Publicity Photos -- 1965


Here are three publicity photos taken of the Newports in 1965, which we used for many purposes. The first two were featured on the jacket of our record Little Heart (see below). The third shows the Willett Brothers alone.


(L to R, back to front) Bill White (bass), Tom Willett (singer), Charlie Willett (singer), John Hurd (Hammond),
Blaine Smith (guitar), Don Williamson (drums)


(L to R, back to front) Tom Willett, Charlie Willett, Blaine Smith, Bill White,
John Hurd, Don Williamson

Tom and Charlie Willett


Records 1965


The Newports produced two more records in 1965. Little Heart (listen) was released in the spring, and became a local hit for the band -- remaining for two weeks as WPGC’s “Boss Record of the Day” (a distinction awarded a new record by the station, based on listener call-in votes). It was followed by The Trouble Is You in the fall (listen), released initially on the band’s own label but quickly picked up nationally by Laurie Records. Little Heart was backed with Maybe You’ve Changed” (listen), and The Trouble Is You was backed with I Want you (listen). All four recordings feature stunning vocals by the Willett Brothers joined by John Hurd.

The band also recorded some unreleased tracks that year, including Susan, a ballad sung by Tom Willett and written by Blaine Smith (listen), and Jungle Soul, a raucous instrumental jammed by the band (listen).


Bethesda Youth Center

From its founding in 1962, the Newports played frequently at the Bethesda Youth Center, on Walsh Street in Bethesda, Maryland, and are best remembered by some for their performances there. Here is a poster for a dance BYC sponsored on April 3, 1965, plus an undated photo below of the band performing in its auditorium. Sorry for its poor quality, but it's the only one we currently have of the band playing there. Onstage (L to R) are Don Williamson (drums), Tom Willett (singing), Charlie Willett (singing and guitar), Blaine Smith (guitar), and John Hurd (Hammond organ).


The Rabbit's Foot, Washington, D.C.

The Newports were a favorite at “The Rabbit’s Foot,” an uptown D.C. club at 4811 Wisconsin Avenue NW in Tenleytown-- near the WTOP TV studios at the time and the old Sears and Roebuck (now Container Store). We don't have any photos from inside the club but do have this memento from out front, from an engagement there sometime in 1965. The Rabbit's Foot was also a sometimes haunt of Nils Lofgren's band Grin.

Woodward and Lothrop Fashion Shows

The Newports began playing for teen fashion shows for Woodward and Lothrop in 1963, and over the next few years played many of these events. Typically, they took place in warm weather in the parking lot of their Chevy Chase store, at Western and Wisconsin Avenues. The Newports would play popular tunes, while models displayed their wares to the crowd. Occasionally, though, the show was a major event held at a D.C. hotel for a huge audience. This photo was taken at one held at the Washington Hilton ballroom; the Newports were set up on a stage to the side of the audience, who faced forward toward the fashion show. If you squint, you can see (L to R) John Hurd standing behind his Hammond, then Tom and Charlie Willett singing, and to their left, Blaine Smith on guitar and Bill White on Bass.

Evening Star Article on Newports --  July 1965

This article on the Newports’ record Little Heart appeared in Teen Magazine, a hugely popular Saturday insert then in The Evening Star of Washington , D.C. The author was Ronnie Oberman, a music writer for the paper.

Surrattsville, Maryland High School

We’ll include this article here too, though it's actually from early 1966. High school and even junior high (middle school) dances at this time typically featured bands rather than DJs, and the Newports played them all the time. This article documents one of many, which in this case was also emceed by a popular disc jockey, and held at Surrattsville High School in Prince Georges County, Maryland. (The reference in the article to WPGC’s“Harry Moore”should be to“Harve Moore.”)

Kings Arms Nightclub, Durham, North Carolina, October 1965

The Newports sometimes traveled, and on this occasion played a weekend at“The Kings Arms,a popular nightclub with students at Duke and UNC Chapel Hill at this time, which was located on the highway between Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Here is poster for that engagement. (Okay, this is not our most exciting artifact, but the memory of that weekend is wonderful!)

Band Contracts

Finally -- and we thought you'd never ask! -- here are a couple of typical contracts for Newports engagements at the time. (And if you've made it this far in our archive, you deserve our sincere congratulations!)

The Newports
P.O. Box 448
Damascus, Maryland 20872


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