Beck ~ Guitar
Rob Bender ~ Drums (2000 Reunion)
Randy Flemetis ~ Vocals
Joey Gurr ~ Bass
Gary McKinney ~ Piano
Dan Stritmatter ~ Drums
In Memory of
1950 - 2003
The Boss Tweed started out as a four or five kids in a converted garage in Raymond, Washington trying to emulate the Beatles. In that, we weren't all that different from bunches of other teenage boys in the mid-60s, trying to learn the chords to She Loves You and pretending thousands of girls would scream when you shook your hair (Leaving aside the fact that you couldn't grow it long enough to shake and still be allowed in school).
First came the guitars — a Stella bought at Lloyd's Center in Portland for me (well, actually my first guitar was a dobro; man, was it hard to play chords with really high action and only painted on frets!) — and then the roles: who's the singer, who plays bass. The group began with me on guitar, Joe Gurr on bass, and Randy Flemetis on vocals. When we added Danny Stritmatter on drums (two years younger than the rest of us) and bought amps and electric instruments, we even took a name, The Squires, and painted it on Danny's bass drum head. Later, as pop music got more serious, we changed it to “A Purple” as a way to be more memorable (people would always have to ask, “A purple what?” we thought). Neither The Squires nor A Purple really played anywhere for money, just a few parties and a talent show at school.
Eventually we added Gary McKinney on keyboards — a Farfisa compact and a Wurlitzer piano (Man, did the reeds on that Wurlitzer go out or what!) — and we took the name The Boss Tweed.
The Boss Tweed actually played gigs and earned money. The first real gig (at least that I remember) was for a prom at Ilwaco High School. We showed up with our “boss” tweed vests to play for all of the tuxedoed and gowned students. That gig was followed by dates at dances for Raymond High School, the IWA Hall, even Fort Lewis. The latter was our prize for winning a battle of the bands at the Grays Harbor County Fair, where our victory was sealed with a dramatic version of Wild Thing.
The Boss Tweed didn't get that many gigs, really; there were other bands more popular (and probably more skilled) in southwest Washington than we were. The biggest rivalry was between us and the Henchmen. We were the Beatles to their Stones. They were tighter, more rocking (they did a great version of Train Kept A’Rollin’) while we were more intellectual (at one point, our act included a light show and the smashing of a television while playing the Velvet Underground's “Heroin”) and probably a lot harder to dance to. We had fun, though.
The band broke up when I was recruited to play in the Smiling Castle in 1967 (by Toby, the former drummer from the Henchmen). Various members of the Boss Tweed did end up playing together in different bands over the years. Whistlin’ Rufus (1970) was basically the Boss Tweed with Rob Bender instead of Dan on drums. Two or more of the Boss Tweed members have played together in Metropolis, Chakra, Kid Chrysler and the Cruisers, and others I don't know or don't remember. We also played several performances in the city park in Raymond in ’68 and ’69, performances that prominently featured the dancing of Dog Man (may he rest in peace).
We did get back together in the summer of 2000 to play two gigs — on the same day — for the celebration/wake for the old Raymond High School building. Rob Bender replaced Dan Stritmatter (who hasn't played in years) but everyone else was original. We sounded way better in 2000 than we ever did in the ‘60s.
Gary lives in Bellingham and continues to play in a ‘50s band and Zoot Rudy. Randy lives in Raymond where he's on the City Council. Joe lives in Wisconsin and continues playing in various bands. Dan lives in Chicago, And I live in Oakland, CA where I have a band that plays sambas, swing, son, funk, and a little rock with lots of vocals.
Brad Beck, September 2002
The Boss Tweed resurfaced first in the Raymond Swimming Pool concerts during the summer of '68 and as Whistlin' Rufus, with Rob Bender replacing Dan Stritmatter on drums, during the Summer of 1970. Gary, Brad, and Rob were in the Cosmic Kids during the Summer of 1969.
Brad Beck, October 2002
The second Boss Tweed reunion will happen the weekend of August 2nd, 2003 as part of the celebration for the new Raymond High School building.
It will be a sad reunion since the bass player for the Boss Tweed, Joe Gurr, died yesterday (July 28, 2003) of a heart attack in Wisconsin at the age of 52. He would have been 53 later in August of this year. Born 1950 in Raymond, Washington and died 2003 in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin.
This Definitely is going to be a sad reunion.
Brad Beck, July 2003
Band # 0095
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Last Update: 13 June 2011
Credits: Donn Mee, Gary McKinney, Brad Beck