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Remembering area bands

by Bob Stealey

EDITOR

A history could be written of the many rock'n'roll bands that have performed in and around Clarksburg over the past 50 years or so. By no means do I profess to know either the chronology or the members of the various musical groups, so that leaves me out as the historian here.

The list of names of the really popular bands that played for dances at clubs and nightspots is extensive -- the Esquires, the Emeralds, the Royals, Pee Wee and the Prophets, the Dynatones, the Electras, the Pastels, Mike Fowler & the Upsetters.

As I said, the list goes on and on, which only says that this region was abundant with talent for a lot of years.

John Jorgensen remembers several of the bands that got their start while their members were still students at Washington Irving High School. He mentioned Mike King and The Electras and also The Vistas, featuring a few Hartland area boys who performed together frequently, including the late Tommy Warfield, Tommy Wightman, Dave Thompson and Larry Norris.

Another band he mentioned, The Dynatones, also featured some WI boys, including Jackie Wolfe and Eddie Evans. (It was The Dynatones, I recall, who performed as the warm-up band for the Four Seasons, when they performed at Nathan Goff Armory in Clarksburg, presented by Salem College.)

Yet another group that originated with WI students was The Pastels -- a completely different band of musicians from the ones of the same name who continue to play today. John tells me that Stanley Frum was on saxophone, Billy Moore on drums, and he sang the lead vocal parts.

Can anyone recall the Vanguards? John says Pat Chipps was the drummer, with John Rice on bass, Larry Poe on saxophone, the late Bob Cutlip on guitar and lead singer Sam Folio. And he said Chuck Collins at one time went by the name Troy Parrish in the group known as the Shades.

It was always my belief that Chuck Collins sang with Malcolm Swisher and the Fabians when they were the house band for the Benedum Civic Center in Bridgeport at its Saturday night dances. And wasn't Collins the lead singer in Pee Wee and the Prophets when they produced a record in the summer of 1965 called "Tell Me"?

Another band that recorded a couple of tunes on Raven Records was The Mysterians, who started up in, I believe, 1966. Then, because Rudy Martinez of Detroit had his famous Question Mark and the Mysterians, who had a big hit with "96 Tears," the local Mysterians changed their name to the Second Set and recorded "Picture Window." That move seemed to make sense.

Yes, there are other well-known local performers, such as Bob "Mole" Schmidt; other bands, like the Rivieras and Bucyrus Erie, and other old, familiar "haunts," like Billie's Meadowbrook between Farmington and Monongah. There's nowhere near enough space to list them all, but the memories of just a few of the "good ol' days" will live on and on.

And, for cryin' out loud, we must never let the music die!

n n n

Just a thought for the day before I sign off 'til Friday.

As I've matured, I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself with others. Who knows, they could be more messed up than you think!

Be well ... be happy ... and BEWARE! Halloween is almost upon us.

Bob Stealey can be reached at 626-1438 or by e-mail at rstealey@exponent-telegram.com