Comments on the Music of Pegasus:

Bullet In order to understand the music of Pegasus, it is better to start by understanding the age in which it was formed.  The 1960s were markedly different than any decade before it, and the young people of the United States of America were looking for an opportunity to distinguish themselves from any generation that had gone before them.  There was optimism and hope among the teens and twenty-somethings of the 60s.  There was anger and resentment in nearly equal measure.  The lyrics of so many songs were in protest of the status quo.  The hard driving nature of rock and roll in the 60s was amplified by stacks of Marshalls, Fenders and Vox units capable of delivering headache-inducing volume levels.  There was abundant energy in the lyrics, and even more energy in the music.  Anyone who knew how to tap into that energy suddenly had a ticket to ride…… the stage of adoration and adulation.  Being in rock and roll in those years was truly a heady experience, pun not necessarily intended.   There were those who experimented with drugs, those who honored their parents’ generation by worshiping at the altar of the bottle, and then there were those few bands that made a vow to never risk the reputation of the band by doing anything illegal.  Immoral wasn’t necessarily off limits, but illegal was.  Why work hard for success and throw it away on a cheap thrill?  So the ground rule was agreed to – unanimously:  no drugs.  Except caffeine.  There was a lot of caffeine in the coffee, the Coca Cola, the Pepsi Cola and the Royal Crown Cola.   You didn’t have to go any further than the refrigerator to find a six pack of beer.  Oh, and there was some nicotine from time to time.  Not anyone’s favorite thing in the educated 21st century, but back then the US Surgeon General was just getting started warning the public about the health hazards of smoking, dipping and chewing.

Back to the music.  Each member of the band brought his own favorites, for whatever reason.  Sometimes a song was a favorite because it reminded him of good times; sometimes because it offered a chance to shine on stage; sometimes it resonated with something primal inside; sometimes because it reflected the personality of one or more members of the band in some way.  Pegasus was never a juke box, and never accepted the theory that simply because a song was “popular” that it just had to be added to the song list.  No, Pegasus was not ready to prostitute themselves merely for a dollar.  Pegasus had to like the song, approve of the song and feel kinship to the song, before it would ever make the play list.

In the beginning, Alan, Fred, Nolan, Roger and Wally (alphabetically) each had songs they had played in other bands, or had wanted to play for personal reasons.   At first the scramble was to develop a list of songs suitable for three sets of music without repeating.  This matched the typical duration of many public and private venues of three hours.  The fourth hour could be a reprise of songs from the first three hours, a number of medleys from those initial songs, or a run at the long break.  A long break works especially well in a blues number, where two lead instruments take turns building on the momentum of the song.  It also helped to have a front man, Wally, who could kill time without killing the audience.  The more patter the better.  The only way to become intimate with the audience was to talk to them – never down at them – but to them in a friendly and relaxed way.  Relate to the audience on their terms, that was a key that unlocked many more paying jobs.  And being objective, professional musicians in every sense of the word, it was not unusual to drop a song that didn’t get the full response of the audience.  If they don’t dance, and the beat is there, why are they not dancing?  So songs were dropped as new ones were added.  All of this activity took place in a very logical and progressive way.  In with the good air, out with the bad air?  The objective was to keep the song list relevant, dynamic and energetic.  There was not as much science involved as there was art.  And keep in mind, too, that some audiences were generally younger or older than some other audiences.  So while there was little or no compromise in the selection of music to play, the list was constantly refined, edited and re-written as needed.  No, Pegasus was never stagnant, not one day of its long life.

Now about the music per se, everyone had favorite artists, favorite bands and favorite genres.  There were no strong country and western influences in the original Pegasus, although Johnny Cash was a later favorite.  There were influences of folk music, early rock, rock and roll, and blues.  Soul music never figured into the public repertoire of Pegasus, but some of the members knew how to deliver soul music, having come from roots steeped in soul and Motown/Memphis flavors.  Classical was not on the front burner either, although had it not been for the classics, music as a form of paid entertainment might have evaporated long ago.  Needless to say, Pegasus was focused on the music that it could best deliver with strings, keys and percussion.  Harmony vocals also figured into early Pegasus, influenced by the additional revenue opportunities it offered.  Not prostitutes, but always interested in enhancing the bottom line, that is who early Pegasus was.

Nolan Evans ~ Bass, Keyboards, Vocals ~ Pegasus May 1969 – December 1971 ~ February 6, 2008

Bullet Let me see…it’s tough to travel in time, and my memories are sometimes very selective, but for our glorious webmaster, I will do my best.

When I joined the band, I was coming from another group, The Sands of Time, who had disbanded. Pegasus needed a singer, and that’s what I was, except that I was into jazz and soul, and horn music, because I played the tenor sax. We did our best to work that into the rock format, and after we had emerged as a four piece group, it became quite a challenge. I used an early version of a woodwind synthesizer, and the band bought a “string machine” which was an inexpensive (not for us!) keyboard to do orchestral sounds. That’s when we added some Elton John and other more expansive tunes ("Lucy in the Sky"). Before the keyboard we were pretty hard rock and always had an edge.

I also took up the flute, since Jethro Tull was so popular at the time, and I remember keeping my wife awake while I squeaked and hooted in trying to get a hold on the instrument. Luckily the fingerings were similar to the sax.

Why did we choose the songs we did? I would say that the reason is the same for any group. We did stuff we liked and that we thought we could do with some quality. I remember our roadie, Phil, telling me one time that after we had performed “The Real Me” by the Who in the Tap Room in Ironton, Ohio that he thought we could do anything. I also remember how much I idolized Todd Rundgren, and I think everyone in the band recognized his talent. Dave, our guitarist, had one of the first copies of "A Wizard, a True Star".

My landlord came up and knocked on the door one day because he had “heard a woman screaming”. That was me – practicing “Highway Star” by Deep Purple. It was a loud falsetto, “I love it! I need it!” He must have thought that the wife and I were having quite a time. Just rock and roll.

Music is a strange master, but it can also be the wings that lift you above the craziness of the world. I think that is what it was for me, and I can only speak for myself. Sometimes the altitude was amazing, and sometimes we crashed. It was always an adventure.

Rodger Waite ~ Lead Vocals, Sax, Flute, Keyboards, Congas ~ Pegasus Circa 1972/73 - 1976 ~ February 12, 2008

Bullet To me, the music of Pegasus was much akin to pizza and sex, and unlike the little girl with the little curl in the middle of her forehead -- when it was good, it was very, very good and when it was bad... it was still pretty good!  The vast range of songs and changing lineups of Pegasus make it impossible for me to comment on individual songs or people. So I will. 

I liked songs that I considered "oddities" for a band like Pegasus.  For example, they were not a "horn band"... except when they were.  I always loved it when they brought out the horn section and did "Overture" from Tommy.  I loved "Theme From Shaft".  Who would have ever guessed that these whitest of white boys were really undercover brothers?  But they were and that song was one bad mother (shut your mouth!).  Of course no band in those iconic rock days would touch country music.  No band but Pegasus, who brought out Johnny Cash to remind us that crime doesn't pay (unless you write songs about it) with "Folsom Prison Blues".  Wait, that was Mike Torlone and not Johnny.  It was so hard to tell the difference.  I still don't understand why Mike wasn't cast alongside Reese Witherspoon in that movie.  If he had been, there's your Best Actor Oscar right there!

From my own stint, I liked a song that isn't even mentioned here: Carly Simon's "It's Too Late."  I thought Melanie sang it very nicely and I did pretty good on the guitar part, primarily because it was so easy.  By the way, I can now reveal that Carly wrote "You're So Vain" about me, I think.  I loved watching Mel "play" the drums on "Color My World".  Loathed the song, but the stretch was beyond anything ever attempted by Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four (not a band).  As for myself, I liked playing "Down By The River" by Neil Young.  We would often stretch this song out when we were short on material and had time to fill, so I was allowed to solo to my heart's content.  On more than one occasion, I played every note on my guitar, some of them twice.

Unfortunately, I only saw the last incarnation of Pegasus once or possibly twice.  I can neither confirm nor deny that I imbibed heavily on that occasion or occasions.  If I had to though, I'd come down on the side of confirm.  Still, a couple of songs stood out for me.  I thought they rocked Bowie's "Fame", which I thought was a highly-produced studio type song that would be hard to do live.  Even more impressive to me was "My Old School" by Steely Dan.  I personally considered the guitar part on that song to be unplayable by human hands, yet here was this upstart Ballard guy nailing it! Although, I've never been able to verify that he does, in fact, have human hands...

Well, I've managed to both ramble on too long and fail to comment on too much, but how could I do otherwise?  The oeuvre of Pegasus, if I'm using that word correctly and I'm probably not, was covering so many of the iconic songs and artists of an amazingly fertile cultural period.  That was a job they did with aplomb and elan, but mostly with guitars, keyboards, drums, and voices.  All of those were manned, and in one case womanned, by great, talented folks, myself excluded for reasons of false modesty.  If I have failed to mention the contributions of many, let me just say to them: you were great and I always thought you were really the best one.  I say that not just for historical accuracy, but also because I'm always looking for sources of long-term, no-interest personal loans.

Rock on!

Steve Payne ~ Lead Guitar ~ Circa 1971/72 ~ March 22, 2008

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