The Glenn Normand Band
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The second Glenn Normand band Fairhope High School Senior talent show 1965 (this event was held in the auditorium of the now K-1 center on Church St). Richard Beall on guitar with back to camera, Buddy Phipps playing David Normands new Sonar drums, Glenn Normand on the Wurlitzer 100 electric piano (like Ray Charles used). Song played: Whatd I Say of course
Glenn Normand 1965
This is pictorial history of a part-time band that became a business. These dates are guestimates...if you see an error or can add info, let me know.
Glenn at the Grand Hotel dining room piano c 1975
Bother David Normand at Julep Point steak cookout one summer Thursday night 1973
1961 Jaguar Mk IX saloon car one of several Grand Band limousines (c 1973)
Although Glenn had assembled groups for events in the past, getting steady musicians was always difficult. The regular band became more viable when Janette came into the
picture, because that provided the band with a full time singer. If a piano was not furnished her spinet was borrowed from the house, carried down the steps and moved in a U Haul trail-
er. That procedure got old quickly so Glenn borrowed Jacks small Wurlitzer electric piano made famous by Ray Charles. Now all the equipment fit in the back of a car including a
borrowed Sears microphone and Fender guitar amp to play everything through. We didnt know how good we had it, as we now use a 5x10 trailer, crammed full, to carry only part of
the sound and lighting equipment we have. Kevin, the drummer, was 15 and had already played in Robertsdale night clubs with his
fathers band. Sister Jeanine played bass until she moved up the East Coast. Our fast songs were Kansas City and Another Saturday Night. We would play those, thinking wed
knock the crowd down, but then a few people would yell out.play something fast now. What a sinking feeling!! I think this pic was taken at one of the first jobs...maybe
at the Fairhope Elks Lodge on Mobile Avenue for a Woodmen of the World party, and hired by the infamous Charlie Smith. The picture was taken by Haygood, one of Fairhopes
longtime commercial photographers.
1977: I was busy! Five other bands retired, quit, dissolved or moved and my band got most of all their bookings. The first year, my band did about 100 events. For about 6 months, I played the Birdcage Lounge at the Grand, (pictured) from 5 to 7 pm, then raced to Mobile to play the downtown
Sheraton-now Holiday Inn. A fabulous restaurant was on the top floor, a dressy area on the left and the casual bar on the right, dance floor in the middle.and fed me steaks whenever I wanted. Tips were good both places... Then, of course, I had the band jobs on weekends. I was well off and just didnt realize it.
Boy, what a difference it makes when you put some professionals in your band. Jim Allen (left rear) came in as lead , backup/harmony, singer, guitarist, harmonica, and secondary bass player. Ron Malinoski, (center rear) fresh off the road with a touring group, added more lead/backup/harmony vocals and tasty precise drumming. Robert Normand (right rear) added trumpet, bass, keyboards, drums and dry humor to the mix. My biggest problem (besides trying to keep up with these real musicians) was to keep Jimmy and Ron straight. When the bookings called for better gear, Jim Andrews at Andys Music was happy to accept $4,800 from me for all new equipment-a keyboard of my own, amplifiers, speakers, etc. I recently discovered a couple of microphone cables still in use from this initial purchase, and took it to the music store to brag how long I had used it. I was Criticized for being so cheap as to keep the cords that long and they made me buy some new ones. I just cant win.
Ron took off to play with a club band, Robert probably got aggravated with my 10 thumbs, and we made changes. Jimmy Allen brought in drummer Bobby Watson who used to play with him in Southern Branch touring around the country. Bobby just got back from playing in Canada, and was playing at The Showboat Club, one of the many clubs on the causeway, with a band called Wheels. This was before hurricane Frederick changed the landscape on the road across the bay, and there were a dozen bars-restaurants all with live bands. Bobby was a creature of habit...you could set your watch by what he was doing every day. He probably went crazy trying to deal with my spontaneous behavior. Bobby eventually left and went with the Versatiles for many years, and now is with The Outriders. He also owns a store in Mobile- Music and Sound, which keeps lots of musicians in business with band and sound equipment. He still drums with us when we cant find a good drummer to fill in for Ron.
Glenn sitting in on drums for Charlie Blanchard at Constantines Gaslight Square on Azalea Road about 1978
Glenn at Julep Point of Grand Hotel playing for convention about 1980. Note holes in front panel of piano...father Jack had drilled these in the 1950s so he could hear better over the sound of the other band instruments. Also note old black book-one of two Jack purchased about These fake books were the musicians bibles for all the old standards, and is still in use today. To Glenns left is a Yamaha combo organ sitting on an imitation Leslie rotating speaker system. On top the piano is a Crumar Orchestrator, which became critical later. The bass player had an accident the night before an important job, and no one was available to cover him. The Crumar had a bass output, which allowed Glenn to play keyboard bass, and the method was successful enough to continue for 27 years and at least 2,500 jobs.
1978 we play our first of many KOR Easter Balls, in the Mobile Civic Center big room. I was really stressed about having the sound and equipment to do the job right. On the tape we recorded that night, you can hear me fussing about the sound man. In this pic from Summer 1978, Don Benson (left) was the drummer who talked to his sticks, and Rick Quimby (right) showed everyone what an incredible rock guitarist he was. He also really nailed My Angel Baby. I think we did 115 band dates this year and about 140 in 1979. These days, Im content to send other acts to do the traveling.
1979 John Jabbo Starks showed up to drum for us. He had just retired from 3 world tours with James Brown, and a stint with Bobby Blue Bland and wanted to take things easy. Having a player of that stature in the band was unnerving to mebut he taught me a lot and we had fun!! Here we are at The Country Club of Mobile on the old piano in the old ballroom, both of which have been renewed. August brought hurricane Frederick, which put me almost out of business for many months, since I was doing almost all my bookings at the Grand Hotel, and it was closed for 9 months. We did the grand opening of the Hilton-now Mobile Marriott on Airport Blvd. and they insisted we play the Sunday bruch (3+ years). By this time, the biggest agency in Alabama, Southeastern Attractions was sending us to Tuscaloosa regularly, and I recall driving up to the Hilton about 6 am, using a wind up alarm clock to wake me at 9am-go in the hotel bathroom to shave and get ready to play the brunch. We were much younger then.
1980 upstairs main lobby of the Grand Hotel in Point Clear. We played lots of events in the smaller rooms as well as big conventions in the Ballrooms. Julep Point, outside dance pavilion, was tricky due to the weather. It was a rare night that the weather was perfect-normally it was hot & humid, or so windy that the tablecloths and plates would blow off the tables. Two nights in a row, and for 2 different conventions, we set up and got rained out before we could play through the first songs. We got lots of exercise moving equipment.
Timmy Cowart (left) on bass and lead vocals, was a real trip! I had played with his dad in Sammy Zivitzs Stardusters Band, and Tim played exactly like his dad, so we clicked right away-just had to get used to him chewing gum while singing. However, Don Benson (2d from right in back) was too busy talking to his drumsticks to hear the bass beat, so we yelled at each other a lot. Don has the dubious distinction of being the only person in the world who couldnt find Thomasville, Alabama, for the Christmas dance at Pine Needles Golf Club. He had falsely assured me that recreational drugs did not impair directional senses. On the back right is some nerd just out of the Air Force band and having a music degree, Eric Marrero. I first used him on bass, but couldnt find a groove with him, and then he told me he played guitar, trumpet, sax, flute and keyboards-in addition to singing.so I did my best to make things gel. Eric is still playing with me today, and I consider him to be one of my best friends. He writes, arranges, and produces all types of musicals, performances, commercials and jingles. Chances are, youve heard something he either wrote or recorded for radio or tv.
About 1980..Janette in front; in back (L-R) Eric Marrero, Glenn, Don Benson, Kim Dragota. Kim was a great bassist/singer and made us practice-he wanted it right! Notice the Urban Cowboy shirts?
Look at the customers we had in just 4 years...lots of musicians wanted to play in The Grand Band.but it wasnt a good fit for everyone...sometimes the best musicians didnt want to play cover tunes and wear uniforms. One guy quit fist night-he said would not, under any circumstances, wear black shoes with the tuxedo I furnished. He and his white tennis shoes walked off. He called me about 15 years later and said he wou