Early Days With Silver Laughter – Ken Wiles

Ken onstage in Des Moines IA 1975

Ken onstage “bending notes” in Des Moines, IA 1975

I am not sure how this photo came about, but it was in the Mark Zaputil collection. My guess is there was some overlap where both Ken Wiles and Mark were traveling with the band, though only one of them was onstage playing at a time. That’s me on the left. It looks like I had not yet moved to the other end of the stage.

As I have stated before, Ken came to see us when we were playing at the Cavern Club in Moline, IL (the one that was underground beneath a parking lot). Mark was leaving the band, and so Ken was selling us on his talents during one of our breaks. His band, Ivory Coast, had just broken up, and he needed a job.

Apparently we were impressed and brought him on board the “Silver Laughter Express”. Remember, Jon, Ken and I had been friends since our high school days when we worked together at Petersen’s Department Store. And we had been in dueling bands around Davenport for years leading up to that time.

It was not long after we got enough cover songs with Ken on lead that we started to branch out with original material, culminating in a trip to the Kansas City studio and our first album, “Handle With Care”.

Mick Orton


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