The group originated from a jam session between Randy "Jimmie James" Bowles (lead guitar, vocals) and Chuck Funk (rhythm guitar) in 1965. Funk recommended rehearsing with neighbor George Radford (saxophone) at his parents' upholstery shop, with the resulting session encouraging the trio to form a band Randy Bowles named the Illusions. Radford's father elected to manage the group, supplying them with equipment and velvet outfits. Upon discovering that another band was known as the Illusions, the band changed their moniker to the Velvet Illusions to emphasize their unusual gimmick. The band added to their personnel when they recruited Steve Weed (keyboards, vocals), formerly of the local group the Shy Guys, Larry “Lurch” Linse (bass guitar), and Danny Wagner (drums).
The expanded lineup continued to hone their skills and develop a chemistry as an ensemble at Radford Sr.'s upholstery shop. The Velvet Illusions achieved a sizable regional fanbase by renting a music hall called Nob Hill Grange where the group held several battles of the bands, most typically with rival group the Fluorescents. With a live repertoire encompassing covers of material by the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and the Monkees, as well as novelty songs such as "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron", "Mellow Yellow", and "Winchester Cathedral", the Velvet Illusions were what Bowles explains as their manager's desire to make the group "clean cut alternatives to other bands of the period". In addition to the usual array of gigs, the band also appeared on KIMA TV to promote their Vox instruments. The group strenuously denies that the company sponsored them during their existence.
In early 1966, the band made the acquisitions of guitarists Danny Wohl and Dewayne Russell. Also during this time, the Velvet Illusions began recording at Audio Recorders in Seattle. In mid-1966, the band released their debut single "Acid Head", a composition about a woman suffering from a drug addiction, coupled with the Weed-penned "She Was the Only Girl", on Tell International Records. However, the single failed to reach a national audience when radio stations refused to promote "Acid Head" for its drug references. Two more singles, "Town of Fools" and the psychedelia-tinged group theme song "Velvet Illusions", were recorded in Audio Recorders, and released in rapid succession on Radford Sr.'s self-produced record label Metro Media. "Town of Fools" was particularly successful in the Northwest region; however, the band was limited by the small market and sought to relocate to another more prominent music scene.
Despite never receiving much promotion outside Los Angeles, the Velvet Illusions' music has since been featured on several compilation albums, and the band itself is considered within collector circles as "The great lost California psychedelic band" (despite not being native to the state). The group first appeared on Acid Dreams, and have also been included on Acid Dreams Testament, Pebbles, Volume 9, Garagelands, Volume 2, Sixties Archive, Volume 8, and Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965–1968. In 2011, the Velvet Illusions' material spanning across their five singles was compiled on the album Acid Head, on Cherry Red Records. Overtime, it has been revealed the Velvet Illusions recorded the unreleased songs "Grow Up Young Man", "Lonely Girl", and "Bigfoot". The tune "Bigfoot", the most peculiar of the three songs, was composed in 1966 in response to the Bigfoot craze in the Northwest.
In 2015, Moi J'Connais Records released Velvet Illusions, another compilation album that features all of the group's material. It was particularly successful, selling out its initial press run.
Very interesting band with a different sound in their self penned songs compared to the most of the bands then.
SB1 Flac & mp3@320