Monday, September 15, 2014 - by Mark A. Herndon
Reach back and many who followed the Chattanooga Live Music Scene in the 60s, 70s and 80s will appreciate where it is today. In the 60s and 70s the Scene only had a handful of local talented singers, song writers, and musicians who stepped up publicly to deliver their music with staying power through the decades. When the event schedule was announced, The Beaters would be on stage for their celebration of 29 years. It was a surreal moment. It was a step back in time musically speaking as The Beaters stepped on the Rhythm & Brews stage Sept.1 to perform their 29th Anniversary gig.
Whether you are 16 or 60 they play the songs you know - classic rock tunes from the 60's, 70's and 80's. The Beaters are a party band, ironically Chattanooga in every way. They are one of the longest-serving group of talented individuals with a mainstay of pleasing their audiences. Only few Chattanooga artists and musicians can claim such longevity. Others come to mind include Jimmy Tawater, Roger Alan Wade, Danny Shirley, Tim Lewis, Mark Herndon, and James Rogers. Recently another local band from that era reunited. “The Overland Express” gathered to remember its front man, Keith Sherman, who passed last year and raise funds for his family charitable organization.
The band members have known each other forever and we know them. They've played the soundtrack to our wedding memories and are now getting us out on the dance floor at our kids' weddings. Special events, Riverbend, Nightfall, County Fairs, New Year Eve blasts, and at every local music venue in the past and they now claimed their mark on the floor.
Their first gig together was on a Good Friday at the Brass Register in 1985. The compact disc had just been introduced to the world, guys were starting to pop their collars and Madonna was topping the charts with "Like a Virgin" when Terryl Greene, Randy Clark, David Turner, Tommy Blevins and Rick Jacobs got together.
Randy had been playing with Overland Express and Terryl had worked sound on their last gig, suggesting that he and Randy should play for fun some of the 60's tunes they had played together as teens - when they were rock, not yet classic rock. "Back to the Future" was a box office hit and The Beaters became a local sensation, their fans flocking to private parties, fundraisers, weddings, special events and New Year’s Eve bashes.
"I can always count on a great turnout when The Beaters are here," said Eddie Mays. They play about 100 gigs a year, taking their professionalism, personality and musical panache all over the Southeast. The Beaters have opened for some big names, Martina McBride, Chuck Berry, the Atlantic Rhythm Section and more, not to mention their impact on the Chattanooga social scene.
How they started …….and here they are now…. Terryl Greene the oldest and original member shared the following candid remarks….
The band was formed in 1985..I was doing sound for Randy Clark's (guitar and vocals) previous band Overland one night .They we're breaking up so I asked him if he would be interested in putting a 60's band together..just for fun..more like a garage band..nothing serious..just play the old songs we grew up playing. He said..yeah..and a few days later he called to tell me he booked a gig at the Brass Register...so.. we had about six weeks to get a band together.
I called to Tommy Blevins another band mate from high school days. He played guitar and had a killer voice. We found David Turner on bass...a great player who turned out to have a great soulful voice...and a few weeks later we played a gig at the Brass Register...From the jump we filled the dance floor, playing Beatles, Stones..Motown..Rhythm and Blues..etc..mostly 60's stuff. The band decided to stay with what worked and play only songs that people could dance to..anyway..the bookings came in.
Then the music and interest around Chatt-town picked up… ..The Beaters played every Friday and Saturday night. Which was too much for Tommy who worked for Mayfield and had to be at work at 5..so he left after six months. He was replaced by Rick Jacobs whose mastery of arrangements made us even better...this combination stayed together for seven years...we probably played 100 gigs a year...till we busted up in '92...but we got back together in '93 with Michael Welch on guitar ..(Jacobs declined to join us)..and Rick Lane on keys....the sound was even better with Rick's killer keys and great voice..later in the 90's we added Ranse Whitworth on keys..who added even more good vocals...Welch left the band in 2002 and we brought Randy Johnston in...his incredible guitar work and vocals gave us more range. It was about 2009 when David Brown arrived ....his great vocals allowed us to cover more 80's acts..Journey..Bon Jovi..Michael Jackson and his favorite Bryan Adams … ..plus his interaction with the audience injected more energy to the band...
Oh well..I guess that's it….. It’s hard to discuss 30 years of friendships and music interest in a few words … The Beaters do it with their music ….
The Beaters members over the past 30 years ...
Original lineup..Randy Clark..Vocals Guitar
Tommy Blevins..Vocals Guitar
David Turner Bass Vocals
Terryl Greene Drums Vocals
Rick Jacobs (add)
Michael Welch Lead Guitar Vocals
Rick Lane, Keys
added Ranse Whitworth Keys Vocals
added .............David Brown Vocals..2009
If you missed the incredible 29th Anniversary event at Rhythm & Brews, don't worry. The chances are good you can catch them again soon at your favorite party. Remember that if you have a celebration or an event coming up you know you want to call Chattanooga's favorite party band. They are schedule Sept. 20 at Camp Jordan.
The band know to give it to you any way you want it ….. Thanks Johnston Brown for this video Recorded live in Chattanooga TN @ Rhythm and Brews July 6, 2012… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylSulFNqpoM
Seek them out on social media Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thebeaterschattanooga and https://www.facebook.com/ChattanoogaLiveMusic
Story contributors; Terryl Greene, Jennifer Crutchfield and Mark A. Herndon (w/ photos)
(Mark A Herndon, certified professional geologist and professional photographer grew up in Chattanooga area, graduated from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. He is the Entertainment and Chattanooga cityscape photographer affiliated with Chattanoogan.com and contributor to several magazines, venues and Friends of the Festival events. Email at; MAHerndon@ChattanoogaLiveMusic.com