The Redlighters

I played in The Redlighters during my Junior year at JEB Stuart High (1962-63). [The school was renamed Justice in 2017.]

I had first seen them play at JEB Stuart's Kiwanis Kapers in the spring of 1962 during my Sophomore year.

The curtains went up to sax man Tommy Duckworth bending backward, blowing mean, powerful notes on his horn to the tune "Underwater," while a flashing red light illuminated the bass drum.

The talent show made a big impression on me, because The Redlighters were the first rock band I had ever seen perform live.

(Here is the link to the 1961 song they were covering - "Underwater" by The Frogmen.) Frankly I think the Redlighters' version rocks the socks off the Frogmen.

I had taken piano lessons since age 6, so by 15 I was technically proficient at the instrument and ready to join a band. However, in the pre-Beatle days of 1962, there were few bands to join.

These songs were recorded at practices on a reel-to-reel tape recorder. The recordings are noisy and sometimes distorted, but they have a certain raw charm.


Keelee's Twist

Do The Dances

Rock & Roll Music


Fast Freight

Jack The Ripper

Sleepwalk (The ghostly backwards vocals in the background result from gospel quartet music that had previously been recorded on the tape.)

Sentimental Journey



Wolf Call

Tommy Duckworth, the Redlighters' sax player, lived a few doors down the street from me, and one day as we got off the bus after school, he asked if I would like to try out for the band. He had heard me play "Boogie Woogie" on the piano and thought I might be add something to the band. So on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 1962, I attended my first band practice.

Lead guitarist and singer Glen Alexander (JEB Stuart '65) also played piano, and he showed me how to play rhythm guitar parts on the piano. I volunteered to play for free the following Friday at their upcoming performance, a community dance in the cafeteria at Belvedere elementary school. Since I didn't yet own my own piano, we rolled one of the classroom pianos down the hall and hoisted it up onto the stage. I hung the microphone from my dad's tape recorder down inside the piano and plugged it into Glenn's guitar amp, through which he also sang.

The band was sufficiently impressed with my performance that after the gig they decided to split up their earnings and give me an equal share of the evening's earnings, making me a full member of my first rock band.