Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 2, 2021

270) The Breakers — “Don’t Send Me No Flowers (I Ain’t Dead Yet)”

The Memphis, Tennessee, band released this crazy-cool garage classic about a somewhat conceited guy as a ’65 A-side. It was written by Donna Weiss, the writer of “Bette Davis Eyes”! According to Rob Grayson:

While they didn’t chart nationally, The Breakers knocked the Beatles out of the top spot locally with their single, “Don’t Send Me No Flowers (I Ain’t Dead Yet.)” The song was written by a neighborhood friend, Donna Weiss. The draft eventually broke up the Breakers. . . . But Donna Weiss kept writing. She would collaborate on a song with Jackie DeShannon in 1974, “Bette Davis Eyes,“ which would find the top of the charts with a new arrangement, performed by Kim Carnes in 1981.

https://www.wknofm.org/news-and-features/2012-08-08/only-a-carport-band-we-cant-afford-a-garage#stream/0

According to Ron Hall’s book Playing for a Piece of the Door: A History of Garage & Frat Bands in Memphis 1960-1975 (yes, there is a whole book devoted to Memphis garage and frat bands!), the Breakers got to open for the Yardbirds in the fall of 1966. Hall quotes guitarist Mike Ladd (who had earlier been sent away to military school by his father to stop him from playing in Black blues clubs) as recalling that:

The whole night was a nightmare. The Yardbirds were supposed to use our amps, but as they got into their set and turned them up louder, they blew a couple up. I thought [keyboard player] Cully Powell was going to kill them! Some of the guys with the band were real jerks and then to blow the equipment too.”

The damn Yardbirds must have turned the volume up to 11! Now, if only their drummer had blown up too . . . .

“Don’t send me no flowers, I ain’t dead yet.  Don’t put no headstone on my grave.  She belongs to me and I intend to keep her.  I’m used to gettin’ everything I crave.  I ain’t come across yet, a girl I couldn’t get, when I wanted her.  Don’t count your chicks before you can hatch them.  Can’t crack her shell with your bogus lies.  She ain’t about to leave me for you.  She wants me now, take a look at her eyes.”

Among the other recorded versions of the song, the best was released as an A-side in ’67 by the What Knots:

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