GONN

2004 - Band

Members: Gerry Gabel, Rex Garrett, Craig Moore, Dave Johnson, Larry LaMaster, Brent Colvin, and Gary Stepp

 

GONN has carried the Iowa RockNRoll legacy around the world… literally.

Initially formed in Keokuk in 1965 as The Pagans, by the summer of ‘66 founding members Craig Moore (bass) and Gerry Gabel (organ) had been joined by Gary Stepp (rhythm guitar) from Keokuk, Rex Garrett (lead guitar) and Brent Colvin (drums) from Fort Madison.

The band changed the name because Rex’s mom didn’t like it and it was time for a change. The name was the result of throwing words around and settling on the hip term “gone.” They psychedelicized the spelling in the style of the era as a tribute to a great band from Ottumwa, MADD, that GONN held in highest regard.

GONN quickly evolved into a heavily English and West Coast-influenced no-holds-barred garage band; taking their sound and attitude from the likes of the Yardbirds, Rolling Stones, Chocolate Watchband, Doors, and Raiders.

They quickly became known as the “Loudest Band In Town” both on and off stage. By that winter the band had recorded a song written by Craig and Rex that has become legendary — “Blackout Of Gretely”; issued on Burlington's Emir Records with b/w “Pain In My Heart.”

“Blackout” has been the lead track on a 1985 Voxx/Bomp GONN LP of 60’s recordings and on the 1998 RHINO 4-CD box set “Nuggets” along with Paul Revere & the Raiders, Chocolate Watchband, Music Machine, Leaves, Seeds and others. It has been reissued twice as a 7” single (1988 and 1994) selling out both times.

In 1967 former Pagan guitarist Larry LaMaster rejoined the group and Colvin was replaced by 14-year-old drummer Dave Johnson. They went to Freddie Tieken’s Quincy, Ill., IT Studio and recorded their second single “Come With Me” b/w “You’re Looking Fine.”

During 1966-1968, GONN opened concerts at the Burlington Memorial Auditorium with such acts as The Trolls, Mob, American Breed and many others. The band packed teen centers, KC halls all over their corner of the world, traveling in the same 1951 hearse that was used for Craig’s aunt’s funeral!

The original lineup played the 1966 Iowa State Fair to a positive response and in 1967 they came in second to Echos V (Hall of Fame 1998). The band felt their ever-expanding hard-edged psychedelic approach was maybe a little more than the Fair judges could assimilate. GONN appeared for the last time at the state fair in 1968.

Although a working band for a short 2 — years, the group’s members were never out of touch, reuniting in 1990 for a Keokuk riverfront show. In 1996 six of the seven 66-67 members got together to record an entirely new album “Gonn With The Wind” and released a CD of all their 60’s recordings “Frenzology — Punks Along The Mississippi.” The CD was sold out and is scheduled to be reissued this year.

Over the years the band received an endless stream of fan letters from around the world. “Blackout” and their intended but never released single “Doin’ Me In” (issued on the Voxx LP) were covered by nuevo garage bands from California to Paris and Rome and beyond. In February of 1997, a six-piece GONN toured Europe for the first time with shows in Rome, Turin, Amsterdam, Paris and others.

That August found them headlining a garage-band festival in Atlanta, Ga.

The band then issued a live single from the Turin, Italy show. In 1999 the legendary New York label “Sundazed” issued a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl LP version of the “Frenzology” CD with takes not issued by Voxx, appropriately titled “Loudest Band In Town.”

2001 found Gerry, Dave and Craig undertaking a second European GONN tour with Chocolate Watchband guitarist Jeff Jacks and Italian guitarist Massimo filling in temporarily. They headlined festivals in Milan, Bologna, Zurich, Munich, Berlin, Holland and Belgium. Their status as international ambassadors for Iowa and American garage band rock and roll is unmistakable.

1969-70 Gerry and Craig were part of Quincy’s limo Smokehouse (Roulette Records). Craig continued to perform with bands through 1987 and as a record producer and singer! songwriter to the present time. He did mini-tours of Russian in 200 1-2002 with a Russian backup band doing GONN material and 60’s American music.

Gerry Gabel heads the music department at Texas Christian University. He has had numerous original orchestral and performance compositions produced on stage. Rex and Dave carried on in bands through the 70’s and well into the 80’s. Both have second-generation working musicians in the family.

GONN as a group carries on with plans for more recordings, more shows and likely another European tour, keeping the spirit alive as long as possible.

The groundswell of support to induct GONN into the Hall of Fame came as a surprise to the group. They remember it fondly was a grassroots movement of the purest sort. As Rex and Craig wrote on the title track to their reunion album “The Wind” — “Sometimes the smallest things can shine like the sun.” GONN is delighted and honored to join the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame.

 

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