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…
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2 responses to “The Dave Clark Five Meet The Coachmen

  • Kathie

    Wow…I was 17 & had just graduated Manual, Peoria, IL. Was at the DC5 in Peru with Larry Edwards.(Needed parents ok to leave town on date). I told everyone how I enjoyed the Coachmen even more than DC5. They played from the heart. Although the DC5 brought great roars from the crowd. Loved the show. Kathie (Bradle) Pierson

  • Dave

    My dad, John Watts, was owner and manager of Skaters Junction. I was 3yrs old at the time, and remember listening to the Dave Clark 5 from our apartment above the rink.

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