1961

  
Sometime in late 1960, Scott Mitchell, a senior at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland, approached Blaine Smith and Bill White -- both freshmen at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School a few miles away, about starting a new band. Scott was a drummer, an exceptional one, and the anchor of the jazz band at Walter Johnson. Blaine was guitarist and leader of the Galaxies, a band he and some friends had formed in seventh grade that was enjoying some success. Bill was the electric bass player for the Galaxies (stress electric bass; few bands in our area had them at the time). Bill and Blaine agreed, and “The Newports” held their first rehearsal on New Years day, 1961, at the recreation center in Garrett Park, Maryland (the band's name was inspired by the cigarette, which Scott smoked, and the Newport jazz festival, hugely popular at the time). The band's initial lineup included Scott, Bill and Blaine, plus Paul Demotto, also a senior at Walter Johnson, on tenor sax, and an aspiring pianist a year or two out of high school named Dick Heintze.

The band quickly began getting gigs, thanks in part to classified advertising available to local bands in The Evening Star. The first event for which we have photos was a dance at the Women's Club of Bethesda Maryland, sometime in late winter/early spring 1961. The photos showing Dick are especially poignant, for he was later to become a music legend in the Washington area before dying tragically of a muscle disease at age 42. During his professional tenure he played with both Roy Buchanan's band and Danny Gatton's, and even performed on occasion with the NSO. If you happen to have a DVD of Martin Scorsese's film “The Departed,” forward to the ending credits, and you'll hear Dick playing organ on Roy Buchanan's “Sweet Dreams” as the credits roll.

     
  

Bethesda Womens Club Dance, Circa March 1961

     

(L to R) Paul Demotto (tenor sax), Scott Mitchell (drums), Blaine Smith (guitar), Dick
Heintze (piano), Bill White (bass).

Milton Smith (Blaine's dad) introducing the band

    

Paul, Scott, Blaine, Dick

Paul, Scott, Blaine

    

Paul, Scott, Blaine, Dick, Bill

Scott Mitchell soloing on “Caravan”

   

    
   

North Bethesda Junior High School Dance, June 1961

    

Our next photo batch includes a few from a dance at North Bethesda (Maryland) Jr. High School in June or late May 1961. Paul Clarke had by now replaced Paul Demotto on tenor sax, but the rest of the lineup remained the same -- Scott Mitchell drums, Blaine Smith guitar and vocals, Bill White bass, and Dick Heintze piano (now a Wurlitzer Electric).

  

(L to R) Bill White (bass), Blaine Smith (guitar), Paul Clarke (sax), Dick Heintze
(Wurlitzer electric piano), Scott Mitchell (drums).

Bill, Blaine, Paul, Dick, Scott

   

Bill, Blaine, Paul, Dick, Scott

Bill, Blaine, Paul, Dick, Scott

  

Club Waysons, March - April 1961

  

The Newports also played several times during March/April 1961 at Club Waysons, a popular weekend nightspot then at Waysons Corner, near Waldorf, Maryland. Here are
two posters advertising these events.

   
    

Newports Practice Place

    

This is the Smith's home on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, where the Newports held almost all of their practices during Blaine's tenure with the band (Jan. 1961 - Feb. 1966) --
in the sunroom shown more fully in the right photo above.

     
      

The Newports
P.O. Box 448
Damascus, Maryland 20872
mbs@nehemiahministries.com

   

Celebrating Washington, D.C.’s Legendary Oldies Band