Johnson ~ Bass
Leo Lawrence ~ Guitar, Vocals
Mike Marks ~ Drums, Piano
Tom McMeekan ~ Guitar
Bonner ~ Drums, Vocals
Judee Fisher ~ Vocals
Steve Johnson ~ Guitar
Dennis Mullikin ~ Guitar, Vocals
Corky Young ~ Bass
The Quirks - June 1966 - Photo Courtesy of Lew Johnson
The Quirks did go to LA, managed to get Adam West (Batman) as their manager, and played the Whisky A Go Go
In Memory of
Steve Johnson d: 27 Nov 09
For years I’ve wanted to set the past history of the Quirks straight as well as add some more depth to the great times we had playing across the USA.
Beginning on a dark and rainy February evening in 1965, we began our quest to start a group with Tom McMeekan and I standing in that rain formulating a new type band. I had such an extreme dedication to fulfilling that dream. My plan was to entice Tom McMeekan to leave his position with the Mystics. The only ”minor” problem I had was that I didn’t know how to play drums so my only choice was to expediently (like 30 days) learn to be a drummer by the self taught, play along with Ringo crash course method. A month and a half later, the Quirks were born at least with a drummer and lead guitarist. We brought in Glade Johnson to learn and play bass guitar. Then we stumbled over a kid by the name of Leo Lawrence who had the voice quality, harmony and chord expertise no one would ever expect from a “just turned 17” kid. I have to admit, upon first seeing Leo with 2 different colored socks (1 black and 1 blue) and hair looking like he had just got out of bed, I was still very hesitant about the guy. Tom heavily insisted that he was our guy and as it turned out, I believe he was an extremely important piece that helped propel the band to above “ordinary” status in just a few short months.
By late summer of ’65, due to a boating accident, Lew Johnson temporarily, then permanently replaced Glade as the bass player. As seemed to be our style, Lew had never played bass before either and had to enroll in Cram and Learn-On-The-Fly University. Within a couple of months of extreme daily practicing, the Quirks rapidly improved and won a local Boise “Battle of the Bands” taking home a statue that I believe Lew still has to this day. At the end of 1965, we continued our quest to become a better band by performing one final “corporate” band raid. By the start of the new year, we became a 5 piece band with the addition of Justin Bonner. This move brought us more flexibility in that he had been the drummer as well as lead singer for the Mystics.
By early ’66, we were playing steadily throughout Idaho and Oregon. Sept. 1966, the band negotiated with an Aspen, CO. promoter to play his club and several Colorado colleges and universities all over the state. Unfortunately, just before we headed east, another chapter was written. Lew Johnson was drafted into the Army. We desperately auditioned local talent for a replacement but since nobody seemed to fit, Leo temporarily slid over to the bass guitar to begin our obligated dates in Aspen.
Within a couple of weeks in Colorado, we auditioned a Denver native, Corky Young. Being an accomplished veteran guitar player, this time around, we didn’t have much to do, as he easily picked up playing bass. After finishing out the fall contracts in Colorado, we got an offer to play the New Year’s Eve UCLA party in California as well as set up various auditions in L.A.
Through one of those auditions, we hooked up with a fellow by the name of Jimmy O’Neil who had just wrapped up a couple of years of hosting a national show by the name of Shindig. He had just begun building his clientele list as an agent associated with one of the largest management companies in the country. He took a liking to our group and wanted to manage the band. He booked us into a club next door to The Whiskey-A-GoGo known as Gazzarri’s. We were the third headliner on the marquee along with a group that had just hit the airwaves with “Light My Fire”. The Doors only stayed for 1 out of our 2 week commitment. We finished the 2nd week with the other band, The Enemies, whose lead singer, Cory Wells, quit shortly after to move on and begin the workings of starting a group by the name of Three Dog Night.
At the finish of Gazzarri’s, we were offered and signed on to play for 3 weeks in Miami, Florida. Shortly after returning to California, Leo chose to fill the vacancy with the Enemies. The Quirks took their first real hit in that Leo was irreplaceable without essentially staring over. As a result, we never fully realized what could have been had we proceeded with Jimmy O’Neil and company.
Therefore, we retreated back to Boise for the rebuilding process. Since Tom and Corky chose to return to Denver, Justin and I put together phase 2 of the Quirks including Judee Fisher and Dennis Mullikin. After our playing a couple of dates, Tom decided to come back to the group (displacing Dennis) for the infamous 1967 “Summer of Love”. By the end of that summer, we decided finally to disband. Over the next 2-3 years, Tom, Justin and I managed to spend time in and out of several other groups, sometimes reuniting at points in time. We never were able to get back with Leo and years later, he died in a auto accident early on Christmas morning of 1977. Dennis Millikin died several years later.
Tom McMeekan, a Boise fixture on the music scene still plays and Justin Bonner has a group in Moscow. Lew Johnson has been in the Seattle area for 40+ years. I have lived in Portland since 1969 and sold my drums in 1970. Also Judee Fisher has been in the Portland area for over 4 decades.
The Quirks definitely had a great ride but always left me with the “what if” when thinking about Leo and the band staying in place.
Michael Marks, March 2011