The Underdogs were a four-man garage band from Grosse Pointe, MI, with a lineup similar to the Beatles -- three guitars and a drum manned by Dave Whitehouse (vocals/bass), Tony Roumell (lead guitar/vocals), Chris Lena (rhythm guitar/vocals), and Michael Morgan (drums/vocals).
Inspired by the success of English bands like the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five, the Rolling Stones, and others, the band formed in high school and started playing at local promoters Dave Leone's and Ed "Punch" Andrews' legendary Hideout Club in Harper Woods, MI. The Hideout was a teen dance club and record company that opened in 1963; the latter came about when the featured bands became so popular Leone and Andrews decided to record them. Bob Seger & the Last Herd, the Fugitives, Doug Brown & the Omens, the Heavy Metal Kids (featuring future Eagle Glenn Frey), Suzi Quatro & the Pleasure Seekers, and Ted Nugent & the Lourds are some of the rockers that played the Hideout.
Leone, a college student, started the club to give teens a place to hang; the admission was a whopping one dollar to dance, hang out, and see local bands. He initially was going to call the place "The Library" so the teens could tell their parents they were going to the library Friday night. The club was scandalous. Formerly used as a wedding reception hall, its back room doubled as a dressing/orgy room.
In 1965, the Underdogs cut Hideout's first single, "Man in the Glass," a song based on an Alcoholics Anonymous poem. The flip side was "Judy Be Mine" aka "Friday at the Hideout," which the Romantics redid. "Man in the Glass" made enough noise locally for Hideout to ink a master deal with Reprise Records for mass distribution. But the distribution and plugging ended when the source of the lyrics was discovered by Reprise.
Buoyed by the success of "Man in the Glass" despite the lyrics controversy, Hideout issued a sampler LP late in 1965 that featured both sides of the Underdogs' single plus two new cuts: "Surprise, Surprise" (a remake of the Rolling Stones' record) and "Get Down on Your Knees" written by Bob Seger, Whitehouse, and Leone. A second single "Little Girl" b/w "Don't Pretend" (1966) followed a similar script; coming out on Hideout first, then Reprise, the promotion wasn't aborted this time but the record still stiffed everywhere but "the Dogs"' home base. Seger wrote "East Side Story" for the Underdogs, but reportedly their version didn't have it, so Seger cut it himself.
The bands' hometown popularity piqued the interest of Motown Records who signed them to a deal. They had one single release on the VIP label, a tough-as-nails makeover of Holland-Dozier-Holland's "Love's Gone Bad" originally done by blue-eyed soul-singing Chris Clark; the Underdogs are reportedly the first white band signed by Motown, but that's debatable, with "band" being the key word. What should have been a hit didn't generate much chart action according to Motown's standards, reaching its zenith at number 122 pop in 1966. The flipside was a remake of Clarence Paul/Bunny Paul/Faye Hale's "MoJo Hanna" a popular Jobete copyright first recorded by Henry Lumpkin and redone by many including Marvin Gaye, the Ideals, Tammi Lynn, Esther Phillips, and the Neville Brothers. The single is a find, if you can locate a copy. They cut other unreleased sides at Motown including a smokin' "The Way You Do the Things You Do" that was shelved for years but can now be found on compilation albums such as Motown Sings Motown and others.
The Grande Ballroom succeeded the Hideout Club in the Detroit area, which seems to coincide with the Underdogs' disappearance from the music scene. When Leone got drafted, it spelled the end of the club that earned him big bucks; he later became a booking agent for Ted Nugent and others before passing October 5, 1999, from a heart attack. Punch Andrews, Leone's Hideout partner and longtime manager of Bob Seger, now handles Kid Rock. It's not clear what happened to the Underdogs. ~ Andrew Hamilton, Rovi