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Fugitives

Grand Rapids

 

The following information was provided by Fugitive’s drummer Steve Schott, who suggests that the dates he supplied are approximate:

“I started the Mysterians/Fugitives in 1964 during my Freshman year of High School at West Catholic.  We literally practiced in my garage and when it was cold in the dining room of my home on Indiana Street S.W.  The group was first called the Mysterians.  The only different person different in these bands was Larry Walski who was our first lead guitarist.  Our very first job was at Holy Spirit School on Lake Michigan Drive in Grand Rapids. Soon afterward Larry Piechocki became our lead guitarist, replacing Larry. Ed Szymanski became our rhythm guitar player.  They were both from another band at West Catholic that merged into the Fugitives.  The specific timing for this transition escapes me but had to be sometime in late 1964 or early 1965.    Our record was recorded on the Fenton label in Sparta, Michigan… sometime in late summer of 1965.  We played many jobs in 1965 – 1967, such as the Hess Lake Pavilion in Newaygo, the Teen Center in Fremont, and the Place in Grand Rapids.  Our booking agent was Gertrude Barnes and we belonged to the musicians union in Grand Rapids.  We also played at many of the colleges including Grand Valley State, Ferris State and Michigan State University.  In early 1966 Ed Szymanski was replaced by Jim Matthews on rhythm guitar.  Somewhere in that same period Rob Wheeler joined us as our lead singer.

We did some additional recording sessions at Fenton studios but they kept the tape. I can also recall going to the Music Center on Leonard St N.W., in the back room. (Phil Robert’s Midwestern Recording studio.) We did some additional recordings that never were produced.  I also did some union work there playing drums for TV commercials.  The Fugitives literally played all over the state of Michigan.  We also played on WZZM TV a couple of times promoting our recorded songs.  A little known fact is that in 1967 we (the Fugitives) started a jazz rock group called the Psychedelic Double.  This group grew to 11 musicians for just a handful of jobs including one at The Place.  We had added a horn section (a trumpet, sax and trombone,) an extra keyboardist and a second drummer for dynamic rhythm.  The group’s new sound seemed to be well accepted but I was discouraged because of the cost of paying so many musicians so we went back to the original Fugitives format.

I am not positive how we met Pat Cooper.  It could have been at one of the recording studios. We became friends.  Great guy and organist.  Always enjoy hearing him and or playing with him.    I  recall Ruth Ann’s music and she is a real good singer.  When Rob Wheeler joined our band it was the best thing that could have happened for us.  He, too, was a real good singer and he had charisma.  He could make any audience eat out of his hand.     I specifically remember one night in Grand Rapids at The Place on Plymouth Avenue.  The Pedestrians and the Fugitives, along with one other band (maybe the Quests or JuJu’s)  played for a WLAV- sponsored event.  We were told that they had 3,000 kids packed inside the Place that night and there were many cars still trying to get there…. but they were already at capacity.  I recall Tony Cooper brought in some sting players from the GR Symphony to accompany them…. which to my knowledge was the first time this had been tried in Grand Rapids.  It was spectacular!  Tony Cooper played a couple of times with the Fugitives toward the end of our days as a band.

It is funny how various band members intermingled with each other and also maintained a respect for each other.

When I was at Grand Rapids Community College (JC) I was fortunate to play in the Jazz Band, the Dixie Band, first chair in the orchestra, concert band and marching band.  I played in New York and later went to play for a football ‘bowl’ game in New Mexico.  Doug Scripts had me pack my traps and featured me on the 50 yard line playing a drum solo.  It was such an honor but you don’t think of it that way when it happens.  I was offered 3 professional (music) jobs right afterward including one from NBC. The more important job may have been with a country western band out of Texas!  I turned them all down.

Later that evening Doug Scripts asked me what my reason was for turning down such an opportunity. Back then I figured that I would play and entertain as my lifetime career.  I stopped playing professionally in November of 1975 after completing a contract at a nightclub in Troy, Michigan.

At the time I was working fulltime at a bank in Grand Rapids, and ended up working in the finance industry for 32 years before retiring.”

 

The Fugitives released a single (Fenton 2075).

Here is the A-side called I’ll Hang Around from You Tube:

Here’s the B-side from this same single called “You Can’t Blame that on Me” from You Tube:

Fugitives at Grand Valley College (L-R) Ed Szymanski, Larry Piechocki, Steve Schott, Jim Mathews, who still has to look at his fingers when he plays

 

Fugitives (1968-69) (L-R) Rob Wheeler, Larry Piechocki, Jim Mathews, Steve Schott, Bob Mulbrecht, Roger Smigel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to Fugitives

  1. Alan DeBoer Sr says:

    Isn’t the top pic the Jujus?

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