Champaign was buzzing with great bands and artists. My favorite
club besides the Whisky in Hollywood, was the Red Lion Inn, on
Green Street near the U of I campus. That was where REO
Speedwagon was born! I saw Chaka Khan and Rufus there, Dan
Fogelberg, Starcastle, The One-Eyed Jacks, Ginger, The All-Star Frogs, Dynaflo, The Finchley Boys, Skater, Head East, Pork and
the Havana Ducks...
GARY STRATOR of Starcastle died Sunday night
September 19, 2004.
The following, written by Mark Rubel, of Pogo Records in Champaign, will be published this week in the Hub:
Gary Strater is a man of music, and a man of peace, at peace.
I use the
present tense because the music that Gary made, especially with the group
Starcastle, and the influence of his gentle and noble personality continue
to to touch and speak to people around the world. This is evidenced in the
tributes that are flooding in, circulating the internet, and by the bass he
signed that is being raffled and re-donated, traveling the world to raise
money for research into cancer.
To see how his work transcended barriers of geography, language and time
illuminates the way in which
plane of existence with such grace, strength and his characteristic humor.
to overlook the fact of his virtuosic and pure musicianship- and those can
be two very separate qualities.
traveled widely through the
played with such well-known groups as Jethro Tull, Aerosmith, Rush, Journey,
Heart and many others.
Brothers Band, Steve Perry of Journey and lent his talents to such regional
bands as ESP and the Mary Clark Revue.
As a recording engineer and producer, he taught and facilitated the
self-expression of others. Having worked in music stores and as a bass
teacher part of his legacy is in the music he instilled in others.
When Gary died at home last Sunday, in the loving company of his wife
Sascha, family members, friends and his beloved animals, the music community
and all of the many who love and esteem him lost a great and admirable man.
This was felt so strongly at his benefit concert in April, where the
outpouring of love and support was overwhelming. Although it was for
that event brought to those who were there a profound and life-changing
realization of the power of music and community.
He was too young; but in his time he lived deeply and much. He left a
positive impact, not to mention a marvelous last Starcastle record that will
come out, and express the otherwise inexpressible for him and the rest of
All of the things that I have said here I would have, and probably have said
during our long friendship, brotherhood and association. I was a fan before
I was a friend, and now I find myself having to admire
once again. He has moved on, and we miss him terribly. And yet, I feel his
presence as strongly as ever. I can see him now.
A band called Ginger, that never became a household
word anywhere but in central Illinois, opened for Aerosmith,
Rush, Kiss, Argent, and REO. Gary Richrath, of REO, was a big
fan who had a hand co-producing and engineering some
of Ginger's recording sessions.
Some of the other bands of the area included:
The Seeds of Doubt, Sunday (with Harry Washburn)
Skater (with Mark Lundquist, Mo, Larry Fredrickson)
The Guild (with Mike McDonal) Arrow Memphis, The Blue,
The Ship, Rocksalt, Fat Daddy Five (with Bob Newpauer)
The Esquires, Coal Kitchen (with Carla Payton and Andrea Mozatti)
Rathskeller, and the band called Champaign.
A girl named Debbie has written to me.
She wants to know
more about Arrow Memphis and their whereabouts.
She remembers these band names--Gary Hudson, Charlie
Morris, Jack McDaniels, Greg Harris and Gary something.
Debbie's email: email@example.com
Bob Nutt and Irving Azoff booked the bands back then.
Bob Graham managed the Red Lion, Greg
was the doorman, the Garcia Brothers started their
"pizza-by-the-slice just inside the
front door, and Azoff had an office there.
My friend, Bobby Young, was a roadie for
they played the Red Lion. He asked me go to out on the road with
the band as an "assistant roadie" but I turned him down.
Dan Fogelberg got booed off the stage
one night at the Red Lion
because REO was coming up next, and everybody wanted to rock!
I heard from Tom Marshall, who can definitely
relate to this Champaign stuff. He mentions several bands he
was in, but particularly Screams that Terry Luttrell produced.
He's searching for an old photo or two, but in the meantime
sent along this one from from 1993 in Chicago.
I also heard from Frank Hurtte who lived
in the same house as Doc
from the All Star Frogs, and Doc's girlfriend, Debbie. He
would love to make contact with Doc again and wants to know
if anybody remembers Sparky from Sparky's Record Exchange?.
Frank's email: FHurtte@vmind.com
Dru Vaughn writes on more Red Lion
- Station 211, 211 E. Green St., C. This was built in the 1920s as a Sinclair Gas Station and much later became the Red Lion Inn. Recently it was converted to Station 211 under the direction of architect John Holbert; Roland Realty was the contractor with Tom Gillespie and Associates as the developers. The interior of the building was totally gutted and rebuilt with concrete floors and new finishes. A new patio and enclosing wall were built, and the building was
re-roofed and painted.
Say good-bye to an Era! Jimmy Fallon now owns the Red Lion Sign. Dru
Mike Murphy today
Bill, aka Great Uncle Bill, wrote to say that he was
stationed at Chanute AFB back in the early 70's and
remembers well the old Red Lion and seeing REO and
Pork and the Havana Ducks. He still has an old Ducks
album that he bought from them back in those days.
He's got a great website at Greatunclebill.com where
you can find photos of Chanute and of an outdoor
concert in Bloomington, 1969.
Email Bill: Bill@greatunclebill.com
Mike Rafferty writes: "What a great town Champaign was
to have grown up in during the 60's and 70's. Music was
everywhere--Ruby gulch, Dream Museum, Channing Murray,
Crystal Lake Park, West Side Park..." Mike remembers a
band out of Chicago called Conquer Worm and he remembers
Slink Rand well, and Geyser who had an opera-trained
chic lead singer. Mike's email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary, who also remembered
Arrow Memphis, would love to know what happened to
them. She remembers Sticks, their drummer, who went on
to dental school, Glenn, Denny and another guy she can't
remember. Anybody know anything at all about these guys?
Mary's email: email@example.com
We all remember Greg Zimmerman from the Red Lion,
don't we? He sent some great photos below of him and
his Harley. Here's Greg's entire letter:
were many "gatherings" in the basement of Red Lion for a "pick me
up" during the late 60's and 70's. We would have some party after the joint
closed and run the steam tunnels fried on acid. Oh, and don't forgot the two
"Rock Festivals" that Azoff and the gang were involved in, one at
Haywood, IL and other slated for Galena but moved to Iowa at the last minute. I
worked security on the one in
the Red Lion after Bob Graham went to
to open another
one for Tyke. Things got weird as the cops closed in on the place trying their
best to "turn" a few of our buds" so they could shut the place down for
drugs. Tyke had an inside source that kept him informed and we always knew when
the heat was coming. However, the locals got to one of our buds and Tyke tried
to ban him and I quit because of the mess.
and Tyke had interest in a huge place up by
I went into construction and have lived in many states managing projects. I now reside in
have attached a recent pic of myself. I get back to
often to see
family and my sons and see some familiar faces when I venture out at night. They
need a club like the Red Lion now. I spoke with Duke Tomato at a blues club here
in KC a few years back other than that, I haven't seen much of the old gang
unless I go to the Christmas jam in
Anybody remember the band Plush? They were
through Blytham and spent time on the road with Guild.
Plush band members were: George Jacks, Tony Stough,
Ron Kerst and Roger Prillaman. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Nash especially remembers the Ship and the
One Eyed Jacks, "But there were a few more bands floating around central Illinois worth noting. "Seven" featured Greg Guidry and his two sisters on vocals, and the Robinson brothers from Litchfield. The Robinsons went on to play with Frankie Valle for many years, and of course Greg had moderate success with his solo release "Over The Line". Then there was Slink Rand and IL MO Smokehouse hailing from Quincy. They really did kick butt. However, I think one of the best bands in the area during that period was a band of "Pork" Armstrong's called The Light Brigade. The keyboard player joined Rufus, I think, and the remainder became The Havannah Ducks. email@example.com
I worked at the Red Lion from late 77 until it's close...also worked on and off for Starcastle...sorry to hear about Gary's condition....was on the road with them when they asked Terry Luttrell to leave, so saw his last show with them at Coe College in Iowa...also saw a reference to Screams...I spent several months on the road with them (opening for Aerosmith, Van Halen and a few others) after their first (and only album; produced by Terry)...the original band members were Dave, John, Steve, and Brad...no Tom Marshall, so not sure where that reference was coming from....but he wasn't a part of the Terry Luttrell produced album...
the guitar player in Dynaflo after Curtis Hightman moved on to a band called
"Frisky" with my housemate at the time, Dan Birney, later of Head East
(bass)....I noticed in one of your pictures of the band, the bass player was
still John (Polar Bear) Sauter, later replaced with Bob Nicol. What a great
band, and we sure did have a lot of fun!...
...I've lost touch with Dan Birney, although although I've heard that the band has been playing around some, ... (probably mostly new guys), so if you have a line on him, I'd truly appreciate it.
Daniel Wayne Birney, 52, Head East bassist from
1974 until 1980, died of cardiovascular disease on 9 August 2003 in Phoenix,
This is me...Ron Kerst Drummer (72)
Everybody remembers the Finchley Boys and what a great
they were. Jim Cole emailed the web site with these great
old photos below. Jim's email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, Jimmy. Great photos of a great band!
I thought you might like to see the band I'm playing with now's web site. We're called the "Tons 'O Fun Band" and feature Pauli Carmen, former lead singer with Champaign and also with the Slink Rand Band and Coal Kitchen. Also long time Champaign scene musicians included Scott Karlstrom who was the original bass player in Ginger along with myself on drums and who also played bass in the Water Brothers band. Pauli and I were in the first Champagne band together, the predecessor to Champaign.
I was Champaign based road guy in the
initially moving there from Wisconsin to work for Slink Rand, I also
worked for Starcastle, Freewheelin, Appaloosa, Faith Band, Roadmaster, Screams, did a house gig at Mabels, and the Lion. Pretty much mixed every band in town from 76 to 82 when I went home for rehab and an attitude adjustment.
Back on the road in 84 I did the Monkee's reunion tour, Dirty Dancing
Concert tour and an extensive stint with Bill Graham Mgmt. Eddie Money, George Benson,etcetc.
Just thought I'd drop ya'll a line--Dru, you still look like a million bucks! Anyway remembering thru the fog, there were some great humans in the community, (you know who you are) and I felt compelled to say hey---I'm still breathing and vertical and would love
to hear from old friends.
Best Wishes, Jeff Waluch
David Adams, the former lead singer of Screams writes,
"We're the ones who were on Infinity Records and toured
with Van Halen...we're mentioned on your site, and I have
many friends who are a part of the wonderful nostalgia
which you have assembled there." He sent along a recent
photo of Jeff Ross, who was the manager for Screams.
David now has a business called Adams Custom Slide Shows
"PS: I saw Bob Nutt a few months back playin' the ponies at the
off-track betting facility, if anyone's interested."
This is one of two British singles we released. On the cover are listed the various dates we played on the Loud In The UK tour. We broke off from the Van Halen
tour to go it alone in England. We did almost the entire 'Runnin' With The Devil
Tour with them...48 sold out shows across the US and Canada. We also played
with Joan Jett, David JoHanssen, The Ramones, Devo, Iggy Pop, plus more
that I can't remember without thinking too hard.
I recall being at couple of parties back in the day (in
Anyway, thanks again and best wishes to you.
Scott L. Ellis email@example.com
Bob Graham sent this link to me and
really enjoyed seeing your
site-the old Red Lion band stuff in particular. I used to to play
bass with some of the early Lion bands including "Lothar and the
Handpeople," "The W.C. Fields," and "Uncle Otto's General Store" from 1965 thru about 1968. Also played with Terry Lutttrell
summer of '66 in a pick-up band called "The Ice Blue Secret,"
and worked the back bar (the hard-liquor bar) at the Lion during
the summer of '69.
I used to do a lot of Nutty Bob and Irving's fliers for band gigs, as
well as some band logos and logos for some of the businesses in town
at the time. I have lived and worked in Champaign since those days,
working as a freelance graphic designer. I saw Greg Zimmerman's
riding a Harley now. Me too, Greg, how's it going?
Included are a couple of images, one of "Lothar" at an Illini Union
gig in the fall of '65 (left to right: Jack Davis, bass; Frank Eiter,
drums; Steve Kniss, rythym guitar; Lee Neher, vocals; and Bill Fiorio
(yes, Duke Tomato!), lead guitar. The mug shot is a current photo of
yours truly. Also included are some of the early logos.
Jack W. Davis / Graphic Designer
Greetings from Lincolnwood, IL:
Your site was sent to me by Ron Kaplan, who played drums for:
New Colony Six
All of a sudden so many of the clubs, schools, schools, colleges & festivals came to mind. I do remember that the club in Quincy/Peoria that was on the banks of the Mississippi was called Positively Front Street. But that was amongst many of the dates I played over the years. Feel free to put my letter & address on the site. I'm still active in the Chicago area, but play regionally when it's feasible. I even did session work at MCA's Universal City studios when Dick Eastman was on staff there too.
Lincolnwood, IL email: Guitardr@aol.com
Jack Davis has sent a ton of great
photos of the old bands.
They are shown below. Jack@JackDavis.com
These photos kick ass!
What a kick! A big thank-you to Jack Davis for
the magnificent old photos--great memories!
The following letter is from Eric Madis
I came across your site on the bands
around Champaign in
the golden era. Great site!
I came to Champaign in 1972, when I transferred to U of I.
from Illinois Wesleyan U. in Bloomington. I was around
Champaign for the next 6-7 years, off and on.
I played regularly at both the Red Herring Coffeehouse and
Channing-Murray Foundation as a solo, and also played in
groups (mostly blues and country) around the area.
I led a little blues group in the mid seventies called Gutbucket,
with Mike Wyatt on piano, Harlan Smalling on bass and various
drummers. Later that group became the Madis/Johnson Band,
with Robert Johnson on harmonica. During some of this time,
I worked as a bartender and doorman at Ruby Gulch. I was
there when it became Caputo's also, although after graduating
from U of I, I didn't work there past the end of the summer.
I also played with Rich Molina and Harlan Smalling (and others)
in a backup group behind a number of Chicago
Blues artists that would come to town (Sunnyland Slim, Walter
Horton, Carey Bell, Homesick James, etc.).
While I was still a student at U of I, in 1974, Jeff Kerr asked me
to join his newly-forming group the Jesse Ross Band , but I was
a student at the time and couldn't. However, he and I remained
friends. I have not heard from him in a few years. I worked
in Champaign as a luthier (instrument builder and repairman)
and as a guitar instructor (blues and jazz) at Rosewood Guitar Shop
(on Green St. in Campustown) until 1978. I actually
apprenticed for this with Roy Davis, who was a
bluegrass musician (banjo player) and played in a number of
groups, including Pat Burton and Appaloosa. In fact, I also played
occasionally with Pat Burton, as well as with an old fiddler
in the area (a U of I professor) named Halbert Thornberry.
I remember all of the groups that you mentioned in your site,
and have wonderful memories of those days in Champaign.
I also remember many other bands, including Fool Killer, Appaloosa,
the Dixie Diesels, Mad John Fever (before they were Starcastle),
Memphis Underground, Coal Kitchen, and many, many more.
Yes, the One Eyed Jacks were a cool band, as was Dynaflow.
I wish I could remember some more names right now, but suffice it to
say, it was a fertile and fun period of time for music, not only
variations of rock, but all of the ethnic styles that influenced those hybrids.
Eric Madis firstname.lastname@example.org
(if you check out this website, make sure you go to my expanded
bio, which mentions Champaign, IL)
Al York writes:
Wow, I got this
site from a friend I barely know thru another, bud, but it's starting to sound
familiar? small WORLD, I guess longevity does pay off, or "getting old is
hell, but it sure beats the alternatives." I grew up around Cham-bana
played with Sunsinger, Memphis Underground, & around 76-77 with Capt. Rat
& The Blind Rivets (First incarnation it seems & True Capt. Rat). I've
enclosed a couple of photos. I have many more along with many twisted tales
of rock 'n' roll, the road, and an era like no other. Sex, drugs, & r. n r.
doesn't really tell it all. Sex didn't kill you then remember, and your
friends didn't ditch you when you overstepped the limits. The music, well, let's
just call it the catalyst behind it all. Now, I wasn't in the first go around of
these heavy heroes (REO, Esquires, Finchleys, but they did inspire myself,
and comrades to keep trying. Plus so many groups were actually making it out of
We always said "Another one for the Book," but in reality after all
these years it should be more like a screen play. Kind of a cross between
Wayne's World, The Blues Brothers, The Rutles, Spinal Tap, and maybe Blows
Against The Empire (Kantner/Slick) thrown in for special effects. Maybe use
living members of all concerned throughout. Cameo it out like a big Mel Brooks
production. Hey, it could give "Irv Limited", (the Danville Don)
one last chance to honor Cham-bana musicians, and this time give 'em the decency
of a reach around. Ah, but that's another story, not necessarily an Excellent
are a few
and we're still carrying the torch for music. There was quite a spiritual
movement of souls to
Sadly, I'd like to mention the passing of my friend, and lover of music
Mary "Genevra" Shirley (Finchley Boys). I only saw the obit. on The
News Gazette web page, but apparently she left us in
admission by wiping down seats. It makes me smile, Shine on Mary.
Regards, Al York
Sunsinger (l-r) Tim Vear (Head Band/ Capt. Rat), me, Al York (Memphis Underground, Capt. Rat), Randy Scott (Head Band/Rats Back), Greg Saegesser (One Eyed Jacks/ Jesse Ross Band), John "Soy Bean Slim" Sauter (Dynaflo / Legendary Cactus Band/ Ted Nugent) Taken after 11-4AM roadhouse gig at "The Roadrunner" in Carbondale, IL. 1974. This was really a good heavy rockin' band, but for some reason we were branded unmanageable (too big for our britches). Oh, well! We held killer jams at our
Smokehouse- No longer The ILMO Smokehouse with back to front- John Sauter,
Dennis Teiken, and Micki Free, circa 1974
Dixie Diesels bumper sticker. These guys had already moved here a little over a year before me. All have now gone there separate ways or on to the Happy Hunting Grounds. Shawn Colvin remains, & still performs. The times they are a changing.
good old Mac (Future Games/ Bare Trees) days. She must have thought I was just a dweeb kid. I was only about 18. Debbie & I danced away a few Red Lion nights of our youth. The road & time took care of the rest. I guess just reading and seeing your pages inspired me to respond in some way? It was cool, and reminded me of a time that will never be repeated, and only occasionally replicated by new or up coming acts. 34 years and people are still trying to top Jimi Hendrix. I love Warren Haynes, Joe Satriani, Sonny Landreth, and more, but they're still in The Jimi Hendrix (Jimmy Page) Era.
Al sent along more photos:
Craig Neitfeld, Ted Hall, Al York, Pat Carpenter,
Rat & the Blind Rivets circa '77 George Dion Chris Patterson, Tim Vear,
& Fred (Capt. Rat) Wisniewski. Tim left about a month after my arrival to
play with his girl Kristen Lems.
once played on stage with the late great Stevie Ray Vaughn, and have been a part
of the Austin Godfather of Soul's W. C. Clark Blues Revue for a couple lengths
of time. Also played with a nine-thirteen piece pre-"Weird Al" parody
band called The Uranium Savages. Not to mention heading The
Subterraneans (last incarnate enclosed) with good local success. Carp currently
is in a group called Blue Midnight. Rich Harney (pianist) has a good jazz
following, and may still be around.
Jeff Waluch--Just heard from Mark Spalding, who dug up this photo
taken at Panama Reds circa 1980, when I was mixing Appaloosa.
What a great site! You've documented so many of the great places & people who inhabited my 2 favorite places from the late 60's.....
YOUR SITE....KEEP IT GOING......
I AM WANTING TO TRY AND FIND ANY RECORDINGS BY THE BAND SKATER I SAW THEM MANY YEARS AGO AND EVEN OWNED A 45,RPM CALLED "BAD BOYS" I BOUGHT AT THE CLUB . HOWEVER SINCE THEN THE SONG HAS REMAINED BUT THE RECORD HAS LONG SINCE GONE . DID THE BOYS OF SKATER EVER RELEASE AN ALBUM ?? IF SO I HAVENT BEEN ABLE TO FIND IT ON CD UNIVERSE OR ANY OTHER OUTLET SINCERELY JIM Email: Nnjgdk
I stumbled across your site a couple of years ago and
always enjoy returning to it to see the changes. I was in C-U for about 20 years
starting when I came from Vietnam in the Fall of 69. I was part of
a loose knit tribe of folks that centered around the Record Service. Mike DeLise from Appaloosa is a close friend now living in Knoxville. Mark "Buzzard" Farlow, Finchley Boys roadie and Leather Shop co-owner is in Tucson.
I was sad to read that Mary Shirley had passed away and thought
I'd send along a couple of shots from her Monterey Pop.
Mark Johnson, Athens, GA mailto:email@example.com
Mark Lundquist sent the Skater/Bullets
Skater was formed when Jeff Hall amd Don "Moe"
Mosele, from Slink Rand, joined Larry Wigand and
Mark Lundquist from Bullets.
Mark's email: firstname.lastname@example.org
More on the way...
Hey you Flatlanders! Send photos.