Thursday, March 5, 2009


Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

I ran across an out-of-print book years ago that looked at business cycles.

The book was written somewhere in the Roaring '20s or the bleak Depression era of the '30s. The premise was that history repeats itself.

Ironically, Arizona is going through a cycle similar to the 1960s, and it was a look at music that brought this revelation to me. Arizona is doubling its growth, and the 1960s saw fantastic growth, as well.

Arizona musicians burst forth in the 1990s, the biggest being the Gin Blossoms, but we also had rhythm and blues singer CeCe Peniston and at the moment we have Jordin Sparks. Thrown in were The Pistoleros, Trik Turner and Jimmy Eat World.

The biggest musical name to come out of Arizona is definitely Alice Cooper, who leaped on to the national music scene around 1972, but rose out of the desert in the mid and late '60s.

Back then, we also had Wayne Newton, Link Wray, Duane Eddy, Stevie Nicks and Linda Ronstadt. And there was Dennis Dunaway , bass player for The Spiders, that became the band Alice Cooper.

There is a Linda Ronstadt connection to much of the music to come out of Arizona from the 1960s. One connection is Shep Cooke. Shep was dating my next-door neighbor when I was in high school in Tucson. Shep joined The Stone Poneys and Ronstadt, who had just released the big hit, Different Drum.

I ran into Shep in New York City around 1968, where he was touring with Ronstadt. Where Shep began influencing Arizona music was in a Tucson band called Dearly Beloved. They were a cover band and Shep was the bass player.

One night, the band started with California Dreamin' and Shep pulled out a flute or piccolo --memory fades -- and played the wind part of the song note for note. Reportedly, he learned it that day.

The band had a regional hit, which I remember as "Beep Beep Bop Bop," but all the Web sites list as Peep Peep Pop Pop. Dearly Beloved had just landed a major-league recording contract when an accident near Yuma killed the lead singer, Larry Cox. That was the end of Dearly Beloved and Shep moved to Ronstadt's entourage. We might be saying Dearly Beloved, or Hub Kapp and The Wheels, which were the biggest bands to come from Arizona if history hadn't taken some strange twists.

But after all, it was the '60s.

There are some great Web sites for us old codgers who remember groups like The Bo Street Runners out of Sierra Vista, Gene Fisher and the Mystics from Flagstaff. If the Stones weren't touring Arizona in the '60s, Gene Fisher was a good second, and P-Nut Butter out of Phoenix.

These sites include:


* Dearly Beloved info:


Only a few die-hard Arizona music fans remember the FM radio format that became popular throughout the nation in the 1970s, including a movie by the name FM, was the creation of John Wasley, who broadcast weeknights from like 7 to 10 p.m. on a Tucson AM station. The Internet lists it as KOOL, but again it was the '60s and as the adage goes: "If you can remember the '60s, you weren't there."

Richard Kelleher is a public relations specialist in northeast Phoenix.