Choosing the members.
I knew lots of musicians but knew that this band would need people who were my age and grew up with the music like I did. I also knew that for the sake of harmonies at least three of us would need to be able to sing. I was sure that my room mate John Talbott would be up for the challenge, and he could play guitar or bass and sing backup vocals. He and I owned a PA we rented out for shows at the Lone Star and to some local bands. So I had a PA and one person locked. OK, three guys to go.
Some of the best musicians I knew were from my hometown of St. Joseph, MO. My next target was a guitar player with a wonderful soulful voice, Greg Murphy. Greg was with a very popular band with a horn section called Liquid Fire when I was with a band of very young but quite talented musicians called Myth. But you can read more on that in my personal history. Anyway, Greg had just finished with a band that broke up called the Holdouts and wasn't too excited about my project as he had already played a lot of these songs when they came out originally. But he was without a current project and was interested enough to see what would happen. And though he wasn't committed yet, he suggested a rock steady drummer named Chris Moore who was the drummer in the Holdouts.
Chris was another St. Joe boy who had been on the road for quite awhile touring with many different situations, and had settled back in his hometown. Chris was not very excited about the project either for some of the same reasons as Greg. But decided if Greg was willing to give it a shot then he would too. And so they were committed to give it a try. Chris also owned a lot of PA gear, which turned out to be a very important part of why we became known for our sound.
OK, Greg on guitar, Chris on drums, and my roommate John on bass. Greg and Chris could also sing lead vocals. I was beginning to feel very lucky. Now who would play keys?
My friend Eric (the mole, ok freckle) Petska had just left a band that broke up in which he was a drummer called the Beck Langford band, and he suggested the keyboard player they had, Chris "Chief" Jones who also played guitar. I had never met Chief before, but he seemed to be a good guy and he was a Beatles freak. He knew how to play most of their songs correctly, and he could sing also. He just seemed to fit. The lineup was now complete.Let the rehearsals begin.
By now it was mid April and we decided to get started. So the first thing I needed to do was gather recordings of songs we were going to do. I could tell that no one really wanted to think about it that much so initially I made almost all of the choices in music. We rehearsed at United Studios in a very large and empty room in the middle of the building that was slated to later become the second recording studio. We started slowly just to get a feel for each other. We could tell some songs would be easy and some would be tedious and time consuming due to four and five part vocal harmonies. An example of that was a Beach Boys tune called "In My Room". But we had plenty of time, or so we thought.
The owner of United also owned parts of the Hurricane and the Lone Star. He came to rehearsal one night and asked if we would be ready in three weeks? He wanted to use us at the Hurricane for a weekend. After a brief discussion we agreed that we would, and then it really hit the fan. Because 60s tunes are notorious for being about 2 ½ minutes long, we realized we would need about 45-50 songs instead of 40 songs in order to do 4-45 minute sets. We had 15-20 songs. We needed 25-30 more in three weeks including the more difficult ones we had put off till later. Thus started what we called "marathon rehearsals". 8-10 hours at a time. Just the fact that we didn't kill each other during that time was a testimony to everyone's desire to make it happen.Naming the band and getting a photo done. Quick!
We also needed a name fast
so they could promote us. Believe it or not it was not my desire
to stroke my ego and put my name in as part of the bands name. We
started out with cars of the 60s. Corvairs, Corvettes, Studebakers,
anything that cried 60s. We decided that the early Corvette was
a great 60s symbol with the name "Stingray". It was brought up that
it needed more to it and since I started this mess we would just
tag my name on it. Hmmm. "Charlie & the Stingrays". OK. I guess.
OK, we had props and location. We needed someone to take the pictures, but we had no money. And so my brother John became the photographer. We had a lot of fun that day doing the photo. Another problem had been solved.The first gig.
Then the day came, May 23, 1985. We were all nervous and hoping we were ready. Outside, under the stars at the Hurricane it began. And in a short amount of time we could tell it was not just working, it was kicking! The deck was full with people having a great time, and so were we. By the time the evening ended we knew we had started something fun and new, doing something not so new. We were playing great old dance tunes with the equipment and production of the current times, making the songs sounds even better.The Sound.
John and I really wanted to get out of the sound reinforcement (PA rental) business. Chris had, over time, bought a tremendous amount of sound gear that was much better than what John and I had, and was willing to rent it to the band. Chris also loved to experiment with and try new gear, eventually giving us one of the best "bar band" PA's and sound, anywhere. And we have always felt that in order to have a "great sound" verses a usually not very good sound you have to have an excellent sound engineer. We have had some of the best, starting with Fred Lilly another St. Josephite. Replacing him for a brief time was Brian Doyle. And then we had a long stint with one of the best there was, Eric Petska. Eric was a drummer prior to being our sound tech with bands such as The Kidd Band, The Beck Langford Band, and most notably the band Frodo, (which was KC's first real metal band with costumes stage props and huge production.) When he left, the job was taken over by Roy Holley, our sound-man for about seven years, and our stage manager, equipment manager, driver and overall take care of it guy for about twelve years or so. Currently, Ed Riggs (the Real Ed Riggs) has stepped in and become our soundman of choice. Ed has an unparalleled "touch" with the sound gear and we're really happy to welcome him aboard.
Thank you also goes out to Terry (Lurch) Harrison who has been our special occasion lighting tech for a number of years. And to Brian Reese who has taken care of our sound on occasion.And now the rest of the story.
Many of you have been witness to much of our history. We've had a lot of fun in this band over the years. We have also been blessed with making a lot of wonderful friends. We have made the necessary changes as time has passed to keep going, even when at times it seemed like maybe we shouldn't. We've had some very high times opening for some groups like the Doobie Brothers and Peter Frampton, and being inducted to the "Walk of Fame" by Dick Clark at his Kansas City American Bandstand. We've in turn had some very low times in losing or changing members we were close to and loved. We have transformed from a band that played for a living four nights a week and 48 weeks a year, to a part-time band playing weekends on a much less frequent basis. But, overall it's been a great ride, and we're not finished with it yet. Not as long as we still have you, our friends and fans continuing to make us feel like we are important to you. Thank you!Our thanks to all of the X-Rays.
(Guys who used to be in the band)
Greg Murphy 1985-2008
Dan (the Man) Meyers 1990-2001
Patrick McDaniel 1996-2001
Tommy Sutherland 2001
Eric Petska, Dean Foltz, Brian Doyle, Dan Billings, Fred Lilly, Bill Kennedy, Ed Riggs and Roy Holly