Below are a few paragraphs from Chapter 1 of Band Boys
Ties That Bind
"Dudes! Sounds like it's 'surf's up' time in Seaside!" read the email sent by Phil Miller to a list of names not called upon for thirty years.
E-mails and phone calls had filled our days since Richard died in July. Richard Stacy and I, along with Phil Miller, Scott Stinson, Spencer Stinson, and Dennis Snell, had shared a unique experience for a couple of years during the tumultous decade of the 1960s. Together we were boys in a band called the Blue Beats, a teenage rock-and-roll group in our hometown of Huntington, West Virginia - a city founded and built by transcontinental railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington. The experience lasted two years, but the experience was powerful enough to bring us together in Seaside, Oregon, during October 1998, three months after Richard's death and thirty years after our last performance together as the Blue Beats.
My last visit with Richard Stacy had been fifteen years earlier, in October of 1983 when I lived and worked in Southern California. Meeting at Richard's residence in Northridge, California, we shared pizza, played guitars together, and talked of music, family, and friends. The loss of Richard, now dead at forty-seven, ironically gave new life to the Blue Beats.
Driving from the Portland airport and following the flow of traffic across the Marquam Bridge spanning the Willamette River, I merged with the flow onto the exit leading to Route 26 and Seaside. Vintage homes perched on steep hillsides gracing the outskirts of Portland soon gave way to fresh, suburban construction, open fields, and rolling foothils. Now out of city traffic, I relaxed, and music naturally came to mind. I sifted through a stack of compact disks crammed into the black canvas bag I had carried with me on the airplane from Houston, then slid a jet-black disk into the player. The voice of Bob Dylan's son, Jakob, accompanied by his band of masterful musicians, the Wallflowers, poured forth drowing all road sounds with a precise mix of guitars, drums, keyboard, and vocals.
The roadway ahead climbed, dipped, and twisted along the hilly terrain, once again calling on the driving skills I had developed in the hills and valleys of West Virginia. Soon thoughts of family back home in Huntington, and boyhood friends I was about to join in Seaside for the weekend came to mind:
Scott Stinson: It was Scott who had called to tell me of Richard's death. Scott and I last met at the piano-and-organ store he managed in Puenta Hills, California, just a few days before his move back to the East Coast to continue a musical career and ultimately earn a bachelor's degree in business information systems from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Now, fifteen years later, Scott and fellow Huntington musician Steve "Corky" Burtless were driving from Los angeles carting a vanload of musical gear - drums, amplifiers, a keyboard, and other necessities - to Seaside.
Dennis Snell: I last saw Dennis when he traveled from his home in Ogden, Utah, to visit Richard and me in California in 1980. Dennis planned to drive to Seaside from Ogden, bringing along a load of guitars, amplifiers, and other equipment he used when performing with his latest band, Nightwing.
Spencer Stinson: In 1971 I spent a few hours with Spencer after his stint in the U.S. Navy. It was a special time for us, since he had acquired the dream guitars of our days together in the Blue Beats: a Fireglow Rickenbacker Model 360 twelve-string guitar, a coral pink Fender stratocaster six-string electric, and a Martin D35 acoustic guitar. We admired and played the guitars, wondering how our band would have sounded with the iconic guitars in our hands. By all indications, Spencer would not join us in Seaside; his responsibilities in Virginia were too great at the moment.
Phil Miller: Phil had been out of communication with the other Blue Beats for thirty years. The tie reestablished with Phil closed the final gap, binding the remaining Blue Beats together again. It was Phil's upcoming participation in a weeklong National Guard Bureau Annual Public Affairs Training Workshop in Portland, Oregon, that swayed the decision to hold a reunion of the Blue Beats in nearby Seaside. Planning to spend daylight hours in Portland as Major Miller and nights with us in Seaside as a Blue Beat, Phil was committed to the reunion.