Dixie and The Power & Light Co.,Greenwood, IN

Dixie and The Power & Light Co., Greenwood, IN

Dixie and The Power & Light Co.

Dixie and The Power & Light Co.

Dixie and the Power & Light Co. is certainly one of the earlier examples of what would go on to become Contemporary Christian or Jesus Music.  The group was formed in the fall of 1969 by Chuck Billingsly (bass), Lee Robison (guitar), Bill Roberts (organ), Rhonda Fleming (drums) and Dixie Stuller (vocals). Chuck and Lee were seniors in high school and Bill and Rhonda were sophomores when the group came together.

Chuck, Bill and Lee came together in a high school band called The Epics. They played Cream, Hendrix, Beatles, Iron Butterfly, Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night, CCR, and more. Chuck and Lee had originally formed The Epics with bass player Paul Holeman and drummer John Lampson before Bill joined. They eventually wanted an organist and Bill could play well so they asked him to join their group. The Epics played lots of venues and won a few contests. They ended up playing at the Indiana State Fair and were in the Johnson Co. Combo Clash / Battle of the Bands. Placing first and second, respectively, each year. Unfortunately, The Epics never recorded.

The Epics

The Epics

Bill joining the group was a fortuitous development since Bill’s dad was also their pastor at Greenwood Christian Church in Greenwood, Indiana where Dixie worked as well.  Dixie was working to assemble a musical group with the idea that they could spread their message using contemporary rock music to connect with the youth of the day. The concept would be to appeal to kids on their own terms by including re-worked versions of pop hits like “Yesterday” by the Beatles. Dixie spoke with Bill about the concept and he went to the rest of the Epics and asked them to join. The Epics’ Paul Holeman and John Lampson were original, albeit very brief, members of the Power and Light Co. before Rhonda joined but didn’t wind up staying on as permanent members. Because of Paul and John’s departure Chuck switched from guitar to bass and Rhonda, who was playing in another teen combo at the time,  was recruited as their drummer.

  

Dixie and The Power & Light Co. label, side one.

Dixie and The Power & Light Co. label, side one.

 

The band was a success and was able to play many different venues and media outlets but ultimately would leave their most lasting impression with the two albums they recorded at Golden Voice (Dixie and The Power & Light Co. Kingdom Kraft 8512 and United We Stand – The Power and Light Co. Family Album Kingdom Kraft 8516).  Their record company was Kingdom Kraft based in DeKalb, IL (although their records were pressed for Kingdom Kraft via Golden Voice by Crusade Enterprises of Flora, IL).  Jerry always had the best gear on hand and would lend it to musicians to achieve a unique sound for the recoding. Because of this, Bill would encounter his first Leslie speaker while recording at Golden Voice which can be heard on the organ during the instrumental passage on “Help Me” and at the end of “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho” after the psychedelic guitar break.  Jerry would add minimal effects (some echo on the first lp and phasing on the guitars on the second) during the mixing process that made the band sound contemporary and give them a bit of a psychedelic edge.   The first album was recorded in late 1970 and the second was recorded in 1971. The albums are notable for Dixie’s strong singing and the tight musicianship of the band.  




 The original line up of Dixie and The Power & Light Co. remained intact until after the second album was recorded. Bill and Lee left the group in September of 1972 to form another group, Living Water, when they were students at Lincoln Christian College.  Living Water’s style was more acoustic and was influenced by Crosby, Stills and Nash, Sweetheart of the Rodeo era Byrds and other folk rock groups. They  did a mix of half originals and did some secular songs as well as Christian. The Power and Light Co. then replaced Bill and Lee with two other players. At that time, Chuck switched back to guitar and Scott Duvall came into the group to play bass. David Eisler, from Evansville, IN became Bill’s replacement on the organ.  The group continue on and stay together for a few more years until 1975 or 1976.

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