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ZAKARY THAKS

Zakary Thaks
Zakary Thaks, 1966. Courtesy of SugarHill Studios archives.

ZAKARY THAKS. Zakary Thaks was the name of a late-1960s Texas rock band that flourished regionally during the sub-cultural transition from early pop-rock to psychedelia. Five Corpus Christi teenagers began recording and performing as Zakary Thaks in early 1966. After charting hit singles in several major Texas cities and touring the Southwest, the band broke up in 1968, though it sporadically reformed with different lineups through 1972.

The founding members of Zakary Thaks were vocalist Chris Gerniottis, guitarists John Lopez and Pete Stinson (who had been playing together locally since 1964, first in the Marauders and then in the Riptides), plus bass player Rex Gregory and drummer Stan Moore. They collectively adopted the unusual Zakary Thaks moniker because it sounded distinctively British to their ears, thereby signifying their alliance with the sound of the so-called British Invasion bands, particularly the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and the Yardbirds.

Listen to this group

Shortly after coming together as a quintet, Zakary Thaks signed a recording contract with producer Carl Becker, initially to record for his J-Beck label. Their 1966 studio debut took place in McAllen, Texas, resulting in a single featuring the original composition “Bad Girl” backed with a cover of “I Need You” (previously recorded by the Kinks). After generating strong regional sales and radio airplay, the record was leased to the Mercury label for national distribution. The band’s second single—the originals “Face to Face” backed with ”Weekday Blues”—was recorded in 1967, along with various other tracks, in Houston at Gold Star Studios. After “Face to Face” soared to the top of radio charts in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Austin, it was picked up for national distribution by the ABC-Dunhill label.

The band subsequently released additional recordings on Becker’s Cee-Bee label as well as on its own imprint, Thak Records. Houston blues and R&B entrepreneur Don Robey and music promoter Huey Meaux also brought the group back to Gold Star Studios to record tracks with R&B producer Andre Williams as prospects for Robey’s Back Beat label, but those were never released. However, after Zakary Thaks initially disbanded in 1968, Gerniottis returned to Gold Star Studios to record with the group Liberty Bell on at least one Back Beat single. Meanwhile, with a revised roster consisting only of Lopez, Gregory, and Moore, Zakary Thaks also did additional 1968 sessions at Gold Star Studios, producing several psychedelic rock tracks such as “Green Crystal Ties,” “My Door,” and others.

Following the 2001 death of Moore, Zakary Thaks reunited briefly in 2005 for a series of festival appearances. Another founding member, Gregory, died in 2008. In 2001 a compilation of the group’s various recordings was issued on CD on the Beat Rocket label, the ultimate sonic document of the band All Music Guide rates as “one of the best teenage rock groups of all time.” It’s the End—The Definitive Collection, a CD produced from the original master tapes (and including unreleased tracks) was issued on the Big Beat label in 2015. The group is honored in the South Texas Music Walk of Fame.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

All Music Guide (www.allmusicguide.com), accessed July 27, 2011. Austin Chronicle, August 12, 2005. Andy Bradley and Roger Wood, House of Hits: The Story of Houston’s Gold Star/SugarHill Recording Studios (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010). Marc Byers “Chris Gerniottis and the Zakary Thaks Interview: SXSW 2010,” Spinner, March 4, 2010 (http://www.spinner.com/2010/03/04/sxsw-2010-chris-gerniottis-and-the-zakary-thaks/), accessed January 10, 2011.

Roger Wood
Roger Wood

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Handbook of Texas Online, Roger Wood, "Zakary Thaks," accessed December 17, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xgz02.

Uploaded on October 19, 2014. Modified on November 1, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.