Eric Barber ~ Saxophone
Dick Bennink ~ Guitar, Harp, Vocals
Doug Byrd ~ Drums
Dave Clark ~ Guitar
Teresa Cunningham ~ Tenor/Alto Saxophone, Celtic Flutes, Clarinet
Mike Davis ~ Guitar, Vocals
Roc Dosland ~ Guitar, Vocals
Gene Douma ~ Bass
Roy Eggleston ~ Drums
Gary Eyman, ~ Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Bob Heilman ~ Keyboards, Vocals
Paul Hobbs ~ Guitar
Earl “The Pearl” Hugill ~ Drums
Tim Loder ~ Saxophone, Vocals
Steve Lopez ~ Lead Guitar, Vocals
Rick Smith ~ Guitar, Harp, Vocals
Kevin Stacey ~ Drums
Phil Thomas ~ Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Chris Ward ~ Guitar
Steve Whaley ~ Bass, Vocals
In Memory of
Coupe de Ville of Eugene, Oregon began in 1995 as an off-shoot of another Eugene band, Happy Daze, which was formatted as a 50’s rock & roll band. The original members of Coupe de Ville are: Steve Whaley, bass guitar and vocals, Bob Heilman, keys and vocals, Rick Smith, guitar, harmonica & vocals, Steve Lopez, lead guitar & vocals, Eric Barber, Sax, and the late Phil Thomas on drums, percussion, & vocals. Coupe had the knack of drawing and holding large local crowds whenever they played, whether it was a small club or a large county fairgrounds arena setting. Coupe remains alive today, in this era of DJ’s and Karaoke, delivering the same quality of music and show they have always done.
Coupe’s music started out based mostly on the 50’s-60’s songs the former Happy Daze band was doing, but as the musicians tastes in music were recognized and were brought in (still rock and roll based), the texture and character of the bands music changed along with it and it became a powerhouse of a bigger and more solid sound, much to the approval of their fans. This format was adapted throughout its long run and continues to this day, as it was a formula for success.
The lineup changed in early 1996 when Tim Loder replaced Eric Barber on Sax, because of Eric’s move to the east coast. Tim’s addition also added vocals and percussions to the mix as well. Tim would be with Coupe until 2008, even through a triple by-pass heart surgery in 2003 which didn’t seem to phase him much. His replacement, added in 2010 was Teresa Cunningham, who would bring a new exciting brand of pizzazz to the show, playing not only tenor and alto sax, celtic flutes, & clarinet, but also adding her sparkling personality to the show and connecting with the fans on the dance floor.
Coupe has had just four dedicated drummers in its entire run. When Phil Thomas decided to take a position he was offered with a touring band, he suggested Roy Eggleston as his replacement. That was a good move, as Roy was every bit the drummer Phil was, and he was available. A couple years later after the touring job Phil took was finished, it turned out that Roy had to leave to pursue a personal direction away from the band, so Phil was asked to come back and he did. About 3 years later Phil took a day job in Texas and so Roy was contacted about re-joining to replace Phil...again... and to everyone’s relief, he jumped at the chance to return. Roy was with Coupe until late 2005 when he left to pursue business demands, and he suggested Doug Byrd to replace him. Doug auditioned and was accepted and he then joined Coupe as the drummer. Doug left in 2009 to pursue a drummer position in another friends local band, and Kevin Stacey replaced Doug and played with Coupe until he formed his own group Beautiful Wrecks in 2010. Earl “The Pearl” Hugill then joined as Coupe’s drummer and he remains there at the present time (January 2014). All of these guys had the right stuff in the rhythm section department to lock down the back beat and the foundation of Coupe’s great music.
Rick Smith came to Coupe because we originally needed a guy with a PA and who could run sound....and we found out he had a great voice...and could play rhythm guitar and harmonica. We also needed another lead vocalist to share the songs with so as not to overburden one or two guys with all the songs. He was hired after a short audition. Rick was a natural fit and a very talented showman to boot. And he DID have a PA and lights too, which was a big plus. Rick’s tenor voice was hugely popular with our fans, and his part in 3 part harmonies were always spot on. He was a joy to be in the same band with. Rick left in 2008 to devote time to pursue personal goals outside the band. He was replaced by Dick Bennink, who also sang, played rhythm guitar and some lead guitar, harmonica, and opted to be the PA guy as well. I took over running the band lighting when Rick left. Dick left in 2012 and it was decided amongst the rest of the band that the position of rhythm guitar would not be replaced, which made it a 5 piece band instead of 6.
The lead guitarist postion is the one that has changed the most in Coupe. First let me say all of the players in that position are, to this day, top drawer caliber musicians that we all enjoyed playing behind. First there was Steve Lopez who was the original guitarist for Coupe. Steve was with Coupe until 1998 when he left for spiritual pursuits. His replacement was Mike Davis who was a gifted guitarist and vocalist with the band until 2000 when he left to pursue his teaching career full time. Mike was replaced by Paul Hobbs who came from country, rock, & blues background and brought his great interpretation of those influences to the band. Paul left in the fall of 2001 to do independent work with other musicians and was replaced by his friend Chris Ward who was attending Berklee school of music pursuing a degree and who was a killer guitarist...and still is. Chris left in 2002, favoring freelancing to structure, and recommend we get Dave Clark, who was an older guy with great talent and great guitar licks with some jazz background as well as country too....and, as it turned out, Dave mentored both Chris and Paul on guitar. Small world! Dave stayed until 2005 and Roc Dosland stepped into the lead guitarist role. Roc brought a distinctive hard edge rocker feel to the band, which was really a breath of fresh air...because he was so good at it! He had the right guitar and amp and effects, had a great voice to go along with it which blended well with the other vocalists, and...he just looked the part too. Roc brought the 80’s rock into the mix with great success and grand style. Roc left due to health reasons in 2007, and was replaced by Gary Eyman, an ecclectic rocker guitarist whose tastes in music range from Bernstein to Frank Zappa to the Beatles to Mozart. He avoids mainstream music, but he plays cover tunes extremely well and is gifted at putting his own spin on Coupes tunes. Gary is a gifted guitarist and vocalist with a great rocker voice who actually prefers piano as a main instrument. Gary is the current lead guitarist for Coupe.
Bob Heilman, one of the original founding members of Coupe, plays Keyboards and sings, and is the unofficial spokesperson and self appointed comedian for the group. His wacky sense of humor, timing, and delivery is one of the gems our fans get to experience each and every time Coupe performs. Bobs swarray into “never land” will occasionally appear on stage as his alter ego, much to the delight of those who are among the un-expecting. Bobs talents as a musician and as an entertainer are apparent when you see this guy at work...which you should.
I (Steve Whaley) am one of the original founders of Coupe de Ville and I have played bass and sang leads in Coupe since it began in 1995. I like to think of myself as the quarter back of the rhythm section, locking it down with the drummer. I actually began my musical adventure/career with another band in high school in 1960 called the Strato-tones and the later evolution of it called The Reveleers.. In those bands I played lead guitar.
I began playing bass in 1967 when a rock band on the Navy base I was stationed at needed a bass player and I needed a band to play music with , so I took up bass at that point, and its been bass guitar ever since for me. I retired from Coupe in March 2003 and my successor Gene Douma had serious health problems and I sat in for him more than I was sitting outside the band, so Gene suggested I rejoin the band to keep the continuity intact, and after asking the rest of the guys about it and getting their approval first, I rejoined Coupe and performed with them until December 2012, when I retired yet once again to pursue other hobbies I have been back-burner-ing forever and to put together another musical group, focusing more on the giving back of the blessings God has bestowed on me, in the form of musical talent and human connectivity, and to just make people happy for a moment in their lives.
I wanted to give credit where credit is due with this great and compassionate group of individuals who so freely give (and gave) of their talents in order to make the sum of the parts this wonderful entertaining gang known as Coupe de Ville.
Steve Whaley, January 2014
Some of the other Pacific Northwest music groups represented in members, crew, etc., of this group include: The Reveleers, Stratotones, Happy Daze and many other NW bands