FROM THE PAST!
One of the pleasures of providing this
website is to give anyone a chance share their memories,
experiences and to maintain a connection with our
classmates. This week, we begin a "continuing series" of
articles by Jerry Hilgenberg on the bands and music of our
years in high school. We hope Jerry's articles will bring
back memories, encourage comment on the Forum and leave you
waiting for more! The articles will be periodic throughout
the year as he finishes and as we intersperse with the
other topical pages.
first installment is on our very own "Illusions" - Randy
Beck, Larry Gard and at times other members of our class!
Jerry for bringing back those great times at the dances in
the gym and at The Beeson!
appearing --- one night only!
The Water Street Band: Ron Moore (Bass), Kevin McCloskey
(Drums), Larry Gard (Guitar & Vocals), Bill Westfall (Lead
guitar). Not pictured: Steve Linder (Keyboard) and
Kent Hufford (Sound).
One of the highlights of the 40th
reunion last July was the
Water Street Band (click the link to
hear a sample) featuring classmate Larry Gard, which performed
for the dance on Saturday night. Larry has been performing in
garage bands since the early-1960’s, and has been a part of the
Water Street band since 1981.
It all started sometime during our
freshman year when Larry, Randy Beck and Jerry Conway (of Lynn)
formed “The Illusions”. In this original incarnation, Larry
was rhythm guitar and vocals, with Randy on drums and Jerry on
The band would practice whenever and wherever
they could, including a couple of occasions in Jill’s basement,
and before long they made the first
public performance, playing in the
Driver Junior High School gym at lunchtime!
Here’s how Randy remembers it: “At that time
there were no other bands around. We were
lucky enough to play for most of the
high school dances in the old gym.”
There were numerous lineups during
these years. Below is an undated photo of The Illusions that
was taken in the basement of the Methodist Church. This lineup
was Randy and Larry, with Steve Montignani on lead guitar and
Kellie Stephen on bass.
Later on, in the Methodist Church basement: Steve
Montignani on guitar, Randy Beck on drums, Larry Gard on guitar
and Kellie Stephen on bass and tambourine. You can barely
make out the name of the band on the front of the bass drum.
Larry and Randy played together in
the Illusions until they entered military service after
graduation, and were one of the more popular bands in the area.
Before going into the army, Larry
played for a while in a band called “Thee New Blue”. This band
added a keyboard player, Mark Stoner, and featured Mason Yost on
lead guitar, Tim Skinner on bass, John Fraze on guitar and Larry
on guitar and vocals.
Thee New Blue: John Fraze (drums), Mason Yost (guitar),
Larry Gard, Tim Skinner (bass), Mark Stoner (keyboard)
Randy was in the service for four
years, and after both got back home joined with Larry in a band
called “Jim West and the Pony Express”. Everyone was over 21 at
this point, so they were able to play in bars and clubs, working
the general area from Richmond to Muncie to Fort Wayne and over
into Ohio. The Pony Express lasted about five years, into the
mid-1970’s, and at this point the stresses of “day jobs”,
marriage and other factors took their toll and the band called
The Pony Express: Jerry Conway (Lead Guitar & Vocals),
Randy Beck (Drums), Larry Gard (Vocals & Organ), Jim West
(Vocals & Base)
Since then, Randy has been in
several bands. His last band was “Southern Soul Inc” and that
band split about three years ago.
Larry formed another band in the late-70’s, and
after a couple of months of practice, they got a job playing at
the bowling alley in Union City. They had only been playing
there a few nights when Larry was approached by a couple of guys
who were playing in a band in the Dayton area. They were
singer, and wanted him to audition for their band.
Larry got the
job, and that’s how he came to be a member of the Water Street
band. They played in southwestern Ohio, mostly around the
Dayton area where they enjoyed great popularity, until they
broke up in the mid-80’s. A highlight of this period was when
Water Street played a charity show in Union City with Rick
dormant until 1995, when Tom Binkley of Union City contacted the
band member to get the band back together. Since then, they’ve
played a handful of gigs each year… just enough to keep their
feet in the water. A few years back, Larry and friend Scott
Brooks recorded an original composition,
Part Baby, as part of a compilation album. (Click the link
to hear a sample).
is something people get into for a variety of reasons. But
after this many years, it’s something you continue for the sheer
enjoyment and love of it all. Randy puts it best. He’s not
playing in a band right now, but “I still have my drum kit, and
expect the phone to ring any day!”