The Quest’s hailed from Grand Rapids, Michigan and were formed in 1964 by students at Grand Rapids Junior College. They were popular across the West Michigan area, playing on college campuses, at high school and teen dance clubs, and in support slots at the larger Grand Haven Roller Rink. They also appeared on WOOD TV on a show hosted by local DJ Dick McKay.
The band cut their singles at the legendary Fenton Records’ Great Lakes Studio in a movie theatre in Sparta, a small town 15 miles north of Grand Rapids (also used by both The Aardvarks and The Blues Company).
The group’s debut 45, the ebullient ‘Scream Loud’ backed by moody instrumental ‘Psychic’, appeared in March 1966 and reached number 2 on the local charts, and hopes were high for the follow-up when it was released in August. ‘Shadows in the Night’, written by singer and guitarist Bob Fritzen, has an almost rock n’ roll intro before the fuzz guitar kicks in and we are treated to an up tempo stormer. The lead and backing vocals are excellent and Bob’s frequent moves from a lower register to falsetto really enhance the song, and he hits some impressively high notes at the end with apparent ease. There’s a sparkling guitar break which ends with a pleasing, more reflective transition back into the rave-up finish.
‘Shadows in the Night’
‘I’m Tempted’ is another fine effort. Composed this time by guitarist Lyle Hotchkiss, it has another neat intro with a touch of tremelo, and is an insistent garage pounder with fuzz and stinging lead guitar combining effectively on the break. The ending is all too sudden though!
The 45 initially received plenty of airplay but its progress was hampered by controversy over the lyrics of ‘I’m Tempted’ with parents complaining to radio stations about its perceived sexual content. It was taken off air within a month or so of release.
For their final single in May 1967, the band chose the ballad ‘What Can I Do’ with ‘Shadows in the Night’ on the flip-side as they felt it hadn’t had a fair chance because of the furore surrounding ‘I’m Tempted’.
This 45 sold well, climbing the local charts, and a repress was needed to stock stores. A Detroit record producer passing through Grand Rapids heard the song and contacted the band via Dick McKay, saying that he would promote the record on a larger scale on the condition that it was pulled from local radio station playlists. The group decided to take him up on his offer and didn’t to press any more records, but unfortunately the record producer never contacted them again, and by that time the single had stalled.
Reissues: Both sides are on Scream Loud!!!: The Fenton Story. The band themselves have also put out a retrospective collecting all the single sides with unreleased and newly recorded material called Re-Quested: Back to the Garage.
- Scream Loud / Psychic (Fenton, 1966)
- Shadows in the Night / I’m Tempted (Fenton, 1966)
- What Can I Do / Shadows in the Night (Fenton, 1967)