Best remembered as the band that introduced pop prodigy Emitt Rhodes to the world, the Palace Guard were one of the dozens of garage rock acts that emerged in California in the mid-'60s. While they were able to deliver the expected teenage attitude, the group also had a talent for writing and performing strong pop melodies with plenty of guitar jangle, as well as vocal harmonies that set them apart from their peers. The Palace Guard scored a minor but well-regarded hit during their lifespan with the 1966 tune "Falling Sugar," which has appeared on a number of '60s garage collections (including the excellent four-disc Nuggets box set), while the band's entire catalog can be heard on the 2021 compilation All Night Long: An Anthology 1965-1967.

The Palace Guard was formed in Los Angeles in 1964 under the name the Emerals. The group was founded by brothers John Beaudoin (lead and background vocals and occasional keyboards), David Beaudoin (lead vocals and tambourine), and Don Beaudoin (rhythm guitar and backing vocals). The Beaudoins were joined by lead guitarist and vocalist Chuck McClung, bassist and vocalist Rick Moser, and drummer Emitt Rhodes, and the band started playing teen clubs in and around L.A. They were scouted by a regional label, Orange-Empire Records, which offered to record the group, and they changed their name to the somewhat hipper the Palace Guard, getting stylish military-style band uniforms in the process. Their first single, "All Night Long" b/w "Playgirl," appeared in 1965, and while some radio stations felt the A-side's lyrics were a bit too suggestive for airplay, KFWB in Los Angeles spun it regularly and it became a modest local hit. Their manager teamed with radio personality Dave Hull to open a rock club in Hollywood called the Hullabaloo, and the Palace Guard became the house band at the venue, as well as opening shows for the Byrds, the Association, Paul Revere the Raiders, the Yardbirds, the Hollies, and many more.

A second single, "A Girl You Can Depend On" b/w "If You Need Me," followed a few months after "All Night Long," and the Palace Guard appeared on several local television shows in the Los Angeles area, as well as Where the Action Is, which aired nationally on ABC. However, drummer Rhodes became disenchanted with the band's management, and he quit in mid-1965. Terry Rae, who was previously a member of the Driftones, took over on drums in time for their next single, "Falling Sugar" b/w "Oh Blue (The Way I Feel Tonight)," which was issued by Orange-Empire in February 1966. "Falling Sugar" was soon getting major airplay in their hometown, and Verve Records licensed it for a nationwide release. The band were also tapped to back up actor and singer Don Grady, best known as one of the stars of My Three Sons (and a member of the sunshine pop act the Yellow Balloon), on a single for Orange-Empire, "Summertime Game" b/w "Little People," which came out in 1966.

Not long after the recording of the single with Grady, bassist Rick Moser left the Palace Guard, and Teddy Rooney, son of legendary actor Mickey Rooney, signed on to take his place. The band had signed to Parkway Records, which issued a pair of singles in 1966, "Saturday's Child" b/w "Party Lights" and "Calliope" b/w "Greed." Neither made much of an impression outside of California, and extensive touring in the United States and Canada heightened tensions within the group; they were also at odds with their management, whom they felt were not compensating the musicians adequately (with the Beaudoin brothers believed to be getting a bigger slice of the pie than the rest of the band). After one show on the road, the group's equipment was stolen, which weakened their already shaky morale, and after playing one last weekend at the Hullabaloo in Hollywood, the Palace Guard broke up in 1967.

After leaving the act, Emitt Rhodes went on to form the group the Merry-Go-Round and enjoyed a brief but celebrated solo career, while Terry Rae would become a founding member of power pop/proto-punk cult heroes the Hollywood Stars. The reissue label Fab Gear Records released an album in 2003 titled The Palace Guard, which collected the six singles they released in their lifespan (including the 45 with Don Grady). The same material got a sonic upgrade in 2021 when it was issued again by Omnivore Recordings under the title All Night Long: An Anthology 1965-1967. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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