In 1965, a kid named Gene Lohman came to Yellow Springs to attend Antioch College. He brought with him an almost encyclopedic knowledge of popular music, especially R&B. As a child, Gene had been bed ridden with measles, with only a transistor radio for company. That inspired a lifelong passion for artists recording on labels like Savoy, Chess, and Stax.
"You know when I was a kid, every bit of allowance I got went to records, ‘cause you know my parents bought my clothes and fed me and gave me a place to stay, and my dad lent me this really great radio in early 1961, great old Magnavox console radio with a 12 inch speaker so I could really hear the bass, and that’s when I really started feeling what music was about," says Lohman.
Eventually, the music would take over, and Clean Gene, as he came to be known, could be found spinning vinyl at College dances and hitting the WYSO airwaves with his weekly show, the Rhythm and Blues Express.
In the WYSO Archives, we have a recording of one of Gene Lohman’s programs that aired back in the early 1980s. It’s a special retrospective on the fall of 1965, and he gives color and context to every song on the playlist.
There’re artists like Sam and Dave, the Yardbirds, Bob Dylan, the Supremes, Fontella Bass, and British folk rock band The Silkie. It’s a like a college course in 1960s pop music.
Lohman says that there's one particular song that takes him right back to that era, "It is 'Drive My Car' by the Beatles, because that had not been released in the states yet, that was on the British Rubber Soul, but I ran into somebody at the College who had a copy of the British Rubber Soul, so most of the time when I’d do a show I’d borrow that, so that was the hit of that winter in Yellow Springs even though very few people had ever heard it. So yeah, absolutely, great song, 'Beep-beep, beep-beep, yeah!' That’s funny you ask that, absolutely, yeah, that one song, just because I was playing it and basically nobody else was, which was big fun, Well, I kinda forgot about that. But that fall of 65, my goodness..."
While it’s been years since he’s had a show on the air, Clean Gene and his Record Machine can be found every Wednesday evening from 5 to 9 at Peach’s Bar & Grill in downtown Yellow Springs. He might be playing CDs instead of 45s, but he’s still taking requests, just like he did back then.
Rediscovered Radio is made possible in part by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.