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John Grove:
Bass Guitar/ Vocals

John Grove

I was walking out of my home room class at Freed Jr. High school with Brad Rice in 1964 when he asked me if I liked the new song by "The Beatles". I replied I didn't know the song or the band. His reply was "you know that song where they sing real high". Oh yeah! I like that one. It was, " I Want To Hold Your Hand". Then like every teenager in the early sixties I was hooked. Brad & I also listened to a lot of Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, Dave Clark 5. We also went together to see "A Hard Day's Night" that summer.
In the fall of 64' just starting eighth grade, I was with another buddy of mine named Rodney Olson helping him deliver papers. After the job was finished, we went inside his house and my eyes were drawn to a guitar case in the corner. I asked him "what's in the case?" he said "a guitar', I asked 'an electric guitar?" He said "yeah', I asked "can I see it?' He opened up the case to reveal a mid fifties Harmony Stratotone with one pickup and painted black. I asked if he would be willing to sell it, and he said he would for fifteen dollars. I ended up doing trades with go-cart frames and bike parts to round up the cash for the purchase. Rodney's older brothers were in a professional band called the Cobras. Brad, Rodney, and I took lessons from his brother Donnie and formed our first band which did not have a name. We needed a bass player and I was asked to fill the position. When I looked at the Basses in the new Wards catalog , I thought they were ugly and said "I'm not the guy" for the vacant position. Exit my first band.
In ninth grade I hooked up with Ron Mortley who played drums, and, a very good guitar player named Donnie Mitchell. Donnie played bass in another band called the "Unknowns" with 10 year old guitar wiz Bobby Montoya. Donnie had a 64' Fender Jazz Bass and a Blackface Fender Bassman amp. When I saw this rig I was more than willing to take over the bass chores. Donnie did his best at teaching me to become an okay bass player. We did mostly instrumentals-a lot of Ventures etc.. The band consisted of Donnie Mitchell on guitar, Ron Mortley on drums, Sam Espinoza on guitar, and me on bass. Around this time my parents stuck a baby blue Hagstrom bass under the Christmas tree, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. We auditioned for the Freed Talent show and were accepted. The seventh, eighth, & ninth grade each had their own show. We were one of the many winners for the ninth grade and got to appear in the "Freed Follies" which was a show that featured all the winners from each class. This band was called "The Sonarz'.
Donnie decided to focus on his other band and left our band, Ron Mortley moved to the south side and we formed another band with two Roncalli guys, Dave Pavlich and Victor Alfonso and called it "The Trunds". Dave got the name from a BC comic strip. I bought a silvertone "hideaway" bass amp with one 15" Jensen.We did current rock of the time like "Double Shot of my Baby's Love' by the Swinging Medallions, and, "We Ain't Got Nothin Yet" By the Blues Magoos.
I got a call in my mid-sophmore year to join a band called the "Kiwis'. I found out later that a Kiwi was the Australian bird used on the can of Shoe polish of the same name. I don' know if we were named after the bird or the shoe polish. They had just taken second place at a city wide battle of the bands. This band consisted of Sam Cortese-guitar, Dave Mihelich-guitar,and Doug Rigirozzi-drums, Kent Abel-organ, and me on bass. We also did the current rock hits like the above, but adding in the Monkees, Every Mother's Sons, The New Beats (Bread & Butter) and more. Exit Doug Rigirozzi, enter Ron Mortley, exit Ron Mortley, enter Al Volpe a great little drummer from South High. Al had been the drummer in the "The Cavemen" who took first place in that same battle of the bands. About that time, my friend Spike turned me on to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. My rig was Hagstrom Bass, 1962 Blonde Fender Bassman,which I still have, Kustom 200 with tuck n' roll & 2-15" JBL's. Exit John Grove, Kent Abel, Al Volpe to form the Hi-Bluz.
The Hi Bluz consisted of Al Volpe, Kent Abel now on Hammond B-3, Pat McCown on guitar (Pat was Good - really good), Ernie Watta from the big time Pueblo band "The Teardrops"on guitar/Vocals ( they had already cut two 45's one which the national artist Andy Williams had covered), Dave Flores on sax, Tom Bowman on trumpet. The Hi-Bluz focused strictly on Soul Music such as "Knock On Wood", "But It's Allright", "Soul Finger", lots of James Brown and Wilson Pickett. I was listening to the pirate radio station "XERB" out of Del Rio Texas, which was owned by, and featured "Wolfman Jack". Wolfman was playing really obscure R&B, Soul, & Doo Wop and this really had an impact on me. The Hi-Bluz played a lot of 3.2 beer joints around town like the Honey-Bucket &The Hi Club. This was an important time in my story, as this was the band that I acquired my first Fender Bass, which I still use to this day, a 1957 Precision Bass. Eventually the Psychedelic era took over and I left the band.
Band-X was next. This band consisted of Lou Sciortino on drums and outstanding vocals, Mike "Spike" Webb on organ, John "Mac" Macklem-guitar, Bob McConell-guitar, me on bass. The now rig was three Kustom speaker cabinets with six fifteens and two-two hundered watt heads and the 57' Precision. We played great clubs all over the front range from Sam's place on Lookout mtn. In Denver, Kelker Junction concert hall in Colo. Springs, billed as the world's largest 3.2 nightclub, (The Who and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels had recently performed there). We opened up countless times for "The Frantics" at KJCH. The hi-light of Band-X was opening for the Texas band, "Fever Tree" who had a national hit called "San Francisco Girls". By the summer of 69' (sounds like a song), and only together for 9 months, Band-X called it a day. The last gig was Pinnochio's in July.
I hooked up with Brad again who had now switched from to guitar to keyboards and a young guitar player from Texas named Craig Stilson. I was amazed and still am at how quickly my old friend Brad can master an instrument. What talent. We formed the nucleus of a new band that Brad had christened "Joint Session" (how'd you come up with that one Brad?). One night Brad, Craig and I were at a street dance and one of the bands performing had Scott Thomas on drums. I turned and looked at both and said, "that's our new drummer". After the show we approached Scott and offered him the job and he accepted. Next we needed a singer. Enter one Danny Krall, ex-teen king and skirt chaser. Danny was great as a frontman, entertaining the crowd, driving the girls nuts, singing and playing guitar. We did Three Dog Night, lots and lots of Creedence, Big Brother & the Holding Company, The Band, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Rob Pike was hanging around with us providing necessary transportation and friendship. About 8 months into Joint Session, I fell in love with my wife to be, Patty Lott. Still have the same 57' Precision, still have the same wife after 36 years. Scott, unfortunately, ended up for personal reasons leaving Joint Session around June of 70'. He was replaced with Mike Green, we changed the name to "Cody" and focused doing more and more CSN&Y. Mike moved to Arizona and was replaced by Murray Watson from the Trinidad band "The Fuzz". Cody only lasted another 8-9 months. In September of 71, I married Miss Lott and she presented me with my daughter Kristie. Life was pretty great and exciting, but I had no band. Six months of married life and I got a call from Gary Fowler to join a really good band called Kemikol. Kemikol was Steve Calloway-guitar, Leon Salazar-drums, My still & current co-musical partner John "JW" Withers Hammond B-3, Gary on Vocals, Me on Bass. It was this band that the important part of my arsenal was purchased...The Acoustic 360 Bass Amp. I stayed with Kemikol for probably six months, then...
Now I know in Rob's bio, he says I was bagging groceries at Chet's market. I was at Chet's market, but I was delivering sundries for Corkish Flaks Cigar Co. I was at my van when Rob and his mom pulled up and I mentioned we were putting together a new group and would he be interested in getting together. He said yes, and that was how Starr was formed, with Rob Pike on guitar, Bobby Montoya-guitar, Scott Thomas-drums, me on 57' Precision and now armed with a deadly Acoustic 360 Bass amp. This amp was state of the art and is still a killer piece of equipment. I still have and still use it. We started practicing in Scott's Grandmother's basement, then switched to the old HI-Club which was now no longer a club. It was now a 4000 sq. ft. art studio for a local artist named Franco Piras. Franco was kind enough to let us rehearse in the defunct club, and it was great for us because it still had the large stage still intact. The Hi Club was a former big band nightclub from the 1920's-30's, then it was known as the "Arcadia Ballrom" sadly enough, it gave way to (go figure) a parking lot at Seventh and Court. Starr immediately took off and we played the best clubs around, going to Grand Junction, Durango, Colo. Springs, Denver, Trinidad, Gunnison. Material at this time was Lots of Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, Humble Pie, Jo Jo Gunne. Unforunately, Bobby ended up leaving the band in the middle of the week for health reasons at a club called "Super Star" in Colorado Springs. We pulled off the remaining nights three piece. Rob really picked up the slack and did a wonderful job. After that we hired two Colorado Springs musicians, Gene Schneider on Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, and guitar. Steve Meyers had been playing with Gene and came along as the second guitar player. The band continued to do well and played a lot. We were playing in Durango sometime in 73', and I had made a call home to Patty and she mentioned some of the things my new daughter was accomplishing and I got real homesick. I informed the band that I was leaving. The guys kept the band together and did well. I think it lasted all the way up through the early eighties and included an album of all original tunes. Not Bad Guys !!!!! During this time, Patty gave birth to my second daughter, Tera. Now I had three reasons to stay home.
Next was "The Arizona Nightingales" Ed Murray on guitar (great guitar player, great human being), Gary Fowler once again on lead vocals, Doyle Trantham-guitar, fiddle, mandolin, Jerry Christie/ Brodie White on drums. We played everything from Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, Hank Williams, Red Soveign, Stephen Stills & Manassas, Commander Cody, Flying Burrito Bros. Bill Monroe, Fats Domino. The band was dong very well locally and having a lot of fun. One night at the Irish Pub, Doyle cashed in his chips and said he was leaving the band. I'd struck up a friendship with the guitar player in a band from Texas that was playing at a club on Elizabeth St. called the Roaring Twenties. I told him Doyle was leaving the band and asked if he would like to join the "Nightingales" , he said yes! Enter Gary Snider. One of the finest musicians I have ever shared a stage with. Gary knew the words and correct chords to probably every important rock and roll song ever written. Amazing, truly amazing. The Nightingales held on for another year. Gary Fowler left and we replaced him with Kenny Grimes on pedal steel and six string hot licks. Kenny is now a studio guitarist and guitarist with country music star Hal Ketchum. Kenny has also performed with Willie Nelson, Johnny Gimble,& Jerry Jeff Walker. Carl Brenner came in on Drums. We were playing a club in downtown Colo. Springs one night and Gary Snider and I looked at the marquee at the same time, and said at the same time, "Is that Jan Berry from Jan and Dean?" Jason Hunter the club manager had met Jan at a Las Vegas Party and had arranged for Jan to appear at the club after his oldies concert at McNichols Arena in Denver. Only problem was, Jan no longer had a band. Jason asked if we would back him up since we knew so many oldies. We said yes. Next thing we knew, it was me, Gary Snider, Brad Rice, Carl Brenner going on a national tour for six weeks as the backing band for surf legend Jan Berry. Patty had just given birth to my third daughter Jenny. She was two weeks old when I left. I also had just purchased a 61' Fender stackknob Jazz Bass and that became my main choice of basses. We flew to Phoenix for the first gig and picked up a motor home and a U-Haul trailer. That first tour was tough. We played Washington DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, and Iowa. We performed with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jay and the Americans, The Drifters, Steppenwolf, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Buddy Rich & his orchestra, Grass Roots, The Ronnettes, The Four Tops and more. The Hi-light of the year spent with Jan and sometimes Dean Torrance, was, performing at the Palladium in New York City. This is a grand old Theatre in the heart of NYC. The Rolling Stones appeared there about a week before we did. But, Alas, all good things must come to an end. The Jan Berry tour came to a halt in Houston Texas. We drove the motor home-home.
Next six months were spent in a house band with a good group called bandit at the Stadium lounge on Pueblo's south side. This group featured Kathy Henkel-vocals, Joe Butkovich guitar/vocals, Mike Green on drums, Kenny Grimes-pedal steel, electric guitar, vocals, me on bass/vocals.
Next call was from Steve "Rocky Rat" Mitchell who fronted a great band called the "Rocky Rat Revue" along with his smoking hot piano player cousin Pete "The Reverend Raynard Colt" Santilli. Carl Brenner joined me once again as the other half of the bass/drum combo. This band already had a good following built up around the Rocky Mtn. front range by playing high energy rock n roll that focused on 50's & 60's stuff. We renamed the band "Aloha", and started including lots of Beach Boys and other surf classics. Before long we were playing a lot of the resort towns such as Crested Butte, Aspen, Breckenridge, Dillon, Copper Mtn. and making good money. We also appeared at the Denver Bronco's Lyle Alzado's Club in Denver, and the top club in Boulder "The Blue Note". At this time my wife gave birth to my only son, Johnny. Aloha was an excellent band and got the chance to prove it when we auditioned against 40 other Colorado bands for a USO tour to the Philippines, Korea, & Japan and were selected along with two other groups. This tour was supposed to be 6 months. After some thinking about being away from my family, I chose not to go. After the guys returned, I rejoined and we picked up where we had left off. Aloha died of natural causes about six months later.
"The Cheaters" were formed next just to do a little playing and have some fun. This band featured Danny Krall on vocals/guitar, Steve Montoya-vocals/guitar, Carl Brenner-drums/vocals, me on bass/vocals. The early British invasion music was our choice of tunes. We did lots of Beatles, Stones, DC 5, Hollies, Creedence, ZZ Topp. This band was never put together to last for a long time and it didn�t. The summer of 85' in La Veta saw the last gig for the Cheaters.
The next formation of The Cheaters was an about face as far as musical direction goes. Carl Brenner and I had now been together as a rhythm section for nearly 10 years. We put together a powerful musical trio adding Jimmy Stuckey on guitar/vocals. In addition to the three of us, we added his wife Tammy, and Kathy Henkel to front the band. Tammy also played flute and keyboards. Our set list was songs from Heart, Tina Turner, Bryan Adams, The Police, Men at work, The Outfield and other 70's & 80's artists. Cheaters # 2 lasted about 6-8 months then disbanded.
Captain Cooker was next, and was formed strictly to do a Broncos Super Bowl song. I got a call one night from a guy in Colorado Springs wanting some musicians to record a tribute song for the Denver Broncos' upcoming Super Bowl game. I got together with Carl Brenner again and brought in Steve Halverson on guitar. We needed a keyboard player and the very talented Dave Carleo fit the bill. The only thing we required of Dave was, that he bring his Hammond B-3 out of retirement. He was elated that we would be willing to haul that wonderful organ around. It took us a little while to find our niche, but we eventually did by playing the music that people recognized. Top 40 country was hot at the time so we did some of that along with some classic and current rock. This band did a heck of a good job backing up 60's rock n roll legends Del Shannon, The Crystals, & The Shirelles at two annual concerts at the Royal Gorge Bridge. Steve left in October of 88' and was replaced by Dave Hemmersbach on guitar/vocals and the very capable Art Shore on lead vocals and Sax. David Clayton-Thomas from Blood, Sweat & tears had nothing on Art. He was just as good. Art left after a few months and was replaced by Tim Mancuso. Tim was a well trained and very talented sax player and was just starting to do well on vocals, when he met a young lady at a club we were playing at, fell in love, got married and left the band. Dave C., Dave H., Carl and I had a pow-wow and we brought in Earl Poteet AKA Wallace Cotton to front the band. I also brought in an Ampeg SVT amp to use with the Acoustic. In addition to Wally, we added Rob Smith on sax and Joe Oliveri on Trumpet. The name was changed to Wallace Cotton & the Royals. We concentrated mainly at first of being a "Blue Brothers" 60's soul band but also adding a touch of classic rock such as The Rascals and Stones. This band opened for Garth Brooks, The Mamas & the Papas, Three Dog Night, &Travis Tritt. We started drifting towards music I wasn't excited about and I handed in my resignation.
For the next three years I did a nut and bolt restoration on a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang and didn't even think about music. When I finished the Boss, I thought about what I would like to do musically. The one area I had not explored was the Blues. Little Ricky & the Roosters was formed in about 1998 with Rick Terlep on guitar, Steve Montoya-guitar/vocals, Lou Sciortino- drums/vocals, John "JW' Withers-Hammond B-3/vocals and me on bass. This band is still together after 10 years and sounds very good. About 3 years Scott Thomas joined the band as the new Roosters drummer. Steve, Rick, "JW', & Scott have all been presenting originals to the band. We have recently decided to become a little more crowd friendly by working in some music from Van Morrison, The Stones, Rare Earth, Jefferson Starship. The Roosters recently added Doug Garvey on vocals, trumpet, keyboards. A few years ago, we opened up for the Classic Rock All-Stars which feature Jerry Corbetta the great keyboard player and writer/vocalist of the classic song "Green Eyed Lady", Pete Rivera Lead the powerful vocalist/Drummer from Rare Earth, Mike Pinera guitar/vocals from Blues Image & Iron Butterfly, & Dennis Noda from Cannibal & The Headhunters the band that did "Land of a Thousand Dances" before Wilson Pickett. The Roosters are a great band and I love being part of them. This leads us into the reformation of Starr.
In November of 2002, Wayne DeHerrera a local sound engineer/promoter called and said he was doing a special New Years Eve show at the Colorado State Fair Grounds event center. This show was to feature some of the classic Pueblo bands from the 60's and 70's. He asked if we could get together Joint Session and Starr. This request sounded like a lot of fun, so we contacted all of the original members of both bands. Since Scott and I were in both J.S. & Starr, all we had to do was relearn & remember about 20 songs. Since Brad was in Joint Session, and was such a great player, it was only natural that he be added to play B-3 in Starr. Remember Deep Purple is slightly Keyboard heavy. The two bands pulled it off very well that New Years Eve of 02' and had a lot of fun doing it. In fact the event was such a hit, Wayne did it again the following year. I might add he did a very good job of putting this show together, it's not an easy thing to do. Also, my compliments to the Colorado State Fair for hosting it. Anyway, Starr did the second show and we added in Mike Hough as a second guitar player. Mike brought a lot to the table. We now had great double leads, and he is such a good singer. With Rob Pike out of musical retirement , it was evident that this band should stay together. Mike had been writing as well as Scott & Brad and they had some really good songs. Rob got inspired as well and whipped up a batch himself. Before you could say "John Lord", we had an album's worth of material. It's been 3 years in the making but it's a project that I am proud to be associated with. My role in the band is to just lay down a solid foundation, along with the excellent drumming of Scott, for these wonderful musicians to play on top of. - 3/23/2008

John Grove

Last Updated: Mayl 21, 2009