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Michael's First High School Band

Well, okay. Maybe it wasn't just HIS band.

Michael Allsup (age 15), Danny Johnson (Keyboards), Jeff Lengyel (drums), and Norman Fletcher (guitar ... later Bass). This photo was taken in the Grace M. Davis High school (Modesto, CA) gymnasium at a school dance we played there. Sadie Hawkins dance, I think. Name changes were common for local bands. We went through a few of them. Let's see if I can remember them all. The 4 Blind Mice (just for that gig when the photographer asked us the name of our band). Then there was Los Madres ("The Mothers" in Spanish ... the parents hated that one. Lasted about half a rehearsal. Jeff's mom, Norma, axed it. What were we to do? She was the doctors wife. A pretty one, too. She was the one with the membership at Del Rio Golf and Country Club. She was the one ..... who had the Cadillac and would let us mooch our way and play golf there. She was the one who had the son who had the mom who had the house that we could rehearse in with a Steinway in it. What could we do, but, her bidding? Just kidding. She's great. After all, she DID make wonderful tuna sandwiches on dark pumpernickel bread that tasted like chateaubriand for 2 to the rest of us of lower breeding. Yes, and cut at an angle ... corner to corner, too! Not rectangular like at home. This was the essence of cool. You know what I mean? I , in particular, was one of those kids who ... when it was dinner time at the Lengyel home.... just didn't get it that I was supposed to leave. Norma(Mrs. Lengyel ... I still don't feel right in calling her Norma), many times, had to graciously offer to take me home... and did. Bless her heart. She was always generous and so polite as to not offend ... even a young boy such as me.)

Back to the band name thing: The Detours (another local band took that name later). We only had that one for a short while. Then we were The Chancellors. A cluster surfaced when we were having business cards made up for the band. Jeff and I decided we needed a logo of sorts. Kind of like a Tartan thing, which Norman had just made of us aware of in his family line. Anyway, here's what we came up with.

The other band members response was "What's the radiator for in the corner?" Needless to say: We were crushed. Also, check out the phone numbers. This was the Neanderthal age, folks.

We played a gig at Downey High School (George Lucas of Star Wars fame was a mere "puke" there then. Just kidding George) in Modesto. A car club with the same name showed up and threatened to kick our A _ _ if we didn't change the name. So by the end of the 3rd set ...we became The Viscounts. Dan recently informed me that Downey High required a police car escort and an undercover agent next to the band who kept asking him, when someone came to up talk, "do you know him, is he ok?" Ah the pressures of local stardom. The first band I was ever in. After the name change we added a big purple velvet cloth (which I still have) to hang off the organ. It had a white velvet "V" in the center ... falling just a hair short of being a major prop on stage (what stage? We played on gym floors) Now for the particulars.

Danny Johnson : Dan went on to receive a BA degree from the University of California at Berkeley ( a very heady place. Lots of history as a venue for the scholastic free thinkers of this world. A proud institution.) UC Berkeley, of all places, tried to censor his heartfelt and historically accurate lyrics in the personal memoir song (U See Berkeley Cool) about him being there in 1968. It has ended up being a living testament to his sincerity concerning the conflict with his alma mater that he so loved. On a lighter note: Dan has, in fact, been actively involved in the building of this Shrine of Garage Band history.... together with myself. He has contributed pictures, story clarifications, and shameless embellishments. In fact, don't be surprised if, in the near future, you see more stuff about him personally on here. I feel it coming. It's nice to be involved in your own enshrinement. That's a fact. And so be it. My first hint was when he acknowledged how much he "REALLY" liked the Podium section of this website. A tell tale flaw in his character. A tell tale flaw in MY character. Won't you join us? Dan and I have been out of touch for years until just recently. We are now RE-bonding on an e-mail level. With time ... we may even shake hands again ... being the 2 Wild and Crazy Guys that we are. So watch for it. Coming soon to a paragraph near you. The story of DANIEL. (views expressed there may not be shared by this management nor would we bear witness for him should there be any litigation to follow). Want to see Daniel's website? Just click on the underlined link in the previous sentence.) Dan has become a wonderful poet over the years. Add to that his musical ability and photographic artistry and what you have is your basic "REAL INTERESTING PERSON". (Just trying to lighten things up, folks.) For real: His website is quite unique and reflective of his talents. Take the time to drop in, using the link above, and you too will enjoy his insight and artistry. I don't quite understand why it came as such a surprise to me. Even back in the old days he was a bit on the "ethereal" side. Did I say how proud I am of him? Yes. It is twue! Check him out.

Jeffrey Lengyel: Jeff has gone on to become a good dictator and a ...... I mean ....a director in the movie business. Actually the similarities run deep but not silent (*see "Run Silent-Run Deep" with Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Don Rickles, Percy Helton, and Oscar Homulka. circa 1955). His complete disregard for tradition and method seem to be his very weakness, that is to say.....his very strength. Never the shrinking violet, E. Jeffrey Lengyel had been an ordained genius (by his mom) long before he had brains enough to deny it. And nay verily I say. He hath walked through the valley of the shadow of death ... and he hath ran into a lot of STUFF whilst in that shadow. It's always been that way with him. Anyway, where were we? Oh yes: We were hyping you on his greatness. Jeff did the action shoots for the hit movie "New Jack City" among other things. Other things include comedy, drama, documentaries, reality and he just finished directing and producing a new comedy-hidden camera show for NBC called Spy-Tv that will begin to air in July at 8:00 Thursdays. He's also working on a new movie project and a new documentary about Navajo Marines. He can be reached by email at In his genius Jeff has been suspect in his borderline perversive (is that a word?) relationship with a Panaflex camera (the standard professional camera of the movie industry). He's currently practicing being a snob since he's scored the "even bigger bucks" in movie making. Good for the image, you know. All the while relishing not having to acknowledge me anymore. Now that's REAL FRIENDSHIP. Of course, living on Spielburg Lane has its merits. It does, however, tend to lead one into observing certain Jewish holidays that would normally slip by un-noticed. Still, his talent and diligent pursuit of the arts (as well as a fine impression of Georgie Jessel) have brought him much deserved recognition and acclaim within the Hollywood film industry. Friends that we are ... we haven't spent much time with each other, on a regular basis, over the years. (You see he's still mad because once on a trip from Modesto to Los Angeles ... I was driving. He had to pee real bad so after another 20 miles of torture I finally pulled over to a gas station toilet and slowed down to stop. Slowed down to almost stop, that is. To the tune of about 1 mile an hour ....speeded back up ... then got back on the freeway and drove another hour and a half to Los Angeles. Over the years he's hung on to that down deep. Some people! I would have never gotten so bent out of shape over a minor infraction and test of our friendship such as that. On second thought, ...... oh yes I would.)

Norman Fletcher : Norm became an RN (Registered Nurse) but never-ever gave up his "music nerdness" and went on to become one hell of a classical guitarist. You should hear him play. Beautiful. Why? cause he loves it and has for a long time. Loved it enough for it to remain his life long friend. Due to his inherent musical talent and the fact that it intrigued him so much, he didn't find it dreary to practice diligently for hours, so long, so many years, bearing musical fruit that was fun and worth it. After awhile, it began to reach him and the music began to play him. Good music does that. It, somehow, tells you how it wants to be played. And then generously offers up a variation for your consideration. Even asking of you "what do you think? How do you want to do it?" If you just listen closely ... it will tell you, or ask you. He reads music wonderfully, too. I'm very proud of Norm's musical talent. One of many talents he possesses. A multifaceted person, he has been involved with the stage as an actor in many northern California productions. Little Shop of Horrors, Fiddler on the Roof, ... the list goes on and on. He has written music for the stage. Performed as a guitarist in an orchestra pit band. He has, in fact, done much more than I am even aware of in this field. A true artist of the theater, Norman seems to enjoy, and excel in, any and all things within the theatrical endeavor. A fortunate thing indeed, to find something that intrigues your very soul... always has..... and on top of that, be good at it. Even love it. That makes me smile. Old friends and band mates. I appreciate his focus. On getting to what he wants to do. Also for his successful career in the medical field. He has managed to have the best of both worlds. The logic and security of a strong occupation and career, plus, the satisfaction of a life filled with artistic pursuits. He has been blessed with artistic expression. His love for it has created a lifelong venue for his personal growth in the craft that has intrigued him most. That's success to be envied, my friends. Oh, he's a turkey. Don't get me wrong. Did I mention he's a recording engineer, too? Oh yes. Got cool studio computer stuff and .... but, enough about his genius. We're done. Let's talk about me.

Sometimes life deals you good stuff .... integral stuff to your experience ... and you just take it for granted. No more "taking it for granted". I've been very fortunate to have grown up and turned the musical handle with these di_ _ wads. Good peoples. Talented peoples. My good fortune to have shared the music quest with them. Of course ... we didn't have a clue what we were doing! What we WERE sure of was that....WE LOVED IT!  Little did we know that that's the key to it all. Music has to be your hobby. Not just your job. It has to be fun inside for it to sound good outside. It has to hurt inside for it to hurt outside to the listener. These guys were fun. These guys were inspirational, in large part, due to our ignorant love of the music and a strange sense of humor that permeated the entire band. Life was good ... even then.       Way Good.

signed --------Old Nostalgic Rock Dude---------