Tim Anderson ~ Lead Guitar
Dan Christian ~ Vocals
Steve Eliason ~ Drums
Tim Grino ~ Lead Guitar
Brian Haskell ~ Keyboards
Clyde Heaton ~ Keyboards
Kathy Herivel ~ Vocals
Joel Johnson ~ Keyboards
Marc Lagen ~ Guitar
Greg Olsen ~ Vocals
Steve O'Rear ~ Bass
Vernon Palm ~ Drums
Roy Scimeca ~ Drums
Steve Schiffman ~ Bass
Twyla Wagner ~ Vocals
In Memory of
Dan Christian (d: 11 Aug 2013)
Steve Eliason (d. 5 Jan 2017)
Clyde Heaton (d: 2 Nov 2005)
Vernon Palm (d: 30 Mar 2005)
Twyla Wagner (d: ? )
Steve Schiffman (d. 7 Aug 2016)
In Memory of one of my best friends, Steve Eliason, original drummer for the band Cincinnati Rail, I started to put together the information I could find, to tell the story of the band. It became even more to me after learning of the passing of other band members I had associated with. Six of the band members have now passed away, making it challenging, but worthwhile, to tell of their journey with the band.
The band needed a name. Dan previously played with the band, Oscar Thickfoot, who had their promo pic taken while standing on an old railroad locomotive. Influenced by that scene, it was remembered that Dan just came up with the name Cincinnati Rail. It had a nice ring to it, so they kept it. Within a very short period of time, Skip left the band to relocate with his family. Brian Haskell, a 1967 graduate, also from Newport High School, was brought in as Skip’s replacement on keyboards. After about a year, Joe left the music business to go to college and get married. Entertainment Authorities and ADM (Artist Development Management Co.) took over the band’s management and bookings. The band’s popularity grew quickly, playing venues at high school senior proms, graduation parties and other events in the Seattle area, as well as roller rinks and other similar sites that were advertised by KJR AM Radio, who, at the time, was the big rock ‘n’ roll station in Seattle. To be advertised on KJR was to be in the top echelon of local Seattle bands. C-Rail also played some college campuses, including University of Oregon. Later they played bars/lounges, like the Iron Bull, Mr. P’s and the District, in Seattle, and The Canterbury Inn and Charlie Brown’s, both in Spokane.
In May of 1970, Tim got married and decided to move to the Philippines to help his father manage some lands the family owned. Both he and his wife, Terry, went to college there. They returned to the States in 1977 and currently live in Indiana. Lead guitar player, Tim Anderson, joined on to take Tim’s place. Shortly after this transition, Steve Eliason, Twyla and Dan had also left the band. Steve pursued other fields in the entertainment world, Twyla went to sing with Iron Maiden and Dan teamed up with a couple of associates, opening a wholesale supply warehouse (CSM Distributing), until getting drafted, serving in the Viet Nam War and receiving the Silver Star for Valor after being injured. Vernon Palm started with the group on drums, with Greg Olsen, coming over from Ralph, and Kathy Herivel teaming up on vocals.
In the Fall of 1971, Brian left the C-Rail to play for the City Zu for a short time. The City Zu, in early winter of 1972, morphed into a back-up band for the Las Vegas entertainer Tony Visco. In April/May of 1972, Brian left Tony Visco et al and joined Kathy and Marita Herivel, along with bringing back Steve Eliason, to start up a lounge band named Topaz. Clyde Heaton replaced Brian on keyboards, while Greg took on a solo vocal act. Cincinnati Rail, now composed of Steve Schiffman, Tim, Vern, Clyde and Greg, lined up several venues in the mid-west to play during March and April of ’72. On their way out to play in Mishiwaka, Indiana, they gigged at the Rathskeller Inn in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. Rats, as it became known, opened in 1962 and became a wildly popular destination for young adults. It was a beer and dance hall that featured live music on weekends. The place attracted quite a few other big name Northwest bands, including Paul Revere and The Raiders and The Cascades.
After returning home from
the mid-west, the members decided to go in different directions. Later, toward the Fall of ’72, Greg Olsen,
wanting to take the Cincinnati Rail on the road for one last hoorah, secured
gigs for the band in Michigan and Illinois.
All he needed now were band members.
Greg reached out to the guys he had known for so long in the bands
Interstate 5 and Ralph. Although they were
in and out playing with Merrilee Rush and Superband, at the time they were
available. So, Greg, together with Marc Lagen ~ lead guitar, Steve O’Rear ~ bass
guitar, Joel Johnson ~ keyboards, and Roy Scimeca ~ drums, they adopted the
Cincinnati Rail name and took advantage of the moderate mid-west popularity the
C-Rail had achieved back in the Spring and played there one last time. After those gigs were done, so was the band
under the name of Cincinnati Rail.
One memorable time Brian Haskell had was when the “Cincinnati Rail was hired to play for the Sr. Prom at Port Angeles HS. As you know, there are two ways to travel to Port Angeles from the Seattle area. Whether you drive down to Tacoma and over the Narrows Bridge and up the Western Washington Peninsula, which is a long drive, or you take ferries from Seattle or further north on Puget Sound. The ending time of the Prom was such that, if we had waited to tear our equipment down, pack up and still play the stipulated contactual time, we would have never made the ferry. So, we came up with the idea to have our last song be Chicago’s rendition of ‘I’m A Man’. We performed the song and then went into extended instrumental solos. I, having he biggest and heaviest equipment soloed first. As I soloed, Greg Olsen and Twyla got busy tearing down the PA, getting it ready to be loaded in the van. Once I finished, Tim Anderson took over on lead guitar, while I helped load the PA and my keyboard equipment. Next Steve Schiffman soloed on the bass, while Tim’s equipment was quickly torn down and loaded. As Steve finished his solo, Steve Eliason began an extended drum solo. After Schiffman’s equipment was loaded we started breaking down and loading the drums while Steve was still soloing. Once Steve’s drums were getting to be too few to play, he ended his solo, we packed the rest of his equipment and took off and made the last ferry to Seattle, giggling at our success. This is the most delightful memory I have of the Rail!”
Not being with the band as
often as I would have liked, being in Bellingham going to college, I remembered
being with them while playing for Cle Elum High School’s graduation dance. There were all of about 50 graduating
students. Everyone was having such a
great time, they kept asking the band to do encore after encore after
encore. By the time the band got done
playing and packing their equipment into the van, it had already started
turning daylight outside.
Not only am I happy to have brought back a lot of fun memories to many of the people I have spoken with, but to know some of those people have since made plans to catch up and see each other again. Sadly, Steve Schiffman, Steve Eliason, Dan Christian, Vernon Palm, Twyla Wagner and Clyde Heaton have all passed away. They and their memories of this popular rock band will be deeply missed.
Steve Fiorito, May 2017
Steve Eliason, Twyla Wagner, Brian Haskell, Tim Anderson, Dan Christian, Steve Schiffman
Marc Lagen, Steve O'Rear, Joel Johnson, Greg Olsen, Roy Scimeca
If you have corrections, a neat photo or more information, please send it to:
Last Update: 7 May 2017
Credits: Marc Lagen, Darryl Riffero, Mark Benton, Joel Johnson, Steve Fiorito, Tim & Terry Grino, Brian Haskell, Marita Herivel, Tom Lash, Greg Olsen, Laurie Schiffman, Roy Scimeca, Joe Sullivan