Thursday, April 15, 2010


Information obtained from John Grove, Rob Pike, and Scott Thomas
October 2009 - September 2010.

Original members (1972)
Bobby Montoya-guitar
Rob Pike-guitar
John Grove-bass guitar
Scott Thomas-drums

How did Starr get together?

John Grove and Rob Pike bumped into each other at a local grocery store in the fall of 1972. John asked Rob if he’d like to get together with Bobby Montoya and Scott Thomas to jam. John and Scott had played together in a band called Joint Session in 1969. Rob had hung around with Joint Session. Rob eventually was in a band called J. P. Silverhorse that wound up in Florida. It was shortly after Rob moved back to Pueblo that he bumped into John at the store. Prior to the beginning of Starr, John was playing with the Pueblo band Tractor and Scott was playing in a band called Crushed Velvet with Ernie Watta (of The Teardrops) and Maxine Watta.

Did you all set out to be big rock stars, meet girls? What exactly?

We all wanted to be rock stars and conquer Pueblo Colorado U.S.A. Musical excellence was our pursuit. We were passionate about the music we played. We had very nice equipment for the times.

Where did you all rehearse?

Scott’s grandma Verlengia’s basement, and the old Arcadia Ball Room which was being leased by an artist named Franco Piras, which later became the Hi Club. After that we had a ten year plus run at the Pueblo Union Depot.

When you first started out did you do your own songs, or covers?

We played strictly covers when we first started out. The bands we covered initially were Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers, Uriah Heep, Jo Jo Gunne, Alice Cooper, and Humble Pie.

What was Starr's first paid gig?

It was a bar in Monument, Colorado which none of us can remember the name of. We do remember that they pushed two pool tables together for a drum riser.

Where were some of the clubs you used to play?

In Pueblo we played at Pinnochios, Guiseppes, the Warehouse. We also played in Monument, Colorado Springs (Superstar, Krazy Katt), Grand Junction (Die Bierstube), Denver, Trinidad, Fort Collins (Rams Inn), Durango (4 Seasons), Gunnison (Last Chance), and Cheyenne Wyoming (Little America).

Listen to "Slidin' Around"

In 1980 you recorded the single "Hold Me"/"Slidin' Around."

One of those do it yourself session that failed.

After the session, Bobby Montoya and John Grove left the group. Randy Musso was brought in on bass. The following year Starr recorded a full length LP of original songs. The LP showcased the band's harder prog edge, with complex production and arrangements with the help of producer Tom Gregor.

The second session was done at Start Song studio in Colorado Springs. We planned on doing the LP while working on the single. Rob and Scott had done the majority of the writing during a period when it was just the two of them. When we had done the 45 session the owner of Start Song, Tom Gregor, offered a package to do the LP. He had told us he would give us unlimited time for a set fee of $500 plus tape costs. Not having the clock to worry about made for a very relaxed and enjoyable session. We spent one whole day just setting drums mics. Tom was set on getting the drums right. We actually learned and recorded one of Tom’s songs ("Now I Know") during the session.

Why wasn't "Slidin' Around" included on the LP?

We didn’t feel "Slidin’ Around" was quite there in terms of going on the album. "Hold Me" was recorded again for the album.

Listen to "Dawn-Bolero 2122"
Tell me the story of the album cover art.

The picture on the album cover is an air brushing of our friend and road crew member Dale Girodo. Dale had been killed in a freak automobile accident. The title of the album was “Memories Never Die." The air brushing was done by another friend of ours Biff Yates.

How was your album distributed?

It was available at most of the local record stores. We had also started our own publishing company-Starr the Band Publishing Co. We had apparently received a fair amount air play in one of the Scandanavian countries as Rob had received a royalty check from B.M.I.

Did you get any local airplay on the radio?

KKFM in Colorado Springs and KDZA in Pueblo. At that time KDZA had a feature called "Pick of the Week" in which listeners called in and voted on one of two songs. An interesting note is the "Hold Me" beat out .38 Special’s "Hold On Loosely" for pick of the week.

Pictured on back of LP:
Randy Musso, Scott Thomas, and Rob Pike

So what happened - were you all ever offered a chance to make it big?

Starr, as such, never had been offered any opportunities to make it big. When we were doing the club circuits we realized that wanting to have families and homes may not mesh too well with life on the road.

Was there ever talk of leaving Pueblo and trying your luck on the West Coast?

There was talk of leaving Pueblo for L.A., but it was just talk.

Why did the band break-up?

Disco was actually to blame for the original demise of Starr. We were hard core rock guys and weren’t about to start playing disco.

For more on the history of the band, visit the group's website.

In 2008 the band released the CD Listen Up. In addition to original members John Grove, Scott Thomas, and Rob Pike, the band was joined by Mike Hough (guitar, vocals) and Brad Rice (keyboards, Hammond B3, vocals).

Former Starr bandmates Scott Thomas and John Grove recently formed the cover band Doctor Fine. The group also includes Mike Hough, Brad Rice and John Withers. In Sept. 2010, the band headlined the annual Pueblo Chile and Frijole Fest.

For more on Doctor Fine read Amy Matthew's August 2010 article in the Pueblo Chieftain

COMING NEXT POST: Solve the Mystery - Shanon.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Canon City High School

Interview with Mark Means, John Merriam and Jeff Saviano conducted January-February 2010.

Hail the mighty black and gold, hail the Tigers brave and bold.
Hail to Cañon City High, sing her praise to the sky.
To her we will ever sing, to her highest honor bring.
In the future as of old, hail the mighty black and gold.

Long before FOX had a hit TV show about a glee club, Lou Means lived the real thing. The Cañon City High School Music Director orchestrated four different singing groups on campus - Modern Choir, Concert Choir, Girls Glee and the Tiger Tones.

In 1974, Means was known as the "King of Pop" around CCHS - teaching his students not only the archaic melodies of "Greensleeves," but also Beatles and Rolling Stones songs.

"Oh yeah, dad made choir fun," said Mark Means, who graduated from CCHS in 1976, and was a member of the school's Tiger Tones singing group. "We didn't sing the old standards, we sang what we heard on the radio."

Lou Means grew up in Nebraska, where he too was a singer and songwriter. He moved to Colorado with a master's degree in music, and made his home in Cañon City.

It was Means' idea to record an album of songs performed by the four groups. He set up a mock recording studio in the high school choir room, and convinced the school to pick up the tab for the recording equipment. The groups recorded Christmas standards, along with a mix of modern pop songs, including Righteous Brothers, Carole King, and Paul McCartney hits.

Listen to "Another Day"

"He was a pretty cool teacher, and everybody liked him," said John Merriam, who sang in the modern choir, and was one of the guitar players on the album (and who is incorrectly listed as Fred Merriam on the LP - Fred is his older brother).

The LP was given to choir members and sold around town. The success of the record prompted Lou Means to record similar releases in 1975 and 1977.

Means retired from CCHS in 1990. He passed away in 2008.

Pictured on front of album - Jeff Saviano (guitar)

Choir alumnus include Jeff Saviano, who went on to become a disc jockey at KRLN in Cañon City, and later in Colorado Springs. He is now a criminalist.

"Lou was great," said Saviano. "He was also instrumental in getting a grant for me to attend the University of Southern Colorado (now CSU-Pueblo) when I went off to study psychology. After I went to college, Lou allowed me to arrange some pop music for the CCHS choirs."

(Photo courtesy of John Merriam)

John Merriam started a long, successful career in radio, also getting his start at KRLN in Cañon City, then moving on to KDZA in Pueblo, right after graduating from CCHS, in 1975. He would go on work at Los Angeles powerhouse KHJ. He came back to Colorado to forecast weather at KOAA-TV, from 1979-1981. He then moved on to radio stations in New Mexico and Texas, before settling in Michigan, where he has a voice-over business.

Greg Eden went on to front his own successful Colorado band, Big Al and the Hi-Fis, and JoAnn Ewing, is a member of the group Sierra Gold, which includes Richard Baca profiled here.

Mark Means moved to Albuquerque and runs his own film and video production company Fire Creek.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bill Goodwin

Bill Goodwin interviewed February 2011.

In 1951 Bill Goodwin was serving at Camp Carson (later Fort Carson), in Colorado Springs. When his hitch was over, the Tennessee native and his new wife went back to his home state, for his next career move.

“When I got discharged from the military, I went into this government program that retrains you for a private sector job. I wanted to be a journalist. So I went to work at a local newspaper (Henderson Star News), and stayed there for eight years."

About that time his wife longed to come back to Colorado – so the couple packed up and moved back to her hometown, Cañon City. There he found a job as the advertising manager at the local newspaper. While writing story leads and ad copy paid the bills, Goodwin started to segue his talents into song composition.

"It was just kind of out of the blue. I started to tinker with words and music. I was trying to write a few songs while I was in Colorado, with the intention of having other singers sing my songs.”
In 1957 he decided to cut a songwriter demo – something to hand out to performers, highlighting his lyrics.

"I got to the studio and started to sing, and the producer stopped the tape. He said that he needed to bring in some more musicians, and wanted me to record my own songs.”

The session would produce two singles on the Mystic label (part of the Starday package)“I’ll Stand the Line” and the flipside “So Wrong” (Mystic 679), “Angel in Disguise” / “It Don’t Cost a Dime to Dream” (Mystic 689). While the singles would not receive any radio airplay, Goodwin was now bit by the performing bug. He put together his own band, the Western Ramblers. The following year Goodwin released the rockabilly “Teenage Blues,” and the flip “Second in Your Heart” (Starday 710), and “Your Lying Ways” / Will You Still Love Me” (Dixie 2015).

In 1962, the group recorded a series of singles for Vicky Morosan’s Denver-based Band Box label including the George-Jones penned "Revenooer Man" (misspelled on the label as “Revenuer Man”) /” Too Many Heartaches” (Band Box 287), “Those Same Old Heartaches” /”Pardon my Tears” (Band Box 293), “Heartaches” / “Don’t Take My World Away” (Band Box 309), and “You Did This to Me “/”Making it Easy on My Heart” (Band Box 323). The discs were backed by Goodwin’s next band, The Country Tunesmen.

“I never even got to first base with those Band Box records,” he admitted.

By then his marriage began to fall apart. After his divorce, he left Cañon City, based himself out of New Mexico, and toured the country. Pueblo performer Warren Robbe was the opening act on the bill (NOTE: Warren Robbe interview in the next issue of Pueblo City Limits). The Country Tunesmen would also appear as the backing band on Warren Robbe’s own Band Box recording “I’ve Had My Chance”/”Life’s Not Worth Living” (Band Box 303 – 1963).

In 1963, Goodwin signed with husband and wife Vivian Carter and James Bracken’s Vee Jay records. The duo, who had previously been known for releasing only R&B recordings, had just inked a deal for the distribution rights to The Beatles, and The Four Seasons. By 1963 they expanded their catalog to include country acts such as Mac Davis and Vernon Stewart.

“Bob Luningham of Farmington NM is handling the bookings of Bill Goodwin and His Country Tunesmen, who have been keeping busy in the Southwest the last two months. Bob is also handling the promotion of Goodwin’s new Vee Jay recording “Shoes of a Fool”Billboard, May 11, 1963.

In May 1963, "Shoes of a Fool" (Vee Jay 501) made its way up the Top 20 charts, sandwiched in between Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams," Bill Anderson's "Still," and "Act Naturally," by Buck Owens. Goodwin would go on to record a handful of other singles for the label, including "I Won't Wait Up Tonight"/"The Stand In" (Vee Jay 564), and "The Saddest Eyes"/"The House at 103" (Vee Jay 602). With major label representation under his belt, he decided to move to Nashville, where he had access to local, influential radio stations - as well as the movers and shakers of the country music scene.
During this time he married "the love of his life," Elizabeth Ann McGrady. "We just celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary," he said.

Goodwin would leave Nashville, for the Great White North, to record an LP for the ARC label, Walk Through This World With Me (ARC 717).

"I forgot about that album," he said. "I recorded it in Canada, with a Canadian band - it was an one album deal."

The Toronto-based ARC label was founded in 1959. The label was mainly known for recording local artists, but by the early 1960s, it contracted with Hit Records of Nashville to produce its own Hit Parade series. Anne Murray recorded her first LP, What About Me, with the label, in 1968 (ARC 782).
For the next several years Goodwin toured the country, eventually signing with the MTA label in 1967 - joining the ranks of Roy Drusky, Frankie Roberts, and Gene Crawford, who were also under contract. There, he recorded a number of singles including "Johnny Fast" (MTA 124), "I'm the Most Successful Failure" (MTA 133), "Lonely Rider"/"Theme from Will Penny Condition" (duet with Sharon Roberts - MTA 139), "Top Dog" (MTA 144), "Empty Sunday Sundown Train"/"Shoes of a Fool" (MTA 163), and "Arkansas Soul"/"Shoes of a Fool" (MTA 182).

"After MTA, I guess this was around 1971, I just got out of the performing business," he said. I was being booked by Hubert Long (Stable of Stars) back then, and one day I just told him that I was quitting - I was sick of it." But instead of walking out the door, Hubert Long offered him a job. "He made me executive vice president."

Hubert Long and Elvis Presley

Just one year into Goodwin's new job, Long died. While a few of Long's clients moved on to other representation, Bill Anderson, Roy Drusky, Leroy Van Dyke, Billy Walker, and Jean Shepard approached Goodwin with an offer - open up his own agency, and they would be his first clients. So he did.

"It was interesting work, but it wasn't an easy job. To be honest, it's kind of like a babysitting job," he said. "But it was a pleasure, since they were all my friends."

The Bill Goodwin Agency would stay in business until 1985, when Goodwin decided to retire. At 81 years old, he still has ties to Colorado. Until recently he maintained a second home in Colorado Springs, and his daughter lives in Cañon City.

"We don't have country music now - it's not country," he says about today's version of the genre. "This younger generation has never heard of us."

Ironically Goodwin's "Teenage Blues" has received a resurgence of interest, as rockabilly collectors search for obscure recordings. The record has appeared on two compilations, Country Hicks, Vol. 2 (Bark Log 2 - 1991), and The Lost Starday Recordings (Starday 218 - 1997). Copies of the original single have sold between $114 (2009) and $483 (2008), on eBay. Goodwin's 1958 recording of "Your Lying Ways" is also an in-demand collectible, selling on eBay for $200. Even Goodwin's "never got to first base" Band Box records have gained new appreciation. The single "Revenuer Man" would appear on the Swedish Various Artists Diggin CD in 2000.