A Brief History of<>The original Regents of Tacoma are often heralded as the best 60's band in the Puget Sound area of Washington that never cut a record. A later version of the band did secure a recording contract with Etiquette Records of Tacoma, WA, and recorded a few songs for them before they finally broke up in early 1967. The original members of the Regents were Dave Roland (drums), Rich Liebe (lead guitar), Billy McPherson (sax and other wind instruments), Sam Carlson (bass), and Richard Rossiter (rhythm guitar and coronet). The band formed in the Spring of 1963, with the last of the original members joining in the Autumn of 1963. Starting out primarily as an instrumental band with a few vocals sung by Dave, the band soon developed into a fine vocal group.
1963 - 1967 & 1997 to Present
The musical influence on this band was varied. As with almost all Northwest bands of the era, The Wailers had a tremendous influence on the Regents. Much of their early material was taken from the Wailers and later from the many NW rock, R&B and jazz greats of the era that included Howard Roberts, B.B. King, Rufus Thomas, Barney Kessel, The Jazz Crusaders, Cannonball Aderly, Richard Berry, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and of course bands from the British Invasion.
The Regents started out in the same Tacoma-Lakewood, Washington music circuit as their friends in another local band, The Sonics, playing at Saint Mary's Parish, private parties, schools, and from time to time, renting a hall and putting on their own dances. Within only two or three months of formation, The Regents found themselves playing at the more popular local spots such as The Evergreen Ballroom in Olympia and the Red Carpet in Tacoma. Soon thereafter, the band was also performing at spots such as Perl's in Bremerton, the Tacoma Armory, Seattle's Space Needle, and more universities and high schools throughout the Puget Sound area. They performed all over Western Washington... as far northwest as Neah Bay, north to the Canadian border, and South into Olympia.
The original Regents were extremely versatile and talented musicians who could and did perform for any audience. This was exemplified on one particular occasion by playing a three or hour formal ball, then packing up and moving to another site the same evening and performing for another three or four hours of rock and roll.
Even in the days before effects pedals, The Regents were innovators. In 1964, The Regents started playing the rhythm guitar through a Leslie organ speaker. This gave the band the unique sound they were looking for. The first time this was used was at a joint performance at the University of Puget Sound with the Jazz Crusaders (later known as simply The Crusaders) and a third band. Rudy Bachelor was sitting in with us that night on keys.
The original Regents were recorded, but never for the purpose of putting out a record. A rough demo tape was made in early '64 at KPEC in Lakewood. There was only one take for each song played for that session. Some tapes were also made of some early rehearsal sessions. The Regents also did several live radio broadcasts from The Red Carpet, which were recorded by the radio station. The only recording of the original Regents known to exist to this date are portions of the KPEC tape, and only one early rehearsal tape. Unfortunately, the entire KPEC tape did not survive the ravages of time. Some portions of the tape disintegrated, while others survived with only fair quality.
By the summer of '65, The Regents were on the verge of recording and making it into a larger music scene, but instead, the original band broke up. Exactly what happened to the band has been lost to time. It was a friendly breakup. Dave Roland left The Regents to become the drummer for the Wailers. Richard Rossiter moved to California and was subsequently taken into the military. Billy McPherson attended the University of Puget Sound briefly, then joined the Air Force band in Washington, DC. Billy went on to have a significant lifelong musical career. Rich Liebe temporarily left The Regents in the spring of '65 due to illness, but before he could come back, the band wasn't there anymore. Rich later went to the University of Washington and into the military. When asked today what happened, each member tends to blame himself for the breakup. The original members of the Regents were more than just a band. They were and remain to this day best friends.
Almost immediately after the breakup of the original band, Sam Carlson and Chris Isakson (the guitarist who temporarily replaced Rich Liebe while he was ill) reformed The Regents. Added to the band were Chuck Doten on drums and Terry Bailey on rhythm guitar, making the new Regents a two guitar, bass and drums format band. Chris, Chuck and Terry had all previously played with the Tacoma group, the Intruders. The second version of The Regents soon found success and picked up where the original band left off. A keyboardist, Larry Olsen was added. Later a horn player, Gary Udovich, making it a six-piece band. The second band started out as a vocal group with a few instrumentals in the set list. By the spring of 1966, the second Regents secured a recording contract with Etiquette Records, the record label owned by the Wailers. Some of the other bands signed to Etiquette at the time were the Tacoma bands The Sonics and The Galaxies. Songs recorded for Etiquette included "Turn and Run", the anti-drug song "Bad Trip" and some others.
From '65 on, the original members of the Regents slowly lost contact. The same situation happened with the final version of the band after the final breakup in 1967. By 1996, Sammy, Billy, Dave, Richard and Rich had all found each other again and started having an annual get together in the Seattle area, which includes some of the band's friends from The Sonics (the Parypa brothers). In 1999 they found Dick Foreman, then in early 2000 Chris and Terry were finally located after a long search.
In April 2000 at the Regents reunion gig in Puyallup, Washington, Larry Parypa was officially inducted into the Regents. Larry Parypa was the first new member of the band since 1966. In August 2000, Genie Allen, who sang with the Regents along with Sue Isekite, was found. One year later, in August 2001, the band found Chuck Doten and also located Gary Udovich. On 16 April 2003 we found Sue Isekite. They continue to look for Larry Olsen.
In September 2002, the band reunited again for a public performance at an outdoor festival in Western Washington. There were several bands on the bill including the reformed Titans. The band invited two old friends, Bill Dean and Sonny Schaaf to join them on stage for almost three straight hours of rockin' and rollin'. Before they knew it, others joined The Regents on stage to turn it into a BIG BAND for several tunes. Some of the guest musicians included Fast Eddie Ray, Stan Foreman, Butch Hannukaine, Walt Rattenbury, Dave Reed, Rudy Volkmann, Al Richards on congas, and Shannon Pettit on the tambourine. The result was electrifying! The band is looking forward to a return trip to that fest next year.
In August of 2003, the Regents got together to perform at Cheney Stadiium in Tacoma for the 1,000 Guitar Louie Louie Festival, followed the next week by another appearance at Meadow Music... this time with Sue Isekite, her daughter, Rich's daughter, and Richard's son joining the band. The next scheduled performance will be at The Feast at Forks, Forks, Washington the weekend of August 20th and 21st, 2005. We hope to see you all there.
Their friendship, which spanned into five different decades, endured to this day. The music of the Regents continues, albeit only once per year.
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Genie Allen & Sue Isekite
Sue Isekite McNulty
1963-1967 & 97-Present
Dave Roland - drums * Billy McPherson - saxophone, clarinet, piano & flute * Richard Rossiter - guitar & coronet * Rich Liebe - guitar * Sammy Carlson - bass * Larry Parypa - Guitar (97-01) * Sandy Faye - vocals (64) * Genie Allen - vocals (64-65) * Sue Isekite - vocals (64-Present) * Dick Foreman - vocals (65) * Chris Isakson - guitar (65-67) * Chuck Doten - drums (65-67) * Terry Bailey - guitar (65-67) * Larry Olsen - keyboards (66-67) * Gary Udovich - saxophone (66-67) * Bill Dean - drums (02-03) * Sonny Schaaf - keyboards (02-03) - Rudy Bachelor - organ (64) - Steve Sarandos - (saxophone (02-03)
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Last Update: 14 December 2006