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The Blue Flames is certainly among the most obscure rock and roll groups of all time.  They never recorded, appeared in public only about four times, and disbanded more than 40 years ago at a time when none of the members was old enough to buy a beer.

So why are they worthy of mention at all?  Well, what is the Internet for if not to locate the previously unlocatable?  I'm looking for anyone who remembers this group, has a photograph of them, or is otherwise able to shed some light on its existence.

To start the ball rolling, here's what I already know:

The Blue Flames were formed in Charleston, West Virginia, by a group of at least four teenage boys, two of whom lived in the Village Apartments in Kanawha City.  The group's sole claim to fame was the ability to play an arrangement of the song "Tequila" in a manner that somewhat resembled the hit version recorded by "The Champs."

This is the only known photograph of "The Blue Flames," taken in May or June 1958, when the group was hired to play for a junior high school dance, possibly at a country club in the "South Hills" area of Charleston.  Each member of the group was paid $5.00 for the evening.  Not all members are shown.  The trumpeter is not in the shot and there may have been another member, as well.

The group appeared on at least three other occasions, one of them at the Horace Mann School auditorium in Kanawha City.  How this engagement came about is not clear, as the school is remembered as an elementary school.  However, at some point after 1952, the school changed from an elementary school (grades 1 to 6) to a junior high school (grades 7 to 9).  If this happened prior to 1958, perhaps one of the members of the group was still a student there.

The zenith of the group's career occurred during the Spring of 1958.  Somehow, its existence came to the attention of local record hop host "Dick Reid."  The Blue Flames were invited to audition for an appearance on his local TV show, a sort of poor man's version of Dick Clark's American Bandstand.

Here we see the weekly sheet, issued by WCHS-TV, containing Dick Reid's Top 30 record hits, his weekly picks, and announcements of upcoming events.  Click the image for a larger view of this sheet.

The telecast took place on Saturday, April 26, 1958, and The Blue Flames performed their signature tune - "Tequila."  Returning to the neighborhood, after the telecast, the group members received the reviews of their friends, who had loyally sat before their TV sets on a sunny Saturday afternoon: "Why were you so stiff?  Why didn't you move around more?  You just stood there."

Detail from the "Record Hop" sheet announces the live TV appearance of "The Blue Flames," as well as that of a future date.

This was the pinnacle of local success -- appearing before a live audience at the Midelburg Skating Rink in downtown Charleston, on the same stage with local rockabilly favorite "Eddy Seacrist."  Seacrist actually had a record out!  He had toured with Lloyd Price!  The boys were well received and even allowed to perform a second number, their version of Chuck Berry's "Browneyed Handsome Man."

And then ... they were gone.  The group broke up over the summer of 1958.  They have long been forgotten, perhaps even by each other.  What were their names?  Well, one of them was Jim.  If anyone who is reading these words knows something more, please contact me.  I'll see that your information reaches the proper authorities.

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This page created and maintained by Jim Lowe
First appearance:  May 4, 1999
Last updated:  May 4, 1999

© 1999 by James R. Lowe, who reserves all rights to the content of this page not successfully claimed by others.