After the Beatles launched the “British Invasion” of the 1960s, it seemed like every town in America soon had any number of aspiring rockers forming their own garage bands and Arlington was no exception.
Although usually regarded as a Washington D.C. band, local heroes The Cherry People had very strong connections to Arlington. The core of the band was the Grimes brothers, Chris and Doug, and Edwin Lionel “Punky” Meadows, who formed the Intruders in 1964 in Washington, D.C. A year later they moved to Arlington and became The English Setters and released three 45s. By the summer of ’67 they changed their name again, to The Cherry People, and began to play regularly in area nightclubs and WPGC-sponsored dances at Washington-Lee High School.
After a trip to New York, the band landed a contract with the Heritage Records label, and spent the entire fall of 1967 recording an album in New York City. The band soon found their songs were compromised by their record label, which added strings and horns in an attempt to promote a more pop sound. A devastating live band known for explosive guitar playing reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, the album was released in May 1968, but its bubblegum-pop sound failed to represent what the Cherry People were really all about.
Though the band soldiered on, they never regained the focus and momentum of their early days, finally calling it quits in 1975. Guitarist “Punky” Meadows later achieved a degree of fame with the 70s hard rock band, Angel. The Cherry People’s album has recently been reissued on CD by the Collectibles label.
What about you?
Do you remember the Cherry People? Let us know what you remember!
Check out the Cherry People on their Facebook page Cherry People 2010, also their new video on youtube "Down at the Creek" from their new album "Nobody's Perfect" which you can find on itunes and cdbaby, the links to these are on their facebook page. Thanks!
To Whom It May Concern – Thanks for the mention in this article – The Cherry People have just released a new CD (all originals) and can be heard on cdbaby.com/cd/cherrypeople and Itunes – check it out – Chris & Doug Grimes
Who could forget the Cherry People who grew up in the DC Metro area? Better yet, the predecessor English Setters. We made some great money at our HS fraternity Alpha Sigma Sigma church dances in the mid/late 60’s in Fairfax, Vienna, and even in Oxen Hill. We may even still owe Punky and the Grimes Bros some dough! Which of the Cherry People played with Hendrix on his new CD – People, Hell & Angels – as I was reading the album’s booklet? Man, those were the days…. Can the new Setters/CP play Jimi’s ‘Jam Back at the House’ from his Woodstock set? I’d pay to see that! Peace, love, and I’m out. The Jofo now in MD
I remember seeing The English Setters in the late 60’s as they played local church dances around Falls Church and Annandale, VA, especially one night when they announced over the microphone that they had gotten hold of a soon to be released Beatle album, and had learned all the songs, and would perform the whole album for us that night. Well, the album was “Sgt. Pepper’s”, and they NAILED it. It was the first time any of us had heard ANY of the songs from it, and with their amazing musicianship, and VOX amps, Rickenbachers, etc., was one of those moments for me! Thanks, guys, for that special night!
bruce urie says
I remember The English Setters very, very well….they played with my band, The Tornados, at a fall dance show at my high school, Hammond High. I remember Punky pulling out a red Gibson ES355, then taking a Vox treble booster out of his pocket, plugging it into his Vox Royal Guardsman Amp, and BLASTING away with “Lonely Too Long” by the Rascals. God, fast and LOUD! The treble was killing my ears! After their set, jeez, we had to follow….it was the hardest act to follow for me…I was just a dork lead guitar player, and never allowed to play loud by my band members like Punky played…….how we got through out set, I’ll never know, but The English Setters blew us away! Frank could sing his ass off, and there was never a better guitar player than Punky….Jeez, I almost wanted to quit guitar and take up knitting after hearing this guy!
Then we shared a double show at TC Williams High one night in the auditorium……the were then called The Cherry People…….strangely, Punky showed up drunk as a skunk! The lead singer, Frank, and I had to help him up to the stage…I thought, “How in hell is Punky going to pull this off drunk?” Ha. The guy plugged in and blew the crowd away….I was about to faint….he can play even intoxicated!!! My God! Once again, we had to follow their act. I was so humbled as I picked up my Mosrite and “tried” to play somewhat professionally……not really, not after The Cherry People…..Jeez, they were a tight, great sounding band…I’ll never forget the honor I had to even share a gig with them. The good old days of rock and roll still intrigue me. The English Setters/Cherry People were the most nice guys I ever knew back then…..really treated us so good. Not a swelled head in their band, unlike the lead singer in ours…….they were all so professional in their performances. A great memory for me.
Larry Gray says
It’s funny how no one remembers the black guy (Larry Shawn Gray) who was one of the original first drummer of the band “The Intruders” and later name the band “The English Setters”and was the first bass player for the band.
Web Editor says
Hi Mr. Gray,
Our apologies! We didn’t intend any offense by leaving you out of the original blog post.
As this piece was meant to be only a short overview of the band (rather than a comprehensive history) we focused on the 3 members considered to be the constant core during their “classic years” (1967-1972).
To set the record straight, Larry Gray was an original founding member of “The Cherry People,” and played an important role in the early days of the band as a drummer and bassist – as well as with “The Intruders” and “The English Setters.”
In addition to Mr. Gray, no less than 12 other musicians passed through various incarnations of the band over the years.
Larry Shawn Gray says
Larry says thanks for the post. As kids Punky and I met in the 4th grade at Draper Elementary school and was once best of friends growing up in Capital Highs Washington.
David Heindel says
I just did a search on Punky Meadows after enjoying some Roy Buchanan vids on Youtube. That reminded me of my old guitar the red Gibson E355. I bought it in high school after seeing an ad for it. The seller said that it was Punky Meadows’ old guitar. I didn’t know who he was back then. But I liked the guitar. I probably bought it for a couple of hundred and it was great. The band that I was in played at our high school (High Point – Beltsville). We played Stairway to Heaven (I played lead). Seemed like everybody loved it. It was a great guitar. I eventually sold it a couple of years later. Of course I wish I had kept it. Great guitar Punky !!!
The Cherry People played at my wedding reception 44 years ago. I had been a follower of the band for years and took a chance to ask them to play at my reception. Doug ck’d with the guys who agreed, and we were thrilled. People still talk about how cool my reception was—-historical, to say the least !! I LOVED it !!