Interview with Jim and John Cooper conducted September 2009.
NOTE: In 2016, I authored a story on Jim and John Cooper in The PULP
, with additional information.
Call it destiny, or fate, but for the band Chance, their first public appearance was just that—sheer luck.
“We were out bar hopping, and ended up at Bobby’s Cabaret on Elizabeth
Street,” said Jim Cooper. “One of us had the guts to ask the band
performing there if we could play a song on their next break. To our
surprise they agreed.”
That night, after they performed their one song (a cover of REO
Speedwagon’s “Riding the Storm Out”), they were officially a performing
Chance started out as four friends from Pueblo South High School - twin
brothers Jim and John Cooper on guitar and vocals, Jeff Glaubensklee on
drums, and Karl Harvey on bass and vocals. While they had toyed around
with forming a band, that accidental, spur of the moment gig, that
fateful night in 1975, gave them the confidence to go forward. Before
too long they were being booked around town.
“We were pretty busy doing a lot of other gigs in the Southern Colorado
area, including playing at Schmedley’s in Canon City, The Keg in La
Junta, The Cotopaxi Mining Company in Cotopaxi, R Place in Salida, high
school dances, and private parties,” said Jim Cooper. “One of the
strangest gigs we did was an audition for a local businessman – T.G.
McCarthy. T.G. owned a funeral-home business in Pueblo. We set up in the
chapel, and played our rock ‘n’ roll to a pretty dead crowd. T.G. liked
us, but unfortunately no connections came to life from this unusual
While the band was enjoying local success, it was not their ultimate
goal. The foursome set their sights on California, where they thought
their music would catch the ear of national record companies. To better
their chances, they decided to produce a record.
“We were anxious to experience recording in a real professional
recording studio,” said John Cooper. “Having our own record would put us
on a more level playing field with all of the other greats from Pueblo
who also had their own records out.”
In 1978, the group recorded two band compositions “Harbor Nights” and “Magic Eyes.”
came up with the idea for “Harbor Nights.” It was loosely based upon a
trip the band took to Hawaii in 1977 and an experience on one of the
islands. “Harbor Nights” was one of the first songs we wrote as a band,
experimenting with musical arrangements and harmony structures,” said
Listen to "Magic Eyes"
burned some midnight oil and came up with the beginnings of “Magic
Eyes” – a song about a fantasy girl. We wanted the guitars to have a
magical, mystical, hypnotic feel, the drums and bass to be solid, and
the vocals to be up front with harmony,” John Cooper said.
The band recorded the songs at American Recording Studio in Denver,
printed up 1,000 copies, and set out to distribute them around town and
to local disc jockeys.
“KDZA had this “battle of the new bands” contest and “Magic Eyes” did
battle with Paul Davis’ “Sweet Life.” Listeners were urged to call in
and vote for their favorite. When the contest concluded, much to our
dismay, “Sweet Life” was the winner,” John Cooper said. “Another radio
station that aired both songs was Love 99. It was a strange but great
feeling to wake up one morning with the radio alarm-clock starting our
day with the sounds of Chance.”
While the band was fairly successful at home, the realities of trying to
break out nationally quickly became apparent, when they decided to take
the next step – mail the single to major record labels. “Our mailman
soon turned on us and began delivering form letters of rejection from
the labels. Paul McCartney’s publishing company was actually very
cordial in their response – they said Paul was too busy touring with
Wings to take on any new projects, and wished us the best of luck,” Jim
Not content with rejection, in 1978 the band took the bold step of
packing up and moving to Los Angeles, in an effort to get the single
directly into the hands of the record companies.
Pictured (left to right): Karl Harvey, Jim Cooper,
John Cooper, and Jeff Glaubensklee (drums).
“We actually had a very unique distribution system, such as handing them
out of the car window across traffic lanes to the drivers of Rolls
Royces on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California,” said Jim Cooper.
Isaac Hayes, walking into Columbia House in Century City, refused the
record, but we were able to toss some 45s into open car windows in the
Columbia House and Capitol Records parking lots. We were hungry for the
big time, and thought that perhaps one or two
annoyed record company execs would be a small price to pay for a shot at the brass ring.”
However, within a few months, the band moved back to Pueblo. “I guess we
grew homesick and were somewhat disillusioned by the record business in
general,” Jim Cooper said. “During that stay we did manage to make some
important connections in the industry, audition for The Gong Show. We
got gonged after the audition because they said we were too serious and
not funny enough for the show, but we make some lifelong friends and
memories, and played a few gigs.”
While back in Pueblo the band opened for Robert John’s 1979 Colorado
State Fair show. John had just scored a Top 10 hit with “Sad Eyes.” The
experience gave them the confidence to make several trips back to Los
Angeles, taking up a long-term residence there, in 1982.
“We met and began working with record producer Joe Saraceno (The
Ventures) and George Motola (“Goodnight My Love”). At one point Joe said
we were soon going to be signed to Ariola Records in Germany, but the
deal fell through,” Jim Cooper said. “While working with Joe and George
it was suggested that we rename the band. One of George’s sons came up
with two suggestions – Wooden Cross and Calculated Risk. We unanimously
voted and accepted Calculated Risk as our new band name.”
While the newly-named group gained valuable experience, producing demos,
making connections and playing gigs in Los Angeles, in 1989 they
decided to disband the group, and come home to Pueblo.
“After moving back to Colorado, we continued to write, record and
perform as a trio [Jim, John and Karl] in an around Pueblo under the
name Calculated Risk,” said John Cooper. “We stayed together until
CooperSonics CD release party
Pueblo, Colorado - July, 2009
Jim and his brother John continue to write and record in Pueblo, calling
themselves the CooperSonics.. The group’s latest release is entitled Sonic Harmonics
The CooperSonics Web site.