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- THE DEVERONS (COPYRIGHT 2000) PERSONAL USE ONLY -- LUXTON, 18:13:57 03/31/00 Fri  (spider-tr073.proxy.aol.com/18.104.22.168)
Often when I talk to many of my old friends and other people who are approximately my age, they tend to forget anything musical which occured before the Beatles. There was a very healthy rock and roll scene prior to the British Invasion. During the 62/63 school year, I managed to weasel my way into the Deverons, a band I would eventually end up kind of leading. During our earliest cantations we had a rather large repertoire composed ENTIRELY of pre Beatles music. In retrospect I realize those were some of the best days of my life in show business. We in the Deverons were all still living under our parentsí rooves, yet we were treated as local royalty...all the trappings of success in life without having to take any of the risks involved to attain it.
Iíve only ever been in two bands in my life...the Deverons and the Guess Who. Edd SMith, Derek Blake, Boris Pawluk and John Gach all went to St. Johnís High when I did. Those four started rehearsing in John Gachís parentsí basement, a rumpus room with really good acoustics. During the days at school, Edd would casually mention what numbers they were currently working on...I would always drool with jealousy...I wanted SOOOOOOO BADLY to be in the band. They played instrumentals only...none of them sang. I guess their ďrepertoireĒ consisted of numbers by the Ventures, Fireballs, Chantays, Surfaris, Duane Eddy, and any other guitar-based instrumental acts of the day. After a few weeks of hearing about the Deverons second hand through Edd, I asked him if I could come to a practice and listen. That week I found myself in the Gachesí basement at a Deveron practice. I asked them if I could sing something...would they play along...
I sang Donna, Come On Letís Go, and Bonie Moronie from the Ritchie Valens album. Every guy in every band in Winnipeg at that time knew those numbers. I sang my heart out. They immediately liked having a singer. We may have tried Baby Whatís Wrong by Lonnie Mack that day too...probably tried some others, I honestly canít remember. Before I knew it I was singing with the Deverons. I didnít stay on the stage all night...they remained primarily an instrumental band, and several times during the evening, I would come out and sing a tune and then disappear quickly. Derek and his dad had put some serious money into Derekís guitars, amp and mikes. The Deverons would never have gotten off the ground so early without all that gear. Peter, Derekís dad had bought two mikes, cables, a huge Fender amp for Derek and whoever else, and a Fender Jazzmaster for Derek. For a long time I sang all my vocals through one of Derekís amps. Later, when I began playing the available upright pianos at all of the community clubs, churches, and schools, it too went through one of Derekís amps.
Iím not sure exactly when the Deverons w/yours truly first played publicly, but the first lineup was John Gach on drums, Edd Smith on guitar, Boris Pawluk on guitar, Derek Blake on Guitar, and Burton Cummings on perhaps six vocals throughout the evening. We played for a long time without ever getting paid. My Mother got us some gold vests, and later some matching rainbow striped shirts from Eatonís...those things were the first band uniforms I ever remember wearing. Shortly thereafter I purchased a Buescher C Melody sax from a guy named Barry Lank in West Kildonan. I paid him the sum total of $25 for this instrument. In my small bedroom on Bannerman I listened over and over to the solo in Country Boy by Fats Domino and to anything at all by Johnny and the Hurricanes. A couple of weeks later, the boys let me start playing a few sax istrumentals on stage with the Deverons. Now with both the singing and the sax playing, I was having to leave the stage less and less throughout the evening. Things were getting better for me in this thing called the Deverons.
The name DEVERONS is a direct rip-off from an American group called the DEVRONS. I know nothing of this group, except that they had one minor, regional hit with a guitar instrumental called Brand X. I have checked Joel Whitburnís books on Billboardís charts, and according to him, this Brand X record never charted for even one week on Billboardís top 100. Derek had heard and learned the instrumental and I suppose he became enamoured with the name...probably kept saying it over and over and over in his head like a mantra, thereby falling prey to its sonic spell...Derek had subtly added an extra E to the spelling, and this band from St. Johnís High School came to be known as the DEVERONS. This was Autumn of 1962.
I still hated having to leave the stage at all during the Deveron shows, but I had nothing to do when I wasnít singing or playing sax. Then one night in the early winter of 1962 we played at St. Martinís In the Field Church Parish Hall...off to the right side of the stage stood a beautiful old upright piano...the boys started off the first set that evening with a couple of guitar instrumentals...I came out afterward and sang a couple of tunes...then at the point when I would ordinarily have left the stage again, I calmly walked over to the old upright and pounded along with the ensuing instrumental. It wasnít even miked or amplified in any way, but I felt like Iíd never skulk off the stage again to wait my turn in the wings. I think Derek felt threatened that night...that may have been the point at which he began losing hold of the reins of the band to me...but Hell, I wasnít even miked yet !
No one had a real electric bass yet in the Deverons. Edd Smith was playing a black and white electric Silvertone guitar, tuning the four bottom strings down and playing what amounted to his versions of bass lines for the arrangements. We would do Sheila by Tommy Roe, Only Love Can Break A Heart byGene Pitney, Wild Weekend by the Rebels, Minnesota Fats by Johnny and the Hurricanes, Donna and Bonie Moronie by Ritchie Valens, Woderful World by Sam Cooke, Walk Donít Run by the Ventures and a host of other ditties of the day.
This prticular lineup went on for a while. When I say ďa whileĒ, I probably mean only a few months. Boris was he first poroblem. He and Edd and I had been in the same home room for years at Luxton...the three of us knew each other fairly well. Boris and I had both been in each otherís homes. He seemed to get bored with it all very quickly. He probably didnít even play with the Deverons more than two months after I had come along. I think Don Gunter replaced Boris for a short while...then it seems we became disenchanted with John Gachís drumming...Ken Birdini was there for what now seems like thirty seconds...then suddenly Craig Hamblin was drumming for the Deverons. Or was Craig there when Boris was still there...have to take pentathol to figure that out.
The lineup that was really to be the Deverons finally cemented itsself very early in 1964. It was Ronn Savoie on drums, Edd Smith on bass, Derek Blake on lead guitar, Bruce Decker on rhythym guitar, and yours truly on piano and vocals. By this time I was using a Di Armond violin pickup to amplify every available upright piano at the gigs. Once this paricular five piece luneup was in place, things went on to a much more serious level.
Edd Smith was now using a real Fender Bass. Everyone but Ronn behind the drums was singing. Oh Yeah...by the way...the British Invasion had just happened...
Bruce seemed to be the key to the perfect balance in the Deverons. I remember the day he came to ďauditionĒ at Derekís place at 403 Powers. He played along on his Fender through his beautiful amp and after three or four songs he was in...
Bruce was the pretty boy from well to do Silver Heights. The girls loved him...he was blonde and great looking. The Deverons had personality, thatís part of the reason we developed such a fanatical following while we were still remarkably young. I imitated the singers whose songs we did, Derek was moody and nutty, Edd was our semi-British eccentric, Ronn was happy go lucky and GREAT on the drums, and Bruce played good John Lennon type rhythym and sang good backgrounds. We did a ten minute version of My Girl Sloopy by the Vibrations in our show...we did it for years before the McCoys whitened up the tune and sent it to Number One. I liked both the Vibrationsí AND the Deveronsí versions of Sloopy a hundred times better than that horrid record by the McCoys...hey guys, could you have sounded a little whiter...
The Deverons did a little recording. We did our first session in St. Boniface around 1964...I sang a Deveron- written thing in G called Suzy Baby. We also did an instrumental that session. Sadly, I donít have the masters from those sessions, and I donít know if they still exist anywhere, but boy would I love to hear them...we were all so YOUNG....
In 1965 Daryl Burlingham snuck us into CKY Radioís back studio overnight and we banged off four cuts. We snuck out again about half past six in the morning. The four cuts done at this particular session were Blue Is the Night, Sheís My Lover, Yes I Do, and Leave Her Alone....fortunately I have the only masters of these cuts right here in my house and hopefully they will be released on a pending CD of the Deverons recordings....
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- To: Deb Re:Concert Places & Dates -- Rita J., 00:00:16 04/02/00 Sun  (on-tor-blr-a58-03-455.look.ca/22.214.171.124)
Hi Debbie! Do you have a list of the concert places and dates or can you tell me where to find them? Thanks.
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- Jim Morrison//Jeff Burrows -- Dave, 20:18:41 03/31/00 Fri  (NoHost/126.96.36.199)
Interesting reading the excerpts from your book Burton. In particular your retelling of your first meeting with Jim Morrison. I don't know that much about the Doors myself, just bits and pieces via greatest hits packages, etc. but from that little, the parallels between Jim Morrison and Jeff Burrows (lead singer of The Tea Party) seem to me anyway, almost uncanny. Both vocally and physical appearance the similarities seem remarkable. Just wondering, from someone obviously a lot more into the Doors than myself if anyone else feels/sees the same?
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