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!