2011 - Band
Band Members: Roger Boyd, John Schlitt, Mike Sommerville, Eddy Jones, Greg Manahan,
Darren Walker, Glen Bridger, Steve Huston
Though St. Louis is often mentioned as Head East’s hometown, the original members grew up in several small southern Illinois communities about 50 miles away. Aug. 6, 1969 is recognized as the date the band officially became Head East and they played their first gig at the Golden Gauntlet in Carbondale, IL.
Originally comprised of brothers Roger and Larry Boyd, Steve Huston, John Schlitt and Dan Piper, the energy, excitement and talent that would later carry the band to national fame was immediately evident to all who were there. Five months after their explosive debut, drummer Steve Huston and lead singer John Schlitt left the band to finish their college degrees. The band successfully carried on with a number of talented replacements.
With the return of Steve and John in 1973, the lineup that would take them through their first six albums began to take shape in Champaign, IL. When guitarist Mike Somerville was selected over numerous others who auditioned to be the new Head East lead guitarist and in1974 when Dan Birney replaced retiring member Larry Boyd on bass guitar, the lineup what would become one of the most successful rock and roll bands to emerge from the Midwest was in place.
East entered Golden Voice studios in Pekin, IL in late summer of 1974 and recorded the tracks to their first album, “Flat As A Pancake”, which they released on their own label, Pyramid Records. A&M Records soon noted the band’s popularity, the airplay and records sales and signed Head East to the A&M label. The album was re-released in 1975 and certified Gold (representing 500,000 in record sales) in 1978; later achieving platinum status.
Single releases of “Never Been Any Reason” and “Love Me Tonight” both charted Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart and “Since You Been Gone” from their 1978 self-titled Head East album became their highest charting single at #41. “Never Been Any Reason” continues today to be one of the most recognized and requested songs from the “Golden Age of Rock and Roll” and is always in demand as Head East continues to travel Iowa from the Mississippi to the Missouri and back. The band has always been highly received in Iowa and has played hundreds of gigs throughout the state over the decades.
During the 1976-79 era the band was a huge concert draw here and all over the USA; regularly playing to sellout crowds at major venues and was considered to be one of the most successful and talented rock and roll bands in the country. On April 20, 1980, the lineup of Roger Boyd, Dan Birney, Steve Huston, John Schlitt and Mike Somerville played their last concert together at Kearney State University in Kearney, NE.
Head East continues to record and tour annually in their original five-piece format consisting of Roger Boyd (keyboards & vocals), Greg Manahan (bass, lead guitar & vocals), Glen Bridger (lead guitar & vocals), Eddy Jones (drums & vocals) and Darren Walker (lead vocals & bass). The current members’ superb musicianship and versatility along with strong vocal and songwriting abilities are a mirror image of the original lineup and have resulted in the filming of their first ever videos “Prisoner” and “One Night” and the release of the live album “One Night With Head East.”
For more than four decades the band has brought classic rock to Iowa fans and others everywhere. Founder Roger Boyd says he looks forward to bringing Head East music to all their fans for many years to come. “Head East will continue to rock on as long as I can lift my synthesizer over my head and play,” he vows.
For their talent, dedication, longevity and major impact on the Iowa music scene, Head East enters the IRRMA Hall of Fame in 2011.