Unexpected Aspirations…….#137 (the 70’s)

A grrowing community

A little known community

Jan Lawhon’s envisioned vehicle of return to the nightlife entertainment of Oklahoma City ending, her and Mickey Rogers club ownership aspirations pilgrimages into history, Gary, Jerry Cooper and the Traditions a causality of Jan’s Club’s demise.  Gary having been privileged to the club’s possible closing was aware of  a booking opportunity at the Derrick Club in Edmond,  a small but growing community north of Oklahoma City and when inquiring discovering the  club fortified by an acquaintance from the Pirates Cove, Bill Diehl.  The Columbo, Peter Falk looking Bill having made a transition from Chicago years earlier as a union organizer conducting the unions business out of the Holiday Inn West.  The musician wasn’t surprised that Bill had remained in Oklahoma as he was an astute visionary and opportunist, as evidenced by  securing the lease of The Derrick Club.  The band accepting a five nights per week offer, Jerry Cooper’s expertise of the Doobie Brother,  Jim Croce and Loggins & Messina  enliven a capacity house mainly on weekends drawing from the Oklahoma City metro area.

Bill Diehl's resemblance to Colombo.

Bill Diehl a resemblance to Columbo.

Bill spending less and less time at the club finally  mentioning to the band that he spoken with the owner of the building and was putting his $500 per month lease of the club on the market for a walk away price of $1500.  Half heartedly asking if the band would be interested in acquiring his lease and as part of his sale pitch he offered to exhibited the club’s financial records, demonstrating that as operators the band could cut the outgoing entertainment overhead expense.  A discussion of convenience between Cooper, Hughes and Gary was the engendered,  a possible partnership was up for consideration. The three deciding to move forward with the purchase of the lease,  each to contribute $500.00

Jack Hughes on the drums

Jack Hughes on the drums

The night of acquisition, Gary with a $500 check in hand making a fathomed discovery, he was the sole responder to the agreement,  Jack Hughes venturing no expenditure,  Jerry Cooper accreting that he would provide monetary support for cosmetic enhancements to the club  equal his agreement share.  A signing of contractual agreement, the pianist providing an accepted a down payment,  Bill accepting a promissory note for the balance, Gary’s wife Kaye and long time drummer friend Glenn Froman witnessing the transaction. The lease transferring event concluding, it was the band’s first night as club proprietors, Gary about to embark onto the bandstand when drummer Jack Hughes approached, from out of nowhere, Jack with one blow to Gary’s jaw  sending the pianist sprawling to the floor,   Hughes immediately pouncing upon the now prone pianist,  making threatening accusations  but presenting no other physical response.   The pianist responded with a call for someone to remove Jack from his endowed position, a glance at the 220 lb. Glenn found no response.   Gary’s 95 lb. wife Kaye arriving, clutching Jack’s shoulder with a resounding  “get off my husband”.  Jack rescinded his position,  the pianist arose,  the blood trickling from a well endowed split in his lip,  the what and why perplexity of what just  transpired remaining, the open mouth onlooker projecting a scene of bewilderment.

Jerry Cooper

Jerry Cooper

Glenn Froman on Drums

Glenn Froman

Jerry Cooper immediately taking Jack aside seeking an explanation,  but discovering the drummer unresponsive to giving a reason for his actions even to his closest friend and also refusing  to fulfill his percussionist expectation on the drums.   Gary was fortunate, his friend and drummer Glenn’s was present , Cooper again visiting with Jack, returning stating that Jack still refuses to play, but would bow to Glenn using his drums.  Gary having maintained what he thought was mutual respect with Jack, but Hughes being bachelor, the two having little social compatibility except for their shared interest in music.  Gary finding Jacks action perplexing but a lesson was instilled, the drummer never acknowledging the rational of his action and from  henceforth the pianist would question his character.   A later disclosure from Cooper that was somewhat chilling, Jack was in possession of a .32 caliber handgun that he carried in a briefcase that was always in his possession,  realizing if Glenn had intervened instead of his wife Kaye, there might have been a situation resulting in an entirely different outcome.

Jerry Connell

Jerry Connell

The weeks ahead, discovering the beginning of what could have been a successful partnership  beginning to fade.  The band,  a trio Monday thru Thursday,  with Jerry Willis playing lead guitar and sax on Friday and Saturday nights,  it was just a matter of time before the so-called partnership crumbled, Gary offering to withdraw from the club if compensated for his investment amount.   Cooper and Hughes at first accepting Gary’s offer,  the pianist about to return to his piano bar calling,  but the two reneging on the agreement and after a brief attempt to operate, they locked the doors walking away from the club,  Gary discovering that he was now the club’s sole proprietor, a challenging enterprise but a burden with the expense and responsibility.  A call to his friend  Jerry Connell in Midwest City, informing him of the circumstances, inquiring about his playing availability, discovering Connell willing to return to the bandstand and take a active part in club as a partner,  investing some financial assistances.  With Connell on board,  Gary’s immediate concern was acquiring a drummer, his friend Glenn having returned to Indiana, but having another person in mind by name of Bob Wallace.


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