The first band I was in was The Avengers with a five man lineup. The members were Tim Barton, Craig Waldron, Larry Smith (who eventually went to The Contents Are: as bass player before Mick) Jeff Marland and me.
After that there was Morninglight whose lineup was Mike Van Echaute on lead guitar, Bruce Ericson on drums, Dick Rose on bass and me on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. Lily of Davenport, Iowa is with us in the photo, but she didn’t perform with the band, she was a very close friend of ours and still is to this day.
Next came Ivory Coast whose original lineup was Buddy (Dick) Olson on bass, John Hancock on drums and Curtis Mohr on guitar when I joined. I don’t know who their lead guitarist was before that; possibly a guy named Jim Blakely. We eventually went on the road for three weeks; two weeks of one-nighters and one week in Laramie, Wyoming. At the time I was the only one that was twenty-one years old, so we were afraid of being busted for being underage in a bar the whole time.
I ended up quitting the band to be with my fiance at the time. When I came back after she and I broke up, Curtis left. Somehow Tony Hoeppner got in the mix. After a few changes here and there, which is either a blur or I totally forgot, Buddy left the band. Tony and I found Dee who was our lead singer. She is the blond woman in the center of the publicity photo below. We worked out a bunch of songs with just the three of us until we found a bass player (Paul, whose last name I can’t remember) and drummer (Rick Garner). This was the start of Ivory Coast with women in the band.
So now there were the 5 of us with Dee (vocalist), Tony (lead/rhythm guitar and keyboards) and me (lead guitar). We were on stage doing the songs we liked, and a manager came to hear us play at some place. Bob Harris was his name. He yelled at us saying we had a lot of talent and great harmonies, but he didn’t know one Goddamn song we were playing, so we had to go commercial.
Paul, the long haired guy in the photo, and Rick Garner thought we were selling out, so they both quit. That’s when we got Dee’s future husband (a bass player who couldn’t learn his parts so I had to teach them to him) and Phil Dingledein, the drummer, to join the band. A few months after Dee and the bass player met they quit and got married. A woman named Robyn was recruited after a failed attempt to get a pair of gorgeous twins with no sense of rhythm or harmonies to join the band. Along with Robyn we got John Wallrapp as our bassist. They were both from St. Louis. I still keep in contact with them, and both are still playing music.
Somewhere down the line after 3 bass players and 3 women vocalists, Tony decided to quit for some reason and Dick (Buddy) Olson came back into the band; he was in the original version of Ivory Coast and a really good bass player, vocalist, and pedal steel guitarist. The whole transition thing is kind of foggy to me as I don’t remember exactly why Tony quit and when Buddy joined. Robyn and Phil stayed with us until the end. Bob, our manager, tried to get us to do coordinated dance steps and even sent us to a choreographer in Minneapolis. Though we tried (halfhearted) it just didn’t work out (Whew!).
Eventually Bob talked the band into firing me because he didn’t like the way I bent my strings (or maybe danced). Lucky for me that opened the door to join Silver Laughter. The funny thing was that Bob never realized I was the one learning all of the songs we played, so Ivory Coast broke up about a week after I left for Silver Laughter.
And the rest of the story is on this website.
(Note: It’s tough keeping a band together with all the personality clashes. Silver Laughter was lucky to have a relatively stable history of changes compared to many bands, as you can see with Ken’s story. – Mick Orton)