop chart (at #21) as well as peaked at #10 on the easy listening singles chart (at #10).
After the hits…
The Castells performed in a few occasions, often sharing the stage with some of their musical heroes, from Jackie Wilson to Brenda Lee. Although they didn’t chart any longer and their popularity was ebbing, they managed to record for Warner Brothers and finally to Decca. Although the Castells broke up in 1964 and each of the members went to their own separate lives, they remained good friends to each other.
Post-Castells, Girard joined the surf rock group The Hondells, and later he and Kelly teamed up to form their own act Chuck and Joe, performing blue-eyed soul material. In the 1970s Girard went on to become a pioneering contemporary Christian music artist.