(A.K.A. PANTHERS USA)
This was a high school band that was made up of students from Poitiers American High School and another young man who's mother was French and who's father was an American soldier. We went through several transitions over a couple of years and I'll try to get the pictures and our history in the right order.
Denis & Roger Hill and I all went to Poitiers American High School which was located in Poitiers, France. They stayed in our school dorm while I was a commuter.I had begun my first performances with Sonny Craven in Bette and the Tornadoes. Somehow, Denis, Roger and myself decided that we should be in a band. We heard about this other guy, Jack Moriarty, who didn't live too far from Roger and Denis in La Baule which is close to St. Nazair. All of a sudden, we had a band of sorts. We bacame the "Panthers U.S.A" after our high school mascot. I'm guessing that we started thinking about the band in late 1962 as I was playing with Sonny in the spring for the school talent contest.
We worked quite hard at our new musical endeavor and picked up some service club gigs and won some local talent contest along the way. Jack was by far the best musician of the four of us. He "artistically" put up with the rest of us.
Fontenet Officer's Club
Fontenet Officer's Club
Poitiers HS Newsletter French newspaper clipping
Battle of Bands
Battle of Bands Poster:
Featuring the Robots and rock singer Eddy Morgan
with The Panthers and their singer.
My parents' duty time in Europe had come to an end and they returned to the United States. I was allowed to stay on to perform with the band in the hopes that we might be able to secure a recording contract. We had been in touch with Barclay records and at the time, the chances seemed in our favor. We didn't get the recording contract so I was off to finish my senior year of high school.
I proceeded by train to Rotterdam, Holland where I was to be provided with transportation to the United States. Upon my arrival in Rotterdam, I got a small hotel room and made contact with the appropriate authorities. I was to check in with them each day. By about the fourth day, I was getting a bit anxious to get the show on the road......and running out of money!
Here's a letter that was went to Colonel Hill, the father of my band members. I had been standing around with my thumb in the dark and my mind in Arkansas waiting for a trip to the USA. My money almost depleted, I decided to take the situation into my own hands and caught a ride back to the US on my own. How I ever pulled that one off, I'll never know. I'm not sure that I remember the ship but I'll post it as my mind remembers.
I was staying in Rotterdam waiting for instructions and running out of money. One of the things that I do remember is the release of the Beatles album "Help" which was posted in the street window of a local music store. I think that I had stopped by this store to see if I could get a job to support myself if things went bad. I was a junior in high school and needed to get home. I needed to eat as well and I was not content to go hungry. I guess that I could have taught guitar to the locals as I had my Fender Jazzmaster with me. Anyway, I made it back to Denver and finished my senior year of high school. In the mean time, the band continued as a trio until my return the following June. Here's a picture courtesy of bassist Denis Hill.
L/R: Denis, Jack, Roger
While I was finishing my high school time, the band backed up a local group of soldiers called "Les G.I.'s" who were a vocal group. The band backed up the singers on a 45 RPM. I had met these guys before I returned to the U.S. but don't think that I ever performed with them.
I returned to La Baule after my graduation and spent the summer working with the band. I also spent a lot of time at the beach and worked part time at Floris Esso, a gas station and car wash that was owned by one of my French friend's parents. That summer of 1964 was one to remember!
Bussac Svc Club Breconne Service Club 1964
We decided that we could make a bunch of buck if we threw a big "Teen Dance Party" at one of the local halls. We had posters made and put them around the town of La Baule. We didn't do too bad for beginning entrepreneurs. I think that we actually broke even.
Teen dance @ La Baule 1964
We also had a shot at performing for the Casino de La Baule. This was a memorable night in that Jack's Fender reberb got stolen.
The above pictures were sent to me sometime in 1965 by Roger and Denis Hill from Arlington, VA.
On December 28, 2008, I got up and checked my email that announced to me that I had "junk mail." Begrudgingly, I went to this folder only to find that I had an email from my friend and old drummer, Roger Hill. As the day progressed, I got a call from our lead guitarist, Jack Moriarty and our bassist, Denis. By chance, Denis was in the Denver area that weekend and we got the chance to to meet and chat. It had been 43 years since our last contact. Amazing!
In March of 2009, I took another road trip back east to visit with a bunch of my friends and family. Included in this "bunch" was my two friends and band members Roger Hill in Arkansas and Jack Moriarty and his sister Marie-Claude who I learned is also a singer/guitarist in Rhode Island. It was a great trip and I'll be adding some more pictures as time permits.
Roger at Home 2009 Jack and his daughters 2009
Marie-Claude/Dan after45 years. Marie-Claude performing
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