Approximate dates: January 1, 1968 -January
Base of Operations: Boca Raton, Florida
Agents: many and forgotten
Reuben David Ferguson - Organ, Vocals, Percussion
John Verner - Guitar, Vocals
Tony Benvenudo - Rhythm Guitar
Robert McNeely - Vocals
Michael David Strickland - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Scott Chandler - Drums, Vocals
Tim Hall - Drums (actually preceded Scott Chandler, but didn't last long, if I remember)
Kent Lambert - Vocals, Harmonica
Robert Justice - Vocals
Terry Anderson - Bass Guitar
Greg Peccorino - Bass Guitar
Tom Argenz - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Tony Zampi - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Reed Hightower - Drums
Frank Steppro - Drums
Frank Armada - Drums
Frank Banal - Drums
Mike Balme - Roadie
Sam Strickland - Roadie
James Vanderveen - Financer? Rabid Fan?
This was really my first taste of what being a professional musician was going to be like. I loved it. I practiced for hours, day in and day out. We did really cool songs, e.g. You Keep Me Hanging On and Ticket To Ride by the Vanilla Fudge, San Francisco Girls - Fever Tree, Born To Be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf, Come On Up, Love Is A Beautiful Thing, and Mustang Sally by The Young Rascals; Moby Grape, Ultimate Spinach, Spirit, The Turtles, and other groups in that vein. Psychedelia. Head Shops. Incense. We played at Code 1 and The World, which, if I remember correctly, was in Pompano, or maybe Ft. Lauderdale. Hmmm... We also played at the Deerfield Chamber of Commerce quite a bit, (a "cool" place to be), a dump called the Sugar Shack in Ft. Lauderdale (which was an actual bar; my first time as a bar musician. I was still underage), and the Boynton, Delray, Boca Raton, and Margate Civic Centers (again, all "cool" places to hang out). We also played quite a few parties for some crazed Greek fraternity, Sigma Tau Sigma, (from FAU?), at the B.P.O.E. on Commercial Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale. We played for the crazed mobs of college kids on Ft. Lauderdale beach during Spring Break in March, 1968. I see from my book we did play a beach party for some F.A.U. organization on May 18, 1968. I think that was the job on which my Fender Bassman, (actually three of our amps) literally started smoking because of a faulty AC generator. Very interesting. The band played several times at the Ft. Lauderdale Armory, (another "happening" spot), as well. We played at my alma mater, Seacrest High School a couple of times, at Boca Raton High School a couple of times, and at Cardinal Gibbons High School, and many other places as well.
Our main competition at the time was a band called Sgt. Snorkel's Coin Laundry & Diaper Service/Koos Corporation Electric String Band. Really. The lead guitarist and the bass player were the Kozan twins; both of whom I think took over their father's plumbing business. The drummer was William Dennis Gent (see Bacchanalia, Ethyl Floon, Peace and Quiet), and the lead singer was Robert Justice, who would later switch groups and sing for us. In addition, Rex Thompson (see General Assembly) played guitar, and he has the distinction (?) of having thought of the name. (Actually, I always secretly really liked the name). As Rex has recently reminded me, Keith Morabeto (see General Assembly) was also in Sgt. Snorkel in charge of lights and sound. They had a Strobe Light! (That was really cool!) Actually, they had two, a mechanical one made out of a fan, and an electronic one. Rex tells me that he and Keith built the strobes and other light controllers. All of these people were my good friends, and Rex Thompson, Bill Gent, the Kozans, Bob Justice, Keith Morabeto, Mike & Sam Strickland and I all went to Seacrest High School, and most of us were in the same class. Oddly enough, everybody that I was working with at the time was from "out of town".
There was another band in town, called the Avengers. Rex recently asked if I had been in that band, since "everybody" had played in the Avengers at one time or another. Well, everybody but me. I almost did, but the son of a local hardware store owner, Keith Austin, who was more-or-less the leader of that band, got it in his head that I either wasn't good enough or he thought I might be a bad influence on the rest of the guys in the band. (Looking back, one of those assumptions may well have been correct!). At least, that's what I thought for a long time. I recently ran into him, and, having read this page, he assured me that he didn't keep me out of the Avengers, and always had a lot of respect for me. Of course, after that, I felt very ashamed of what I had written here about him, and I hope he doesn't hold it against me. But Rex, Keith, and Bob (I think) certainly played with the Avengers, and a really nice guy named Benny Leonard was also involved, somehow (he didn't play an instrument). Last I knew, Benny was running a youth program for the local Civic Center, and a better guy for the job I can't think of. I think that William Rogers (see Thunder Blu) also played with the Avengers, at least for a while, but I'm not sure.
At the time, I was performing on a Farfisa Combo Compact portable organ through a Fender Bassman (a "whiteface" - I still have it!)(state-of-the-art stuff!). Vanderveen bought me a new Leslie 147 and a pre-amp so I could plug the Farfisa into the Leslie. Really cool! Eventually, I was using the Leslie and the Bassman in combination.
John Verner would go on to play with some significant band out West whose name escapes me at the present time. Frank Banal (an appropriate last name - Hi, Frank, you moron!) would go on to play with Quiet Riot, a disgusting band with a disgusting drummer. (Gee, that felt good!)
All in all, this was a very interesting period in my life.
I don't think we ever had one, but if one turns up, I'll post it. We did appear in an article in Disco Beat, a magazine which was published several years before disco music would begin to pollute the airwaves. Here are some candid shots.
Return to Rock Band Index
Return to Main Index