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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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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