Dan Hamilton became a musician at the age of 16 and was a songwriter and session musician after moving to Los Angeles at age 15. In 1963, he was a member of The Avantis. The group was made up of Mexican-Americans brothers, Pat and Lolly Vegas who were from Fresno, California, Hamilton and drummer Mike Kowalski. When the brothers came to LA, Pat said to his brother Lolly that they needed a new guitarist. Lolly said to his brother that they didn’t and Pat replied “Maybe we do”. Then Hamilton joined. The group became a support act for the Beach Boys. Later in 1963 the group changed their name and were going by the name of Pat & Lolly Vegas, and worked as the house band of LA’s Haunted House Nightclub before later becoming Redbone.
Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds came together as a result of Hamilton’s brother, the musician/actor Judd Hamilton, being asked by Liberty Records producer Joe Sareceno to form a “live” version of the studio group The T-Bones. In November 1965 Judd agreed, and asked brother Dan to join him on lead guitar. Both had worked for, and been mentored by, The Ventures, whom Saraceno also produced at the time. Once the Hamilton brothers officially became The T-Bones, they rounded out their initial road group with three Los Angeles musicians, George Dee (aka Arnold Rosenthal) on bass, Richard Torres on keyboards/sax, and drummer Gene Pello.
During the early sixties it was not uncommon for a record company to release material recorded by studio session men and pass it off to the unsuspecting public as being recordings by a real, live rock ‘n’ roll ensemble. The first LPs by the T-Bones, “Boss Drag” and “Boss Drag At The Beach”, were released in 1964 to exploit the craze for instrumentals evoking surf and hot-rod themes. “Doin’ The Jerk” followed the next year to capitalize on the huge West Coast dance craze, “The Jerk.”
They hit the road in January 1966 to promote their first single “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In),” an instrumental piece based upon a then-popular Alka-Seltzer TV commercial. Dee and Torres quickly decided to leave the band, and were replaced by Tommy Reynolds (who would, in 1969, be the lead singer for Shango) and Joe Frank Carollo. “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)” reached #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in March 1966, and this revised version of The T-Bones toured the US and Japan.
An album of the same name became the group’s only Billboard Hot 200 entry at #75. A follow-up single, “Sippin’ And Chippin'” which was based on a Nabisco jingle, stalled at #62 and the album of the same name did not chart at all. The last T-Bones LP was “Everyone’s Gone To The Moon,” released late in 1966.
After leaving The T-Bones, Dan Hamilton along with Joe Frank Carollo and Tommy Reynolds, also members of The T-Bones, played the clubs around Los Angeles as The Brothers. Meanwhile, two of Hamilton’s compositions (“Bullseye” and “No Exit”) were recorded by Mel Taylor and the Magics and appeared on their 1966 “In Action!” album. Hamilton also composed several songs for The Ventures. The most notable of these is “Diamond Head,” which the band recorded for their “Walk, Don’t Run, Vol. 2” album, and became an international hit single for Hamilton and the Ventures. For the week ending March 13, 1965, “Diamond Head” had moved up two notches from #4 to #2 in the Hong Kong Top Ten. The following week it had reached #1 there. The song became Japan’s first million-seller and sold more than 1,850,000 copies there. It was a hit in Iran and got to #70 in the US. The song was later covered by the Aqua Velvets and Susan & The Surftones. Hamilton wrote several other songs for the Ventures throughout the 1960s, such as “War of the Satellites”, “Escape” (which was originally called “Target”), “Wild And Wooly,” “Kandy Koncoction” and “The Gallop.”
In 1970, Hamilton and Tommy Reynolds co-founded Hamilton Joe Frank & Reynolds with Joe Frank Carollo. Hamilton was the guitarist and main songwriter for the group. Dunhill Records offered a recording contract to the new band, and the following year “Don’t Pull Your Love” (arranged by Ben Benay from their self-titled 1971 debut album which peaked at #59 in the US) hit #1 on the Cash Box Top 100, peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, sold over million US copies and was awarded a gold record by the RIAA in August 1971. A couple more singles, “Annabella” and “Daisy Mae” also charted. 1972’s “Hallway Symphony” LP only reached #191, and when the single “One Good Woman” failed to break the Top 40, the band was dropped from Dunhill.
Tommy Reynolds left the group in late 1972, while Hamilton and Carollo continued recording and touring with various session musicians such as Larry Knechtel on keyboards and Joe Correro on drums. With the addition of Alan Dennison and Rick Shull, Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds continued to perform locally.
In the latter part of 1974 they secured a new recording deal with Playboy Records on the provision that they retained the name Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds, even though Reynolds had left the group. 1975’s “ Fallin’ in Love,” composed by Dan and his first wife Ann, fared better, reaching #82 on the strength of the title track, which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 andc #33 in the UK. It became their second gold disc, and their only song to appear in the UK Singles Chart where it was licensed to Pye Records and reached #33 in the autumn of 1975. It was later a hit for La Bouche in 1996 with their version reaching #35 in the Hot 100.
Between those two hit records, Hamilton had a 1972 solo release entitled, “Don’t Wait Up for Me Tonight” b/w “On the Other Hand,” which was credited to Danny Hamilton & Spoondrift. It was released on Dunhill, and even saw a release in New Zealand on Probe 44.
“Winners & Losers” which reached #21 in 1976, but the next releases, “Don’t Fight the Hands (That Need You)” and “Everyday Without You” both failed to reach the Top 40. For their second Playboy Records album in 1976, the band changed their name to the more-accurate “Hamilton, Joe Frank & Dennison” but in 1980 they once again disbanded, this time permanently.
Hamilton continued to write and publish songs, and also wrote and recorded a couple of film themes. In Hamilton’s final years, he and his brother were recording a country music album as The Hamilton Brothers. In the winter of 1993, Hamilton became seriously and mysteriously ill, bafflling his doctors. He went from a physically active man to one who had difficulty walking and doing most other physical activities. He was a martial artist and reached the level of 3rd degree black belt. It was eventually determined that he was suffering from a rare hormone disorder called Cushing’s Syndrome.
“Don’t Pull Your Love” was featured at the beginning of The West Wing episode “In the Shadow of 2 Gunmen Part II”. The song was also heard in the movie “When Harry Met Sally….” and was also featured in the 2017 DC animated feature “Batman and Harley Quinn.” “Fallin’ in Love” appeared in the 2007 film “The Hitcher.” A running joke from radio personality Dan Ingram, while a deejay at WABC AM, involved introducing the group as “Hamilton, Joe, Frank Reynolds and the entire Eyewitness News team,” a reference to the band and a nod to ABC news anchor Frank Reynolds during his tenure as co-anchor of “World News Tonight.”
In 2012, Hamilton’s widow Fredricka successfully sued Henry Marx and his Music Force publishing company, and was awarded $562,317 in revenue from the song “Fallin’ in Love.”
In May, 2013 Ronnie Rush, the Roadie for Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds, published his memoir; Life Of A Roadie, The Gypsy In Me.” On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.