The Gants were formed in 1963 by Sid Herring (vocals, guitar), Johnny Sanders (guitar), Vince Montgomery (bass) and Don Wood (drums) in Greenwood, Mississippi.
Named after a popular brand of button-down collar shirts, The Gants released their version of the Bo Diddley song Road Runner.
Chosen to open for The Animals for their Florida dates in 1965, The Gants released their first album, also called Roadrunner, recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
In January 1966, Little Boy Sad was released as a single. It included an early use of the talk box, later made famous by Peter Frampton.
In 1966 and early 1967, several singles and two more albums packed full of crafty, Beatle-esque pop tunes were released – Gants Galore and Gants Again – although none of these had any significant chart impact.
Johnny Sanders quit to go to medical school. He was replaced by Johnny “Freakie” Freeman, who had played with Herring and Wood before they were The Gants.
When the group called it a day, Freeman and Montgomery went back to school. Sid Herring and Don Woods kept playing around the South, including a stint as writers and session men with Steve Cropper’s Transmaximus International (TMI) studio.
In 2005, The Gants began performing together again, with bassist Ed Foresman replacing Vince Montgomery, who died of natural causes in 2001 at his home in Clarksdale, Mississippi, aged 54.
The Gants’ hometown of Greenwood honoured their local heroes – the band Tom Petty called “the Mississippi Beatles” – in 2018 with a plaque.
Don Wood died on 14 May 2011 in his home in Greenwood, Mississippi. Johnny Sanders died at home on 29 September 2012 from Alzheimer’s Disease.
Johnny ‘Freakie’ Freeman