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!

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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.

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

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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

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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. PaulPlumeri.com

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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.

ZZ-Top-Rockbeat-Records

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

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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

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13 responses to “A Band Named Coachmen

  • Dianne

    Hey Jon,
    What a great piece about The Coachmen, here and there! I always appreciate your wonderful writings; always giving us a sneak back to life with your best friend. I am not going to continue to blither on; you know how I feel about you and The Coachmen. You all rock! Very kind of Jean to provide the sketches of The Beatles. My best to your family.

  • Mary W

    Thanks for another glimpse into the past. I always appreciate finding a new blog from you.

  • Tom

    Amazing story ,Johnnyfloyd. Love the Beatles sketch by Dan. Thanks, as always, for sharing. Be safe out there Jon.

  • Steve

    A very cool post! Thank you for this – it was a joy to read.

  • Joan

    This was a great read – with flavorful insights. Interesting how the bands all somehow connected in that time and space.

  • Amy

    One of your best writings! You had me from the beginning to the end and I wanted more…What a great era to have lived as a teenager, count me in too! Thanks for sharing your loving thoughts and memories…

  • Holli

    I was born 10 years too late! Cool post and I wish I had been a little older and not so sheltered.

  • Holli

    I was wondering how much ‘the draft’ weighed on the minds of you guys. I have friends who talk about their worries about it but luckily weren’t drafted. I was too young to understand what was going on but have met men who fought in Vietnam who to this day are haunted by it.

  • Leslie

    Dear Jon, I am so happy to come across your blog. Like so many of Dan’s fans I miss him deeply and look on the internet from time to time hoping to find him there. As the years pass I find that instead of his memory fading it just gets stronger and I feel a strong desire to know more about him. Reading your stories of your friendship with Dan gave me a little dose of what I was searching for. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and the memories that you cherish of Dan with all of us. He was lucky to have you as a friend.

  • Edmond T. Utley Jr.

    Jon, I remember lots of it. Saw you guys many times in the costume era. Always fun. You’re right about The Shags – Perrin and Melton down in the black-lit Mayfair dungeon. During the early era, The Vagrants and Coroners should get shout outs too. Anyway,in early February there is a celebration in Peoria for the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles’ Sullivan appearance. Scott Somerville and Greg Williams will surely be there. I send this link hoping you and your Coachmen might be interested. I have nothing to do with it other than I may attend. So here’s the link:

    https://www.facebook.com/events/180380105502622/permalink/185706464969986/

    One more note, on YouTube there are videos of a recent reunion of Peoria players. Scott Somerville an Robert (Whale) Miller are two you’d remember, surely. The vids are under PPWR and the date, something like 09 28 13.

    Enjoyed reading through this stuff.

    The Best,

    Ted

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