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The Shadow Lake 8 in 1960-1961

When this chapter starts, the leader of the group was Rick Eilerts.  The most important attribute that Rick brought to the SL8 was that he knew what he was doing, and how to package things to fit the concept of, (what was called back then), a Revue... A revue is a band of some sorts, but with horns, and a singer or two that came out and did their sets with the band.... An 'Orchestra' was always what that was called.  Thus, the billings were always "The Shadow Lake Eight Orchestra, featuring Little Clifford". (or whom ever happened to be the feature singer(s) that week).

I start college at OSU in the fall of 1960.  OSU was where the SL8 was based.... I was a sax player, a bari sax player....My mother saw an add in the Tulsa paper about this band looking for a baritone sax player.... She calls me and tells me about it, and that I should call and investigate it.... Well, I was prone to want to play popular music, and they played popular music, so why not?.... I had never known of this group before so I really did not know a lot about them.... I think I heard them at some dance that OSU always had the night before classes started, held at the Student Union on the Patio or in the Ballroom and I was impressed. 

The Shadow Lake Eight always played that specific dance. About 3,000 in the crowd, dancing their asses off and carrying on as college kids did in those days. 

Anyway, I somehow got hold of Rick and we had this audition.... the band was going to add the "Bari Book" to their sound.  It was an R&B/Jazz/50's oldies dance band.  They had just come back from a whole summer  at Noel, MO, and were just flat good!!

So, I got the job, and got my shinny blue silk tux coat, and we're off and running, and, believe me,  it was a mouthful for an 18 yr old hayseed from Skiatook, OK!!!     But I somehow fit in, and everything was cool....:


 (L-R) Larry Lyons-Piano, Jack “Kiwi” Land-Drums, Kent Washburn-Bari Sax, Frank Needham-Alto Sax, Enoch Estep-Tenor Sax,

Bill Wallace-Guitar, Lewis Tilford-Vocalist, Jerry Spray-Trumpet, Barry Wheeler-Trumpet, Rick Eilerts-Bass & Leader (not pictured)

                      The Vocalists were:

                                 Lewis Tilford- The "Crooner" type singer

                                 Little Clifford- A stone cold R&B singer

                                 The Del Chiffons- A Detroit styled, 3 voice girls vocal group of the late 50's and early 60's.


The Del Chiffons, (in one form or another), were with us from 1961 thru 1964. I have a few tracks of them, some which you can listen to here (check the links at the end of the article).  “Come and Take Me Baby” was their most popular song,  a consistent crowd pleaser.

Not all of the singers made every gig, but there was a mix based on who or where we played.

That was an incredible year when it came to bookings.  We worked every weekend somewhere.

We played everything from the High Rent Country Clubs, to Dance Hall's (Whiting Hall- Pawhuska, OK), Road House's (The Casa Del Club on the outskirts of Tulsa), Fraternity and Sorority bashes, to the Big Ballrooms, such as the Cimarron Ballroom in Tulsa, owned by the legendary Leon McAuliffe.

In addition to playing all of the major campus dances at OSU, we also played for the annual “Varsity Revue” program.  We operated as the ‘pit band’ that played behind all the acts and skits that were part of this program.

So, to cap off the school year of 1960-1961, The Shadow Lake Eight  was awarded the prestigious Redskin Congratulates Award by Oklahoma State University for the year 1961.

That summer (1961) we did not go back to Noel.  Instead, we played almost every weekend at The Casa Del Club in Tulsa, or Whiting Hall in Pawhuska, or the legendary Cimarron Ballroom in Tulsa.

We ended that summer (1961) and returned to school for the 1961-62 school year.