The Sect, Walnut, IL.

The Sect

The Sect were a teen band from Walnut, IL.  They formed around 1964 or 1965 in the wake of the British Invasion and lasted for a few years playing shows at sock hops, 4H centers, high school gyms, teen centers, and anywhere else they could get a show.  The band recorded at Golden Voice in late 1967 but unfortunately the recordings are lost to time.  

The Sect: Ron Eckberg, Albert Hurst, Randall Johnson & Harry Heath.

The Sect: Ron Eckberg, Albert Hurst, Randall Johnson & Harry Heath.

Ron Eckberg singer / guitarist for The Sect relates the story in his own words.

“My earliest childhood dream was to become a singer. Growing up in a small, Midwestern farm town offered few opportunities to make that dream happen. Then the Beatles came along. We all bought guitars and formed bands.

My band was called The Sect, which sported a lineup of me, a local drummer and friend, Albert Hurst, his cousin, Randall Johnson, and Harry Heath from Annawan, Illinois. When we first started playing I probably knew three or four chords on the guitar. (Fortunately, you didn’t need much more than that). Albert was already competent if not accomplished on drums. Randall, however, had never played bass or guitar but we talked him in to being our bass player. He bought a bass and we taught him the basics and turned him loose. He became a very, very good bass player. Harry Heath, even though just 15 when he joined us, was already a veteran of a couple of local bands. He was an accomplished organist / keyboardist.”

As our local popularity grew we became “legends in our own minds” and dreamed of “making it big”. To do that we knew we had to record. Our booking agent at the time had heard about a studio in the Peoria area that another well-known local band had recorded at. We decided that was the next step in our band’s evolution. We booked time at Golden Voice Studio in South Pekin.

The sessions were set for the last week of December, 1967 and we were certainly pumped about the prospect of recording in a real studio. We worked on four songs I had written; “Happy”, “What Happy Can Be” (a little limited in my writing but, Hey, I was 17!), “Good Day”, and “Every Time”. 

We book hotel rooms in Pekin and set out from Walnut, Illinois to record those four songs that we were sure would make us stars.  Arriving at Golden Voice we were less than impressed with the outside of the building. It was out on the edge of South Pekin, near the airport. It was a nondescript cement block building that gave no indication of what was inside. We walked in to meet this tall, lanky guy named Jerry Milam. We were in awe of him, thought looking back over the years I now realize he was probably on 8 or 10 years older than we were. But he owned a studio and was a record producer!

The studio consisted of the control room filled with the equipment of the day. I know we had only 4 tracks to work with and very limited editing capability because we were working with tape. I believe the recorder was a Studer, but I could be mistaken. Nonetheless, we were impressed.   Just beyond the “board” a large window looked out into the recording room, a cavernous room with high ceilings, a number of movable baffles, and mics and mic stands positioned around the room.   We began work that first day on a ballad called “Every time”. Given our lack of experience and the limited editing capabilities of Golden Voice, it was an agonizing process. We had to get our instrumental take perfect from top to bottom and that was no small task. We did take upon take upon take. About halfway through Jerry suggested we change the intro which we did. We then got back to doing take upon take upon take again until we got one we liked. I did some vocal overdubs and place a recorder solo in the middle of the song.  I don’t remember too much about recording the other three songs. Sadly, I do not have any of the original recordings that we did in those days of December 1967. I certainly wish I did.

After those sessions, I would record at Golden Voice on occasion as a solo, putting together song-writing demos. Jerry always believed in my voice and worked very hard to get me connected with someone in the music industry. Even though nothing ever came of those contacts, I have always appreciated the fact that Jerry tried.”

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