The Nationals began their tenure as a rock and roll band in September of 1960.
It didn't take long to recognize that this group not only had talent but all were very aggressive,
enthusiastic, good looking and friendly.
Randy Darnell from Wausau, Wisconsin, Wade Cummins from Tennessee, Neal Henson from Melvindale,
Michigan, Danny Albani from Melvindale, Michigan and Jim Castellani from Melvindale, Michigan.
They started by playing record hops with stars of that era such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Fabian, Rick
Nelson, etc. In addition, they played numerous college parties at The University of Michigan and
Michigan State University.
The original Nationals were Randy Darnell, Neal Henson, Jim Castellani and Dave Skog.
Randy was the Lead Guitar, Neal Henson on bass, Jim Castellani on drums and Dave on rhythm guitar.
Soon Danny Albani joined the group. This was a much needed addition. Danny was a sax player. Danny
was known for his Candy Apple Red and White Sax. Danny went on to play with a group called The
Jestics and The Friends.
Dave Skog then left the group and moved out of town. This is when Wade Cummins joined the
Nationals. Wade was a Tennessee Country Boy and added Rhythm guitar and vocals.
The Nationals went on to win various awards, such as 2nd place in the High School talent contest in
their Junior year and first place in the High School talent contest in their Senior year.
The Nationals became known as the band that did the "bug". This was an act where each member of the
band would take a turn jumping and rolling around on the stage as if they were being bothered by a
bug. They became so popular that they would play four to six record hops on a weekend utilizing the
Their first record was recorded in Detroit, Michigan in early 1961 at Sound Specialty Studios. The
name of the hit side was "The Syndicate".bThe Syndicate was an instrumental and was a local favorite
in the Detroit Area. Played by the DJ's that demanded their appearance at many record hops.
In 1961, the Nationals signed a recording contract with Joseph Schrettner owner of J & J Enterprises
in Taylor, Michigan. Joseph also owned the Bamboo Hut which was a teenage rock club. The Nationals
were always the featured band at the Bamboo Hut.
Furthurmore, in 1961 the Nationals recorded another hit record on the J &J Record label. The hit
side was"The Butterfly" and the flipside was "Johnny". "The Butterfly" was written by the
Nationals. "Johnny" was written by Wade Cummins. Wade is still performing to this day as "Elvis
Wade". The band later became known as"Wade and The Nationals".
Randy Darnell began playing guitar at the age of 13 and played with a group called the Continentals
for three years. He then came to Michigan to visit his father at the age of 15 and decided to stay
permanently. He attended Melvindale High School as a junior where he formed the Nationals Band. In
the late 60's Randy went on to play with such groups as the Entertainers, Jimmy Boyer and the
Newports., and Moby Dick and the Whalers. Moby Dick and the Whalers signed with Tree Publishing in
Nashville where they recorded "Bull By The Horns." This record became number 1 in Tampa, Florida.
During this time Randy with Moby Dick & the Whalers traveled on the road to promote their record
throughout the U.S. He later played with the a group called "The 6 O'Clock News". Randy then wrote
two new songs that were recorded with the The 6 O'Clock News. The A side was "Train Ride Down
Jasper Way", the B side was "Working on the Road". The 6'Oclock News" played all over the country
including various USO shows in Puerto Rico and Greenland.
Neal Henson became one of the most natural bass players in the Detroit area. He originally played
guitar but decided to play the much needed bass. Neal's family is from Kentucky but he lived most of
his life in Melvindale, Michigan where he still lives today. Neal also went on to play with various
groups such as Jimmy Boyer and the Newports, the 6 O'Clock News and Freedom.. Neal's great bass
lines were very instrumental in making the hit record "Train Ride Down Jasper Way", a song released
by "The 6 O'Clock News.
Jim Castellani was one of the Italian connections in this National Band
He was a very well liked person and an extremely talented drummer. Jimmy, as we sometimes called
him, had a smile that was contagious. He would always go above and beyond the call of duty for the
band. Often while performing the bug, he would leap from high stages or roll himself down many
stairs to screaming women who would clamor around to watch him almost kill himself. We were
continually amazed when he walked away seemingly unharmed though we were sure he was bruised under
his clothes. He would smile as he returned to take the drum solo back from Danny Albani who played
better drums than the rest of the band but was a sax player not a drummer.
Danny Albani the other Italian connection was very talented on both the sax and vocals. His family
was from Melvindale, Michigan. Danny was the practical joker of the group. He loved to get laughs
and play pranks. He was the glue that kept the band knitted together as there was never a dull
moment when Danny was around. As he fell to his knees roaring on a sax solo, women would scream
while we did our best to keep up. Danny went on to become one of the most respected hair stylists in
the Detroit area. He would eventually open several very successful shops in and around Detroit.
Danny was one of the few male stylists that wasn't gay (as far as we know). He would love that line
as he loved to laugh at himself. Danny was and still is a ball to be around.
Wade Cummins started as a rhythm guitar player and would later switch to bass. He went on to play
with several groups including one of the top show bands in America, "Lafayette and the Les Sabers."
It was with Lafayette and the les Sabers that he started the Elvis Wade show, which was the first
tribute act of its kind in the world. Many people would follow in his footsteps after Elvis
Presley's death in 1977. Wade performed world-wide with the Jordanaires (Elvis Presley's back up
vocal group) for over 12 straight years and is now touring around the world with his 15 piece band.
He often works with major symphonies and continues his music career even today.
The Nationals were a group of five young men who loved to play music. They enjoyed their music,
instruments and time together. Even Though all five members have gone their separate ways, their
music is still respected and enjoyed today.
Posted December, 2006
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