Nolan Evans' Bio

How I became a rock and roller, and then became a ROCK & ROLLER ~ by Uncle Nolan Evans

CHAPTER 1

I had two older brothers, much older, who both had big collections of records (45s and 33s in those days), record players (integrated units with a turntable and a radio, one Zenith, one Airline) and favorite teen idols.  The middle brother (there were three of us in all) leaned toward Elvis Presley, Gene Pitney and The Everly Brothers.  The oldest brother was a Coasters, Searchers, Bill Justice and Dell Vikings fan.  So between the two of them, I grew up watching those little 45s with the big holes in the middle drop, spin, and play, drop, spin, and play.  When I was ten I had actually seen and read a BillBoard Magazine (kept on the counter at G.C. Murphy Co. in Welch, WV by record department manager Nancy Pritchard) and knew dozens of early rock and roll group names. 

My other musical influences were my mom and dad, both of whom enjoyed music and live orchestras at the local club dances.  Once in a rare while I was allowed to see and hear the first few hours of the bands (all were big bands in those days with lots of horns and upright basses) and I thought that was pretty cool for a bunch of guys to stand around and make music together while the audience danced and clapped at the end of every song.  Plus, the guys got paid for doing that.  Pretty cool stuff I thought to myself, even then.

By the time I was 14 I was going to the record department at Murphy’s and buying 45s for myself.  I would always try to pick up one, two or three new hits each week.  I had a paper route and deep pockets.  Right.  There were two local radio stations, WELC and W??? located at about 1150 AM and 1340 AM.  There wasn’t much FM in the country in those days, and we were definitely in the deep dark back woods of the country.

The Foremost Esquires 
The Foremost Esquires

When I was 15, a fellow high school student and professional drummer, Ronnie Basconi, approached me about playing organ with his band, The Foremost Esquires.  His was an established band with regular bookings and they had just lost their saxophone player to an internal dispute.  Internal disputes are not unknown to most rock and rollers.  Of course it was a decision that required the blessings of my parents because we would be playing in places where minors had to be accompanied by their guardian or adult parents. 

“Guardian” is the right word for some of the places we played.  I’m lucky to be alive, really.  One place in particular enjoyed nightly fights with the offending participants usually crawling out of the place on their hands and knees after tangling with or crossing the club owner, Sam Levine.  Sam was a former heavyweight boxer and had not forgotten even one move.  But I digress.  The Sky Club will eventually become another Chapter in this windy epistle.

My parents both supported me 100% and offered to help me find a suitable instrument to play on stage.  Our first stop was at the local piano- organ dealer in Welch, Jack Call Piano Company.  We borrowed a huge dual manual, full footpedal Kimball organ with an array of built in speakers, and after a few practices, I was off to play my first gig.  Besides weighing close to 400 pounds, the speakers were pointed in the wrong direction for my purposes.  It was an organ intended for church or home use, and those are generally placed against a wall, with the speakers facing the organist.  So while we used that huge Kimball for a limited number of jobs, we were careful not to bang it up so it could be returned if we found something better.  We soon found something better. 

“Something better” was a Farfisa Combo Compact that was made especially for rock and roll in that it folded up into a very large suitcase format for ease of transporting.  It still weighed a lot, but nothing close to 400 pounds.  It was the natural market outcome of the explosion of rock and roll music of the early- and mid-60s.  The maker was from Italy and they put in a lot of sound, enough for most rock and roll music at least, into a very small footprint.  I simultaneously purchased a National 2X12 tube amp with about 40 watts RMS and built in tremolo.  I could then place the amp behind me and subsequently point the speakers of the National toward the audience, like the guitar and bass players did.  We were ready set to go with Rock and Roll (notice the capital letters R).  The Farfisa and National were both purchased at Bluefield Music in Bluefield, WV, unfortunately a place now out of business.

The Foremost Esquires played regularly for the next three years.  We lost our lead guitar player to Uncle Sam’s Army, and replaced him with another lead player who was also a deputy reserve policeman (or something like that).  It helped that we could be in a hurry going to our gigs and know we might get pulled over, but we probably wouldn’t get ticketed.

As our music content changed, we also needed to change the name of the group.  We evolved into The Moonrakers, lunatics wired for sound.  Our motto, lunatics wired for sound, came from the father of our rhythm guitar player, Johnny Watson.  We cranked up the volume and picked up a lot of British invasion music by the Animals, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, etc.  By that time I was playing the Farfisa through a Vox Super Beatle amplifier with 4X12 and two high frequency horns.  It produced a wall of sound.

Then upon graduation from high school, I left the ‘Raker to go to school in Michigan.  It was in Michigan that I learned to play the bass.

CHAPTER 2

The music scene was definitely happening in Michigan.  There were large music stores in Detroit, Flint and Pontiac at the time.  I was able to see top groups as often as I wanted to at the Masonic Temple in Downtown Detroit and at Mount Holly Ski Lodge.  I was drawn in like a moth to a flame.  I fell in love with the Vox Essex Bass amplifier and the Gretsch Country Gentleman styled bass.  One music store let me play there every Saturday, all day long if I wanted to.  I wanted to.  So play I did.  They also carried orchestral equipment, which meant I had ample opportunity to learn double bass.  I couldn’t decide - - - did I want to play double bass and be a serious musician, or an electric bass and be a serious rock and roller?

The Edsel Bermuda Station Wagon

General Motors Institute of Technology

The Michigan Winters

CHAPTER 3

Back to West Virginia, and Marshall University.

The Grapes of Wrath

Jay Walker and the Pedestrians

Jay Walker and the Pedestrians
Jay Walker and the Pedestrians

The chance meeting with Fred Lacy

Meeting Alan Burge

Meeting Wally Wilkes

Meeting Roger Patton

Pegasus is born.  Taking those first pictures when it seemed like we were officially a group.

CHAPTER 4

The horse takes off

Equipment acquisition, a never-ending story.

CHAPTER 5

Scarborough Fair

CHAPTER 6

Leaving Huntington behind

CHAPTER 7

Morgantown

The Diplomats

CHAPTER 8

The Wheeling Recording Sessions (1970)

CHAPTER 9

The first PegaFest 1998

CHAPTER 10

The second PegaFest 1999

CHAPTER 12

The third PegaFest 2000

CHAPTER 13

The fourth PegaFest 2001

CHAPTER 14

Pegasus gets its first webmaster

The fifth PegaFest 2002

CHAPTER 15

The sixth PegaFest 2003

CHAPTER 16

The seventh PegaFest 2004

CHAPTER 17

The eighth PegaFest 2005

CHAPTER 18

The ninth PegaFest 2006

CHAPTER 19

The tenth PegaFest 2007

CHAPTER 20

Pegasus gets a new webmaster.

The eleventh PegaFest 2008

CHAPTER 21

The Grand Opening of the new Route 60 Music Store

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