Tony was tired of sitting through the same boring, year-after-year format of the MCI Government Systems annual sales kick-off meeting. He was fed up and was going to do something about it. While climbing the corporate ladder he had let his music lapse into dormancy, but was itching to get back to it. He knew that Peter was musical, and had sung some parody songs in his previous job. Recruiting Peter, then Cliff, the lawyer, then John Nishimoto, the engineer, they formed the Balding Eagles, a foursome dedicated to injecting some excitement into the 1995 sales meeting. The mission was to perform the Eagles’ “Hotel California”, with all new office-relevant lyrics, complete with rented 12-string and bass guitars.
The “excitement” was achieved to thundering applause, lighters and even the boss’ approval. The four were stunned, but liked the idea of getting together occaisionally to jam. Other employees wanted in on the fun. Bob Blundell, also in the sales group was a real bass player and had a customer, Dennis Langley, who played drums. Bob Divine threatened to talk to us continually until he was allowed in. Meantime, we discovered he played guitar, percussion and had a great voice. History was in the making, our lives about to change forever. But so did the name. We had to stop taking ourselves so seriously with a name like the “Balding Eagles”. We looked within, to our roots as all musicians must. It was so very clear. We were the Fabulous Dialtones.
John screamed a lot. Peter brought his exceptional vocals from his 1-man acoustic act and we found a rock-star in hiding. Bob Divine’s madrigal training proved the perfect background for singing classic rock. Cliff brought a profound knowledge of the music of his parent’s partying days, while Bob Blundell’s superb musicianship actually gave us a chance of sounding good. Tony once played folk music in high school, then sang with a horn band in college……a long time ago.
Over the years, members came and went, citing the heavy demands of our 8-10 gigs per year touring schedule. Others had babies (actually, their wives did), pursued graduate degrees, left to pursue other interests and spend time with their families. All remain friends and in the fold, Fabulous Dialtones for life. Well, actually, not all, but most of them anyway. Our friend Larry Dowdy joined us on bass guitar in 2006. Ron Early joined us on drums in 2009 but Ron recently left us to relocate to Las Vegas where he will be winning lots of money and occasionally playing drums with some local bands. In 2012 Marc Zoellner became the newest member to join the band on drums and vocals.
Adopting the tag line, “Classic Rock for the New Millenium” at the turn of the century (brilliant work by Cliff on that one), the group added first a saxaphone, “Hollywood” Thompson, followed by David Spiegelthal (baritone sax), Mark Bultman (trombone) and Dr. Gil Wilshire on trumpet. This made Tony very happy since he still tries to re-live his days in a horn band while attending Virginia Tech, even though he remembers very little of that time. Dr. Gil put together early horn charts for a number of the band’s rock songs and set the stage for its current powerhouse repertoire of rock and roll. After Gil left to practice his medical craft and fish in Missouri, Craig Dye stepped in at trumpet in 2008 and most recently David Erickson joined us on trumpet in 2011. Throughout this period, the band’s signature harmonies continued to be featured on the many acoustic songs in their catalogue, with covers of great tunes from James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Simon & Garfunkel, and America, to name a few..
For awhile, our kids didn’t quite know what to make of their fathers’ “mid-life” crisis. Eventually, when they found out their friends actually thought we were good, we no longer embarassed them. Now, they almost think we’re cool.
Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of playing some of the greatest songs from the classic rock era. And on occasion, we even add some originals to the mix as well. Looking ahead, there are more places to play, more new “old” songs to learn, more tunes to write and arrange, more opportunities to play for our friends and to make new ones. As they say, rock and roll never dies.
Long live the Fabulous Dialtones!