Don Baskin

About Don Baskin

Don Baskin, the son of a U.S Air Force Colonel, was born on October 9, 1946, in Honolulu, HI. He spent his childhood bouncing around different military bases in the U.S and Germany before his father finally retired in San Jose. Having taken up the sax in junior high, Baskin gained enough talent to get into his first rock band, called the Pharoahs, in 1961, followed by another sax role with Lenny Lee & the Nightmen in 1963. He then paired up with friend and bassist, Bob Gonzalez, in 1964 and the two recruited drummer John Duckworth and guitarists John Sharkey and Larry Ray to form Syndicate of Sound (Ray was replaced by Jim Sawyer just before the band's high point). Slightly more than a year later, Baskin and Gonzalez shared the pen that spawned the mega hit "Little Girl," which they recorded on an independent label with Baskin providing the lead vocal. At first, the song became a local hit, but with enough impact to grab the attention of Bell Records out of New York, they were offered a record deal in 1966. "Little Girl" was recorded as a single on the independent Hush label and Bell Records assumed distributorship, but they needed the guys to record an album, then go out on tour to promote the entire package. The time line was three weeks with a budget of $1,500 to complete the project, after which "Little Girl" was given more promotional attention and grew to become a certified Top Ten smash, peaking at number eight on the Billboard charts. Baskin and Gonzalez earned awards from BMI, as well as other accolades that would not surface until decades later -- all as a result of their sole phenomenal hit, "Little Girl."
In 1970, Syndicate of Sound disbanded, allowing Baskin to broaden his scope to include a lot of work in Hollywood as a studio musician and arranger up until about 1973 when he began itching to get back into another band. He formed Wichita, a San Jose-based country band who eventually moved their base to Gilley's Club in Houston, TX, right around the time that the film Urban Cowboy was released. In 1981, Baskin formed another rock band call Gypsy, with whom he continued to record, produce, and write songs for until 1986.
Entering the '90s, Baskin started to experience waves of interest in the old Syndicate of Sound and the possibility that the band might get back into action in its original, albeit more mature form. He approached Gonzalez, who had been getting the same vibe, and the two approached Duckworth who said, "Why not?" Since then, the band has been moderately active, accepting select concert invitations and reliving some of the glamour days of the '60s. This renewed visibility may or may not have had anything to do with a call the band received from the curators of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but as it turned out, they were invited to appear for a special awards presentation, which they gleefully accepted. In addition, "Little Girl" will forever be re-played at 20-minute intervals for the visitors of the Hall. A plaque is also on display, citing "Little Girl" as a pivotal song in the history of rock & roll.
During all of this, Baskin was struck by a couple of new ideas. One of which was to form an agreement with Billboard Magazine that would provide chart-related products to all Top Ten-charted Billboard musicians, artists, and songwriters. The idea was to set up an exclusive certification process for Billboard Magazine to award those involved in the creation of Top Ten recordings. Secondly, Baskin came up with a high-tech system for the tracking of lost or stolen instruments. The process would include implanting an electronic device in any given instrument, making it possible for authorities to locate it.
Baskin makes his home in Dan Diego, CA, and is on-call to a few select bands, one of which is the Legends, a San Diego-based '50s/'60s revue that includes members of Sha-Na-Na and the Outsiders. Another is, of course, his original brainchild -- Syndicate of Sound. ~ Tom Kealey

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