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

A growing 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 Colombo, Peter Falk looking Bill from Chicago,having made a transition to Oklahoma City 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 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 contract club lease on the market for a walk away price of $1500, halfheartedly asking if the band would be interested in acquiring it and as part of his sale pitch offering to exhibited the club’s financial records, demonstrating as operators the band could marginalize the 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.

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 accrediting that he would provide monetary support for cosmetic enhancements to the club  equal his agreement share.  Bill accepting Gary’s token $500 and a promissory note for the balance, Gary’s wife Kaye and longtime 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

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 approached his friend drummer Glenn about playing, informing Jerry, 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 younger and  bachelor, the two having little in common 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 that night and from  henceforth the pianist would question the drummers character.  Gary receiving  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 with him, realizing if Glenn had intervened instead of his wife Kaye, there might have been  an entirely different outcome.

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 now working in conjunction at first accepting Gary’s offer,  the pianist about to return to his piano bar calling,  but the two reneging on the agreement, not coming up with the compensation and after a brief attempt to operate, they locked the doors walking away.  Gary having to make a decision, whether to write off his investment or accept the challenge.   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 assistance’s.  With Connell on board,  Gary’s immediate concern was acquiring a drummer, his good friend Glenn having once again returned to Indiana, but had another person in mind.

Bob Wallace

Bob Wallace was scripted, his self-assurance attenuated personality was blazon, but without a doubt substantiated by his vocal talent and percussion ability.  Gary meeting this slender tall resemblance of an Elvis in the past during the Derrick Club’s Wednesday sit-in night, his smirking curling lip projecting an attitude of ascendancy.  With the departure of Jerry Cooper and Jack Hughes, Bob Wallace’s’ arrival was heralded as an asset, his duo presentation,  drums and vocal was recognized as an ordained deliverance for the band.


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