The first time I heard of Paul Staack, Jon and I were juniors at West High School. Paul was a senior and had been elected Class of 1967 president. He was spoofing himself playing drums in a pep “aud” (short for auditorium). I don’t know if he remembers, but I do.
Anyway, one of my friends brought home a 45 of the band, The Contents Are:, called “Direction of Mind”. I thought it was an okay song, but Ted (who was in Paul’s graduating class) thought it was cool. Looking back, it was a pretty big achievement for a Davenport, Iowa band to do a recording. As I have said in other places on this website, their song made it to the top 30 on the local rock radio station. They had also released their album, “Through You” at the same time.
Jon and I used to make the rounds to hear other bands. We’d sit around and pick at them if they weren’t doing a song right. One evening we got a chance to hear The Contents Are: live.. The Cream had just released “Sunshine of Your Love”, and Paul’s band was covering it.
As critical as we were, I was sure Paul had the drum part wrong. Rock and roll 4/4 music had always had the snare on the down (second and fourth) beat. Paul was hitting his snare on the up (first and third) beat. Surely this couldn’t be right! All the other bands, including The Night People’s drummer, were doing it the other way I thought I heard it. So being an amateur drummer myself with a kit of Slingerland’s in my basement, I was positive he was screwing up the song. That night I went home and listened to my recording of that cut more closely. I’ll be darned. The rest of the Davenport rock and roll brain trust had it wrong! Paul was right!
So to give credit where credit is due, Paul is the first one I heard to play that drum part right. The rest of the rock bands eventually figured it out. It’s also something I will never forget.
Imagine my surprise when Craig Hute of The Contents Are: called me some time later on the phone and asked me to audition as their bass player! This “famous” band wanted ME to join them. How had they even heard of me? I thought it was a joke at first. But after a long conversation, I realized this was really happening. Not even a week later I was in someone’s basement (possibly Craig’s) doing an audition. I guess I passed because I played with them through the move to Colorado before Jon Ludtke called me back to Iowa and offered me a place in Silver Laughter.
All those years with Paul made me respect him as a musician. He had fought through some health issues and, to this day, he is one of the best drummers I ever played with. (Kim is as well, but I am not talking about him here!) Paul’s contribution to “Sailing on Fantasies” was monumental (I’d say, “Awesome”, but that word is being overused so that it means nothing anymore!)
Once Kim decided he was going to leave the group and go back to school, Paul was an obvious choice to replace him. Jon and I knew he was a solid drummer and perfect for our ensemble. Ken thought so too. So we invited him to tour with us, and he accepted. Paul joined us when we were in the studio recording our first album, “Handle With Care”. Though Kim played the drums on all of the selections, Paul added percussion, hand claps and the voice of the judge… among other contributions!
One of the requirements we had as a band, to appease club owners, was to have a photo of us wearing matching outfits. As I have said other places, a lot of clubs required this, so one of our promo photos is of us in what I call our “prison blues”. Generally, we hated wearing matching clothes, but in order to keep playing we did what we were told by our manager.
After the moderate success of our first album, we decided to go into the studio and record what eventually came to be named “Sailing on Fantasies”. We worked hard in the clubs during the day arranging various songs for the album. I clearly remember Ken saying he got chills on one of the harmonic back up parts at the end of the second verse of “Sing Me Your Love Songs”. We were rehearsing in a club in Clear Lake, Iowa.
Finally, we thought it was time to go into the studio and start putting songs down on tape. It is my recollection that we spent a LOT of time redoing things, especially once I found that Fender Jazz bass. We added a lot of layers as ideas would come to us. But on the final mix, I think there were “too many cooks in the soup”.
Even the mastering for the record pressing had too many “opinions” on what should be done for the final mix. Regardless, I am very proud of Paul’s contribution, “Hand in Hand” which can be heard on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmnv5LIAKmE.
It was a sad day when Paul told us he was leaving the group. Though Kim, our original drummer, was coming back, it was hard to see Paul go. We have kept in touch through e-mail, though I haven’t heard from him in a long time. He now resides in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area with his wife, Donna. My hope with putting up this website is to bring all the members out of the woodwork and to start communicating again!
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