Allen ~ Organ
James "Pat" Furrow ~ Guitar, Vocals
Joe Meldrum ~ Drums
Denny Page ~ Saxophone
Don Riley ~ Guitar
Jim Tatum ~ Bass, Vocals
Dick Turpin & the Nightriders was kind of a Paul Revere cover band, but did lots of other things. Merrilee Rush judged a battle of the bands they were in one year in Yakima. James lives in Seattle now and is a financial analyst. He was on KJR for a few years as Gary West.
Joe Meldrum, November 2002
Dick Turpin and the Nightriders grew out of six Ellensburg, Washington boys' dedication to the classic Northwest sound as it intersected with the "British Invasion" of the mid-1960s.
Originally influenced by Paul Revere and the Raiders and Don and the Goodtimes, the band formed as "The Shards" and, soon thereafter, "The Confederates," to play the Morgan Junior High Ninth Grade Party and Ellensburg's Kiwanis Amateur Show in the Spring of 1965. Soon after, Mike Allen (organ) and Pat Furrow (guitar and lead vocalist) read a Walt Disney comic about an English highwayman, "The Legend of Young Dick Turpin," and "Dick Turpin and the Nightriders" were born. Furrow, Allen, Denny Page (saxophone), Donny Riley (lead guitar), and Joe Meldrum (drums) were the original "Dick Turpin and the Nightriders."
The band's road to steady work came when Page dropped out and an older seasoned musician, nineteen year-old Jim Tatum (bass and harmony singer of Ellensburg's "Odus and the Savages"), joined the sixteen year-olds in a configuration that would endure approximately two years.
The Nightriders initially leaned heavily towards Revere hits ("Steppin' Out," "Kicks" and the Raiders' version of "Louie Louie"), with "Wailer's House Party," the Sonics' "The Witch" (their Kiwanis amateur show entry song) and all of Don and the Goodtimes' 45 rpm titles in their repertoire. Yet the band's 1964 birth led immediately to inclusion of Rolling Stones ("Get Off of My Cloud" and "As Tears Go By"), the Kinks ("You Really Got Me" "'Til the End of the Day") and Beatles ("Slow Down") material. This all came together in their version of "Out of Our Tree," the Wailers' British inspired hit which always opened the Nightriders' second set. The Nightriders' play list ultimately included songs as disparate as the Byrds' "Feel a Whole Lot Better (When You're Gone)" and Rufus Thomas' "Walkin' The Dog."
The band played every venue in Ellensburg, including the Legion Hall, Ellensburg High, and the Central Washington State College ballroom. They won the Ellensburg High "Battle of the Bands" in 1967. They traveled as far as Yakima (the Armory), Cle Elum (Eagles), and even played dances for Kittitas and Othello high schools.
When Jim Tatum left Ellensburg for Washington State University in the fall of 1967, the band soon faded. Tatum returned for a gig or two, but the Nightriders never replaced him. Cars, girlfriends, sports, work, beer, and plans for college, the military, and, in general, life after high school, took over the lives of the Nightriders. What had once been an an intense passion to play rock and roll music slowly faded away. Life went on.
Today, all of the Nightriders remain friends, and visit one another in Ellensburg and via email and the internet, though separated by thousands of miles. All of the Nightriders remain interested in music, though only one plays in a band.
Lead guitarist Don Riley is a chemistry professor at University of Washington (a DNA specialist) and his red Mosrite has been traded in for an acoustic guitar. Singer James Patrick Furrow left a successful radio career (including gigs at the Nightriders' faves KJR and KOL) for an even more successful career as a Redmond investment counselor.
Denny Page is the only Nightrider still living in Ellensburg. Denny raises horses and enjoys the beauty of the Kittitas Valley.
Drummer Joe Meldrum works as a computer sales and marketing specialist (IBM, Apple, and others) in Los Angeles where he plays three or four gigs a year with "Rhythm Method."
Bassman Jim Tatum works in computing and media production in New York City.
Mike Allen, the author of this essay, teaches American history at the University of Washington, Tacoma; his Vox Continental organ is stored in a friend's Ellensburg garage.
From 1965-68, Dick Turpin and the Nightriders provided one brick and a little mortar in what became the great "Pacific Northwest Wall of Sound."
Mike Allen, December 2002