By Lorraine Kay
PALMDALE, CA – Some impressive rock bands have come out of Antelope Valley over the years. One of the best remembered is Rattlesnakes and Eggs fronted by Palmdale High School alumni Marty Prue, class of 1965. A major influence on the local music scene from 1969 to 1974, the band has come out of retirement for a special appearance at the Best of PHS 1965-1975 class reunion, slated for Saturday September 1, 2012 in the Amphitheater at Marie Kerr Park in Palmdale on Rancho Vista Blvd., at 30th Street West from 6 to 11 p.m.
The band’s original members when they were formed in 1969 were Marty “Big White” Prue on Guitar, Sax and Piano; Tim “Merlyn Motors” Myer, on Bass and Sax; Tom “Tommy Tommy” Bryden; John “JT” Thomas, on Piano, Sax; Keith “Duke Limptoshot” Kennedy, on Coronet, Drums; John “Drumbo” French on drums and Percussion and Peter “Tony” Bass, Drums and Percussion. Joe Davies replaced Prue when he left the band in 1973. According to Prue, “There were a few other members over the years but this group pretty much represents the ones with the longest tenure with R&E. By the way, I am so excited about this and so are the rest of the guys. Logistics of this undertaking are crazy mad but we are going for it!”
There are few A.V. residents that do not remember Rattlesnakes and Eggs. “The first time we took on the name Rattlesnakes & Eggs was in the fall of 1969. Tim’s English girlfriend at the time had a 4 year old son named Simon who proposed that we call the band “Rattlesnakes & Eggs.” The other option he gave us was “Seals with Brooms”. We felt the former fit the best,” said Prue.
Putting the band back together for this event, as Prue stated, has some “crazy-mad logistics”. Since the band disbanded in 1974 some of the members went on to form other bands or furthered their music careers in other ways. Some have left the area altogether. Currently Keith Kennedy and John French are the only ones left in the AV.
“Since the band disbanded in 1974 I have often thought about putting something like this reunion together but had never found a venue that would justify the work that it will take to put this group back together for just one public performance. Much of the music we did as Rattlesnakes & Eggs was complex and the arrangements were challenging even for us back then in our “musical prime”. It will be a big challenge to resurrect this music and play it again. I for one am up for it. There has been a lot of water under the bridge at this point and some of us have not been playing the instruments or the types of music that we did back then for many years. But I am happy to say that I felt enthusiasm from all the guys that I connected with. So as long as current musical commitments don’t interfere, (which is a slight possibility with several of the guys) then we should be able to have a reunion fitting for this occasion.
“It has yet to be completely determined what we will be playing,” says Prue, “but I am predicting a number of R&E originals, Some of our best covers from the early 1970’s and of course some type of a high energy 1950’s show with some amazing Elvis from Tom Bryden! We will probably play one long set or two.”
Prue played with various groups in A.V. until he moved to Texas in 1995 with his family, where he continues to play every week at the Local Senior Center, “for yes, the old folks. I play with an 91 year old bass player named JB Young and an amazing 87 year old lady pianist by the name of Regina Dickenson who has one great ear (two actually) and can really play that Honky Tonk, old time Gospel style. I brought my mom, Ruth, out to live with us after my father, Irving, was killed in a car accident in 2001. We were looking for someplace to take mom out to for some fun and stumbled on to the Senior Center. I was brought to emotional tears of joy when I heard about 40 of those folks singing all the old favorites from the last century out of song books. Back then they also had a guy who played tenor banjo. After the singing stopped I went up and introduced myself to him. When I told him that I was a guitar player, he handed me a music book and asked me to bring my guitar back with me the next week. I have been doing that every week since. Sadly, my mom passed away at the end of June 2007, but I just can’t give up the gig. It is amazingly fun and fulfilling. They make me sing solo’s every week and for the first time in my life I am the “youngster” of the group so what the heck!”
“I have also been doing some solo work utilizing midi back ground music since I don’t currently have time to have a real band. I am able to play for all kinds of different crowds, young and old. I must admit I have a fondness in my heart for the ‘Golden Agers’ and they are about the most appreciative audience on earth.“
After leaving R & E in 1973, Prue also played with Santa Fe Slim in the mid 1970’s, “Dreamer” in the later 1970’s and Marty Prue & The Mystery Band through the 1980’s and early 1990s.
Aside from music, Prue has worked as a RN during the 1980’s worked in Mental Health and Substance Abuse at Palmdale Hospital. “I recently took a position as a Nurse at the “Sante’ Center For Healing” and specialize in all forms of Addiction Rehabilitation. My wife, Sue, and I also have been involved in the Natural Health Industry for many years.”
Other members of the band continue to play professionally. John “Drumbo” French is best known for his association with the iconic Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. Although that band broke up in 1979, French recently reformed The Magic Band touring in England several times a year, sans the captain (Don Van Vliet passed in 2011.)
Keyboardist John “JT” Thomas has been playing Organ with Bruce Hornsby for over 20 years now. Prior to joining Hornsby, he was also a member of The Magic Band in its later years, Sparks and Don Henley, formerly of The Eagles. He also plays and tours on occasion with Rita Coolidge and Tracy Chapman to name a few more. He also has many other credentials.
Tim Myer is currently touring with Roger Waters and The Wall as Roger’s Guitar Technician. He has also toured in this capacity with the likes of Michael and Janet Jackson, Eric Clapton and other well-known musicians.
Not all the members of R&E stayed in the music business. John Popa, who was also a member of the earlier band “The Others”, is retired from the dental business and is an RV’er currently spending the winter in Key West Florida
R& E played original music as well as cover tunes in its hey-day attempting to break into the commercial recording side of the music business. According to Prue fans can still hear the band, “I have recordings on Youtube.com under the name “The Timeless Entertainer”, “Dadbamus” and “Marty Prue.” Most are live recordings from gigs and there are a few video slide shows with R&E and The Others and a few other groups I have played with over the years to include Santa Fe Slim and Dreamer.”
Prue says there is also a Rattlesnakes & Eggs Facebook fan page… put it in your FB search engine and don’t get it confused with Rattlesnake & Eggs (singular snakes) that is another group out of Wisconsin.
The nucleus of the band originated from another PHS band “The Others”. Prue graduated in 1965, while Myers was in the class of 1966, Keith was in the class of 1964 and Pete was in the class of1968, I know that Tommy attended PHS but I’m not sure if he graduated from there or not.”
Over the years in the 60s there were several members including Prue, class of 65,on guitar and sax; Tim Myer, class of 66, on Bass, Sax and Theramin; Monte Harper on Organ. Who was Killed in Vietnam June 1967; Doug Kearney who replaced Monte Harper on organ (attended AV High School); Michael Gotcher, class of 66, on Vocals and Bass; Jon Duns on Drums, (played on the recording in 1966 and then left to serve a mission for the LDS Church); Peter Bass, class of 68, replaced Jon Duns on drums; Michael McDonald, class of 67, on Guitar; John Popa, class of 65, replaced Michael McDonald, on guitar and trumpet; and John Gordon replaced Doug Kearney and John Popa, when he was drafted, on Guitar, Trumpet and Organ.
Another group that some will remember that Prue and Popa were in was “The Four Townsmen”, a folk quartet. “We later added a 5th member who played the bass violin and didn’t sing.” Says Prue. “We dressed different and wore shades and we called the group ‘The Townsmen’. There were two brothers, Jeff, class of 65, and Paul Strybing, John Popa and myself. The bass player was Wes Jacobs. We all went to PHS and played quite a bit in 1963/64. We self-recorded an album that was not ever distributed. There are a couple of rare vinyl copies around. I have a cassette of it and have digitized it for Mp3 to preserve it. Paul worked as an Air Traffic Controller and eventually ran the tower in Las Vegas. We got together once in the mid 1990’s. He has retired. Wes Jacobs stayed in the music business. He played tuba for the Detroit Symphony for 30 some odd years and has retired. Jeff worked construction for many years. He pops up at a reunion now and then.”
“Everyone seems to be pretty excited about this reunion. Probably in the back of all of our minds but there needed to be a catalyst! 10 years of PHS grads and an outdoor amphitheater seems to be the deal!!!” says Prue.
In addition to Rattlesnakes and Eggs Bobby Ormsby, class of 69, is organizing an alumni jam featuring other musicians from PHS classes 1965 to 1975. Ormsby’s band The Bobby O Band will support the jam. Alumni musicians wanting to participate in the spectacular jam are asked to go to the reunion website, www.bestofphs1965-1975.com and register. Musicians must register in advance to receive waivers to go on the stage and badges. Musicians showing up without waivers will not be permitted on stage
Another part of the entertainment at this time will be a custom car and bike show. Jeff Lewis, class of ’72, is organizing this and requests those wanting to display their car or bike to contact him through the website.
Golf enthusiasts are invited to participate in a PHS Alumni Golf Tournament the morning of Sept. 1, at Crystalaire Country Club. A $60 registration fee will include green fees, cart and range balls. For more details go to the website.
Supported by a planning committee comprised of members of several of the classes, Patti Hayman-Rardon solicits alumni to visit the official website to register and visit the Facebook page “The Best of PHS” to participate in the planning of the event by posting suggestions. Requests for alumni contact information can also be posted on the Facebook page. Anyone wishing to participate on the planning committee should email Hayman-Rardon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets for the upcoming Best of PHS 1965-1975 class reunion are now on sale through the website www.bestofphs1965-1975. Tickets are available only through the website at $35 each until July 31, 2012. Ticket prices will go up thereafter to $50. There will be no ticket sales the day of the event or at the door. Tickets will include dinner – a catered barbecue – and entertainment. For additional information visit www.bestofphs1965-1975.com.