Photo courtesy of Ray Kerstein

Photo courtesy of Ray Kerstein

Photo courtesy of Ray Kerstein

Chapter 5

Ticket Stub Courtesy Jessica Whitehead

Fame briefly visited us in July, 1967 when we were contracted to open for the Iron Butterfly at the Mill Run Playhouse in Niles.  In the weeks prior, WLS radio announced the concert making mention that “Chicago’s own 1010” would be performing with the Iron Butterfly.

We played live on the air outside the theater the afternoon of the concert.  That evening we were set up in the theater lobby on a riser over the bar above the assembling crowd.  Surrounded by an imposing array of Vox Super Beatle and Fender Dual Showman amps we sang and played our hearts out to the amazement of the growing crowd around us. 

Out of breath and full of pride we were humbled by the first words spoken  by the Iron Butterfly’s lead vocalist when they came on stage and he said “We’d like to thank Cream for opening for us”. 


The 1010 had a big sound and deserved a better sound system for its vocals. We were growing in popularity.  It was now time to upgrade our sound system to be able to play bigger venues.

I came across an ad for a used sound system that seemed perfect for us.  It consisted of a custom rack mounted Bogen CHB100 amp, Sure Mixer, Echoplex, and two huge Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater bass reflex speaker cabinets with enclosed horns.  It also included three “flash boxes” triggered from the console that would ignite on command causing a brilliant flash of light and ensuing cloud of smoke that would rise from each stage mounted box!  

I called the number in the ad and made an appointment to see the equipment.  With the money we made opening for Iron Butterfly in hand, Scot and I drove to Cicero to check out the gear. 

We arrived at the home of the guy selling the sound system and were greeted by his mother who told us to meet her son in the back.  The garage door opened and all I can remember is the sight of those two Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater speaker cabinets.  They were huge and awesome looking.  It was love at first sight! 

The guy selling this system played in another Chicagoland band called The Apocryphals. They were a well known, established band a couple of years older than us.  We knew them by reputation but had never met before.  The Apocryphals bought a much more expensive and elaborate sound system and were now selling their old system.  It was perfect for us.

Joe Mantegna (Yes THAT Joe Mantagna famous actor from The Godfather III and Joan of Arcadia) recently wrote:  "I had already left the band when they sold the equipment, as I was in HAIR then, and the band continued on for awhile.  My guess it was probably Neal Sordelli's garage in Cicero where you bought the sound system.



I don’t remember the asking price but it was exactly what we could afford.  We bought the entire system right then and there.  We were ecstatic but tried to not let it show as the guy taught us how to use the flash boxes and gave us a generous supply of flash powder. 

Within days of buying this sound system, we were booked to play a concert in the gym at Thorton East High School.  It was a huge room and we were eager to use the new sound system and try out the flash pots.  George Ostrum was in charge of running the sound system that night. 

Three flash boxes filled with flash powder  were set up near the base of each of the three microphone stands on stage.  We had never tried this before and hoped for the best. 

George mixed the vocals and had control of each of the flash pots from the control panel situated on a riser in the back of the gym. 

We opened with “I Feel Free” by Cream.  The sound was excellent and bolstered our confidence as we sang and played.  The next song was “White Room”, another Cream cover.  The 1010 did that song boldly with great dynamics.  We hadn’t planned ahead about which songs we’d use with those the flash pots.  George was in control and he hit the right buttons at just the right time in that song igniting brilliant flashes of light followed by huge billows of white mushroom shaped clouds of smoke rising in front of our microphone stands. 

Blinded by the flash of light and amazed by the accompanying pyrotechnics, we had no choice but to just keep rocking.  I think we used all the flash powder we had on that song but it didn’t matter.  The crowd was amazed and we felt like rock stars that night.

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