Forced Exposure

Couple dancing to the On Fours in Bloomington Indiana 1973
Couple dancing to the On Fours in Bloomington Indiana 1973. Photo by Peggi Fournier

I was playing drums in the front room of our house on S. Milton Drive when three older guys rang the doorbell. I was certain they were going to complain about the noise but instead they wanted me to join their band. They had a couple of gigs that weekend and they would not take no for an answer. I guess I was taking Frank Canada’s place, the name on the business card they gave me. I played those two dates and Red, the rhythm guitar player, announced they wanted to get rid of Butch Miller, the leader. They had a young guy, who sounded exactly like Johnny Cash, to take his place.

They named the new band the “On Fours.” “You know, how we start songs, on four,” Red said. My brother, Fran, made the new calling cards in his high school shop class and enlisted my father to do the band’s logo type and graphic.

The band was was dyed-in -the-wool country, something I knew nothing about. We rehearsed once a month in Red’s trailer or the bass player’s barn and we played four sets every Friday and Saturday for the next year and a half. We played every smoke filled Elks Club, Moose Lounge, American Legion, VFW and Eagles Club in the area. One Sunday afternoon we played on the back of a hay wagon for a coon hunting convention. When Peggi and I moved to Rochester I gave the gig to Dave Mahoney. Dave told me they changed their name to “The Breakers” after the CB craze.

I grew to love the music. Peggi and I saw Merle Haggard when he came to Bloomington and we started buying Merle, George and Waylon records. When we moved to Rochester in 1974 there was only country rock, a hideous hybrid which took the rock out of rock and the country out of country. Bands like Old Salt were everywhere. Our next door neighbor, Sparky, was into country. We got to see George Jones before he passed. I’m thankful for the forced exposure.

1 Comment

One Reply to “Forced Exposure”

  1. My first job in Rochester was producing commercials for WNYR – Rochester’s country station in 1974. What a trip!

    Radio’s main selling point was immediacy so a salesman would sell a “spot” to a client and then call me at the station. I was to come up with a creative idea, write it, choose a music bed, grab one of the DJs to record it, and then book it for airtime WITHIN ONE HOUR! Clients loved to hear their spots ASAP.

    I did this a few times a day (for minimum wage) for about six months. It was great! Most of the commercials probably sucked (I still have the reels) but it was exciting and the staff was the nicest group of people I’ve ever met.

    I also got to meet George Strait, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, and (for some reason I now forget) Leonard Nimoy. I grew to love the twangy music too!

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