The Vikings (VA)

The Vikings started at Oscar Smith High School in South Norfolk. Members were Vernon Michael and Donnie Stowe on vocals, Eddie Swindell lead guitar, Frank Jackson rhythm guitar, Wesley Harris organ, Huey Gates bass guitar, and Don Havice drums. Mike Ruggles and Tom Burlage were in the band about a year until they went to college.

They won a Battle of the Bands in Feb. 1967 at the Ponie Teen Club on Godwin Ave, then known as the Portlock Au Go Go. They also participated in WNOR’s Battle of the Bands on Sept. 22, 1967, at the Dome in Virginia Beach, competing against the Aliens, American Shags, Beechnuts, Denis & the Times, Regents with Mel Gaines, the Sound Effects, and the Stingrays.

Although an article in the Chesapeake Post on Aug. 23, ’67 states that the band will soon be recording their first song, “Why Did You Lie,” an original by Eddie Swindell and Donnie Stowe, the band never did record. Their set list included dozens of songs, both rock and soul.

Eddie Swindell says “Donnie and Vern sang both rock and soul and harmonized together like Sam & Dave. I knew members of the Swinging Machine, Barracudas, Bill Deal and the Rhondels most of the bands in the area. Some of us are still performing. I also played in a band in the 70’s with Dickey Harrell the drummer from Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps I see him around occasionally. I have a scrap book with articles and pictures of local bands listing dates and places they were gigging.”

The Vikings reunited in 1989, and again in 2007 for a benefit concert.

1st row sitting Eddie Swindell. 2nd row left to right: Hue Gates, Mike Ruggles, Tom Burlage, Frank Jackson, Donnie Stowe.
Back row: Marty Rogers, Vern Michaels, Wes Harris.

4 thoughts on “The Vikings (VA)”

  1. Art Meushaw, the bassist from Velvet Haze, is my father. he and Roger Bullock are actualy in a new band and still play gigs. this band is called the sock monkeys.

  2. Eddie Swindell is still playing the local Moose Lodge circuit. We recently had an opportunity to play together in Swindell’s Party Band.
    I sat in on the drums, when his regular drummer, John Paul was unavailable for a job. It was a family reunion on a small scale, as three of the former Vikings were together again. Hugh Gates(bassist), Eddie Swindell(lead guitarist) and Marty Rogers(drummer). The crowd took photos and had a blast with us at the Suffolk Moose Lodge in Virginia. Thanks for the memories guys, I had a great evening!

  3. I remember the Vikings as the ” house” band at Portlock a go-go. It is sad to see the old place torn down. Whatever happened to Donnie Stowe and some of the others. I have been gone from Portlock for a number of years but occasionally go back to visit friends and family. I Remininise about the ’60’s and ’70’s all the time and wonder where life has taken so many of my acquintentances and friends from days gone by. Steve nicholson

    1. Donnie Stowe, Edwin Swindell, and Marty Rogers are all on Facebook these days, Steve. One of our original members, Vernon, passed away last year, from complications following a stroke. I still see Frank Jackson from time to time in Virginia Beach. Wes Harris moved to North Carolina, and Hugh Gates moved to Wakefield. I lost track of Mike Ruggles and Tom Burlage shortly after the band broke up. Our two reunion concerts included most of the original members, with the exception of Don Havice.
      I am continuing to perform with local and regional bands, as an on-call session drummer.

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