Grim Reaper
They weren’t just a band—they were a ruckus.  And they didn’t just lose battles of the bands; they were disdained.  In short, from 1965-1970, San Antonio’s Grim Reaper encapsulated everything that appeals to today’s collectors of '60s garage rock. The group performed within 100-or-so miles of their home town, recorded a single (on their own Love label), and raised hell (of course) during a Swingtime TV appearance.  The fact that drummer Chester Slimp joined the band before he had actually touched a drum should come as no surprise.  Slimp provides the Grim Reaper story...from formation to breakdown.
Grim Reaper: Chuck Kainer, Chester Slimp, Gene Kirby, Glen Hobart, Jerry Arnold (kneeling at the grave of Truth and Decorum), Alex Kinsel
An Interview With Chester Slimp (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Chester Slimp (CS): My interest in music was much the same as most: music was this giant wave blooming into our culture when we were in our youth. My parents had divorced and I lived with my mother and sisters. My mother was courting again and one of my sisters was 16 or 17 and by then, driving—all that. My interest in music grew from riding around the Austin Highway cruising scene in an Impala, as a Ward of my sisters. They would push me to the floor when the cool fellas would ride by. AM radio stations were synchronized to whichever drive-in pop-and-rings place we were in at the moment. I am forever grateful for the turns that brought me into music and for the support of my parents, who certainly knew the situations we could get into with such an interest, and they let me do music anyway.

Two quick stories here: The best one – I met Glen as a playmate when we were nine or 10 years old. He attended a school with a kid on my street and would come by and play soldiers and such. I moved away from that street after a couple of years and, one day, out of the blue, Glen called me on the phone, just to talk. (Glen added: He and Jerry had recently been to The Texas Theater on Houston Street to see A Hard Day’s Night and they were in the full Know What To Do With Rest Of Our Lives mode.) After the usual stuff he said, “I’m in a band and we need a drummer.” I said, “I’m a drummer!” and the rest is our little history. Of course, I hadn’t ever even touched a drum, but that’s how I (personally) got started.

The second story is my fav. We were so young and not even driving. My mother bought me a practice pad and sticks right away, and insisted I get some lessons. She would drive me to Music Mart on Blanco Road and sit in the car or run errands while I was inside. The lessons weren’t going very well as I had zero interest in learning to read music, etc. We went weekly, maybe two months. Then one day she was in the store to pick me up. There were new drum kits arrayed along a high shelf. I was admiring them and she asked, “Which one do you like?” I pointed to the Sparkle Blue Ludwig Club set. She told the guy “Put them in the car.” I was floored. And now, a for-real drummer. I still have that original kit. Mom was very cool in my eyes before anyway—but after that? Well, I can only wish I’ve somewhere provided a Stick With You Your Whole Life moment for my own kid.

60s: Was The Grim Reaper your first band?
CS: Well…it was essentially the same band, with Glen, Jerry and me. We actually started with another guy, Johnny Etlinger, and rehearsed in Johnny’s garage. The material of the day (we worked up ‘Bits and Pieces’ and ‘It’s My Life’) was not material that Johnny’s parents could tolerate, so the three of us migrated over to Glen’s grandfather’s house—sans John E. Too bad; he had potential. That first version of the band was called Zem. I still have the original kit drumhead where that band name was sketched on with pencil then actually erased later.

60s: Where and when was The Grim Reaper formed?
CS: There’s one guy in every band who keeps it going. Glen gets the nod for forming the band and keeping it together. He’s still a force around here as a musician and music facilitator. Glen and Alex handled all of our business, even after we obtained management (or what we called management). My grateful role was to show up and play, so it’s a bit weird that I am the voice of the band here, and decades later. The Grim Reaper name came about quite casually, became quickly regrettable—but stuck.

One thing about The Grim Reaper—once fully formed, we stayed together the whole time. We had an approximate four year run, from ’65 to ’70. Our history shows that you develop a solid following by keeping the band intact and keeping a name. We rattled on changing our name several times but were well advised to leave our fomula alone. Our first few performances included capes and black outfits and folly like that. We moved past all of that just as quickly as the wildly developing national music scene was unfolding on a rolling, weekly basis. We learned a jillion songs… and they just kept coming.

Short answer: the band was formed around fall 1964, virtually on the phone, by kids who were still on bicycles – in good ole north side San Antonio.
60s: Whom all comprised The Grim Reaper?
CS: In order of enlistment:

Glen Hobart, b
ass/backing vocals/harmonica.  Glen (as previously indicated) was the true band leader and was (and still is) a fine player/vocalist. He made the often sacrifice of covering bass as a band need. Glen played a Vox Phantom IV (Fang bass).

Jerry Arnold
(d: 1971), organ.  Jerry actually started out on a Mosrite guitar and blew our minds when we learned he’d been schooled in piano for his entire childhood. We pushed him into the new slot and it was a great move. My stepfather bought the Vox Continental for the band and we paid it off with band earnings. My recall is that it cost $600 or so—a fortune at the time.

Chester Slimp (yours respectfully) on Ludwig drums.

Alex Kinsel
(d: 1994), singer and frontman. Alex was a natural talent and a showman. He had a smooth singing tone and could scream and lilt with the best. A tremendous guy indeed; lost to us in our 40s.

Chuck Kainer, r
hythm guitar/harmony vocals.  Chuck was the calming guy (he saved us from our own devices many times) that solidified the reliability of our rhythm section. Alex brought him in as a trial and we liked him just fine; he was a real solid player and person. Chuck played a Kalamazoo solid.
Gene Kirby, lead guitar.  Gene was a fortunate package deal with Alex, too. We were lucky to get his unique personal and playing style on a second night—when all three of them came over to Glen’s grandfather’s house and auditioned with us. Gene played an Epiphone Rivera hollow.

The band was set. With Chuck, Glen and me holding it down, The Grim Reaper had plenty of latitude for the antics we were so prone to exact on our crowds. Chuck and Glen provided strong and dependable backing and harmony vocals—a Grim Reaper trademark. I can’t leave this question without mentioning Dan Moore (d: 1971). Dan was our goon, roadie, No. 1 fan; I don’t know, call him what we will. He was a fine force and gets an honorary spot as the seventh Grim Reaper.

60s: How would you describe the band’s sound? What bands influenced you?
CS: The Grim Reaper sound evolved continuously (keeping in mind, the times).  Our primary driver was keeping kids wanting more. We loved the dynamic nature of those times and rolled along with it without much trouble. I would ultimately describe our sound as Psychedelic San Antonio. We had the ultra-fat organ treatment and Jerry was Mr Precise. I’d say he was the only one in San Antonio who could deliver ‘Light My Fire’ with poise and finesse.  That song was a mainstay for the Grim Reaper. It was all a work-in-progress—an evolving evolution back then. Always refreshing itself. Of course, those set lists are still airing on oldies formats. We were strong on vocals and reliable on rhythm section, with good leads and fat effects (considering there weren’t any “effects banks,” etc. back then). It was whatever the fellas could get out of their Fender amps and whatever that little Bogen PA head could be tweaked to do at any given time. Drums weren’t mic’d; I hit them hard. I still do.

We took on the Top 40 each week. We covered them all: Doors, Stones, Hollies, Who, Kinks, Association, Paul Revere and The Raiders, soul artists, Love, Yardbirds, Animals, Zombies, Hendrix, Byrds, Cream, standards, one-hit wonders, Rascals, Tommy James and The Shondells, Donovan, Winwood. We mostly stayed clear of Beatles—generally out of respect—and because the innovations going on there were such mind-blowing leaps. No way to keep up there and no way to do it justice. Indeed, there were a lot of people doing a lame job of The Beatles, and we didn’t want to join that bunch.

60s: What was the San Antonio rock and roll scene like in the '60s?
CS: Well, it was fabulous! Damn, we were like 14 or 17, so life was just real good. This is our youth we’re talkin’ about, and if you know many folks, you’ll know that everybody thinks fondly of their own individual youth—those times, no matter where you were. The scene in San Antonio was very fat - with really good artists and players all around. San Antonio still maintains a great legacy status in music, with a far deeper tenure than our deservedly well-revered neighbor, Austin. There’s a metaphor in here somewhere, but The Grim Reaper always welcomed being with tough competition. We had our share of Put To Shame moments because we got on to some good bills. There were just a handful of directly-competing bands coming out of various high schools. Our guys were all Catholic boys out of Antonian…except for ole me. We were solidly based on the north side of San Antonio.

There were other fine Texas and MesoTex factions around town, most notably the West Side—which was generically called the South Side. Sunny and The Sunliners, The Royal Jesters, Augie Meyer and his various Doug Sahm variants; they had the big line-ups, the big gear and the big geography. We were cover bands and showboats—kid entertainers. We had a damn blast, and stole off with girlfriends and sometimes property—and often saw to it that furnishings went into the swimming pool. We weren't just a band—we were a ruckus.

We played Danny’s Hall on Pat Booker Road on New Year’s Eve when I was 16—’67 becoming ‘68. Danny’s was a painted-over-windows place (surprisingly big) where we were all way too young to be there as customers. Details like that didn’t matter much in those days and that age-wrinkle thing was common enough for bands around San Antonio. Willie Nelson was there as a guest with a small entourage,  and one of his people talked to Alex…and then Willie was up there with us. I was shocked at first because it was rare to bring somebody up. We did ‘Hello Walls’ and several more with the only slant we could—sorta country-psychedelic. (Five years later, they were calling it Progressive County up in Austin.) This was the pre-‘Red-Haired Stranger' guy up there fronting us. Old school, short hair, in what seemed like a kinda sad phase. Could’a just been the massively-flowing drinks and such, but that’s my take anyway. We certainly knew who he was and there were likely some other luminaries at his tables. Who knows? I’m sure it was strained, but I always remember it as a decent delivery and as good fun. There was a damn good vibe in the whole place with all of that, and the crowd really loved us the rest of the night. It was a strange crowd mix and ‘Auld Lang Syne’ was a memorable unison. I’ve always wondered if that night was a turning point for Nelson, and if we helped invent the PC genre that nite. Danny’s was a cool place; there and gone in a year or year-and-a-half—and a lot of bands overlooked it for its short run.

60s: Where did the band typically play?
CS: Early on we played churches and schools. One of our staple places was the Antonian High School gym for Victory Dances. I recall that their team rarely won but there were live shows there every Friday during football and we played a skillion of them. Our reputation and behavior saw us with less and less school work as time went on. Parties was the solid area for The Grim Reaper, especially as we had a reputation for bringing out so much commotion—within the band and without. We played a lot of big parties (at venues and at homes) and could go five hours strong. We did seven hours one time and finally had to do some repeats. We were threatened by the neighbors and the authorities, and threatened with ruin a number of times by our own hosts. I was always amazed that the same people would then come back to us again the next year. I’d like to pride that the audience always had a good time at our shows—and that was our great success:   Pleasin’ those guests.

60s: Did you play any of the local teen clubs?
CS: The Teen Canteen is currently experiencing a renaissance of interest and everybody rolled thru their Wonderland venue at some early point. I personally played there as a fill-in and don’t remember if The Grim Reaper did or not. We played The Bitters Road location and made the promoter, Sam Kinsey, mad as hell one night. Not our usual conduct madness; we wanted to spare ourselves some set up (and seriously upgrade our specs) by just using Lord August And The Visions Of Light’s set. Sam wasn’t going to have it and there were words—more Grim Reaper baggage, I guess. Seems The Grim Reaper always had words with Kinsey.

We played The Mule Stall (on the Alamo Heights High School campus), The Teen Scene on Fredericksburg Road, The Dump on Austin Highway, Teen Town and others. The Dump changed often and was also known as Mystic Moor and The Mind’s Eye. We played a stint at Mystic Moor, almost as a house band. It got its name honestly, as it was down in a lurch and the mosquitoes would feast on the band during the load-in at the back door area.

Yes—seems there were many (teen clubs)—and they came and went, of course. I can remember so many situations but where we exactly were, who knows? There wasn’t a real “club scene” like that has emerged from the decades—especially in San Antonio. San Antonio was (and still is) a big small town.

With Hemisfair ’68 (World’s Fair) came a wave of new venues and opportunities and The Grim Reaper was in really fine form by then. Love Street, The Pusi Kat, Whisky A-Go-Go—there were others. If we weren’t there, those soaked up our competition. We were a party and special events group mostly and seems we played every week, all year long. We had two or three staple places where we could post if we didn’t have anything. We made $50 bucks maybe some nights (the whole band) for some of those fall-back spots, and we could get $300 to $600 for a big ‘ole party—better money than you see these days. We did our share of churches, pool parties, house parties, bars—we did it all. We had a few big shows, with big acts; those were fun and had big gear and pro sound and we did them for exposure. I always carped that everybody who mattered already knew us anyway. Those big stages always meant you had to pack the gear a long way, up stairs and such—so “why is it again that we’re here?”

We played a wacky throw-up campground place on the interstate during the roll-up to Hemisfair that was filled-to-the-gills with what we used to call “military people.” There were these weird Yurt things for their shelters and, of course, there were teen daughters that raved with us. Gee – we were huge stars that night. Yes, huge stars—playing out in the dust and cold, under the actual stars, for bonker teenies with really mean-looking dads.
60s: How far was the band’s “touring” territory?
CS: We were decidedly San Antonio but had a reach of a hundred-or-so miles, plenty more on a few occasions. The road spots at the time were The Shaft in Devine, Pandora’s Box in Pleasanton, The Happening in Crystal City, Vulcan Gas Company in Austin—there were others. The Tower (I think that’s what it was called) in Comfort, was an old theater with a sloped floor and seats removed. It had strobe lights and I remember the kids white socks sketching in the total darkness to 'Sock It To Me, Baby.'  There was a real tall home-made, four-section drum riser—a great perch—but it would creep apart during songs and I fell through once…used to great effect by the band.  

We played one night at a mishap show where we were clearly the wrong band for the job. We got there and there were all of these older people (they were probably in their late 20s). It wasn’t a good night anyway and a couple of our guys got mad and left to go up and sit in at the Vulcan. Three of us did ‘Girl From Ipanema,’ ‘Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey,’ Righteous Brothers and an array of ultra-stretch softies that night, and it harkened our desperation with my first slot as a singer. The mic was perched there at the drums a la Jerry Lee Lewis—between the legs. Tricky for a drum-thrasher but this was a different night from the outset.  We held it down for them all night and got a tip-jar bonus—somethin’ we’d never seen before.  That abandonment thing set up some internal hostilities for the long run too.

60s: Did The Grim Reaper participate in any battle of the bands?
CS: We were in just a few battles; maybe three or four. The first was very early on and was the kind where all of the bands played at once and the kids moved around to the band they wanted to hear. We had our capes and stuff so that was way early. We lost. To be smart, I’ll just say we lost all of our battles. We never cared for the notion and usually brought our smarmiest attitude with us for those occasions. I often tell the story of our most famous one, where we had been billed into the basement of La Villita Assembly Hall during Night In Old San Antonio for a battle with The Shackles and The Ones and another—maybe The Absentees.  We were removed from the place by the organizers squad because we didn’t follow the format—so establishment—and so Grim Reaper. We were always more interested in creating our kind of chaos and we had a large group of our people there that night. Instead of three or four songs we went into a flail of free-flowing Grim Reaper thrash. We had this huge crowd on the brink and we weren’t about to stop. The whole thing was to be shown tape-delayed on a trumped-up, one-of-a-kind edition of Swingtime the next Saturday and I guess we spoiled it for the blue-haired promoters. We made a real mess of the situation and had a really good time of it. We didn’t just lose—we were disdained.

(I reviewed this interview with Glen and he and I have completely different versions of this particular event. We agree on the Chicago Democratic Convention atmosphere and that there were bad feelings and gritty chaos but he tells it as a non-battle. According to Glen, it was a special event version of Swingtime —shot on Thursday (the big night for Fiesta) to be shown on the regular Saturday slot—and we were “asked” to stay on and play longer. No matter how you tell it, there was a throng of people and the logistics were ridiculous. We agreed it was one of our finest nights with a really strong delivery and an insane, exhausted crowd.)

We’re pushing 60 now with cluttered recall, etc., so let’s just say this about our battles: We didn’t do many and we performed well enough when we did—but we certainly don’t have any Blue Ribbons in our case.

60s: Did The Grim Reaper have a manager?
CS: I don’t know exactly how we ended up with Poopsie. She was a rotund presence who seemed to not really believe I was worth the attention when I asked her anything about our plans or prospects. That was okay as I was usually more focused on her daughter anyway. Poopsie had some little dogs in her lap, that whole motif—sorta Rosanne-meets-urban-transportation fare. I liked her fine, and she got us some good jobs—and some really bad ones. She got us into an audition in a wrong situation that ended in our vehicles being messed with, etc. That “record promoter audition” turned out to be an expectation of a full show; read: a free gig with zero potential otherwise. One of her propensities was calling something what it wasn’t. That night we had to go all Classics IV and soul stretch and we were fed up after about two hours so we left. One of only a handful we ever tanked on. The people were glad we left too.

Poopsie set up our recording session and introduced us to a Suzanne, who provided us half her house for rehearsals for a short stretch and cougared some of the fellas—or so I later heard. I wouldn’t really know. Poops did management for The Night Crawlers and The Strawberry Alphabet too—or that’s my recall, anyway. To my knowledge, she never actually saw us perform. We kept her (or she kept us) in a kinda adjacent form for less than two years.  Her touch seemed to get us into more lousy shows than good ones. Otherwise, Alex and Glen made all the deals. My take: it was perty effortless. The Grim Reaper was usually in demand. We played enough that none of us had any real kid-jobs. I may be wrong about a lot of that; I just posted up and played the drums.

60s: What were the circumstances leading to the band's opportunity to record the Love 45 ('Run And Hide' / 'Not For The Living')?
CS: Our recording was like a lot: We needed something in hand. There were no cassette machines or stuff like that. I had a four-track tape deck in my Nova but never mind convenient little mobile recording devices or iPhones. We had a cruddy reel-to-reel practice deck, but like most of the other stuff—well, not much material has survived. The band paid for the studio time and the pressings. This was equivalent to a demo disc—much like is mentioned elsewhere on your site. We got a couple hundred copies and they flitted away in no time. They did go to airtime with local deejays at KTSA and KONO and out to potential customers, and many went to buddies and girlfriends. There are rumors that some are still in existence. I recently heard of one trading for $150—likely more than the entire session cost in ‘67.

The Love label was our independent, created for the record—way before the notion of “indies.” ‘Run And Hide’ is a Uniques tune that we liked and it was obscure in San Antonio. It was a real crowd-pleaser for our shows. ‘Not For The Living’ is an original that was put together quickly for the recording occasion, at Glen’s insistence. He created it with Alex and Gene. I think the recording of that song exemplifies our sound and I do urge a listen, for authentic texture, etc. (Glen added: We had a strong original titled ‘Tinted Windows’ that could’a been a hit and he wanted to do an all-original record, but the need was to have a demo product, so ‘Tinted’ got pushed.) Glen was already writing and was the backbone of most of our stretch/amalgam/theatric stuff, as the segues from the likes of ‘Signed DC’ to 'When I Was Young' to ‘Seven And Seven Is’ required a degree of creativity. 

We had a number of bizarre combinations of works with weird, psychedelic transitions, etc. We would set shows up in phases, or acts, and go hot-to-cold, and back, that sorta thing. Of course, we always tried to finish with the hottest stretch.  The Grim Reaper used some pre-recorded adjunct material a time or two for a dim-lights, weaving hippie version of ‘Guinevere’ and ‘The Garden’ including gongs and bells and such; those recordings were crash-up jams authored by Glen and Chuck and are lost for the ages.

We took breaks for slow crowds or if we put them to sleep with an errant innovation but we were more inclined to just run on forever on song-melds to keep the big crowds stompin’. There were times when we just didn’t ever stop until the frantic, exhausted end.

60s: Where did The Grim Reaper record? What do you remember about the recording session?
CS: The record was recorded at Texas Sound over on Hildebrand Ave. The technician was real good to us youngsters and helped us get our vocals in shape for the record. I remember how miffed he was that we hadn’t really worked up backings for ‘Not For The Living.’ He heard our full chorale on ‘Run And Hide’ but then our own song was bare. We worked it all out overnight and he was a real trooper the next day (he came in on a Sunday—probably for free) and then it was done. I’d like to thank that guy someday, somehow. The other notable aspect of that studio was the occasional work-stoppage…for a passing train. Indeed, puro San Antonio.

60s: Did The Grim Reaper write many original songs? Who was the band's primary songwriter?
CS: The Grim Reaper doesn’t get credit for much original material. We’re all songwriters now, with Glen being the harbinger all of these years. We were certainly an original act and much non-cover playing and jam was used in our shows. The times were different—and they were the same. People didn’t want to sit through your material. They wanted to hear what they wanted to hear—stuff from the air; from the charts. We had a small and demented group of followers who wanted as much originality as we could muster, but structured songwriting came along with later bands and projects. Glen was taking Sweet William in that direction but that band just didn’t last. We were a bunch of high school kids—playing the hits and corollaries and making mayhem as often as possible. Or, that’s how I see it all. I never had the impression that any of us had stars in our eyes. We were already doing what we wanted to do. If we had had something that took off, I know I’d have had to get permission from my dad to participate in the success. Good ‘ole Dad – he’d have said, “Go get ‘em kiddo.  We’ll all still be here when ya get back…”

We got involved in a drama production at The Ruth Taylor Theater at Trinity University, where we played the score for an avant-garde drama thingy.  It was all original material—a lot of it foisted on us by the theater director. It was a very cool run of about six nights, with stogie guests and strong pay. I barely recall what all went on; I’d crashed my car perty bad and was dinged and bandaged for most of that whole set of events.

60s: Are there any other The Grim Reaper recordings? Are there any vintage live recordings, or other unreleased tracks?
CS: Very little material remains. There were no other studio works and our reel-to-reels are long gone. Our handbills and photos—all of that stuff—most was lost to a girlfriend issue. Not just lost; the stuff was all spitefully dumped sometime in the mid-‘70s. No concept of backing things up in those days. All that’s around now is the stuff I personally have, and I wasn’t even the guy who had much of that stuff back then.

60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances? Does any home movie film footage exist of the band?
CS: There was that local Saturday bandstand-esque show called Swingtime. We played it. They recorded your audio first and then you did a shtick to your own playback for the live TV show. It was structured that way so bands wouldn’t clam the music part live. That kinda stuff wasn’t archived until the ‘80s.

I do remember a fanatical movie-shooter type that was around a lot. I don’t know who he was and I never saw any of his product.  He had lights and snappy equipment and worked at angles and movements and such. There are a lot of us survivors around town who would wish that the guy’s material would surface.

60s: You earlier mentioned Sweet William.  Why did the band change names?
CS: Sweet William
was the first outgrowth—a different direction altogether. It consisted of two or three Grim Reaper people but we had certainly moved away from party rock, performances, etc. We were playing way less and The Grim Reaper had finally fallen apart. Again— Glen (and “there’s always one guy who keeps the band going”)—morphed it into Sweet William. What was nice about Sweet William was that we took on much more complex and articulate material. After all, we were really well-rehearsed guys and it was a natural to shift priorities at that time. Scenes and situations everywhere were shifting. Minds were actually getting blown. We had fewer but better material we were doing and the creativity and blends were flowing into experimentation, songwriting, etc. Sweet William was doing ‘Those Were The Days’ (Cream), ‘Miles and Miles,’ and ‘Tattoo’ (Who)—that sorta material. We also had a fine set of revolving feature-men on guitar, including Rick Mendez and Lynn Curry. Sweet didn’t last long—maybe a year—and played maybe four bizarre, lackluster shows. By then, the guests everywhere were more dinged out than the band ever wanted to be and performance was turning downright spooky.

This would’ve been around ’71-ish – and the times they were a lamin'.  The schools had caved-in on long hair, etc., and with hindsight you can remember the new bunch of fans coming along that had less limits and greatly more dastardly vices.

60s: What year and why did the band break up?
CS: The Grim Reaper didn’t break-up; it broke down.
By summer of ‘70 it was done. About a four-year run of the whole project intact—certainly the big factor in any success we could claim. We stayed together and didn’t mess with the formula much. Grew it…but didn’t dink with it. There were a lot of bands that seemed to sit around wonking versions, playing their egos—all that. Not us. We were usually just out there doing.

After high school graduations, many in ’68—and all by ’69—people started getting into other stuff, real jobs, moving out, school, their scene, etc. Next thing ya know…everyone just seemed to scatter. There wasn’t a day where we all said goodbye or buzz-off or such. By then, there was plenty of friction—a shame when seen with decades of fondness. Jerry and Dan were both lost in 1971. I’ve always regretted that I didn’t get to say a thing—I lost track of my good friends so quick—and didn’t even find out about their passings until quite a time after. Such was band life of the day, I guess. Or shall I say…such was the scattering of post-high schoolers of the day.

60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Grim Reaper?
CS: One blush at a summary would be: We were young and it all actually happened and it was just all great. Even as we caused and got into much mischief, I am glad I had such a cool structure and outlet. I really feel for kids today—they all have to be so aloof and groovy. I don’t know what I would’ve done with myself otherwise; I have never been much of a watcher, jock or bookworm. I love to play music and sing and it has stayed with me all of these years.

Being in a band back then likely kept me from getting into any real trouble—even as we got into plenty of trouble. We had an identity and mates that would be let down if we didn’t post or if we underperformed. All kids should be so lucky and challenged. Bands were in demand and were paid back then, sometimes really well—but almost always paid something. Being in the band was the cool alternative to working somewhere with a mop and spatula…and the girls dug us.
The garage apron often turned into a free teen splash during Grim Reaper practices
Summary? Heck. We were young and everything was in the now and ahead. That’s no longer the case. Gee…The ultimate summary would have to be: We all had a tremendous blast and that’s enough. Life is good, folks—and goes by fast—so ya don’t pass on dreams and ya don’t give up on anybody. That little garage on New Braunfels Avenue will outlive all of us.

For me? I’ve had my career, my family—all of those really fine things. I’ve even infected my own dear son with the musician-disease—the curse and the blessing. It’s funny how you can look back and see the pattern—that you’re still doing what you loved doing when you were just a kid.  I can only hope to be reincarnated as a Stratocaster…or a Moog.

Thanks so much for the honor and opportunity to interview about The Grim Reaper for your great site. Best wishes to the fine folks at—and all good vibes to all of those old (and new) players and fans out there.
Grim Reaper fan sketch with goofy names
Chester is an architect and operates a construction-industry management services business. He operates a couple of websites of arts/business projects and is currently involved with three band endeavors. With some gulfs, he has been in bands and music efforts for the most of the four decades. 

Grim Reaper - 'Run And Hide'
Grim Reaper - 'Not For The Living'