Lyndells
Vocalist Bruce Ward joined The Lyndells after they had recorded the frat rock classic “KAPO” b/w “Consentment” but was a member until 1968, when he entered the Army.  Upon his return, Ward hooked up again with a couple of The Lyndells to form The Eastern Time Zone.
L-R: Steve Curfman, Bruce Ward, George, Gary Cooper, Larry McFerrin (1968)
Performing at a Frat Party (1967)

An Interview with Bruce Ward

60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Bruce Ward (BW): My first interest in music began at an early age when my dear grandmother encouraged me to begin singing in church and church choir.  I learned to enjoy it.  But if grandmother lit the candle, Elvis lit the main burner.  After seeing his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, I knew that was something I had to try.  He must have spawned a million young performers.  I loaded up on his records and spent hours next to the stereo mimicking and perfecting his style.  There was no turning back at that point; the switch had been flipped.

60s: Was the Lyndells your first band? 

BW: My first band was a group formed in 1963 in Newton, Illinois named The Nite Raiders.  We were mostly high school sophomores and played teen centers, small town concerts and such.  I was with that group until I went away to college in 1966.  The band continued on for a number of years and became quite good.

60s: Did The Nite Raiders record at all after you left? 

BW: Yes they did.  They had won a battle of the bands sponsored by Samuel Music and the prize was a few hours of studio time.  They wrote and recorded "So Wrong" and covered the flip side with "Do You Love Me?" by Paul Revere and The Raiders. 


Original Lyndells (1964) L-R: Gary Cooper, Larry McFerrin, Bill Gilbert, Bill Keyes

60s: Who named The Lyndells and why? 

BW: Larry's bass guitar was a Lyndell and that became the group’s tag. Pretty darn creative.

60s: Where was the Lyndells formed, what year, and by whom?
BW: The Lyndells began life in 1964 in the college town of Rolla, Missouri.  Gary Cooper (lead guitar), Larry McFerrin (bass), Bill Gilbert (drums), and Bill Keys (keyboard and trumpet) were pals with a mutual interest in music and officially formed the band.  I joined as lead singer in 1966. Members came and went over the next few years but the spirit carried on.  Steve Curfman replaced Bill Keys on keyboard, Bill Barnes and George ? all did stints on drums as Bill Gilbert became the group’s manager. 
He improved the quality and size of our gigs. Bill took us to more of a regional scale with larger bookings at other Missouri colleges.

60s: You joined in 1966 but how did you hook up with them?  Were you very familiar with the group before joining?

BW: In the fall of 1966, Bill Keyes (who had done most of the vocals) wanted to leave the band to concentrate on school.  I was a friend with a guy (Jim Vosteen) from Cooper’s hometown in New York and when he learned that The Lyndells were looking for a singer he mentioned me to Cooper.  Cooper came over to my room one morning between classes and we did a mini audition and sealed the deal that night after meeting the other group members.  I knew of the band but hadn't heard them yet because I was fairly new to campus. 

60s: How popular locally did the Lyndells become?

BW: We had a pretty good reputation locally as a dependable frat party band with some following statewide because of our campus appearances.


Live at a Student Union Dance

60s: How far was the band's "touring" territory?

BW: We would play anywhere in Missouri and occasionally ventured into Kentucky and Illinois.

60s: Where did the band typically play?

BW: College towns in the ‘60’s were fertile grounds for rock bands.  Live music seemed to be the entertainment of choice. Frat parties, student union events, teen clubs and nightclubs allowed us to work about as much as we wanted. We stayed for summer school in 1967 and played five nights a week all summer long at the nearby Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri enlisted men's club.  The band tightened up nicely during that period. I remember that as being the smokiest venue we ever played.  I think every one of the 500 or so nervous soldiers smoked two packs of cigarettes and drank a six-pack before we finished the first set!  I was so hoarse by the end of the show that I could have subbed for Rod Stewart.

60s: How would you describe the band's sound? What bands influenced you?

BW: Midwest Rock probably describes it best - especially in the early years.  We played a good mix of standards, Top 40 and a few originals.  The sound was constantly evolving and was influenced considerably by the British Invasion (Beatles, Stones, Cream, etc.).  We mostly played what the fans liked ‘cause we just liked playing.

60s: What was the Missouri rock and roll scene like in the '60's?

BW: Alive and well and probably not much different there than it was for the rest of the nation.  Music was a big thing and live music was king.  Fraternities would throw parties for any good reason and live music always drew a good crowd. 


On Stage at a Campus Concert

60s: Did you play any of the local teen clubs? 

BW: We did play some local teen clubs and high school dances: Rolla, St. James and Ft. Leonard Wood. They were decent gigs and paid the bills but the Frat parties were far more exciting and the campus concerts allowed us to kick the professionalism up a notch. 

60s: Did the Lyndells participate in any battle of the bands?

BW: We only participated in one battle of the bands and that was in Rolla.  We were runner up to a band, whose name escapes me.  It was a huge band of maybe ten, with a horn section and very large sound.  The played a great rendition of “Harlem Nocturne” and the fans really liked it.


KMSM Recording Session

60s: Where did the Lyndells record? What do you remember about the recording session(s)? 

BW: The original Lyndells first recorded at the college radio station KMSM in Rolla. I believe that's where "KAPO" and "Contentment" were recorded.  Later in 1970 in Rochester, New York, Cooper, Gilbert and I recorded "Green Cathedral" and "Lookin’" with a new band name of Eastern Time Zone at the basement studio of young Mick Guzauski (currently Multi-Platinum engineer/mixer for the big names) who at the time was between sessions with a local talent named Chuck Mangione.  We had some trouble getting the drums miked right and Gilbert ended up taking them back to our apartment and tuned them up outside in the yard before returning and completing the drum track.  The session also went late into the night, which didn’t please Mick's parents much.

60s: The "KAPO" single reads that it was apparently recorded live at the Theta Chi Fraternity in Rolla. 

BW: You are right about "KAPO" being recorded live at Theta Chi. I was mistaken in my earlier statement about it being recorded at KMSM but got that cleared up after talking to Cooper. 

60s: Did The Lyndells still perform at the Theta Chi Fraternity after you joined?

BW: I'm pretty sure we did play Theta Chi after I joined but can't recall the specific events.  I seem to remember some of the older fraternity members reminiscing with the band members about that recording.

60s: "Contentment" was reissued shortly after the first release on Farad Records with a song titled "Heart Breakin' Woman". Are you familiar either with Farad Records or the song?

BW: Farad Records was Bill Gilbert's creation (our drummer / business manager).  He was an electrical engineering student and farad is a unit of capacitance, thus the name. "Contentment" was recorded at KMSM radio station and "Heart Breakin' Woman" was recorded at our house by Gilbert on his Ampex half-track.  He still has the masters in his basement and is in the process of resurrecting them.  Cooper has a recording studio in New York and may be able to clean them up if their condition has deteriorated.  Anyway, that's the current plan.  There's some talk about compiling all those early recordings into a CD release for nostalgia sake. Some other songs that Gilbert recorded for us are "Early in the Morning", "European Traveler" and "Half a Day". 

60s: Did The Lyndells still perform "KAPO" or "Contentment" live after you joined the band?

BW: I don't think we did and really don't know why other than maybe audiences want to hear what they're familiar with.

60s: "KAPO" apparently stood for "Knock A Piece Off"!  Do you recall if it was a local frat term?

BW: Yes it was.  The term “KAPO” originated at the Theta Chi Fraternity in Rolla.  It was sort of their code for getting lucky if you know what I mean. They wanted a song written around that phrase and commissioned The Lyndells to compose and record it for release on their own label.


Bruce Ward and his Gibson

60s: Did the Lyndells write many original songs?  Who was the band's primary songwriter?

BW: Probably about ten total.  Gilbert and Cooper always had a passion for recording and I think another five or six originals were self recorded in addition to the ones named above.  Cooper was the driving spirit of the band and primary songwriter.  The recordings probably still exist and may surface one of these days but their condition is unknown.

60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances, or does any home movie film footage exist of the band?

BW: Cooper tells me yes to both, but we're not sure where the film footage resides.

60s: What year and why did the band break up?

BW: After a brief name change to The Last Exit, 1968 was the end of The Lyndells.  The older guys were graduating (Cooper, Gilbert and McFerrin) and I was headed to the Army.  Two years later when I returned from Vietnam, I hooked up with Cooper and Gilbert in Rochester for one last summer of music as Eastern Time Zone.  Soon after we recorded "Green Cathedral" and "Lookin’" in Rochester we all decided it was time to get serious about careers and left the rock & roll scene.

60: Was anybody besides you, Cooper, and Gilbert in The Eastern Time Zone? 

BW: The band name "Eastern Time Zone" was one that we created only for the record. The spring and summer of 1970 band with Cooper, Gilbert and me was named Unclaimed Freight.  Bernie Stiemer joined us on keyboard and Jimmie Tommaselli on lead guitar.  Cooper switched to bass.  Gilbert still played drums and I was lead vocalist. We played clubs and bars in upstate New York from Rochester to Buffalo.

After Gilbert and I left, Cooper continued the band with new members but shortened the name to Freight.  They played another six years and recorded "Time Will Tell" and "8 Miles Down the Road."

60s: What were the circumstances leading to the recording of the Eastern Time Zone 45?  Who arranged that?

BW: Cooper was determined to produce a record that year.  He convinced Gilbert to move out to New York from Denver and join him.  I had returned from Vietnam in April and had time to kill before school started in August so I joined also. Everything we did that summer was a lead up to the production of that record. By the way, our recording engineer, Mick Guzauski, just won a Grammy for his work on Eric Clapton's Back Home.  You just knew he was going far in the in the recording industry.

60s: What keeps you busy today?

BW: When I left Rochester, that was the end of my rock & roll career.  It was a great ride while it lasted and we've all made total recoveries. Today, I engineer roof and floor systems in the construction industry.  The other band members all moved on and have successful careers today. 

60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Lyndells?

BW: Well, it's difficult to find the words that can capture the intensity of those great times.  Maybe the music knocks down the facades and allows uncluttered reality to come crashing in.  Whatever it is, I can't imagine life without those experiences and wouldn't trade them for anything.  It was a heck of a fun time and generated enough memories to last a lifetime!


Media
Eastern Time Zone - Green Cathedral
Media
Eastern Time Zone - Lookin'