Jackson, Grand Rapids
From an email message from Keith Seccombe
Between 1964-1972 Michigan enjoyed probably the most talented/entertaining band ever to come out of the state: Me and Dem Guys.
The group was born in Jackson during 1964 and comprised of 5 players: jan porter (keyboards-vocals), bobby stiles (bass-vocals), frank eimer (guitar-vocals), john jennings(horns-vocals), and lynn riggs (drums). as the band became popular playing club dates throughout michigan they decided they wanted to make records and in 1966 travelled to nashville to cut their first records: “black cloud” (their first hit ), “don’t bug me,” “little sweetheart” and “gone gone gone.”
in 1967 they decided to expand the group and hired doug cassens, one of the finest sax players in michigan, wanting to broaden their strong sound and added keith seccombe, an englishman who had been playing with a band out of new york (the dead end kids ). now, not only had the the band grown to having 3 front line horn players (keith also played) but now had six vocalists!
this lineup was not to last long though unfortunateley. john decided he’d had enough of playing on the road and quit to return to jackson for a 9-5 lifestyle.
In 1969 it was time to go back to the recording studio where the hits “smiling phases,” “simple thoughts of love” and “she cried” came to fruition, and to add a stronger vocal/guitar sound terry kay from kalamazoo was added to lineup. as with most bands there was some internal strife, with frank leaving and being replaced by donny rogers who brought with him a strong r&b/jazz background.
the band’s popularity continued to grow expanding further across the country letting the band not only continue to be a very successful club act but became an opening act for such national artists as the box tops, bobby sherman and the ides of march. still the guys wanted their own national success and started recording original material (“da man,” “the end is coming,” “return to reality,” “holes in soles”) on their own record Pyrenees label, but without national success.
in 1971 things changed drastically. lead singer keith lost his voice and returned to england, terry decided he’d had enough and returned to kalamazoo, and founding member jan felt he too wanted a break after 7 years on the road.
what now? the band continued! They hired keyboard/vocalist george voss and cut their last record as a five piece: “mr elevator/ seperation” (probably the best thing they ever recorded). but all good things come to an end and in 1972 me and dem guys hung up their well worn rock and roll shoes with keith (who had returned from england)booking their last gig (east grand rapids high school prom).
where are they now? jan lives in california and drives truck for a living. john continues to live and work in jackson as does bobby. frank continues to earn a living playing and singing and lives in manistee. terry lives in kalamazoo still. george the last we heard was playing cruise ships in japan. donny moved to florida to be close to his daughter and works in the automobile leasing business. keith still lives in grand rapids and has been in car sales for 30 years also doing photo, video and voice over work on the side. lynn is also living in g.r. having made his niche in the car business (after some scary health problems he’s okay now ). finally, doug lives in southfield and after a long career with amway now has his business but still keeps his chops up playing weekend gigs.
Me & Dem Guys