Night People - Photo Courtesy of Bob Christensen
George Palmerton, Dee (Dan) Moyes, Dave Morse, Mike Spengler, Bob Christensen
Photo Courtesy of Bob Christensen
The Night People
Bellingham, Washington
1959  ~ 1963

Members
 

Vic Bundy ~ Keyboards
Bob Christensen ~ Guitar
Wes Headrick ~ Guitar
Gary Hill ~ Guitar
Pat Jerns ~ Drums
Walt Johnson ~ Saxophone
Gary Kilbourne ~ Drums
David Morse ~ Saxophone
Dan Moyes ~ Drums
George Palmerton ~ Bass, Vocals
Jim Parker ~ Saxophone
Ron Petersen ~ Guitar
Reginald Shannon ~ Bass
Mike Spengler ~ Piano, Electric Piano
Laurie Vitt ~ Saxophone
Al Williams ~ Guitar
 


The Night People - From their 1960 Business Card

The Night People
Bellingham, WA
(1959)

In the fall of 1959, Western Washington College of Education (now WWU) students Mike Spengler (piano), Wes Headrick (lead guitar), Al Williams (rhythm guitar), Gary Kilbourne (drums), and Jim Parker (saxophone), formed the first northwest group to be called “The Night People.” The name was suggested by Mike Spengler’s mother, and the group performed only through New Years Eve 1959 before disbanding.



 The Night People
Seattle, WA
(1960-1961)

In the early summer of 1960, Dee (Dan) Moyes assembled a group of six musicians he knew at the home of Dave Morse in Bellevue. The musicians were Dan Moyes on drums, Dave Morse (having just finished his junior year at Bellevue High School) on tenor saxophone, Walt Johnson on tenor saxophone, Bob Christensen on lead guitar, George Palmerton on electric bass and vocals, and Mike Spengler on piano. At that first meeting and jam session, it was apparent to each musician that this group had great potential. Mike Spengler suggested we take on the name his mother had coined, “The Night People.” The new members hailed from Bellevue (Moyes and Morse), Kirkland (Johnson), Woodinville (Christensen), Burien (Spengler) and North Seattle (Palmerton).

After rehearsing the rest of the summer of 1960 and playing some church dances in Seattle and the ‘burbs, the six-piece band was booked in the fall to play several weekends at Seven Cedars in Mount Vernon and Bloedell-Donovan Hall in Bellingham. These were followed by one-night gigs in Anacortes, Redmond, Bellevue, Seattle, and other cities in northwest Washington. They played twice at “Battle of the Bands” dances at the Spanish Castle in Midway, and once at the Tacoma Armory, while continuing to play Seven Cedars and Bloedell-Donovan. Early in 1961, Walt Johnson dropped out of the group, and The Night People continued as a five-piece band.

 In March of 1961, time was rented at Joe Boles’ West Seattle recording studio where “Zazerac” and “Istanbul were recorded.” A contract was signed with Seafair Records of Seattle to produce and promote the record. “Zazerac” was written by the group as a whole, each member providing his own part to the composition. Its name was gleaned earlier in the year from a cocktail menu at an Anacortes restaurant and bar. “Istanbul,” an old tune written by Simon and Kennedy, had been arranged by Christensen and Spengler.

Just after the record was released in the summer of 1961, The Night People appeared on Seattle Bandstand, performing “Zazerac” and “Istanbul.” This was followed by a two-week engagement at Dave’s Fifth Avenue in Seattle, followed by a month-long stint at Ricardo’s, a nightclub in Redding, California. Between those engagements were one-night stops at Elmo’s and the Club Portland in Portland, Oregon, and a teen dance in Salem, Oregon.

During a few of their northwest gigs, they backed other local vocal solo artists including Nancy Claire and George Griffin. In Salem, Oregon, they backed Brady and Grady Sneed, who had a Dolton record in release at the time.

Following their return from Redding in the fall of 1961, the group disbanded when Christensen received his draft notice and Spengler decided to return to college at Seattle University. Their final gig was played at a teen dance in Lewiston, Idaho in late October or early November 1961.




The Night People
Bellingham
(1962-1963)

On New Years Eve, 1962, Laurie Vitt played his first gig with an existing group called “The Night People.” At the time he joined the group, it consisted of Gary Hill (guitar), Reginald Shannon (Bass), and an unidentified keyboard player and drummer. Shortly thereafter, the keyboard player and drummer quit and were replaced by Pat Jerns (drums) and a keyboard player named Vic Bundy. Eventually, Gary Hill quit and was replaced with Ron Peterson (previously with The Frantics). Within the next three months, Reg Shannon left and was replaced by George Palmerton, who had previously played with the 1960-61 Night People. A couple of weeks later, the group was renamed, “Ron Peterson and the Accents,” and went on to make a couple of records using that name. “The Night People” were history.

Mike Spengler, Bob Christensen, and Laurie Vitt. September 2002

In the early 60's, there was a band in Bellingham called The Night People and the band consisted of members: Reg Shannon-leader & bassist (who later went on to play drums); Laurie Vitt-tennor sax; Vic Bundy-organ; Bill Cramer-drums and Gary Hill-guitar. Pat Jerns joined the band taking Bill Cramer's spot on drums. Ex-guitarist of the Frantics, Ron Petersen, moved from Seattle to Bellingham to continue his education at Western Washington State College (WWU, today). While attending college, he kept up with the local music scene. One of the local bands he heard was The Night People, and he eventually joined the band replacing Gary Hill on guitar after Gary had left. The band was doing the night club scene around the area and there was another band in the Seattle area using the same name. They had even produced a record but didn't get there name copyrighted. So, Reg Shannon jumped at this opportunity and had the name NIGHT PEOPLE copyrighted. Reg went on and formed a new band using the name he had copyrighted. That band eventually dissolved. The rest of the members needed a name for their band. Ron, having formed the Frantics in Seattle, and that band having disbanded, decided that they should use the name FRANICS. Members of the new Bellingham based Franics were: Ron Petersen-lead guitar; Laurie Vitt-tennor sax; Vic Bundy-organ; Pat Jerns-drums and George Palmerton-bass. Now there were legal hassles with the name FRANTICS. The new reformed group in Seattle won the copyright. So the name of the Bellingham band was changed to The Accents after Vic Bundy started scanning the directory looking for a new name. But again there, was already a band with this name, strangely, in the Seattle area which had produced a record on Jerry Denon's Panorama label. Ron then headlined the band, "Ron Petersen & The Accents.  This was in 1963. When Ron left the band, Bill Capp took his place and they became the Bellingham Accents and eventually the Unusuals.

Jim Doidge- with information from Ron Peterson

Walt Johnson checked in and is looking for old band mates from the Night People.  The old e-mail addresses I had for Bob and Mike no longer work.  Band members can contact Walt through me, the Web Slave until communications are re-established with your old band buddy.

Sam Carlson, The Web Slave, December 2008


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Last Update:  24 December 2008
Credits:  Darryl Riffero, Laurie Vitt, Mike Spengler, Bob Christensen, Jim Doidge, Walt Johnson
Band # 0057