Zoid Asteroid Machine, Charlie Calendar, Gabe Berrafato, Mondo Vers, and Jim Stein_____

Origin / Yancy Derringer:

THE...VERS grew out of a full time Monroe, Wisconsin hard rock band called Yancy Derringer, which originally consisted of "C.F." Kuchler (keys), Boyd Williamson (guitar), Gabriel Berrafato (bass), and Lynn "Lance Chance" Gnatzig (drums). Previously known as Birth, the band changed its name in April 1974 when Boyd replaced Bill Schmidt on guitar. Birth's roots were a band called Atlantic Ocean, which had formed around a group of musicians who were attending college at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. They had played most as a 6 piece band, but had at one time, with horn players, as many as ten people onstage.

Yancy Derringer played a lot of originals at a lot of bars, festivals, and college campuses around the Midwest, and had a good fan base that had followed the previous bands. Dedicated to writing their own songs, they nonetheless also did unique covers of songs by Mott the Hoople, the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and were also known for an impressive Led Zeppelin medley. Another highlight of their show was a nine-minute-long original, "Weedburner," a slide guitar stoner's anthem that Boyd played on a Rickenbacker with a brilliant built-in light show. C.F. handled the lead vocals, Hammond organ, piano, and Minimoog, while Lance and Gabe showed themselves off as one of the tightest rhythm sections ever.

They released an album of originals in 1975 called "Openers", which generally received excellent reviews and is widely regarded as a collectible in Goldmine and Rockin' Records (it has been reissued on CD by Gear Fab Records in the US, and is being pressed as an LP in Italy on the Comet Gear Fab label) but underfunding and a underachieving manager helped undercut its momentum and ultimate success within a year of its release. This four piece band broke up in October 1976, and, after having "real jobs" for a few months, were itching to play again.

Gabe Berrafato;_Lynn Gnatzig;_C.F. Kuchler;
Boyd Williamson

Yancy Derringer 2:

In the meantime, Bill Schmidt had put together an 8-track studio at his home in Monroe, where Yancy had started recording tracks for their second planned release, "Good Time Strangers," which was never finished, due to the band breaking up. He introduced C.F., Boyd, and Gabe to singer and 12-string guitarist Gregg Huber from Oconomowoc. Bill kept time on drums and spun the reels. Gregg introduced some songs of his own, and also some that had been written by J.C. Hall, Jr., a singer/songwriter that he had worked with in a band they'd had in high school, known as Gordeoux-Huber-Hall.

This second version of Yancy Derringer was vastly different from the first, turning away from hard rock towards more melodic music, relying more on lush vocals and more complex chords than the more straightforward rock that Yancy had been known for. But the central pull of a more pure form of rock from the original members wouldn't be denied, and before long, Bill's lack of experience at drums was showing.

By this time, Gregg had introduced the band personally to J.C. Hall, Jr., whose sheer size, energy, and humor were an instant hit with the group, not to mention his impressive abilities as a singer and songwriter.

Yancy Derringer 3:

So after a number of gigs as a five-piece band, Bill Schmidt was replaced on drums by Leigh Carey, a flamboyant drummer who was everything on drums that Bill Schmidt wasn't, having come from an Eau Claire 3-piece band called World War III, and J.C. Hall joined on vocals and general crazyness. This third incarnation of Yancy Derringer proved to be a free-for-all circus that had no real direction, but it did have two or three lead vocalists, two guitars (sometimes 3 or 4), bass, keys, and a drummer who, while talented, tended to play like he was still in a three piece band.

After some gigging in this 6-man format, Gregg was becoming increasingly unhappy with the musical pandemonium, and the rest of the band was becoming unhappy with Leigh's overplaying. So Gregg decided to leave, and Leigh was replaced on drums by Yancy's original drummer, Lance Gnatzig. While still initially known as Yancy Derringer, the new band was powered-up, stripped-down, and built for speed. And Hall's creative influences were bringing so much more to the band than it had ever had before, that they all agreed that it simply wasn't Yancy Derringer anymore.

Yancy Derringer, 1977

J. C. Hall, Jr._______

Boyd Williamson__________Gregg Huber

Gabe Berrafato____________Leigh Carey_________C. F. Kuchler

NEXT PAGE: Yancy Derringer becomes THE...VERS

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