Hard Times was a 1960s slightly psychedelic folk rock band. The group originally featured singer Rudy Romero, singer-guitarist Lee Kiefer (misspelled Keifer in the liner notes of their debut album), lead guitarist Bill Richardson, bassist Bob Morris, and drummer Paul Wheatbread. Wheatbread was a student at Clairemont High while drumming with a rhythm-and-blues band called the Ravens, fronted by a singer named Gary Puckett. Romero was already playing in a group called Rudy and the Rolans in 1964, when he was among the first graduates of then-new Madison High. Even after Romero formed Hard Times with Wheatbread and both had graduated high school, they continued to occasionally play at Madison High and Clairemont High, including at dances and football games.
After relocating to L.A. to work with manager Florence Stanley, they made frequent appearances on Dick Clark's local TV show Where The Action Is and were the house band for a time at the Whisky A Go-Go.
They signed with World Pacific Records (a division of Liberty Records) in 1966, releasing three singles that year: "They'll Be A Time" b/w "You're Bound To Cry," "Come To Your Window" b/w "That's All I'll Do," and their only charting song "Fortune Teller" b/w "Goodbye," which reached number 97 on the U.S. charts.
Lee Kiefer departed for a solo career and bassist Bob Morris was replaced by Larry Byrom before their debut (and only) album Blew Mind was released by World Pacific in 1967 (minus singles tracks "They'll Be A Time," "You're Bound To Cry," "Come To Your Window," and "That's All I'll Do"). A fourth single was released in 1967, featuring Al Kooper's "Sad, Sad Sunshine" b/w "They Said No" (another non-album song).
Bill Richardson and Larry Byrom quit to form a psychedelic rock band named T.I.M.E. (Trust In Men Everywhere), alongside former Sparrows bassist (and original Steppenwolf member) Nick St. Nicholas. T.I.M.E. released a debut full-length in 1968.
With Hard Times now reduced to singer Rudy Romero, returning guitarist Lee Kiefer, and drummer Paul Wheatbread, the group released a single under the name New Phoenix, featuring Romero's paisley psychedelic song "Give To Me Your Love" b/w an instrumental version of the same tune renamed "Thanks" (World Pacific, 1968). The tracks were produced by none other than Mama Cass of the Mamas and the Papas, who was dating Lee Kiefer during 1967 and 1968.
After Rudy Romero left to launch his own solo career, the band split for good. Drummer Paul Wheatbread became a founding member of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.