The Four Taus, a hot band from SIU in the 60's, Celebrate 45 years together.
SIU Southern Alumni Magazine
Volume 69, No. 4
The Four Taus, a hot band from SIU in the 60's,
Celebrate 45 years together.
On February 9, 1964, in the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, Mr. Sullivan said to 73 million TV viewers, “and now… here they are… the Beeeeatles!” And the four rising-star rock’n rollers in a live performance for their first time on national TV played “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. And the country went wild.
On that same night, at the Rumpus Room in Carbondale, IL, four Phi Kappa Tau fraternity brothers in a live performance before a crowd of maybe 150 party-ready SIU students took the stage and opened with their theme song, “One Eyebrow”. As the drummer began a familiar cymbal riff, the vocalist with the microphone said, “Hello everybody! We are the Four Taus. On base guitar is Harvey Grandstaff and on lead guitar is Kirby Lindsey. On drums is the incomparable Dirty Dan Donnelly. And I am the vocalist, Ray Thomeczek. Hit it guys!” And the band did just that as the paying customers ready to dance put down their beers and streamed to the dance floor. The Four Taus had begun another night of rock ‘n roll at the popular SIU nightclub in Carbondale.
The Early Days
Beginning as a fraternity party band , the Phi Kappa Tau’s produced a talented band that caused a minor explosion in Carbondale and the surrounding area during the early 60’s, as the most popular rock ‘n roll band in the area hailing from SIU. The Four Taus grew into professional entertainers that could draw capacity crowds to area clubs. 2007 marks 45 years since the band began, and each player is alive and well today!
New Additional Information
To The Original Article
Moreover, they are all
still alive in 2014 and still recording music. Click here to see and hear their 50th year celebration video on YouTube.
Original SIU Southern Alumni Magazine
Article Volume 69, No. 4 Continued from Above
SIU alumni Connie and Tom Booth, now of Decatur, Illinois say they remember the Four Taus very well. “Tom and I were dating then,” said Connie, a former Alpha Gam sorority girl who lived on Greek row near the campus. “We liked to go to Carrie’s and the Rumpus Room on the nights the band played. It was always crowded and elbow to elbow on the dance floor!”
Tom says he remembers “Bernice”, the Rumpus room owner who always patrolled around the club making sure the doorman was collecting the one dollar it cost to get in, as well as keeping rowdiness to a minimum.”
It’s been 45 years since The Four Taus began. They rocked the world of SIU party-goers for three years, 1962 – 1964. Today those four SIU students that made up the band still enjoy the memories of a successful college career, but the memories of being on stage making music for a three-year period are the most vivid and fun to relive.
“I was the vocalist”, said Ray Thomeczek, of Alton, Illinois. “I remember the numbers we did to this day. And we could do over 60 songs, more than we could ever do in any one gig.” That’s a ton of lyrics to remember, and Ray can do it today even after many years as a marketing professional and a second career in the oil distribution business.
Harvey Grandstaff, a speech and hearing major, played bass and handled back up vocals. Harvey grew up in Mounds, Illinois and now plays around in his own music studio in his home in Pensacola, Florida. Harvey is retired from a university teaching career, and now operates several internet enterprises. Harvey is known as “Dr. Harv”, partly in recognition of his PhD in speech pathology, but more for the moniker that stuck after his release of several CD recordings he produced in his studio. What’s more, Dr. Harv is also known as keeper of the Four Tau flame. He has converted many of the Four Tau songs recorded on tape at the time onto CD’s that can easily be played today.
“I played lead guitar”, said Kirby Lindsey. “I remember buying this wonderful cherry-red Les Paul model solid body guitar. I think that I paid $200 for it at the time. What kills me is that same guitar today, known now as a popular vintage instrument, is worth upwards of $70,000 as a collector’s item. And to think that I sold it after my marriage and “real job” career got underway to a young kid for a pittance! Oh well…!”
Kirby was from a central Illinois town, Morrisonville. He was an advertising student and spent a career in sales and marketing assignments, most recently until he retired, with Samsung Electronics. Currently he manages a private investment company, Wheatridge Capital, LLC. He lives in Palm Desert, California.
Dan Donnelly also lives in Southern California today. Dan was indeed a professional drummer even before hooking up with the Four Taus. He had taken a break from SIU to travel with a big show band for a few months and upon his return joined the band in 1963. After a long career in sales and marketing, Dan today performs, along with his Brazilian born wife, in his own Brazilian Percussion Show.
Clubbing In Carbondale
Many alumni will remember the nightclub known as Carrie’s and the good-hearted lively owner for whom the club was named. She kept order in her crowded dance club like a tough general. Many clubbers may also remember a wild-eyed SIU football player who frequented Carries and the Rumpus Room and would entertain the bar crowd with his ability to smash a beer bottle on his head without getting a scratch! Those familiar with this outrageous feat will remember him as Dave Mulane, a real tough guy and fixture around the bar scene.
“Carrie’s place was something”, Dan said. “I remember when it burned to the ground. It was 1964 and we were playing on the small stage in the corner. We spotted flames outside and they were spreading quickly into the bar area. The band was near the door, so we got out of there quickly. But the sax player, Buddy Rogers, went back inside on his hands and knees to try to retrieve his instrument he had left. He came out coughing and wheezing, but he got his sax!”
“But I was not so lucky”, said Dan. My entire set of drums burned in the fire. Days later we found the cymbals had just melted into an unrecognizable wad!”
By 1964 the band was being recognized by club owners as an important crowd draw. The name of the game was money, and a packed house meant serious money. “We always considered Junior Hatchett’s club as “the big show,” said Kirby. To even go to Junior’s with the late-night crowd was like entering a different, exciting world. Colored lights around a sunken dance floor, dim lit booths, a long bar to the right of the entrance, a well-lighted stage high above the dance floor. When you went to Junior’s, it was an event!” Junior Hatchett was a businessman from Colp, Illinois who developed his edgy nightclub in Colp, about 20 minutes from the SIU campus. He had his own house band, a permanent fixture at the place. Junior himself was an outstanding drummer who liked to sit in from time to time.
“I will never forget”, said Kirby, “when one of the owner’s cronies contacted us to play for a couple of weeks at Junior’s club. That was almost like being signed to a record deal! They wanted the Four Taus at The Big Show! Junior knew the band would build his crowd. And that meant money to him. And money for us as well,” said Kirby. “He paid us pretty well.”
But there could be a problem. Dan remembers that Kirby and Harvey thought the band should have a meeting and give serious thought to the opportunity to play at Junior’s. “I remember that Ray felt like the band might cause Carrie some grief if we brought our following to Junior’s, since Carrie had a competing club and considered the Four Taus to be headliners at her place. “So we did what any four guys would do if they had some life-changing decisions to make. We headed down the stairs to the Rat Hole below the Hub Cafe,” said Dan. “And we made the decision right there in a booth in a dark corner of that dinghy bar in about one minute! ‘Yes’, was the vote. Let’s play Junior’s!”
The Four Taus did do a run on Junior’s stage. On a few occasions, there was a battle of the bands. Junior’s house band would play a set. Then the Four Taus would take the stage for a set. “It was a great feeling to play in that place,” added Ray.
The Four Taus learned and performed covers of many Billboard 100 popular tunes plus authentic blues tunes “borrowed” from Junior’s house band. Among favorites were “Ooh Poo Pa Doo” “Going Up and Going Down” and “Stormy Monday”, traditional blues tunes written and performed by such blues artists as Muddy Waters and can be heard on blues radio stations today. Others in the line up were “Unchain My Heart”, “What’d I Say” and “You Are My Sunshine” made popular by Ray Charles. The band’s theme song, “One Eyebrow” was written by Harvey and Kirby, and named by Ray after a groupie girl who frequently jumped around and danced in front of the band stand. She was said to have very heavy eyebrows!
“High Heel Sneakers”, “Water Melon Man”, “Kansas City”, “Money”, “So Fine”, “Night Owl”, “Lucille”, “Hundred Pounds of Clay”, and the instrumental, “Sleepwalk” were a few of the other most requested songs during the band’s peak period.
The Four Taus
Dr. Harv has uploaded several photos and recordings of the band’s live music to internet sites for the world to hear and view “The Four Taus”. In fact, he has created a web site showcasing the band which can be seen at www.4taus.com. Songs can be found on youTube.com; myspace.com; dailymotion.com and others. Several of the uploads show SIU students and locals dancing at the Rumpus Room as the band plays on stage. Pam Gilbert, now Mrs. Jim Minton, who had been named Miss Illinois in 1962 can be seen on the dance floor in one of the video selections. (Husband Jim, by the way, was the co-captain of the Saluki football team at the time.) Other students of the day may be recognized.
We caught up with Ray recently in a Starbucks in Alton. And we said that old bands from the 60’s and 70’s were regrouping and touring again. Did the Four Taus have any plans to get back together, we asked Ray. “Well,” Ray said, “between golf now, some work, some retirement, and the thinning hair, I don’t think so. Of course we could all get wigs and hold in the tummy, I guess…. But let’s leave it at this. It was a great ride, the money paid some college bills and the memories are great. Besides, I can relive it a little by watching the band on youTube.com all day long!”
Thanks, Ray. And thanks to the rest of the guys.
THE FOUR TAUS PHOTO NOW HANGS IN THE
PHI KAPPA TAU FRATERNITY HOUSE AT SIU