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Gonn - JPop.com
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Gonn

Gonn

Gonn


GONN came to be in the summer of 1966, when a group from KEOKUK, IOWA, found itself in need of new blood. Here's how that went: CRAIG MOORE had been hanging out with and being general flunky for a Keokuk band called The Gallows, but when guitarist Dennis Chamberlain suggested Craig learn bass and join, he was too paranoid to take make the leap, despite having a major urge, like 1000's of other teenage boys, to be in a band, thanks to THE BEATLES. Read more on Last.fm
GONN came to be in the summer of 1966, when a group from KEOKUK, IOWA, found itself in need of new blood. Here's how that went: CRAIG MOORE had been hanging out with and being general flunky for a Keokuk band called The Gallows, but when guitarist Dennis Chamberlain suggested Craig learn bass and join, he was too paranoid to take make the leap, despite having a major urge, like 1000's of other teenage boys, to be in a band, thanks to THE BEATLES. At any rate, in 1965 he attempted to organize a band that would be called THE ACCUSED, but that got as far as one get-together and a set of nicely cut-out letters for the bass drum. Talking with classmate LaVern Gabel about his dream of a group, LaVern suggested contacting his younger brother Gerry who played organ.

The subsequent contact made went something like this: "Hey Gerry, your brother says you play organ. I'm putting a band together, wanna join?" Gabel: "Uh, sure." Classmate Nick Bloom was in on sax, a tip of the hat to The Dave Clark Five. Thanks to Craig & LARRY LaMASTER's mothers casual conversation, another contact was made and Larry became the Pagans' guitarist. Another classmate joined on drums, as soon as he went out and bought a set...

and THE PAGANS were born. They played private parties and a few teen centers, but quickly realized they needed a bass player. Since all Craig was doing was singing, he was elected. He took 3 lessons from the bassist from THE OUTCASTS, learning the notes up the neck and what a 3 chord progression was, "Last Night" by The Mar-Keys, and "Steppin' Out" by Paul Revere & The Raiders." That was it.

Long story short, the original drummer was fired after mistakenly playing "House Of The Rising Sun" while the band was doing "For Your Love." His replacement was Billy Harper, a popular black classmate and superb drummer, effectively making the PAGANS one of the first bi-racial garage punk bands. When Billy's dad made him quit because he wasn't paying attention in school, there was a blow-up and Billy & Larry both quit, and Gerry & Craig decided it was time to be a serious rock band. Out with the sax. Local guitarist Gary Stepp heard of the search and auditioned by playing "Gloria", which of course got him the job. In answer to newspaper ads in Keokuk and nearby Fort Madison, BRENT COLVIN called and expressed an interest, inviting the new trio up to a rehearsal of his band THE ROGUES.

When they got there Gerry, Craig & Gary must have appeared to be the real deal, and when they expressed an interest in both Brent and Rogues' guitarist REX GARRETT, the 5 of them went outside for a chat and never went back in to say goodbye, kiss my ass, or anything else. They played at least one major event as THE PAGANS, a 'Battle Of The Bands' promoted by Craig at the Burlington, Iowa, Memorial Auditorium. He made $900 profit and spent every cent on gear for the band, which soon thereafter had a crisis. Rex's mother disliked her son being a PAGAN, and the group felt like a new name was in order anyway and the word play began. The band idolized a group from Ottumwa, Iowa, called MADD, and in that spirit and with a bit of beatnick influence Rex said "GONE" and Craig said "with 2 'N''s" (or maybe it was the other way around?), and thus became GONN, and as with MADD, no "The" thank you.

As with all garge bands of the day, they played and practiced and hung out together and tried their best to be a bunch of controversial, smart ass punks on a mission to be the next big thing. The other local bands who had disdained The Pagans had a new problem to contend with, and some of the controversy actually survives TO THIS DAY! Teen centers, street dances, parties, all targets of GONN take-over attempts. That summer (1966) Craig & Gerry approached the local Knights Of Columbus about playing in their 3rd floor hall, beginning a run of teen dances that carried on into the 70's. GONN could announce a K/C dance for Friday on that Wednesday and come Friday night there would be 500 kids in the place.

The venue proved to be a major boon to all the bands in the area, including nemesis' The Gallows, and BRILLO & THE FIREBIRDS from Macomb, Illinois, good friends of GONN then and now. Before the end of the year a local Burlington promoter who fancied himself a singer asked GONN to back him up on a recording session. The band agreed, with the stipulation that he pay for them to record 2 songs of their own at the same session. Thus on a cold, wet, rainy December night GONN recorded "C'Mon Everybody" and "Kansas City" with Bill Egan singing, 2 recordings lost to history, and "Pain In My Heart" (borrowed from The Rolling Stones cover of Otis Redding), intended to be the B-side of their planned 1st single. The A-side would be a Craig Moore/Rex Garrett original, inspired by a number of disparate influences - The Standells, The Count Five, The Yardbirds, the book "The Blackout At Gretley" (a World War II tale, being read by Gerry who brought the book to practice, thus lending the title to the song), the author O'Henry and his 'twists' at the end of his stories, and an off the cuff remark by Peter Tork on a Monkees episode.

Add all these up, shake them around a bit, play it back through a teen punk band with everything on '10', and you've got "BLACKOUT OF GRETELY", the A-side of the first GONN single and the song that has given them more notoriety decades later than they ever could have imagined. In early 1967 this same line-up went back to Burlington and recorded an intended foolow-up, "DOIN' ME IN" b/w "I NEED YOU." This could possibly be more of a monster than "Blackout", with it's endless array of screams and out-of-control echo. These features are what got the record shelved, when fans in Keokuk all seemed perplexed by the raw sound of the recording. Unable to afford pressing a flop, GONN went back and re-recorded it with less screaming, but then THEY didn't like it and the whole thing was shelved until the 1984 VOXX "Rough Diamonds" LP. The band began traveling in a 1952 Pontiac HEARSE, once used for Craig's aunt's funeral, and took a big step forward by playing concerts, opening for such groups as THE TROLLS ("Every Day & Every Night" on ABC), THE MOB, MAUDS, AMERICAN BREED, and others.

By mid 1967 there had been the usual teen angst and arguments and members briefly coming and going. Larry LaMaster finally rejoined, replacing Gary. Gerry, Larry & Craig went to Fort madison to cajole Rex back into the fold, and they held auditions to replace Brent, settling on a 14-year-old aw-shucks powerhouse named DAVE JOHNSON. This line-up quickly recorded the 2nd single, "COME WITH ME (To The Stars)" b/w "YOU'RE LOOKING FINE".

By spring 1968 however the band was going different directions internally, as they grew as players and as people. Larry left for college, Rex graduated and went to work, played in various popular Fort Madison bands, and soon after started a family. Dave, Gerry & Craig carried on as GONN with 3 further line-ups, before calling it quits as GONN in 1969. Other than one night in the fall of 1969 when a half-baked attempt at a '67 line-up GONN reunion failed to spark the guys into re-forming, the members began to lose touch.

Naturally there are endless anecdotes and far more detail that could be written, but not here. Unbeknownst to the band, the GONN story and "Blackout Of Gretely" made it's way somehow into garage band lore, with the record being bootlegged numerous times on punk comps around the globe, and "Blackout" being covered on the first FUZZTONES EP, "Leave Your Mind At Home". Eventually people like Mark Prellberg, Tim Warren, and others tracked Craig down, and one day Greg Shaw called from LA. When he found out there was a reel of unreleased material and a mysterious 2nd single, he offerred an LP project. While in LA Craig went with Shaw to a recording studio where he met Mike Stax, working on an LP for The Tell-Tale Hearts.

The session came to a halt when Craig pulled out the only existing acetate of "Doin' Me In". Craig & Mike hit it off OK at that brief meeting, and the engineer secretly dubbed the song for Shaw, who gave a copy to Paula Pierce of The Pandoras. At Madame Wong's in Chinatown 2 nights later Paula introduced Craig as "The fucking Godfather of Punk" as the Pandoras roared into a killer, screaming version of "Doin' Me In." If ONLY it had been recorded! RIP Paula, GONN sends their love. By 1986 Craig had been interviewed by a number of fanzines, notably Ron Rimsite's "99th Floor" while in LA and STEVIE GOMEZ from Paris, for her 'NEW SCENE' 'zine, who became a good friend.

There are others of course, from Italy, Germany, Greece, Peru, and beyond, and maybe sometime we'll expand the specifics on this part of the story. In 1990 GONN was ready for a reunion, which took place on the riverfront at Keokuk, it was truly "Punks Along The Mississippi" 23 years later. Two attendees of that 1st show were T.J. O'Brien and Jeff Wilson, now with 13 FRIGHTENED GIRLS, who have a fully GONN-approved cover version of "Blackout Of Gretely" on their myspace - www.myspace.com/thirteenfrightenedgirls - In fact, 17 years after THAT, it was T.J. who initially built this very web page for GONN.

Thanks, T.J. In 1996 GONN had their first official full-blown reunion, with 6 of the 7 recording members - all but drummer Brent Colvin. They recorded an all-new album called "GONN WITH THE WIND" (still available on CD & LP), released a CD of all of the 60's recordings ("FRENZOLOGY", out of print but due to be re-released this year), and played a few shows in the old home territory. In 1997 they undertook a 2-week European tour of Italy, France and Holland, all organized by THE FANS, including a unique tour kick-off show in Paris organized by nuevo punk rocker LAURENT BIGOT. Also in 1997 the band played the Atlanta FUZZ FEST, where they finally met a number of new-generation garage bands. The former Tell-Tale Heart MIKE STAX, working with LENNY KAYE, saw to it that "Blackout Of Gretely" made it onto the RHINO "NUGGETS" box set in 1998.

Lenny told Craig in person, at a PATTI SMITH show in Amsterdam in 2000, that the only reason "Blackout" wasn't on the 1972 Elektra original set was that the record is more than four minutes long - too long for the restrictions of the project. Every bit as amazing, around this same time the legendary producer/engineer BOB IRWIN and company of SUNDAZED RECORDS totally remastered much of the rarer 66-67 GONN recordings and released "THE LOUDEST BAND IN TOWN" on their BEAT ROCKET series of audiophile LP's. In 2001 there was another European tour, which Rex & Larry were unable to make at the last minute. They were ably filled in for by JEFF JACKS, currently with the CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND, and MASSIMO DEL POZZO, from Rome's THE OTHERS (and MISTY LANE RECORDS). GONN appeared for the first time in years in the old home town on July 4, 2004, at Keokuk's Rand Park, and then the 1967 line-up hit the road, playing Atlanta and a series of 1-nighters throughout Alabama and Louisiana, ending up at the CIRCLE BAR in NEW ORLEANS.

These were also shows organized by FANS. Also in 2004, GONN was inducted into the Iowa Rock And Roll Music Association Hall Of Fame, along with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Bobby Vee, DJ & The Runaways, The Trashmen, The Union Jacks, Al's Untouchables, and others (www.iowarocknroll.com). This was again due at least in part to a grass roots movement of the FANS, unbeknownst to the band, spurred on with some inspirational leadership from BRIAN JENKINS and PSPOT, and ROBBY RUSSELL & NURSE CHERIL of internet radio WPMD.org (www.robbyrussellshow.com). Craig was also later interviewed by notorious internet DJ's the WALRUS & PHILPER on internet radio 9412 (www.thewalrusandphilper.com), wherein they played GONN classics and debuted some of Craig's 'Still Tomorrow Yesterday' material.

In 2005 GONN was invited to perform at the Rock 'N Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland, and a special event on the field at Cleveland Brown's Stadium. All pretty heady stuff for a bunch of former teenagers from Keokuk making that first record in 1966. As this is wriitten, Craig & Rex are writing material for a new GONN album, and they are contemplating some special shows which will be announced later in 2007. We are leaving out a great deal of detail and names and places here, but if anyone wants more just let us know and we'll see about expanding this as time goes by. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: A) "There were other people in and out of GONN. Why aren't they included in most stories?" Despite some variations on the theme between the 1st and 2nd line-up, and the later versions, the band only acknowledges 2 'original' versions of GONN, the groups who recorded and left a tangible legacy.

There are great stories about the later versions of the band, you can't HEAR those groups, and the 7 who were inducted into the Hall Of Fame have always had a far more special personal connection. B) "What about the Nazi flag story? Is that true?" YES. Craig's Uncle Dale was a Merchant Marine and gave Craig a full-size Nazi headquarters flag. It was the era of Hells' Angels as heroes, with their Iron Crosses, swastikas, and such, and so Craig thought it would be cool to hang the flag behind the band. He did so in the wrong place - Sacred Heart Hall in Warsaw, Illinois, the Sunday night teen center, next to the Catholic Church.

The priest came in, saw the flag and went ballistic. It was a very tense scene but finally Craig was able to apologize without the priest committing a mortal sin - murder - the flag came down and the show went on. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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