FIFTY YEARS LATER
I'm Mike Fitzpatrick, guitarist and vocals for The Return. In 1967 Gary Kesling and I started playing
music together. Here we are fifty years later, Gary has been asking me to do a history report.
The year's half over, I should get started.
I'm gonna drop as many names along the way that I can remember.
Fifth grade I got my first guitar. So did my friend Dave Panchot (yes the same guy that plays with
The Fugitives, and Hoods Creek Revival). We started a band with our friend Sam Hoffman called
the LTD's. Best gig: we played a party in the Henry Clay Ballroom. Larry Ritchie joined us on
drums and WCMI DJ Tricky Ricky Cool was the emcee.
We had changed our name to The Sound Wave. Ed Abbot had replaced Sam on tambourine and
James Rice was our drummer, (yes, the same guy that plays with Deeper Ground). James had to quit,
Ed said a friend of his from Boy Scouts played drums. Next practice he brought Gary Kesling.
So begins the fifty years.
We played all the cool jobs that Jr. High school kids could get. Westwood Boys Club, Cattletsburg
Youth Center, friends' parties.
We played a party that Dave couldn't do. I don't remember the hows and whys but bassist Bob
Sizemore and keyboard player Steve Kinner played with us that night. They were older than us
and better than us. Bye bye Dave and Ed. Cruel.
They played three jobs with us before moving on to college. One at Coles Jr. High featured
Ralph Morman, the singer with The Outcasts.
A turning point year. The band was just Gary and me, then I met Marc Cantrell (yes, you all know
who Marc was). I asked him to join us, he did, we bought a couple Fender amps and a P.A. and
the crazy high school years took off. Played all the schools, parties, and pools, Boys Clubs, and
Youth Centers. And don't forget The American Place in Flatwoods. Some players that passed
through the band those years included: Steve Hanks, Karl Hefner, Greg Hill, Dan Gore. They all
lasted about a minute or two each.
Gary became the lead singer when Joey Maynard joined us as the new drummer.
That line up continued on until Sept. when Marc decided to go away to college. He was replaced
by Steve Hoffman (yes, the same Steve Hoffman who years later would become our soundman,
but more importantly work for Exile). That Dec. Joey left the band.
It was Gary back on drums, Steve, and me. Kenny Chinn joined on keyboards and
played one job.
Marc also showed up a few more times. That summer we recorded our first demo tape of original
songs recorded in my parents' basement where we practiced. In July Joe Thacker joined us on
He had played with the band from Charleston, Pegasus.
We recorded a five song demo of originals at Appalachia Sound Studios (now known as The
Recording Workshop) in Chillicothe, Ohio. The owner of the studios arranged a meeting for us at April
Blackwood Music Publishing in the CBS Building, NYC. Gary and I made the trip to New York and had a
very short meeting. They said they had listened to the tape and sorry but they didn't have a place for our
concept. Whatever that meant.
That version of the band kind of dissolved somewhere in early '75. Later Ed Fields joined Gary
and me for some jammin' in the basement. Eddie Hart came in and played some keyboard, Ed was playing
bass. We played two or three jobs, no big deal. Ed decided he was moving to Florida and asked me
if I'd like to go too. In December I was there.
Ed and I formed a band in Bartow Florida called Entrance. Gary joined a band from Ironton called
Deuce. Entrance played around central Florida until spring of '77, then we broke it up and moved back home.
We relaxed. Wrote songs. Thought about next moves.
We formed a band to just play original music. It was called Aire. It included Charley Wineka on guitar
and Bill ? on bass. We played one show at Ashland Community College and then broke up.
Ed Fields played a song for me that he wrote. I wrote lyrics for it. We decided to start a new band.
We called Gary and Dave Copley. This was Menlo Park. We booked time at The Recording Workshop
and recorded our first single, "Wrong Side Of A Gun" and "My Heart". Throughout '79 and '80 we
recorded at the Workshop and played clubs (mostly the Monarch Café, Huntington) and shows.
Menlo Park still playing and recording. During these years we recorded somewhere around 25 original
songs at the Recording Workshop.
We played the 4th of July at the Ashland riverfront on a flatbed truck. Bob Anders' (yes, from The
Whipps) band opened for us. It wasn't called this yet but it was the first Summermotion.
We won the "Next Great Superstars" contest at WKEE with our song "Run And Run". Gary quit the
band. Jim Gillespie played drums with us for a while, we won a "Battle of the Bands" contest at the
Paramount Art Center. Then we ended it.
Gary and I got together with Teresa and Barry Gillum and played "girl singer" type music. It was
their band we were just the side guys.
We decided it was time to start again. We started The Return. The first incarnation included
Jeff Sands on keys and Nick Phelps on bass. After Nick had to leave Perry Stephens joined us.
We played New Years' Eve at the newly opened Ashland Plaza Hotel. We went on to play that
job six years in a row.
More clubs, a couple county fairs. The usual.
Verdict's Inn was one of our regular places this year.
Jeff left the band that year and Ray Whitlock joined us on keys. Perry left at the end of the year
and Dave Copley joined us.
Played VFWs and Legions, the Mill Run (there's an old name for you) in Huntington.
Danny's East End, also known as the TNT club in Huntington was a big one for us this year.
TNT, Verdict's, and the Ashland American Legion kept us busy.
Ray left the band sometime in 1993. After that we decided three piece was the way to go.
The Watering Hole was a new Huntington club added to the mix. That New Year's Eve we
played for the city of Ashland on Judd Plaza.
Sharkeys, Watering Hole, Renegades, Boyd Co. Fair, Policeman's Ball, and our first year
to play the Tri State Fair and Regatta, opening for B.T.O.
Bogeys Inn in Teays Valley was added to the list. We also played NYE there. We opened
for 38 Special at the Regatta.
…to be continued