Robin's (Chris') Corner
Chris Church was the trumpet player, doubling on keyboards.
But before going any farther, lets set the record straight.
Chris Church isn't his real name; it's Robin Church!
In the 5th grade, he moved to a new school district, and a GIRL named Robin Hoskins was in the class. Rather than suffer the humiliation of sharing the same 1st name as a GIRL, he simply introduced himself as "Christian Church!" It stuck, until he moved to Pennsylvania in 1977!
Had a new Arp Odyssey synth, that could switch from flute to violin patch in only FIVE MINUTES!
In reality, the violin patch sounded more like a thundering swarm of mosquitos, but it was still WAY cool back then!
Thanks to Steve's good relationship with Phil Uhlik, we had a baby grand piano onstage. Bryan worked at Jenkins Music store, and managed to get Keith Smith's mellotron loaned to us (very cool)! The Mellotron had a magnetic audio tape for each key, recorded with strings, male chorus, and female chorus selectable. When you pressed a key, a pinch roller pulled the tape past the play head for that particular note! The tape was about 8 seconds long (not looped), then it quit! Made the player a bit nervous.
Shortly after becoming hired as the Casino's house band, some remodelling was scheduled. There was an old safe encased in a 6' X 6' X 6' (roughly) concrete block. Rather than chip away with a pickaxe and chisels, we all thought dynamite would be quicker.
So we blowed it up! Blowed it up real GOOD!! (HA HA) Knocked the PA columns (on the other side of the wall) completely off their stands!
Bryan was responsible for getting us great discounts on the Peavey gear. No need to haggle with salesmen. We got the best equipment at rock bottom prices.
Here, you see Chris/Robin with the Mellotron (left hand), the gold, roll & pleated baby grand piano (right hand) with Hohner Clavinet perched on top, and Fender Rhodes Stage 73 electric piano with Arp Odyssey synth on top (top)
Chris' Keyboard Cove, circa 1974
Memories! It didn't matter that it took me five minutes to setup a synth patch, because Bryan and Steve were always ready with their own peculiar brand of stage humor:
Bryan: "Hey, Steve, a funny thing happened to me on the way to the club tonight."
Steve: "Oh yeah, what was that?"
Bryan: "My TOE fell off!"
Steve: "Really? What did you do?"
Bryan: "I called a TOE Truck!"
Bryan: "Hey, Steve, the Invisible Man is here!"
Steve: "Tell him I can't see him!"
Steve: "I said... TELL HIM I CAN'T SEE HIM!
(THUMP, THUMP, THUMP) Is this Mic ON?"
Bryan: "Man, this is the first time I've ever seen the DEAD sit up!"
One Tuesday evening, we recorded the entire night... started the tape recorder before each set and turned it off at the end of each set.
The next night, it wasn't very crowded, so we just played the tape and mimed the whole night! No one was the wiser!
Funny, people started to clap after the songs when they heard the applause on tape from the previous evening!
Bryan's Hammond B-3 with electric piano and key bass perched on top
Bryan's elec. piano with a guitar strap!
But the REALLY cool things about this photo are
1) the "Hill Wichita" stencil on the Leslie (some of Chris' equipment today still bears that same logo!) and
2) the 2-tone suede pink paisley platform shoes! Man, those shoes were hard to walk in! Robin was planning on converting them into planters, but they were "accidentally" thrown away by his wife.
We all had keys to the Casino. A favorite pastime was riding the bicycle with Gary Cornelius inside the club with all the lights out, in complete (I mean TOTAL!) darkness.
The idea was that you had to get going fast enough so that the generator would provide enough light for you to see where you were going before you hit something. It was harder than you might think!
In the close quarters, it was hard to build up enough speed to generate light. As you rounded corners, the light would fade out again, and you had to steer from memory!
A lot of fun, if you ignored the scrapes and bruises.
Believe it or not, no law suits were filed, and Gary remains a close friend to this day!
40 years later, he still hasn't cleaned his trumpet!
"Peace" decal still adorns Robin's trumpet gig bag!
Original setup... RMI el Piano, Hohner Clavinet C6, Arp Odyssey synth, and a mess o' Peavey amps!
MiniMoog and Fender Rhodes 73
Clavinet C6 (Yup, C6, not the D6!) atop the RMI electric piano
...40 years, no more lugging equipment around and driving to the gig.
Robin now travels in comfort to and from his gigs in his new private jet and chauffeured limosines.
I WISH! Nope, I schlepp gear around in a mini-van and make less than I did 40 years ago.
Living the dream.
These photos were taken in July, 2016, at a fancy-pants 7-course gourmet dinner in a jet hangar.
There's just something special about eating gourmet cuisine while inhaling jet exhaust.
I must say, however, the 3 French chefs really worked wonders with jet fuel.... delicious salad dressing.
(The band ate at a local diner afterwards!)