The Unknown Soldiers - Band History by Rick Spencer, Keyboardist - updated 9/21/09
The Bow is Drawn:
In March 2007, Joe Sacco, a drummer who had been sitting in with me at The Venice Bistro in Venice Beach (home of The Doors) where I was playing a steady solo piano/keyboard gig, asked me if I was interested in forming a Doors Tribute Band. I knew little about the Doors at this time, my having been a classically trained jazz pianist. But the idea intrigued me because I would be playing the left hand bass in this band and not be so indispensable in a rock band which I normally was. The two of us rehearsed at The Knights of Columbus in Redondo Beach every Tuesday morning. We now needed to find a singer and a guitar player. We tried out several of each. Shortly thereafter we found a singer Dave Davas who was very knowledgeable about the Doors having worked with Peace Frog, a well known Doors tribute band. However, even with posting ads, it was virtually impossible for us to find an interested and able guitar player. This was a bad omen for things to come. I grew very impatient to play the songs that the three of us were constantly rehearsing. I suggested we start working as a three-piece band. Even though there was some initial resistance from Joe and Dave, I convinced them that it would be good for us to play out in front of people, and it was, as it inspired us as well as the audience.
The Arrow Flies:
Late July 27, 2007 we had our first gig was as a trio at the tiny Welcome Cafť in Redondo Beach. We enjoyed it tremendously and although the show went extremely well, we all wanted to add a guitar player as soon as possible. Several weeks later after finding a capable guitar player, albeit a temporary one, we did another gig at Suzys in Hermosa Beach. The band made a grand total of $20.00 in tips barely paying our gas. Ron Hershaway was a phenomenal guitar player and a quick study; but driving distance for him was too far and we needed to rehearse with one locally, so we kept looking for another one. Eventually, we found another guitar player: He was very inexperienced but talented and enthusiastic. We optimistically rehearsed with him two days a week for several months and finally booked a gig as a four-piece band at Micky Finz on Jan 5, 2008. Shockingly, only three days before the scheduled performance, he suddenly backed out for no apparent reason and he refused to do the gig despite my begging him. The job couldnít be cancelled this late, so we desperately sought a replacement. Luckily, Dave knew one who could do this gig - Dave Robinson, a very competent guitar player who had played in another Doors Tribute band. We did this gig with Joe Northern on drums. The gig went fine. Unfortunately, this new guitar player understandably again lived too far to drive to play or rehearse for free for local low paying gigs. For months we all looked in vain for a guitar player.
The Arrow Falls
In early 2008, the band situation was unstable and became very non-committal. The three of us with no gigs and no guitar player also disappointedly lost our daytime rehearsal space at the Knights of Columbus due to a complaint made against us in an unfortunate incident that was avoidable. This was the last straw for me and frustratingly, caused the band to disband after all the work that was put into it.
The Arrow Flies again:
By this time, I had read a number of books by and about the Doors, bought a lot of CDís, saw some videos of their shows, and learned even more of their songs. I had become increasingly fascinated by them. Over the course of the year and a half of practice, I amassed a huge repertoire of Doors songs; I wasnít going to let it go to waste. In mid 2008, I contacted a fine drummer, Gerard Herrera who had some experience playing Doors music. He recommended a Doors singer Dale Salk who was a talented singer, and Ernie Chavez a wonderful guitar player. After rehearsing with this new band for several months, a gig was finally booked in early 2009 but was cancelled due to an unforeseen situation that once again necessitated a change in the new guitar player. Several months later, after seeing another one perform solo at a local club, I asked him if he would take over the Guitar spot in the band. He obviously had talent and resources to offer the band. After rehearsing with him for several months, we finally booked another gig on July 11, 2009 at the VFW. A few other local venues followed. However, shortly after this, he chose to not to be a part of the band so we had to find another guitarist. We have been very popular according to crowd reactions. We are ready to take the next step.