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Oct 07

Surf’s Up, the Sentinals rock the Central Coast

3-16-63-sentenals-ccl.jpgMarch 16, 1963
They are arguably the biggest band ever to break out of San Luis Obispo.
Here is the lede of the story by Tom Valentine published in the Central Coast Living section:

Six dynamic young men give San Luis Obispo a claim to modern musical fame.
A group of San Luis Obispo high school musicians, known as the Sentinals, have found nationwide favor with their spontaneous showmanship and rhythmic stylings.

The surf band started playing in 1961. I wish I could find the negatives but before 1970 the Vault is fairly scrambled.
In addition to playing local halls like the Elks Club and the Fremont Theater they toured with headliners the Four Seasons. They set an attendance record in Fresno with a concert that drew 4,000.

The band included Tommy Nunes, lead guitar; Kenny Hinkle vocals; Johnny Barbata, drums; Ben Trout, bass; Harry Sackrider rhythm guitar; and Bobby Holmquist saxophone.

The Tribune ran a story August 14, 2005 about the drummer when he published a book about his rock and roll life.

By Patrick S. Pemberton
The Tribune

At the peak of his career, Johny Barbata played drums on dozens of albums, performed in packed stadiums and rubbed elbows with rock’s most recognizable superstars. Yet his fondest memories are with a little-known Central Coast surf band.
3-16-63-sentenals.jpg“That’s where my roots were — San Luis Obispo,” Barbata said.
The Sentinals never experienced the success of Barbata’s later groups, but the band did have a single, “Latinia,” that garnered lots of airplay in the West.
“Our friends couldn’t believe that we were in high school and had a hit,” Barbata said.
The drummer recently returned to San Luis Obispo to perform with one of his old bandmates, local musician Tommy Nunes, and to pitch his book, “Johny Barbata: The Legendary Life of a Rock Star Drummer.”
As the title suggests, Barbata isn’t overly modest about his accomplishments, which includes stints with Jefferson Starship and Crosby Stills Nash & Young.
Barbata’s father, a Snap-On Tool salesman, moved the family to the Central Coast from New York State for better job opportunities. While attending San Luis Obispo High School, Barbata hooked up with the Sentinals. The modest success the band had was enough to convince Barbata to move to Los Angeles and delve into the music scene.
There he sat in with musicians until he was noticed. Eventually, he was invited to join the Turtles. Barbata’s drums can be heard on the group’s biggest hits, including the harmony-laced “Happy Together.”
“I remember one time, spinning the dial, I heard it three times on three different stations at the same time,” Barbata said in a telephone interview. “That was a good sign.”

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