Stone Garden

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The Speer brothers, Gary (guitar), Paul (guitar), and Neal (drums and piano), were at the core of what would eventually turn into Stone Garden. The Lewiston, ID preteen siblings from a musical family,…
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The Speer brothers, Gary (guitar), Paul (guitar), and Neal (drums and piano), were at the core of what would eventually turn into Stone Garden. The Lewiston, ID preteen siblings from a musical family, took up their instruments in the early 1960s. Their father built them makeshift amplifiers out of old stereo equipment and the Three Dimensions were born. Still barely teenagers and already scoring paid gigs, the trio soon took on junior high schoolmate Dan Merrell as its full-time bass player, and with his addition adopted English-style ruffled shirts as well as a new name, Knights of Sound. The quartet made its first studio recording in 1965, and began to play routinely around Lewiston, eventually drawing the attention of aspiring manager Don Tunnell. With psychedelia in full flower, Tunnell renamed the group Stone Garden in 1967 after seeing a poster with the name. They began growing their hair long and traded in their Carnaby Street duds for Nehru jackets, and the quartet developed a repertoire loaded with songs by the Doors, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones as well as a smattering of its own original material. By 1969, Stone Garden was ready to record the latter, and a friend with a rather sophisticated basement studio helped put out the "Oceans Inside Me"/"Stop My Thinking" 45 single, a pressing of 300 that actually earned significant local radio play and the notice of disc jockey Chris Adams, who became a vocal supporter of the foursome, eventually helping to get them time in a professional recording facility in Vancouver, WA. While there, Stone Garden recorded the remainder of its original material, which went unreleased until reissue label Rockadelic collected it for an eponymous 1998 LP. Gary Speer left Lewiston and the band to attend college in the fall of 1969, and was replaced by organ player and lead singer Russ Pratt. The following year, three members graduated high school, leading to additional changes. Pratt and Merrell quit and the two remaining Speer brothers recruited Charles Weisgerber and lead vocalist Rand Harrison. The latter did not work out, opening the door for the return of Gary Speer in 1971. This version of Stone Garden moved to Seattle and brought in David Lee on electric piano and vocals. Weisgerber was replaced by John Helton in the band's final incarnation, which went by the name of the Speer Brothers Band. They broke up in the early weeks of 1972.