I had done my stint with Zappa and had gone back to try to finish what we had started in Kudzu so many years before, but even though we did complete an album, life had just changed so much for all of us that the fire and oneness that we had in the beginning was now flickering at best. Our bus blew an engine and I think that put a strain on us we could not recover from by this time. Creig was being pursued by another band and Jimbo was also doing an afternoon solo gig if I remember correctly to help feed the family, but it's been a long time and some details fade with time. Needless to say our attention had become too divided to continue in any way that would have worked. The split was largely amicable.
After Kudzu there was a lull that was a bit of a let down. It took several months to get over that one. We had recorded an album plus several tracks never released and I think we all felt like that was the one that got away. We had a couple of brushes with signing with labels, but for one reason or another it didn't happen. By this time several of us had families so life was changing. I had to figure out something to do. I had learned a lot from Jimbo about booking so I knew it was time for another band.
I went out looking for musicians but having been out of the "loop" for a while it was difficult. One night I wound up at a place called DJ's or PJ's or something like that and Dean Dollar was playing there. I introduced myself and he asked if I'd like to sit in. I said yes because I needed some playing time since it had been a while. By the end of the evening he asked me to join the group and since I wasn't exactly in demand anywhere else I knew it would be beneficial if for no other reason than to be playing regularly again. If you don't use it, you lose it, especially with an instrument.
So we played together for a short period of time and he met some guys that he wanted to hook up with and wanted me to go with him and leave the other guys, but I declined knowing that there would be too many "stars" (which seldom works) in that group to survive, so we parted, but Steve Rhodes was his other guitar player and he could sing. I liked him a lot. That was one of the reason I didn't go with Dean on his other project. So Steve, the drummer and I formed a trio and I went back to playing Bass Synth and Keyboards so we had a four piece sound. We stayed at DJ's for a while, but It didn't take long to get other work.
I started sending out a flyer each week to 25 different booking agencies for one nighters and soon we were making on the week ends what we could make all week in a club. Sometimes more. So Steve and I went back to college.
He majored in guitar and I majored in Piano. It was a good time in my life in some ways. I was starting to grow up a bit (don't tell anybody that though because I don't really think I ever "grew up" lol!) and I was advancing my musical knowledge from a "what had gone on before" perspective. That doesn't help on the creative side too much because you are studying what was done in the past and how they did it. Not too much was taught us about creating new music. But when you think about it, that generally comes from individuals who are gifted with creativity and not from institutions. But it helps to know the "rules" before you start breaking them sometimes. Most of the greats had studied music before they were great. Mozart's Dad was a teacher. You get my point.
Before long our drummer had some health issues and Frank Farr, a friend of my brother's was just getting out of college and wanted to work with us so we welcomed him as our new drummer. He was quite good and just got better and better. Before long my brother Mick was out of college as well and he joined the group on guitar. He and Frank were bud's and though they were young and inexperienced, they just blossomed. My brother Ken was with us as well doing lights, sound and occasional trumpet parts. He had joined me in Kudzu when he had finished school and had started doing lights and sound with Kudzu. He was excellent at both, and worked them together rather efficiently.
We decided to call ourselves Flossy May in honor of Flossie Mae of Varsity Fame. It was said that he would come out and sing the menu to people and do a bit of entertaining. I was renting a truck one day and told the man why we were named Flossy May and he told me the story of how he and a bunch of his friends had gone to the varsity one day and requested Flossie to wait on them. He said he sent back word that he would for a 20 dollar tip. He said they agreed and he came out, did his schtick and took all their orders in his head and did not miss a french fry. Good story.
We had a lot of fun with this version of the band, but Frank eventually left to go with another band and Mick left when Frank did because he had an offer for a great job at plant Vogel. So we were looking for missing pieces again. Thats when we got Danny or Kenny G. on drums (don't remember the order they came in, but both played with us during this period) and Lynn Johnston. Danny was a straight ahead, good drummer and Kenny G had that beautiful gift of complex simplicity. No fluff, but if you couldn't feel where the beat was, you just couldn't feel the beat.
So we worked with this lineup for a while and even recorded a song or two. I had gotten Lowery to listen and he had promised us a session when the Atlanta Rhythm Section were finished with the album they were working on at the time. But by the time it materialized, Frank had moved on and we were basically reforming and we never got to cash in on that one so to speak.
After a while, Danny and Kenny left and In came Tim Loden. Another very solid drummer, and he could sing. We played 3 piece behind Lynn for a while longer, but then she left and we decided to just remain 3 piece. We landed a sit down gig for almost 2 years at the Edgemont hotel on the south side of Atlanta. Time went on and somewhere around the early 80's we decided to call it quits. A lot of water under the dam, but again, life had changed for us and fresh pastures must be pursued.
Somewhere in there we had changed our name to FOX. So I ran some ads for musicians and eventually found Dan on Drums and Chuck on Guitar. They were accomplished enough that we had no trouble immediately putting together a repertoire. We wood sheded for a month or so at a club in Atlanta until we were tight enough to venture out. But while we were at that club, A man of color walked in named George Hughley. Now I only mention color because it is relevant to the stereo types we all have, whether intentional or not, about the different types of music that different nationalities or races tend to like. I had never met George and did not know what to expect, but He came up and asked if he could sit in. I said sure. What do you want to sing, knowing the 3 of us had played all kinds of styles of music at one time or the other. He said, "Do you know any George Jones?" I was surprised to say the least so I said Yes, do you? And I don't remember what song we did, but He just stood there and sang the daylights out of that song. The 3 of us just looked at each other and smiled. We loved George. So did everybody else.
We then did some Wilson Pickett, some Jackie Wilson and I don't remember what all, but the crowd was suddenly paying attention and we were having a blast. Needless to say I quickly offered him a job. He accepted. We started playing here and there, and then another thing happened. In one of the versions of the band, don't remember which but I think with Mick, Frank and Steve, I met a 16 year old girl named Lisa in Mississippi while we were playing at a Marriott Hotel I think it was. Her mother was a manager and she told me she had a daughter who thought she could sing but was too young to come into the club. So she wanted me to listen to her sing. She came in one night and we sat in the lobby and she sang. Good! Very Good!! Fast forward a couple of years back to Hiring George. A few days later, I get this call and it's a perky voice on the other end saying "guess who this is". It was Lisa and she was visiting friends in of all places, Marietta, where I lived. I had encouraged her to stay in school because I know how hard this business is no matter how good you are, and I knew she was going to want to sing. She was too good.
She had finished high school and she told me she was wanting to work with some one. No surprise. And I did not want to keep her from college, but she told me she was not going. So, I told her I had just put together a new group and asked if she wanted a job. She beamed and said "yes, but you'll have to talk to my mom". We did, and though understandably reluctant at first, she finally agreed. We were off.
Lisa was a quick study. George was a veteran entertainer, she was eager to learn. He knew all the dance moves of that time and he and Lisa worked out routines that they used for the songs, mostly by her just watching him and quickly emulating his steps. It got really good fast. So we were now a 5 piece show band. Dan on drums, Chuck on Guitar, I was on Keyboards and Bass Synth, and George and Lisa out front. Magic. People were wanting to keep us as the house band most places we went.
But George was working a day gig and trying to drive on a daily basis to where we were giging, sometimes a couple hundred miles away. He was getting no sleep. I don't know how he did it. One winter, we were offered an extended stay at the Hyatt in Fort Walton Beach Fl and George had to stay behind. We were there long enough that an agent in town wanted to take us and add another male front man and hire a bass player and I would just play keys. I had no intention of not playing bass and keys because it was an integral part of our sound not to mention Dan, Chuck and I had learned to read each other like a book. Nor was I going to betray my booking agent since he had split booking the Hyatt with this particular agent. See how confusing this business gets? lol!
Well, I refused the offer. A couple weeks later a strange thing happened. Dan came in and gave two weeks notice, which is what I always asked that they do when I hired them and he did. But then came Chuck, and then finally came Lisa. Little did I realize what was happening.
Now I had been going down in the afternoons when the club was empty and practicing with my new drum machine. I finally had one that had real drum sounds instead of the bleeps and blips of the earliest models. I had this idea that If I learned some songs, I could sound like a trio with a vocalist, and if I was ever free from bands again, I'd know what to do. I had about 30 songs learned when this started to happen, so I didn't panic, and never thought much about why they were leaving, just that if it had to happen, now was not a bad time since I was starting to want to go solo anyway. This was my chance! Turns out the agent that had tried to talk me into changing the band around so he could book us, had talked them into leaving. As it turned out, he was never able to deliver on his promises just as I had suspected. But it worked out good for me. It was time.
I was going solo!!