Remembering Gary

Gary Richrath

September 15, 2015

Gary Richrath of REO Speedwagon passed away today. I had been thinking about him. He was another bright star to amazingly come out of the armpit of the nation, Peoria. When I was growing up in the Coachmen days, Gary was in another garage band the Suburban 9 to 5. We were all part of Hank Skinner’s Peoria Musical Enterprises. They too went into Golden Voice Studios in Pekin and cut a single 45. We reconnected in Champaign at the U of I. Gary played an outstanding lead guitar with the first incarnation of REO. I still can remember his guitar solo on their rendition of “Sympathy for the Devil”
I spent the day reading Facebook tributes and memories. The best bit was something I recalled. Gary growing up would play his lead with his back turned to the audience in case another guitar player tried to steal his licks. Gary had come a long way down many roads. May he rest in peace.

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Another Peoria friend passed away in June. David Backstrom was Dan’s band mate in his first band, The Clan. Dan and David wrote songs together in high school. We knew him as David Jordan then. He wasn’t a big fan of the Coachmen when we lured Dan away. Years later he showed up at Mountain Bird Ranch with Dan during one of his parties. David was an incredible songwriter and musician in his own right. He played several of his songs at Dan and Jean’s  Santa Fe.

Here is a video of David on Star Search blowing us all away with his energy.

Well this is shaping up to be quite the heavenly band.

Dan dressing for Halloween

Halloween Lunacy


The Dave Clark Five Meet The Coachmen

Recently PBS Great Performances aired a special on the Dave Clark Five: Glad All Over. A flood of memories came back to me. The year was 1966. Paperback Writer was released by the Beatles hits #1 on the charts for 2 weeks. Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones tops out at  #1. US planes bomb Hanoi Vietnam. The Dave Clark Five set a record number of appearances, 12 times on The Ed Sullivan Show. Meanwhile in Central Illinois a strange event occurred. The Dave Clark Five now almost as famous as the Beatles do two shows in a roller skating rink in Peru, Illinois. What the? IMG_1320 Why were they playing such a small venue? There was an afternoon matinee and an evening show at 7 pm.  Produced by Frank and Pat Bunzell local promoters that teamed up with Hank Skinner of Peoria Musical Enterprise, the concert essentially flopped. The Bunzell’s later went on to produce Peoria’s favorite “The Shags”. The Coachmen were pre Dan Fogelberg at that time. We still wore our Coachmen outfits and did some cover tunes. The concert had 3 opening acts. The Friars, The Inn Group and The Shillings. At the last minute the Inn Group cancelled. This is historically how we got our groove and eventually became the band that Dan Fogelberg would join and become a member. We rehearsed our songs and then decided to do something new. The Inn Group had been playing James Brown tunes like “Out of Sight” and “Please Please Don’t Go”. We pretty much stole these right out of their set list. I think we got to play five or six songs. The other bands were real pros and that intimidated us. Terry however stuck a turkey feather in a specially designed belt harness and shook it in a rousing rendition of “Shake A Tailfeather”. We had no fear and went for it. We smoked cigs at the stage door and signed autographs. Yes it went right to our heads. IMG_1323IMG_1321 “What in the world were the Dave Clark Five doing at a place called Skaters Junction at the height of their career?” This is attributed to a Peoria blog, dated Jan, 2007 … “Probably the saddest venue for a big name group was … The Dave Clark Five, playing in a roller rink in Peru, IL. This was in the spring of 1966. I won a free ticket from WIRL and they loaded up a school bus with all us winners and we were about the only people that showed up. The show was right on the rink floor, with about a hundred folding chairs in front of them. I was no more than ten feet from the band.” When the DC5 came on stage the sound blew us away. Huge Vox amps crowded the stage. We had never heard such a powerful wall of sound. The stomping on “Glad all Over” was deafening. Meanwhile backstage they were perfect English gentlemen. I remember their starched white shirts. They seemed so clean and tall to us. I wanted to find out how my other bandmates remember that day so I emailed them. Here are some of the memories from Terry and Tom. “Dear Coachmen, Yes, Carol and I caught that PBS piece.  I had forgotten how much I liked them and mused that I never play their music anymore.  They seemed to be just nice, clean-cut guys.  As I recall they treated us well; not aloof or condescending.  I too got all of the autographs.  In fact, Dave Clark signed across the sleeve of my ruffled shirt; though many washings have erased all evidence.  At the time I really did not realize that the Dave Clark Five were so popular world-wide or that they played the Sullivan Show so many times.  I will certainly watch the PBS piece again and I will add a couple of the DC-5 tunes to may playlists. Yes, I remember how impressed I was with the sound.  These guys acted totally pro, played well and sounded terrific.  I was quite surprised how really good the sound was at that time. Seems that we played a matinee for sure; thought we played an evening show too.  It seemed that we spend some time with the DC-5 milling about while waiting for the evening show.   It was the only time I ever signed autographs at the stage door. ” Terry “I saw that broadcast too!  Almost sent a text to everyone to advise it was showing.  I love the DC5.  Glad All Over, Bit’s N Pieces, Anyway You Want It……were probably my favorites.  I remember having drank some root beer and standing by the back stage door, thinking I was going to Throw up!  I was as nervous as a whore in church!  I was in awe at the Huge sound the DC5 had!  I think the sax had a lot to do with it.  Great fill, on any song! There was another 1st for me that weekend.  My parents had already planned for a family vacation in Minnesota.  They let me stay ‘home alone’.  (Well, I was sorta alone….lol.  May have had a visitor.)  Anyway, the Monday after the concert, I enjoyed my first ever plane ride.  Flew alone, to meet up with my family.  All at the tender age of 15!  I really liked this rock star life!  (pic of me arriving in Minneapolis attached) Tom DSCN0073

“Was it just luck that we played this gig that launched us into a kind of local stardom? Was this part of our destiny to become the band Dan Fogelberg wanted to join? At least in our minds we were now part of the “British Invasion” quacking around Peoria with our phony british accents.” Jon
I guess I’m feeling glad all over! And we go out stomping…

Roll up roll up for the mystery tour

Tom Cain playing Magical Mystery Tour on a stereophonic record player 1967. Wish I had one of those now.

Ed Sullivan The Beatles and years of inspiration

Hey Coachmen! It was fifty years ago today that we sat mesmerized watching the Beatles as they took the US by storm. Listening now to the Ed Sullivan show on KVMRNevada City. A fateful day that changed the very essence of pop music, I can’t believe the music was so good and tight. Years of playing clubs showed. This was of course before the electronic world made any hack sound good. Every kid in america wanted to be just like them. It launched a thousand garage bands. Last night I picked up the guitar and sang Beatles songs in honor but there was something missing. Dan’s high part. We nailed those Beatles harmonies.

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A Band Named Coachmen

I get questions concerning the Coachmen and name recognition that would have put this little garage band practically all over the US. Here is the reason. There were many bands named the Coachmen in the 60’s. Seems that it was the Iconic idea of a British sounding band name. After all it was a British Invasion reaching every 15 year old kid coast to coast in a garage band. It was if a strange force was driving us to dress up like a British historical figure and speak in tongues. British accents that Is. Righto!


The first rendition of the Coachmen wore red coats , ruffled shirts, knee high boots. Tom played lead. Terry played rhythm guitar. Jim Ketcham played bass and John Mayers on drums. I was lead singer and keyboards. Terry’s Mom, Alice made our coats, one red set and one blue set. We were managed by Frank and Pat Bunzell and Peoria Musical’s Hank Skinner. Frank got us a gig opening for the Dave Clark Five. We felt like stars signing autographs at the stage door while we smoked our cigarettes. Our big show stopper was James Brown’s “Out of Sight” a choreographed tune we ripped off from Duke and the In Group, an older band we looked up to.  By today’s standard it was only a shuffle shuffle kick.  We were so young our parents had to drop us off.
Somehow in a few short years we moved culturally from Leave it to  Beaver to The Rolling Stones.


The Coachmen of Nebraska formed with six original members from two Lincoln Bands in April of 1964. Read about there extensive history and awards.


The Coachmen Bellingham, Washington 1964 – 1966
Dave Brewster ~ Drums, Vocals Jeff McSorley ~ Organ, Lynn Pigg ~ Drums, Jerry Ranger ~ Saxophone, Stan Reimer ~ Guitar, Vocals, Rick Rudy ~ Guitar, Vocals,Dick Stensland ~ Organ

Coachmen 1

The Coachmen St Louis, Missouri 1965-1966 Gary Hudson /Bass RIP, Danny Isom /Drums, Jerry Rock /Guitar, Denny Kilmer /Guitar, Rich Hodshire /Keys RIP, Denny Henson /Keys, Vocals, Vicki Couch /Drums


The Coachmen (1966) New Jersey
l to r: David DiStefano, Al Santinello (A.K.A. Bubbles) , Russell Vizzini (behind music stand) & Paul Plumeri
Paul’s first band performing at the Washington Crossing Inn in the summer of 1966. Paul Plumeri went on to become the Bishop of Blues.


Sporting natty black bowlers, Sacramento, CA’s anglophilic Coachmen left little doubt whence they drew their musical inspiration. Originally founded in 1964, the group’s “classic” personnel included three guitarists (Brian Costello, Rick Fitzpatrick, and Mike Davis), bassist Skip Kelly, and drumming vocalistPaul Kern. And That’s Why by the Coachmen.


Billy Gibbons of ZZTop fame’s first band 1967-1969 formed as the Coachmen then Moving Sidewalks.


The Coachmen Maybe Time Will Let Me Forget

Then came Dan Fogelberg. Tom asked Dan to join after the Clan, his first group broke up. I remember sitting in Terry’s living room harmonizing with Dan. Our New sound was born. The New Coachmen formed with a new drummer, Robyn and Dan on lead vocals. Terry shifted to bass guitar and we became a five piece with me on keyboards. Keyboards consisted of an electric piano to a Vox organ to a Farifisa.
Immediately, the long coats and ruffled shirts gave way to Nehru coats then fringe and moccasins. Dan refused to wear the Coachmen outfit.  We used to shop at Chief Little Wolf’s Indian Teepee Gift Shop on Main Street in Peoria.
Again Terry’s Mom Alice made our Nehru coats. The Beatles had just returned from India wearing them. It was important for us to practice new material constantly. We had to keep our edge and compete against our nemesis The Shags, a popular band that could have been the first “boy band”. They out harmonized us and had a bigger female fan base! Damn!
We did renditions of Sgt Peppers theme, Magical Mystery Tour, Purple Haze- with Dan throwing flowers to the crowd through the strobe lights. Dan was bored with the music and showed up at rehearsal with a guitar and a banjo. We were learning Steven Still’s Bluebird.

By then the set list was centering around the Buffalo Springfield. We did renditions of Bluebird and Questions
Neil Young’s “Down by the River” had become one long jam.   Gloria, Wild Thing, Louie Louie, were gone from the set list.
What started in 1964 had now seen four years of change and growth. It was 1968 and The Coachmen were restless. One was in college and two of us had just graduated high school. One of us was falling hard for a  girl. One was writing Love Songs and planning an escape from Peoria. Friends we knew were being sent to Vietnam. The anti war protests were in full swing across the nation. We witnessed the assassination of King and Bobby Kennedy. Lines were being drawn between generations. The Coachmen like all good bands drifted apart. We did one last show with Give Peace a Chance as the last song. Joining us were members of Suburban 9 to 5. Gary Richrath soon to be REO Speedwagon on lead guitar.

I now remember how powerful that era was. Today one just has to look at just the musical timeline.  Many Thanks to all the various Coachmen bands for your participation in this post. I’m certain that I have even missed a few.

I leave you with a piece of sweetness from the past.

Dan Fogelberg The Beatles

The Beatles by Dan Fogelberg courtesy Jean Fogelberg
All Rights Reserved



Autumn leaves hurry on
Winters here winters gone
Summer days quickly flee
Leaving not a thing for me

But memories and grateful to have known you

It’s Dan’s Birthday Again!

August 13th

This is the week that I used to scramble around looking for the kookiest birthday card I could find and send it off to Maine. As technology improved, I resorted to emails and short movie clips of something unusual or funny. Now I just look for bizarre stuff to post on my blog. I remember going to most of these shows. Bo Diddley lived close by in New Mexico and I got to see him play that crazy Gretsch guitar.

Bo’s guitar

Then there was the Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells  show. Straight out of Chicago Buddy Guy took the stage first. After a what seemed to be an overextended intro, Jr Wells finally came on stage. It was a moment in Blues History. It was back in the day when you could see your heros in a small club. Then there was Franky and the Aliens. Much said and written previously about precious moments in time.  My favorite Blow Wind Blow
till shines with the magic of that evening.

Dan was fascinated with gurning. “And now for something entirely different, a man with three buttocks.” Monty Python.  Of course it’s British. Here is a link to the Gurning Championship via the BBC.
This one is for you Dan. Happy Birthday you loveable old Loon.