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Article by Rita Thurman Barnes — Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise Nostalgia Columnist


The “Shadow Lake 8” – The Beat Goes On!

The sister of legendary Tulsa 60’s DJ, Rockin' John Henry, recalls, "Strange thing - in cleaning out a drawer, I ran across a letter (my husband and I) received when we lived out in San Diego. It was from a girl who was trying to organize a Shadow Lake 8 reunion. Her name was Mary Ann (Eilerts) Miller. She owned or operated a resort in Lake Charles, LA. Of course, this was back in 1994-95, so I don't know if any of this information is relevant now. It appears she was a fan or groupie of the original Shadow Lake 8 group, long before David (Jill's husband, David Riley) and Archie (Barnes) and all the other ones we knew were part of the band.

"Other band members' names she mentioned were Berry Wheeler, Jerry Spray, Jack "Kiwi" Land, Bill Wallace, Lewis Tilford, Larry Lyon, Jimmy Trease, Frank Needham and of course we already know the Tulsa/Bartlesville connection: Terry Meade, Denny Freeman, Bill Schooler, Amos Meng, Bill 'Blue ' Hieronymus, Dale Roark, Mike Bruce, James Holiday, Bing Vassaur, Kent and Gary Washburn, Tommy Keyes, David Riley (my husband) and of course, Archie Barnes. Gosh, the list goes on and on! Evidently she had done quite a bit of homework to get a reunion going. But that's the last we ever heard from her."

Too bad. What a reunion that would be! Rumors flew fast and furious of a reunion that was to have taken place in Stillwater a couple of years back but no one can seem to find anyone who actually attended said reunion to confirm it ever took place. But what a day that would have been to have all the former SL8 in one arena playing their 1960's hearts out! Those of you from that time period know whereof I speak. So many of the guys who played with this band went on to have long music careers of their own. Mike Bruce is reportedly still playing in the Tulsa area but is also believed to have played with Bob Seeger in the late 1970's and early 80's. Several from the band including Archie Barnes (brother of Larry Barnes and Alayne Thurman of Bartlesville), and Denny “Zoot” Freeman of Bartlesville (now deceased) went straight from the SL8 to play with the great 60's R&R singer, Brenda Lee.

"Those were the days" for the kids of the 60's generation. The days of change in every aspect of their lives. Changes in political climate, dress, speech, the "sexual revolution" and last but not least for the kids of that era, change in their music. They went from finding their thrill on Blueberry Hill to the Beatles in the blink of an eye. They graduated from high school, got married, got a job or went to college. Then all too quickly the young men in the classes of the 1960’s were being shipped off to someplace called Vietnam. But they were leaving this country with the sound of their generation's music playing in their ears.

Robin Williams starred in a movie called "Good Morning Vietnam." It tells in vivid detail how important the music was to these 60's kids even while they were thousands of miles away from home and fighting a war they knew very little about. None of the songs recorded by the Shadow Lake 8 were ever played over "Radio Vietnam," but the band's renditions of famous Rock and Roll songs probably echoed in the ears of hundreds of service men and women in Vietnam who had heard the Shadow Lake 8 play. They were possibly the best of the regional bands of that time and in this area. They were very well known for their multi-talented band members and their innovative use of a horns section in a rock and roll band.

Allen Rucker, Col-Hi '63, has a few harrowing memories of trips to Rockaway Beach, near Branson, where the band used to play, "I do remember driving to Rockaway Beach to listen to the SL8 on more than one occasion. The reason I don't remember much is that we were usually always drinking. I still have nightmares about one trip where Jerry McFadin, one of Denny Freeman's best friends in high school and I were cruising along some Oklahoma back road, missed a hard left turn going 80 mph and ended up in a wheat field 200 yards away. Rockaway was as close to “The Wild Side” as we'd ever been at 17 years of age. The fact that Denny and the band played all night, drank scotch, flirted with groupies, and goofed off all day was a lifestyle revelation of the first order. At that point I thought being a musician was the greatest achievement of mankind. Only later did I realize it was both precarious and certainly in Denny's case, painfully lonely."

Don and Lynda (Brucker) Brown recall, "We went to a lot of canteen and civic center dances and even over to Noel, MO to see (the band) play. We enjoyed their music very much. I remember the Shadow Lake 8 and the Earthquakes, later to become The Limits and finally The Red Dogs, and The Flippers to be the first bands around to use horns with their interpretation of the rock, soul and blues tunes they covered." Pete Silva says about the band, "I remember the group as being one of my favorites. I also remember envying my friend Denny "Zoot" Freeman for being an excellent baseball player and fine musician at the same time!"

The band is remembered by just about everyone from the 1960’s in the Bartlesville area as well as those who cruised on over to Rockaway Beach near Branson on the weekends or all summer long to hear this frightfully good band. Music defined who the 60's generation was. It still defines us today. You'll remember the first 78, 45 or LP you ever bought long after you've forgotten who the President was when you graduated from high school. Music does that to people.

A few decades ago, Mary Hopkin recorded a song and this was the chorus: Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end. We'd sing and dance forever and a day. We'd live the life we'd choose; we'd fight and never lose. Those were the days. Oh, yes, those were the days. And for the Shadow Lake 8 and their fans, the beat goes on, if only in our memories.

The Shadow Lake 8 Scrapbook

SL8 playing for Alpha Tau Omega Sorority (OSU)-1962

Zoot and Dale jamming at a campus bash in Student Union Ballroom( OSU)-1963


Whiting Hall poster from Summer of 1961

Archie and Denny—Lunch in Bartisville College High School

Bob Shobe and Archie Barnes—1965 Stardust Formal

Terry Mead—1965 Stardust Formal