Preston Jackson and The Rhythm Aces

Although they never recorded at Golden Voice, Preston Jackson and The Rhythm Aces were a major group on the central Illinois music scene from the 1950’s through the 1970’s.

Preston Jackson, a world-renowned sculptor and accomplished jazz guitarist, is probably one of the few musicians who can say he performed with Richard Pryor, a groundbreaking comedian with roots in Peoria, Illinois, close to Golden Voice Studios.rhythm aces copy

His band, Preston Jackson and the Rhythm Aces, was a Decatur, Illinois, based doo-wop / R&B group who played the Mississippi river chitlin’ circuit  from 1957 through the 1970s. 

Just teenagers when they started playing professionally, the Rhythm Aces played in the cleaner-cut genera of Doo-wop. Jackson says the blues was not considered a safe occupation for teenage boys, owing to the sporadicly violent nature of the blues scene at the time. 

Jackson says his guitar style was inspired by T-Bone Walker, Wes Montgomery, Barney Kessel and Johnny Smith. Their contemporaries in the local area included Peoria-based blues pianists Jimmie Bell and Jimmy Binkley as well as local rocker Byron “Wild Child” Gipson.  They also played alongside the young Pryor, who performed for tips literally thrown on the floor at Bris Collins’ Collins Corner in Peoria.  But Jackson remembers it was a tough crowd for Prior at the time since no one wanted comedy. “The crowd just wanted to hear music they could bump and grind to,” he says.

   The group’s singer was Joe Merryweather. He would also record for the Decatur based Riot-Chous label.  There were also back up singers, Mary and Stevie Hicks.   

Preston Jackson’s first recordings would come via the Vee Jay label in 1961 (VEE JAY 417 Preston Jackson and the Rhythm Aces Be Mine / Joni).

The group’s strong talent and sharp dressing made them popular, which was augmented by another recording with Blaine Gauss’ Peoria-based Hit Records. Jackson recalls seeing Blane’s large downtown Peoria building with a room with recording equipment.  It was the same recording equipment that inspired Jerry Milam to build Golden Voice Studios in South Pekin, Illinois.  It was also the same place where Milam would take the first promotional photos of Pryor for Blane, who was his manager at the time.  The result of the recordings for Gauss in 1963 was the infectious R&B classic “Three Quarter Stomp Parts 1 & 2.” That record was also a hit and was re-released nationally via Hermitage records in Nashville.  

Preston Jackson - Three-Quarter Stomp

There was another earlier modern harmony group called The Rhythm Aces who had a release in the 1950s on Vee Jay, but the two groups are unrelated.  A California based-group also released a record around 1960 as The Rhythm Aces called “Crazy Jealousy / Boppin’ Sloppin’ Baby” for George Goldner’s Mark-X records. According to Jackson, the other group started using the name, and when they found out, the band offered Preston $400 for it.  The Illinois-based Rhythm Aces chose to stick with the name they had since 1957 and force the other group to change despite the offer.  In fact, when it came to money, the group never had much luck. They never really were paid for any of their releases, Jackson says.

He continues to play guitar to this day and is a professor emeritus of sculpture at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.

 

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Johnny McCollum

johnny train

Johnny McCollum, a noted songwriter and musician from Iowa, recorded at Golden Voice in the late 1960s. The respected bandleader and performer has published well over 100 songs, including ones performed by many notable country artists. 

He came from a musical background, writing songs as a child. Johnny was originally signed to Sun Records in the 1950s and over the years worked with almost every major music publisher in Nashville. His first solo record, Long Lonesome Road / I Just Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind, came out in the late 1950s on the Char-Mac label.

JohnnyLongLonsome

 

In 1964 Johnny started working as a railroad engineer based in the northern Illinois town of Princeton. Continuing his songwriting endeavors, he cut See How A Poor Boy Has To Pay / Life Ain’t Worth A Penny Without You for Freddie Tieken’s IT Records in 1966.  His records always featured his original songwriting.

see-how-a-poor-boy

His route for the railroad regularly brought him to Golden Voice’s home of South Pekin, Illinois, so it was only natural he’d cut his next songs there. Accompanied by his son, Eddy, and supported by local session musicians, Johnny cut two songs in 1968, You Broke The Link / Cheap Wine, which were produced as a record.

 

His next notable solo release came under the pseudonym “Johnny Credit” in 1971 for Plantation Records. From there, Johnny would go on to major success as a songwriter. He would write songs for Farron Young, Tiny Tim, James Brown, Toby Keith, Clint Black, John Michael Montgomery and many others.  Even when he was writing songs, Johnny maintained his job as a railroad engineer.  He drew stories for songs from his job. Performing as The Singing Engineer, Johnny wrote a railroad song called “Santa Fe All The Way” in 1983. The song was a regional hit and used extensively by the Santa Fe Railroad for promotion. 


johnnymccollumstory

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Souled Out, Peoria, IL

Souled Out, Peoria, IL

Touring in a remodeled hearse, Peoria, Illinois-based Souled Out was another one of Golden Voice’s clients, a rocky band with a bluesy name that played all over central Illinois.

It was headed by Jerry Allen, whose first band was Canton, Illinois-based Blue Gray, which played a mixed bag of blues and top 40. Blue Gray’s members were Greg Sims (drums), Jeff Swan (guitar), J.D. Pratt (organ), Chuck Gibs (vocals) and Allen on bass. 

Jerry Allen in the Blue Gray era.

Jerry Allen in the Blue Gray era.

During Allen’s Blue Gray days, he met guitarist and future member of Souled Out, Stan Edwards.  It wasn’t long after that Jerry departed Blue Gray, with a desire to keep playing bass and sing as well.  Allen contacted Edwards with the idea to form a new group, and Stan brought in his cousin on drums and someone else to sing whose name has been lost to history.  But the new singer and drummer didn’t work out. Jerry remembered a drummer named Jim Babon from Peoria who they liked, but he wasn’t 21 years old and couldn’t get into the bars where they worked.  Despite Babon’s age, the group decided to have him join anyway.  This lineup of Edwards, Allen and Babon would form the nucleus of the group. Eventually, they added Tom Hefley from Farmington, Illinois, on organ.

souled out group2

The band initially hauled around their gear in a 1952 Chevy sedan delivery that cost $50. It cost them another $25 to add turn signals, which the car lacked. To make it official, Jerry’s cousin painted Souled Out on both sides of the vehicle. Dubbed the “Running Wonder,” it was a solid ride, but had its share of holes on the inside. One night coming back from a gig in Macomb, Illinois, Jim picked up a stray kitten. Later they stopped for some breakfast and left the kitten inside the car. When they came back, to their surprise, the kitten was gone and had escaped via a hole in the back.

            The holes weren’t the Running Wonder’s only problem.  The band took it up to Chicago to buy some cool and inexpensive band clothes since they’d been wearing matching shirts and needed threads with flair. After warming up the Chevy for the trip, they discovered it leaked oil badly, and they periodically added more during the trip. However, it was worth the drive in the cold and the extra oil. When they got back, they had very cool double-breasted Nehru jackets with blue on blue paisley prints!

            Jerry eventually thought it would be cool to upgrade the band vehicle to a hearse. He wanted a 1959 Cadillac hearse with the cool taillights and fins, but most of the ones he found were rusted out. But six weeks later he found one in Roanoke, Illinois, a 1961 Cadillac combination hearse/ambulance with flip-over rollers for a casket and a jump seat for an attendant.  It also crucially had a heater for keeping patients warm on the way to the hospital. He paid $500 for it, and went to work waxing the paint and polishing its chrome. His wife dyed the drab curtains dark burgundy. He pasted pink paisley letters on the side and back windows of the car, the same way a funeral home would have added their name to it.  Unfortunately, the seller had removed the lights and siren prior to selling it, but to make up for it, Jerry added a Stereo 8 player under the seat and two floor speakers in the area between the seats and the door.  The shape of the roof created superior acoustics for the hidden stereo. They would stick with the hearse for a few more fun filled years but eventually traded it for a 1968 Chevrolet station wagon in the 1970s.  

souled out 4 pics

In 1969, Richard Dravis, a wounded Vietnam veteran, good friend and co-worker of Allen, took a liking to the band and offered to pay for recording time and pressing two of Jerry’s original songs at Golden Voice.  Allen says they were all very nervous, as none of them had ever been in a recording studio before. Jerry Milam showed them around the studio, and Allen remembers being particularly impressed with the echo chamber which Milam had built. After the tour, they loaded in their gear and got ready to record. Milam removed the front head from Jim’s bass drum and set up the microphones to capture the band’s best sound.

The first song they recorded was “In The Morning.”  They did a few instrumental run-throughs so Milam could set the recording levels. Allen isn’t sure how many takes they did because they were all still pretty nervous.  With the rest of the group watching him sweat from the control room, Allen laid down the vocal track. After a number of takes, he was invited back into the control room.  When Allen heard the playback, he actually didn’t recognize the sound of his own voice and couldn’t figure out who was singing. The singer, he thought, was really great. Milam gave him some further pointers, advising him to not “rattle the lyric sheet” or slap his pants while singing. After a few more takes, it was done and they moved on to recording the second song, “I Don’t Love You.” After minor revisions and retakes, the band sent the songs to be pressed.

When the records arrived, they gave some to Dravis and split up the rest. After listening to the finished record, Stan called Allen in a panic about a “mistake” he thought he had made.  Although he didn’t notice that day in the studio, Stan had kicked back on his guitar pedal during the last verse of the “In The Morning” instrumental. He clicked it back just as fast, which weirdly created an amazing effect. Stan heard it as glaring a mistake, but the other band members thought was a happy accident.

Souled Out In The Morning

They tried unsuccessfully to get airplay for their new record but didn’t know anything about radio promotion. Even though the record didn’t go anywhere commercially, the band was thrilled to have a record of their own at last.

Tom Hefley stayed with the group for a few years but then left to pursue electronics school. Marty Hagerdorn from Bartonville, Illinois, who also sang lead vocals and vocal harmonies, replaced him. Over time, the band saw a shriveling audience. It came to a head at a gig in Kankakee, Illinois, and the band figured out the problem: Souled Out was a rock ’n roll band with a blues band name.  With the name Souled Out, people expected to hear the blues, and the people who wanted to rock didn’t come.  A name change was needed, and the “Kule-Aid Kids” fit the bill. 

kule aid kids

The name change was a smash, and they didn’t even have to change their set. They continued playing all over Illinois every weekend. But after five years with the group, drummer Babon left. Allen’s old friend, Greg Sims, from tiny St. David, Illinois, replaced him.  After the name and drummer change, the band soldiered on for another few years ultimately disbanding. Sadly, Hagerdorn passed a few years ago but the rest of Souled Out / The Kule-Aid Kids remain friends to this day. Currently, Jerry Allen and Jim Babon have reunited with Stan Edwards’ son Jeff on guitar and Jeff’s wife Tracy on lead vocals. They are called Rough Crossing and play a mix of rock, new country and rocking blues around central Illinois.

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Gulliver, Peoria, IL

Gulliver, Peoria, IL

 

Gulliver was one of the earliest Progressive or Art Rock bands to come from Peoria, IL. They existed for about five years starting in 1969. Gulliver formed while they were still in high school, the members went to Peoria, Woodruff, Richwoods and Pekin high schools.  There were up to about ten different members over the course of the band.  Various members of the group over their existence were: Dan Sutton (guitar, keys), Greg Kasel (guitar), Kim Callaway (keys), Steve Potts (bass), Steve Mergen (drums – later), Bill Keister (drums), John Parkhurst (guitar – early), Bill Shields (vocals, keys), Terry Liebe (vocals) and Mike Buttke (keys).   The group came together from a few other groups: Fuzzy Dice (Sutton, Parkhurst, Potts) which morphed into (the short lived latin / jazz / Zappa inspired) Mongo and Bus Stop (Calloway, Shields, Liebe).

Gulliver

A later, short lived, six man line up of Gulliver. A few years after their Golden Voice 45 . Seated left to right: Dan Sutton, Mike Buttke, Bill Shields, Bill Keister. Standing: Steve Potts and Mike Somerville.

A number of things distinguished the various line ups of Gulliver for the other bands in central Illinois at the time.   According to Bill Keister, “Mike Buttke’s Wurlitzer piano playing and gravelly voice proved to be great on a number of cover tunes the band was playing at the time.”  Buttke also wrote a number of original songs that Gulliver preformed although none of those was ever recorded. John Parkhurst was an early guitar player for Gulliver.  His level of guitar talent allowed the band to play the harder and more technical music that was becoming increasingly more popular in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The group played songs by Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, The Moody Blues, King Crimson and other progressive rock bands. Their claim to fame was that they were able to play songs that most other regional bands weren’t able to play at the time.  Additionally, Bill Shields was the only member of Gulliver with a good paying, full time job. He purchased the only Mellotron in central Illinois; an instrument which was never used by other local bands due to the extreme cost.

Dan Sutton recalls: “I became the keyboard player later that year when Kim left for college. Years later I told my dad about the Mellotron Shields was buying which ran about $4000, including the flight case. Dad said, ‘that’s more than I paid for my first house.’ “

In 1970 Gulliver won a recording session at Golden Voice (which came with three hundred 45’s!) in a battle of the bands in Pekin, IL, sponsored by Matthews Music. They recorded and released Gulliver – Theme From An Imaginary Western / I’ll Be The Wind – Golden Voice with Jerry Milam engineering the session.

I'll be the wind

The group brought in Jerry’s friend and future production / A & R legend David Kershenbaum to produce the session. At the time David had a studio on the upper floors of a building in downtown Peoria called Tower Studio. A few of the band members had recorded jingles for him. David was not only a producer and an engineer, he was also a writer and arranger.  According to Bill: “He presented his original tune called “I’ll Be The Wind” to us and it was decided it would be the B side of this record.” Jerry used wind sound effects and his echo chamber to sweeten the sound of the track at the suggestion of Kershenbaum; a trick which Jerry had used earlier during the recording of the song Maria by The Mourning Ours. 

The group chose the A side “Theme For An Imaginary Western” after they heard Greg Volz from Gidians Bible preform it live. It also didn’t hurt that they were big Jack Bruce fans. Dan Sutton played acoustic guitar and tambourine on the recording since the guitarist in the band at that time, Greg Kasel, wasn’t 100% into the song.  Although he wasn’t in the band, the group also brought in Mike Somerville (later of Head East – who also recorded at Golden Voice) just to do the guitar solo on “Theme For An Imaginary Western.” If you listen to the song you can hear him continue to solo throughout to the end of the song under Bill’s vocal.   

The group knew that the recoding time they had was limited and showed up at the session ready to go with both arrangements worked out by the band, which impressed both Jerry and David.  The rhythm tracks for both songs were done in no more than two takes and the vocals were added after. 

Gulliver played many times at Exposition Gardens in Peoria. They also played many local high school dances. They even played at their own graduation party at the hotel Pere Marquette. The band opened for a number of national touring acts including The Rugbys, Spirit and Bachman Turner Overdrive.  They also played at the legendary Barn shows on route 29 in rural Peoria.  

Craig Moore of Gonn / Ilmo Smokehouse fame said of Gulliver’s live show: “My band Joshua played with Guliver at the Barn circa 1971-72. The first Peoria band I recall seeing. Ilmo Smokehouse played Expo (Exposition Gardens) with BB King and One-Eyed Jacks in 1970 but the Jacks were from Champaign. Dan Sutton blew me away when Gulliver did The Nice’s “America”, throwing the organ on it’s side etc. Still burned in my memory.”

Toward the end of the band, Gulliver went through a short-lived Jesus music phase. After that the band transformed into Actual Proof which was a successful local dance band that went on for a number of years afterward. Actual Proof recorded at Golden Voice as well, although their music remains unreleased.  Additionally some core members of Gulliver / Actual Proof  (Potts and Mergen) would become regular session players in the later years of the studio.  They would play on hundreds of sessions between 1975 and 1978.   

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The Alliance, Peoria, IL

The Alliance, Peoria, IL

The Alliance started in 1968 when Chicago transplant Barry Brenner enrolled in Bradley University in Peoria. Barry grew up on the south side of Chicago and had been playing acoustic guitar since a young age. By the time he was in high school he had a working rock ’n roll band called The Faintest Idea. When he matriculated at Bradley he was anxious to get back to playing in a band.  He met and became good friends with bass player Roger Elem from Valley Stream, New York, who was also enrolled at Bradley.  One day when Barry and Roger were at a jam session at the Bradley student union Gary Richrath heard them playing (note: according to Barry, Dan Fogelberg was also there that day). Gary asked to join their group on rhythm guitar and introduced Barry and Roger to skilled local musicians Denny Probst and Tom LaConte.  Barry christened the newly formed group The Alliance and they began their musical journey, playing up and down the state on weekends. They played in Peoria at the Glen Oak Park Bandshell and also at The Exposition Gardens Opera House on May 17th 1969 in support of touring UK sensations The Foundations.  

Poster courtesy of Barry Brenner.

Poster courtesy of Barry Brenner.

The Alliance, 1968 – 1969:

Barry Brenner (lead guitar & vocals), Roger Elem (Fender bass & vocals), Gary Richrath (rhythm guitar), Tom LaConte (Hammond B3), Denny Probst (drums)

 

The Alliance 2

The Alliance in front of the house they lived in. Bruce Brown photographer.

Gary’s affiliation with Hank Skinner and his business Peoria Musical Enterprises led to a sponsorship deal which included badly needed band gear and a few bookings. Hank also secured the band a few of hours of studio time at Golden Voice in 1969 to record a demo tape.

Barry B

Bruce Brown photographer.

 

 

Barry Brenner recalls recording at Golden Voice:

“I do clearly remember the very first time I put on cans to track my vocals. I was absolutely amazed at hearing myself so clearly through the Neumann U87 tube mic and Jerry’s echo chamber. It was a fab experience and quite a thrill to record at a locally famous ‘Professional Studio’! I was also impressed with the high ceilings at his studio and was told Milam built the place to ‘CBS’ spec.”

The Alliance

The Alliance playing outside at Bradley University. Bruce Brown photographer.

The group cut two songs, the Terry Reid version of Tinker Tailor and a Richrath original Let Me Love You While I Can.  After mix down Jerry provided the group with a two track mono take away dub (as he often did with groups not cutting a 45 using the Golden Voice label).  The tracks were shopped around to labels but the songs and group were never picked up for release. The group would disband and go their separate ways not long after.

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Smokehouse demos.

Smokehouse - The Ultimate Flash c. 1975

Smokehouse – The Ultimate Flash c. 1975

Smokehouse was a mid-seventies hard rock re-incarnation of the psychedelic heavy-blues band Ilmo Smokehouse.  By 1975 this line up featured former Ilmo Smokehouse players: Craig Moore (of the mythical GONN)  on bass & vocals, Dennis Tieken on drums and newcomer Micki Free on guitar. The group was managed by rock n’ roll legend Freddie Tieken (More info on Freddie and Ilmo Smokehouse here: http://freddietieken.com) The group recorded a series of demos at Golden Voice.

We Just Want To Live was written by Craig Moore in 1971 while with a band called Joshua. This version of the song was recorded at Golden Voice in 1975 with Terry Jamison engineering.

According to Craig Moore:

 “This was the first real studio we had been in since doing the ILMO Smokehouse album at Dan Penn’s Beautiful Sounds Studio in Memphis in 1969. I had no idea whatsoever of the Golden Voice story or history at the time. Band manager Fred Tieken had his own studio in the 1960’s so he no doubt knew about it, which is how we ended up there.

I was playing a Gibson EB-3 through a 100 watt Marshall MK II Super Bass and it’s probably DI’d (direct) also. Micki had a 100 watt  Marshall Super Lead with Univox 4×12 cabinets. Not sure which kit Dennis had at the time but big & bad whatever it was! We played pretty much at stage volume. I think scratch vocals were then overdubbed. We did 4 songs. Basically demos, none were ever finished, produced or released.”

 

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Flight – Can’t You See That I Love You

Flight, recorded at Golden Voice in the late 1970’s.

According to Ralph Lawson Flight was essentially a family affair with the song Can’t You See That I Love You featuring: Ralph Lawson (vocals), Chuck Tribbett (guitar), Jack Tribbett (drums), Greg Tribbett Sr. (bass) with Barbara Lawson and Colletta Heath Tribbett on background vocals.

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The Jets, Pekin, IL.

The Jets, Pekin, IL

The Jets live.

The Jets live.

Mike Isenberg tells the story of The Jets in his own words:

“I’d already at it for several years by the time The JETS formed in August of 1972. We were after the fun aspect of being a band in that we weren’t into going ‘heavy.’ But we did take the whole thing very seriously because we wanted to become recording artists. The original lineup was me, Gregg Clemons, Graham ‘Elvis’ Walker, Randy ‘RK’ Kohtz and Greg Wilson. Gregg had made a few early attempts at songwriting by 1972, but nothing really solid yet. I’d been writing since about 1967-8, and when The JETS formed I started writing song for the band straight away. Oddly enough, it was Gregg Clemons who knew of Golden Voice Studio in South Pekin. Up until then all of my recordings were done at home on a reel to reel recorder. I’d figured out the whole track bouncing thing ala Les Paul and Mary Ford, but that was about it for me as far as recording knowledge. The whole studio thing came about because Gregg had already dealt with Peoria Musical Enterprises, the booking agency Hank Skinner ran in Peoria. Gregg said that to get the good bookings we’d need a demo tape, and that to make that happen we’d have to get into a proper studio, and Golden Voice was it.

So the first bunch of shows The JETS did financed our first visit to Golden Voice Studio on November 22, 1972. We were all quite excited about the session – so much so that we all made trips to a local ‘headshop’ on Pekin called Petrusia’s Folk Arts Bizarre to get wild clothes to wear to the session. We knew pictures would be taken, so we all wanted to look the part for that. Jerry Milam engineered the session. He had to have been wondering what he was in for when we loaded our gear in, due to the fact that we were a bunch of kids – I was the oldest at 19. Graham was all of 16 years old. Jerry was tremendous, explaining everything to us and getting us going. We brought in four songs, four of which were mine. The other song was written by Gregg Clemons, a sort of Elvis Presley 50’s song called High School Honey. My contributions were called Shake Me Up, Feel My Heartbreak and Daisy Oh Baby.

All went well. We had everything nailed down tight before we ever went to the studio, knowing time was money in a recording studio. Jerry was quite impressed with how quick we were – the whole session including mix-downs was completed in about four hours or so. The only overdubs were us doubling vocals to fatten things up a bit. Afterwards Jerry gave us some lessons in recording that frankly have stuck with me to this day. He had a tiny car radio speaker sitting on top of the desk, and told us to listen to our songs through that for a few minutes. He said ‘If your songs get radio airplay this is what most people are going to be listening to you through,’ which made perfect sense. So things had to sound good through those tiny speakers too, not just the awesome sounding studio monitors in the booth. Then he turned the sound down on the radio speaker so that it was barely audible, and he asked us what we heard. We told him about the only thing we heard was drums and vocals. He said ‘That’s what you should be hearing if the mix is right.’ He told us to turn the car radio on when we went home so we could see if radio hits did gave the same result, and they did of course.

The second of three sessions The JETS did at Golden Voice saw a lineup change. Gregg Clemons had left the band, and Randy Kohtz, our bass player, was replaced by Graham’s cousin Tom Walker. By the time that session was booked, The JETS had become the darlings of WIRL, drawing record breaking crowds at Exposition Gardens and became the first band in the midwest to warrant a theater show at the Palace theater in Peoria. The place was packed with screaming fans, and a team of police had to block the stage from being mobbed. We were getting more and bigger press coverage than The Beatles in central Illinois – WMBD even used a concert shot of The JETS for station identification. I’m pretty sure we were the only band that ever had that honor in central Illinois. Things had changed at Golden Voice by that time, which was July of 1973. Tom Byler was the engineer for that session. We recorded five songs, three of which I wrote ( Everybody Has A Go, As The Sun Goes Down and I’m Only A Sailor ), one that I helped Graham put together ( his first songwriting attempt ) called Hold On To You, and a live version of the Chuck Berry classic Sweet Little Sixteen. The two inch multi-track master for that session somehow survived the fire that destroyed Golden Voice Studio. I have it in my possession.

The final Golden Voice session saw yet another lineup shuffle – Tom Walker was replaced by Gregg Clemons, who had decided to return to the band. We booked the studio for the purpose of recording our first 45 RPM record. We had become such a phenomenon in the midwest that WIRL offered us a shot at the charts – IF we came up with w record that met their approval. There’s a long story involved, but in short, we recorded three songs, two of which were written by Gregg Clemons ( I Play For You ).

Mike Isenberg recording at Golden Voice in 1973.

Mike Isenberg recording at Golden Voice in 1973.

I got stuck recording the very first song I ever wrote, a short little ditty called Be For Me, quite against my wishes. I wrote Be For Me back in 1968. The original home demo was the first song I ever got radio airplay from, on WSIV’s Captain Cosmos Army Surplus and Traveling Light Show program, hosted by Chris Antonio. I ended up doing most of the work on the Golden Voice version of Be For Me myself. We all went to WIRL to present the songs and wait for their response. The others in the band had their minds made up that Gregg’s I Play For You was going to be the A side of the record, but WIRL reiterated that they, and they alone would have the final say – and they chose Be For Me as the song to get radio play. Be For Me became The JETS first regional Top 20 hit, scoring #13 on WIRL’s charts.

I play for youOddly enough, those charts also featured a new song from Elton John – Bennie and The Jets, from his smash album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and Paul McCartney’s song JET, from Band On The Run. The two inch multi-track master reel from that session also survived the fire that destroyed the studio. Our first session there was never found. But that first hit ( as well as all of the hits I wrote for The JETS ) still sells to this day. It was licensed to a box set in the last year or so issued by The Numero Group out of Chicago called BUTTONS: From Champaign To Chicago. The JETS are now finally getting our due, though bit by bit. Radio programs are citing us as earliest example of what would become the Power Pop movement.

Gregg Clemons went on to score a major label deal with a Beatles affiliated label called Nemporer Records, run by Neil Aspinall. The Beatles merchandizing company was NEMS. Graham went on to form The Elvis Brothers, who scored a two record deal with Sony / Portrait. The JETS were about to sign a deal with Capitol Records in 1980 on the heels of our first regional #1 hit in Minneapolis on the then small indy label Twin Tone Records. Our two Twin Tone hits ( Lover Boy and Paper Girl ) were featured on the legendary Twin Tone double LP sampler Big Hits Of Mid America Volume III. That double album set has since been digitally remastered for CD and sells to this day as well.”

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Andraé Crouch, Golden Voice Legend.

Andraé Crouch (1942 – 2015), called by many “The Father of Modern Gospel”, visited Golden Voice Studio during the 1970’s.

andrae at gv

Andraé Crouch jokes around in the Golden Voice control room.

andrae jerry

Andraé Crouch and Jerry Milam outside Golden Voice.

andrae terry tom mary ann

Andraé Crouch, Mary Ann Milam, Terry Jamison & Tom Byler.

 

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Emil “Farmer” Bill, Christmas In A Barn

Emil “Farmer” Bill

farmer bill

Farmer Bill was Appleton, Wisconsin native Mr. Emil Nicholas Bill – a former vaudeville performer and expert drummer -who joined WMBD on April 29, 1935 as Farm director. He was one of WMBD’s most beloved radio personalities who provided farm and market reports every morning and afternoon for more than 30 years. In addition to farm reporting, Farmer Bill also entertained on WMBD. He was the host of several farm-related shows such as “Town and Country”, “Farmer Bill’s Farm Time”, and a popular Sunday morning program titled “Farmer Bill’s Scrapbook” were he read poetry and played music. Bill remained as Farm Director of WMBD until his death at age 80 on June 28, 1971.

He recorded at Golden Voice in 1969.  His record is a folksy Christmas narrative recorded to promote his show on WMBD. 

christmas in a barn

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