The Purple Underground

Originally known as the Spades, this band started out as a sextet in Winter Haven, FL, in Polk County (best known then as the home of the aquatic theme park Cypress Gardens, with its underwater mermaid show). Within a couple of years, they'd morphed down to a core quartet consisting of Tom Nay on guitar, Jim Carlton on bass, and two brothers, Jon and Halsey LaFrandre, on keyboards and drums, respectively. They lasted that way just long enough to cut the psychedelic single "Count Back" in the late winter of 1967, and after Carlton's departure that spring were reduced to a trio, with Jon LaFrandre going the Ray Manzarek route of providing keyboard bass. By 1969, John Keramidas had replaced Nay on guitar, and in 1971 they broke up, never having gotten beyond local, opening act status in the Tampa area. "Count Down" was later immortalized through its inclusion on Gear Fab's Psychedelic States: Florida in the '60s, Vol. 2 CD. ~ Bruce Eder

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