Death of an Aristocat

Chuck, Dave, Pat, & Larry - The Reflections 1964

Chuck, Dave, Pat, & Larry – The Reflections 1964

The doorbell on the side of our house next to the driveway rang. This doorbell, with its own higher pitched ring than the front doorbell, rang in the my bedroom in the basement, commonly referred to among my friends as the dungeon due to my insistence that it be painted battleship gray and because to get to it, you had to traverse the furnace room with it’s spooky tentacled maze of vents rising up from of the furnace’s heart to snake across overhead. In my teen years it had served as the bridge of a starship, the conning tower of a submarine, and clubhouse before becoming our rehearsal room. I went up the basement stairs and ushered in Hasty Smith and another guy who seemed to tumble down the open steps all elbows and knees. Chuck Tunnah, Hasty said, introducing him to Pat Baldwin and me, was an inch or two over six feet and kind of gawky like he hadn’t quite grown into his skeleton. He had dark hair combed back from a widow’s peak that made him look fiendish.
“Now listen you guys. Don’t start that “Charlie the Tuna” crap with me,” he said with a big grin, like the Joker’s in Batman, in reference to the Starkist Tuna cartoon spokesfish, “because I do taste great and unlike that cartoon Tuna, I have great taste. Just want to get that clear”

That was how I met Chuck Tunnah, the fourth singer of my original vocal group as we formed the Aristocats, in the Fall of 1957. On July 5, 2016, Chuck, Charles E. Tunnah, died peacefully at 75 years of age in an easy chair with the Indianapolis Star in his hands. As with so many of my friends and associates passing into their later years are beginning to disappear I fear my blog will become an obit page, so I will resist that except in special circumstances. Though Chuck and I had not been in touch for many, many years, this loss struck very close to home to me. Hasting Smith, Jr., mentioned above, and Chuck sang in our high school choir and the exclusive Madrigal singers, and both patiently taught Pat Baldwin and me, both complete neophytes, how to learn and sing the popular music we liked. Hasty soon left us to go to Purdue, and eventually to become a nuclear rock scientist in Los Alamitos, New Mexico, where he passed away prematurely and suddenly as he warmed up to begin an early morning run.

Chuck, Pat, and I found Dave Dunn and went on to become the Reflections, and to record and release our first two records in Indianapolis in 1964. One of them, In The Still of the Night, became a regional hit on Chicago’s WLS, outcharting the Beatles for a couple of weeks. Chuck is the bass singer who first started the bass line that brought that version of a classic to prominence for us.

In Night People though, Chuck is introduced and disappears in the same paragraph; he never made the trip to California and on to the adventure that turned us into Stark Naked and the Car Thieves. Though he could be generous and kind, he could also be loud and obstreperous and because of that, he ended up relegated to staying in Indiana. He, and Hasty, have now passed beyond the curtain of life. When Hasty died, I felt the harsh breezes of change whispering through the hole in my history he left behind. The wind has picked up.

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WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

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NP 61 Star ReviewsOne of the best biographies written by a musician!
A Riveting, Mythic, Rock and Roll Memoir
Wonderful! Excellent Read!
Thoroughly Entertaining.
A Great Read
A Window Into a Fascinating Era
Rock and Roll, baby!
A Must Read
A Great Read About An Exciting Life
Music Has Found Me Again
SO Worth Reading!
My Life Seemed Extremely Boring After Finishing “Night People”
Lessons of Life, Love, and Sex in the 60s
Genuine, Exciting, Graphic and Memorable – life in the 60’s
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Car Thieves take me away!

Keith Richards: Beatles’ Sgt Pepper was rubbish

Here in the United States in the middle sixties, there was always a friendly competition between East Coast and West Coast bands, personified by the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons. And though there became a creative competition between the Beatles and the Beach Boys, the long and winding visceral rivalry for the Beatles has always been the Rolling Stones. Especially as they put their own opposing brands onto rock and roll stardom as they entered the Seventies. You always had to choose if you were a Beatles fan or a Stones fan. Though I didn’t care for the Beatles originally, as I mentioned in Night People, I did come to appreciate them, and to be astonished, let alone highly influenced, by “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” as you’ll read about it in Enchanted, should you chose to read it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/08/06/keith-richards-the-beatles-sergeant-pepper-rubbish-album_n_7946520.html  - Rolling Stones' Keith Richards Slams The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper Album - 'A Mishmash Of Rubbish'

Beatles Cosplay for Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, genius album

I didn’t care much for the Stones when I first heard them either, and even now I only grudgingly appreciate some of their classic songs like “Symphony for the Devil” and “Gimme Shelter.” Especially since I had to sing several Stones songs, all of them non-melodic, like “Get Off Of My Cloud” and “Satisfaction.” However Keith Richards has now officially hit my idiot list with his criticism of the Sergeant Pepper album. In a recent interview for Esquire Magazine, without provocation Keith volunteered:

Keith Richards from Esquire Magazine article: http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/music/interviews/a36899/keith-richards-interview-0915/

Keith Richards, open mouth, insert guitar – Esquire Magazine 6/30

“The Beatles sounded great when they were the Beatles. But there’s not a lot of roots in that music. I think they got carried away. Why not? If you’re the Beatles in the ’60s, you just get carried away—you forget what it is you wanted to do. You’re starting to do Sgt. Pepper. Some people think it’s a genius album, but I think it’s a mishmash of rubbish, kind of like Satanic Majesties—”Oh, if you can make a load of shit, so can we.”

What? Are you kidding me? Read more about weird Keith in this Huntington Post UK article.

YouTube Videos of Stark Naked and the Car Thieves’ songs

(Update from post in March 2011 – larryjdunlap.com/ljd-blog) An amazing thing has happened on YouTube. One of the things we all mourn is the loss of one the first music videos ever, which we did in Hawaii for “Look Back in Love” in 1968, the song was supposed to become our first big, national hit. Not only did it feature the band, but also the Hawaiian girl I met there and later married, (Things We Lost in the Night, A Memoir of Love and Music in the 60s, Book 2: Enchanted). I finally located the cinematographer who shot it but he told me it was lost in a fire.  It appears that there are many modern admirers of the band who have taken our music to YouTube. While noodling around on the web I somehow got to a wikipedia page that mentioned Jan Hutchins and Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, and then a link to a YouTube video (below) that was weird. But first things first. Here is the first video to kick this montage off …

Look Back in Love

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO SEE ALL THE YOUTUBE VIDEOS

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