1962: Clipper Cowbridge

1963: The Swiss Invasion

1965: Marilyn Kaye

1969: The Fold

1970: Yorgi

1971: Devon Shire

1972: Sandee Saunders

1976: Rockfinger

1978: The Spooky Bunch

1979: Decoupage

1981: Bleep

1984: Tiger Love

1985: Laryssa Foxxx

1986: Smasher of Things

1987: Suthrn Cuzn

1989: ~pianogirl~

1990: Razorflesh

1995: Breaker Bear

1996: Action Plus

1998: J Lounge

2001: Eesk

2004: Lazarus Project

Rockfinger: Loathe Thy Brother (1976)

Rockfinger's 1976 Clubbo release, Alright Tonight

ROCKFINGER’S “FEEL IT” was the unofficial anthem of the Bicentennial summer. Twin brothers Jack and Tommy Lamb co-wrote the song in a rare moment of cooperation. But less than a month after the song’s release, it became the subject of a fifteen-year legal battle that destroyed the band — and one of the brothers.

Still, “Feel It” is more than the Bleak House of classic rock. It’s a rousing reminder of how it feels to be young, free, and party-bound.

EXTRA! Exclusive reprint: Tommy Lamb Interview [PDF]


“Feel It”

“Feel It” lyrics and credits


From Jacob and Esau to Mary-Kate and Ashley, twins have always fascinated even the non-geneticists among us.

The Lamb twins: Tommy (left) and Jack (right)

Why does a twin such as Vin Diesel or Aaron Carter attain immortality while his sibling languishes in obscurity? Does nature or nurture decree that certain twins share common passions, be it writing advice columns (Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren) or underage drinking (Jenna and Barbara Bush)? And how might our cultural lives have been enriched if the twins of Elvis Presley, Liberace, and Justin Timberlake had survived childbirth?

Clubbo can’t answer these questions. But the label did make a lasting contribution to the lore of twindom in 1975 when it signed Rockfinger, a quartet fronted by vocalist Jack Lamb and his younger (by seven minutes) guitarist brother, Tommy.

By the time Rockfinger came to the attention of Clubbo head Morris “Bo” Bogerman, the Terre Haute, Indiana, combo had already been scouted by labels on both coasts, thanks to the phenomenal word of mouth generated by their barnstorming Midwestern club tours. Most industry observers had already passed on the group for the same reason: Rockfinger had great live energy, but no hit songs.

As usual, Bogerman heard things differently. He thought the group’s longtime encore number, “Feel It,” had radio potential. And for once he was right. Very, very right.

With its goodtime beat and irrepressible chorus, the song became a runaway hit during the Bicentennial summer. To this day, there’s nary a late-Baby Boomer who can hear the tune without thinking of high school proms and football halftime shows.

Thanks to its upbeat but vague sentiments, the song stirred crowds at thousands of Bicentennial firework displays and both the Democratic and Republican national conventions. The song was subsequently covered by 57 artists and translated into 17 languages, including Inuit. Rockfinger’s LP Alright Tonight! loitered near the top of the album charts for an astounding 105 weeks.

But the very song responsible for the Lamb brothers’ initial success was destined to destroy their band, their relationship, and at least one of their lives. From the song’s inception, Jack and Tommy battled over the publishing split of “Feel It.” Neither disputed the song’s genesis: Tommy concocted the basic guitar riff in the band’s rental van during the return trip from a Cedar Rapids gig, and then Jack commenced crafting the lyrics.

“Right away I started getting all the words in my head,” Jack Lamb recounted in a 1995 Rockmakers interview. “I had a big old black felt pen, but no paper. But I knew I’d miss the train if I didn’t get it down, so I wrote it right there on the van dashboard: ‘You know you got to feel it, make it feel alright.’ And I’ll have you know that when we had to give up our security deposit, it came out of my own personal share.”

The problems started when Jack filled out the publishing forms and claimed 75% credit. “It was just the standard deal,” he explained. “I wrote the words — that’s 50%. And my vocal melody was half of the music. That’s another 25%. Tommy did his half of the music and got 25%, so I never understood what his problem was.”

“Dad always thought they should have had a straight 50/50 split,” said Tommy’s daughter, Justice Lamb, in a recent phone conversation. Justice, who currently plays bass with Elinem recording artists Hellmuffin, recalled her father’s claim that he had already started referring to his fateful guitar part as “the Feel Good riff” before Jack started writing on the dashboard: “Dad felt that ‘Feel It’ was a rip-off of ‘Feel Good,’ so he should have got credit for part of the words. He used to say the song would have been an even bigger hit if Uncle Jack had left it as ‘Feel Good,’ because that way people would have known what it was that they were supposed to feel. The way Uncle Jack wrote it, it just sort of leaves you hanging, you know?”

The fraternal dispute metastasized to the point where the brothers could no longer share the stage without coming to blows. Bogerman seduced them into the studio on several occasions with a combination of flattery, threats and gifts, including a matched pair of Special Edition Trans Ams with T-tops and snowflake wheels. But on each occasion, the sessions erupted in violence before any serious work was completed. Rockfinger never completed its much-anticipated second album, Tight Fit, and the group officially called it quits on Valentine’s Day, 1978.

Tommy Lamb in 1991, not long before complications ensued.

The music was over, but the quarrel lived on in the courts until 1991, when Tommy’s final appeal was judged in Jack’s favor. The night after the decision was announced, Tommy powered his now-decrepit Trans Am through the security gate at Jack’s estate. He proceeded to pour kerosene into his nephews’ sandbox and light it on fire. The flames traveled to the mansion’s thatched, Tudor-style roof, and the entire structure was consumed. Fortunately, Jack and his family were not home — the singer had flown his family to Disney World to celebrate the court victory.

Tommy plea-bargained his way out of an attempted murder charge, but was sentenced to 36 months for first-degree arson. Tragically, he was killed in a prison dental brawl on April 1st, 1993.

But as fate would have it, Tommy’s death reunited Rockfinger. Freed from the threat of another lawsuit, Jack reformed the group with the original rhythm section and former Leather Tiger guitarist Snickers Keith. The reconstituted Rockfinger has proved a steady draw on the oldies circuit, and the group is currently working on that long-overdue sophomore effort, now tentatively titled Still Feelin’ It.

Meanwhile, Jack Lamb’s former groundskeeper recently sold one of the snowflake wheels from Tommy’s Trans Am for $744 on — a record-setting price for a mid-’70s wheel or hubcap.