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The Thyme

Kalamazoo, Portage – Steve Vandenberg (Guitar) Al Wilmot (RIP) Fall 2005 (Bass) Ralph Cole (Lead guitar, sitar) Ed Linenthal (Drums) Randy Underwood

The Thyme was a psychedelic garage rock band originating in Kalamazoo, Michigan, locally popular in the 1960s. Ralph Cole was the lead and also played sitar, Steve Vandenberg played guitar, Ed Linenthal played drums, and (now passed) Al Wilmot on bass. Thyme often opened up Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Cream, and MC5 at venues such as the Grande Ball Room and The Union Street Station.

The Thyme

The Thyme


Several members of The Thyme had previous or side bands that they played it. Al Wilmot had The Twang Brothers, Groove Monsters, Lighthouse, Road Runner, The Zooouts, and Love Sum (with Doug Wagner, Mark White, and Randy Underwood). Steve Vandenberg had Beyond (with Mike Rousch and Bob Reilly). Ralph Cole had The Hitch Hikers, which were the early The Thyme, back when they were in Kalamazoo. They recorded on Phalanx Records out of Portage. The band then turned Thyme and was signed to Ann Arbor based A-Square records for quite some time. Also found on A-Square are other 60s and 70s Michigan rock n roll bands such as Iggy, MC5, Scot Richard Case (SRC), and Rationals.

Love to Love by the Thyme:


“Somehow” by the Thyme:


“Very Last Day” by the Thyme:



#1 (November, 1966 – ?)

*Steve Van Den Berg (V, G)
*Ralph Cole (G)
*Doug Neujahr (B)
*Ed Linenthal (D)

Ann Arbor, MI via Kalamazoo, MI.
Was The Hitch-Hikers.


#2 (? – May, 1967)

*Steve Van Den Berg (V, G)
*Ralph Cole (G)
*Al Wilmot (B, V) The Monuments
*Ed Linenthal (D)



#3 (May, 1967 – August, 1967)

*Randy Underwood (V)
*Ralph Cole (G)
*Al Wilmot (B, V)
*Ed Linenthal (D)


#4 (August, 1967 – November, 1968)

*Randy Underwood (V)
*Ralph Cole (G)
*Al Wilmot (B, V)
*Jim Optner (D) St. Louis Union

“Love To Love” / “Very Last Day” (Bang) 1967
“Somehow” / “Shame Shame” (A-Square) 1967
“Time Of The Season” / “I Found A Love” (A-Square) 1968


11 Responses to The Thyme

  1. V. Frank Stone says:

    Skip here from WMU (KZoo circa 1965). Lost your contact info. Hope you are well. Shoot me an email when you can and include Steve’s email. Where is Eddy? Jim passed away two years ago.

  2. Natalie Sist says:

    My late husband Louie Sist played with the Hitchikers. I am trying to reach Ralph Cole if anyone could pass this along……anyone I would appreciate it. The band and his father played at our wedding.


    My name then was Lorrraine but it has since been changed to Natalie

    • Debbie Phillips says:

      Hello Natalie,
      I am Debbie ,Ralph’s sister. Actually we are together at his cottage in Ontario. Ralph says to send you his thoughts. We were just looking at old pictures yesterday and there were a couple of Louie. So sorry to hear about your loss.
      Ralph went on to play with a band in Canada called Lighthouse and is still playing with them now. They have been together since 1969.

      my sympathy,

    • Debbie ( Cole) Phillips says:

      Natalie, I don’t know if you saw my previous post but I am Ralph’s sister. Ralph live in Canada and plays with a group called Lighthouse . He has played with them since1969. Check out my comment below.

    • Debbie (Cole) Phillips says:

      Natalie, check my comment below. i am Ralph’s sister.

  3. Dennis Nelson says:

    Steve Vandenberg plays around the Kalamazoo area with several different bands on occasion. He lives outside of Plainwell and can be found hanging with friends on Friday nights at a local bar.

  4. Susan says:

    Oops….make that late 60’s!

  5. Susan says:

    A friend and I followed The Thyme in the late 70’s From Jeep’s house on Division in Ann Arbor to Mt. Holly to Farmington and further. Just wondering what career paths Steve, Ralph, Eddie and Randy have taken over the last 50 years


    • Paul Walrad says:

      Al Wilmont sadly passed away a number of years ago. Eddie went on to be a high level Academic. He is a Dean at a major university. I think it is Indiana. When Ralph was in the Hitchhikers I played with a rival band called the Monuments. Knew Ralph a little. He probably would not remember me but he would remember the Monuments in Kalamazoon in the mid 60s. All my best

  6. Thomas. Elliott says:

    Steve vandenberg currently resides north of Kalamazoo. He still is a great guitarist singer.
    I’ve had the honor to perform with him several times this past few years.

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