Episode 90: Carlton and Happy from the RCMob make us happy

Carlton Smith and Happy Chichester formed the super-cool, super-tight rhythm section of the Royal Crescent Mob. They — along with lead singer David Ellison and guitarist “B” — are getting the band back together to play two fundraiser shows to benefit cancer research. They’ll be rocking the house at the Athenaeum Theatre in Columbus on Friday, December 16th and the Madison Theater in Covington, KY on Saturday, December 17th.

We talked to Carlton and Happy about how they got together way back in the mid-80s, their legendary live shows at Bogart’s, what 97X meant to their band, and why they’re looking forward to performing as a group once again.

Flyer for a Royal Crescent Mob gig back in the day, featuring a great Carlton caricature.

Tickets for both shows are on sale now at the links above. Pro tip: avoid the Ticketmaster fees on the Madison Theater show by purchasing your tickets at the Heritage Bank Center (a.k.a. Riverfront Coliseum) box office (M-F, 11a-3p).

97X Year 10 poster signed by B and Carlton

Former 97X and WVXU Nightwaves DJ Dan Reed, now at WXPN in Philly, will play a DJ set to open up both shows. Here’s more from the press release promoting the Madison Theater show:

The 1980’s-90’s Indie faves, The Royal Crescent Mob (RC Mob) have announced they are Getting Back On the Bus for a Really Big Show, a special 2 night reunion, Dec 16 in Columbus OH and Dec 17th in Covington KY./Cincinnati to benefit the Tri-State Area Cancer Research Fund.

The band last performed together almost 30 years ago, disbanding in 1994.

All four original band members, David Ellison, Harold “Happy” Chichester, Carlton Smith and Mr. B (Brian Emch). will be performing.

With drummer Carlton Smith recently diagnosed with brain cancer (Glioblastoma), singer David Ellison, recently treated for Prostate Cancer and the loss of guitarist B’s wife, Cincinnati Attorney, Sallee Fry in May, 2022, to Pancreatic Cancer, the four band members, decided there is no time like the present to celebrate life and revel in the joy of playing music together and the healing spirit music embodies in the human soul.

After vaulting up to the top 20 in college radio airplay, the band signed to the Sire / Warner Brothers label. The Mob gained national exposure touring with acts like The Replacements, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Living Colour, and the B-52s. Their legendary live shows developed quite a following of their own including Dave Grohl, who mentions the Royal Crescent Mob, as his favorite band back in his teenage days when he worked at Tower Records in DC.

The full Dave Grohl note and article about Happy are here.

“We have this really rich music scene here in Ohio. Y’know, I have friends who played with Miles Davis and Bootsy Collins, or toured the world with Dr. John. Here in Columbus, you’ll find yourself sitting next to the guy who spent ten years playing bass with Ray Charles. It all gets blended together. I sometimes feel like Ohio is the only place where my music makes sense. It’s too eclectic and far-flung for the rest of the world. James Brown, Led Zeppelin and The Meters are all equally important in the way I hear music.” 


Columbus blogger Drew Layman has a great post about the RC Mob and their first release, Omerta, on his The Quiet One blog. He also has a cool post about their major-label debut, Spin the World.

RC Mob’s major label debut hit the charts in 1989.
Westerberg, actually… RC Mob opened for the ‘mats back in the late 80s.

Post-RC Mob, Carlton Smith and Happy reunited in Howlin’ Maggie, the band fronted by Happy. (Here’s a link to a live recording of a 1996 show from that band.)

Hap has also released music under his own name.


“To be honest with you, yeah, I’m a very happy person,” he smiles. “And I don’t know if that’s because it’s my name, or because I’ve had the incredible good fortune of being able to record and write my music. But being happy, yeah, it’s my natural state. And as long as I get to hit my drums and play music for few hours every day, it’s pretty easy to stay happy.”

See you all at the Big Show!

3 Replies to “Episode 90: Carlton and Happy from the RCMob make us happy”

  1. […] ICYMI, check out the 97X Rumblings from the Big Bush podcast episode where Dave Tellmann and I talked to Carlton and Happy from the RC Mob prior to their reunion shows […]

  2. Drew

    Great episode, thanks. Carlton was a great drummer and a better person. I’m starting to research a post on Midnight Rose’s and stumbled on this. I appreciate the shout out and links. I corrected Westerberg, ha. Peace.

    1. Damian

      Hi Drew, thanks for listening. Keep us posted on your blog post about Midnight Rose’s, would love to check that out and promote it here as well!


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