Coachmen

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One of many garage rock outfits to perform under the Coachmen banner, this particular unit formed in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1964 from the remnants of local groups the Viscounts and the Chandels. The original…
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One of many garage rock outfits to perform under the Coachmen banner, this particular unit formed in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1964 from the remnants of local groups the Viscounts and the Chandels. The original lineup comprised four guitarists -- Red Freeman (who also handled lead vocal duties), Rick Bell, Jeff Travis, and Jim Reinmuth -- in addition to bassist Craig Perkins and drummer Bruce Watson; Reinmuth soon left the Coachmen, and Bell moved to keyboards. Inspired as much by the blues as British Invasion, the band quickly emerged as a staple of the Lincoln teen dance circuit, and soon began to write their own material. Although Freeman contributed several of their songs, his bandmates voted to replace him with singer Frank Elia just prior to a mid-'65 Battle of the Bands competition. The Coachmen took top honors, winning a recording session at Omaha's Sears Studio for their efforts. The resulting single, the Freeman-penned "Mr. Moon," soon appeared on the local MMC label, becoming a local smash and generating interest from national labels MGM and Bear, the latter a London subsidiary; the Coachmen chose Bear, although the company's distribution proved spotty, meaning "Mr. Moon" charted on various regional play lists at various points in time during the year to follow. Meanwhile, in early 1966, the group relocated to Omaha and added trumpeter Rusty Davis and tenor saxophonist Merle Oberlin to record the R&B-inspired "Linda Lou," a minor heartland hit. The Coachmen returned to MMC for their third single, a cover of the Who's classic "My Generation." Bell left the lineup in late 1966, with keyboardist Kelly Kotera stepping in for the fourth Coachmen single, "Tyme Won't Change." The record was another local hit, and by this point the band even hosted their own Omaha television series, The Coachmen Hour. But in late 1967, they adopted the name Alexander's Rock Time Band and pursued a more psychedelic sound with the single "The Number One Hippie on the Village Scene." New York bubblegum-psych merchants Collectables, with their Super K Kollection series, issued the follow-up (credited to Professor Morrison's Lollipop) "You Got the Love," on Super K's second volume. Although the single cracked the Billboard Top 100, the group dissolved soon after its 1969 release. Freeman, Bell, Travis, Perkins, and Watson played a Coachmen reunion show in August of 1997, in celebration of their induction into the Nebraska Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; this lineup also recorded a new CD, 1999's Still Rockin', with Elia signing on soon after its completion. In the spring of 2000, Perkins suffered a fatal heart attack, although the Coachmen continued to perform sporadically following his death.