1973

Nerds.  Recent grads of Amador High School; most of us attending Chabot Community College in Hayward.  A band of young adult doofi.  Clueless, BUT we had fun getting together to play weekly poker which usually degenerated into a music session.  Steve and Tom played guitar.  Bruce, JDBud, and Bill Ludwig were out of the country on their military service (courtesy, Sgt Labosco).  Ron and Rob played guitar, too.  Ron, Lynn, and Matt Montez all sang.  After the doo-wop revival came around in the early 1970’s, Tom and Steve dragged a couple of Dion and the Belmont tunes into the poker/beer/music gatherings.  There were plenty of harmony parts in these songs to make it fun for the larger group of singers we had in the gang.  As this mini-sensation grew internally, we had maybe a half dozen of these tunes which drew the attention of our friend Bill Kleist, Rob’s older brother.  Bill was getting married in about six months and wanted the group to play at the reception.  The challenge was on.  We’ve added some very old audio clips to listen to for laughs and historical reference.  (haha)  Musically, they’re pretty clumsy.  Don’t worry, 4Speeds, you’ll get better if you keep practicing. 

First rehearsal on Rose Avenure, Rob’s apartment across from the fairgrounds racetrack.  We gathered to just give it a shot.  Because Tom had pushed the idea forward, the gang insisted that the band be named Tommy and the [somethings].  After a few lewd suggestion, Tom thought of a well-known car lot in San Leandro known for its muscle cars.  It was Bill Parker’s 4Speeds.  Tom suggested 4Speeds and it stuck!   Tom brought his set of Ludwig drums that evening for someone (who knows?) to play and Ronny Frankson, Lynn’s brother, picked up the sticks.  Kick.  Snare.  4|4 time.  Not bad, but we needed someone who would hit the snare on the 2 and 4 beats.  After about an hour, Ronny declared himself done… our first drummer had retired.  Nevertheless, we continued to meet about once a week, often at Matt’s rented bungalow located about 100 feet north of the Valley Avenue Jack-in-the-Box.  It was not unusual for us to audition our repertoire at Straw Hat Pizza (now Porky’s) on Hopyard Rd, and with a little liquid courage we would get the whole crowd there tapping and clapping.  Even the owners liked it.

An opportunity arose when Tom’s brother, Ed, said that Dublin High could use a band for their homecoming dance in September.  That homecoming saw the first of Tommy and the 4Speeds: eight guys, one girl (our friend Margo on drums), one microphone.  Steve had his Strat and I had my newly purchased Hohner Black Widow fretless bass.  I think it was the same five or six songs over and over.  From there, the “act” went to the Refectory steakhouse in Dublin, different drummer (John) and a basic sax player (Mike Blanchard).  After two or three shows there it was onward to Bill’s December 1973 wedding (Matt Montez on drums).  We played.  Mission accomplished.

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On a side note, after the last Refectory gig in 1973, we had some of our equipment stolen.  Steve lost his guitar amp and I lost my beloved bass.  The photos for Bill’s wedding and the next year show me playing a Vox Phantom bass, which I borrowed from Rob until I could afford to buy a new bass.  In 1975 Steve and I went to Don Wehr’s Music City in San Francisco.  There I purchased my still-in-use Fender Jazz bass and Steve bought his still-in-use Peavey Classic guitar amplifier.