Category Archives: Sitka

The Crusade

The Crusade are one of only two garage bands from Alaska that I know recorded (the other is the Pulsating Heartbeats from Anchorage). The Crusade came out of Sitka, and their 45 was released on the Golden North label out of Juneau in April 1967, produced by J. Allen MacKinnon.

“Psychedelic Woman” has a heavy guitar line and lyrics about a girl who’s “got big hips like a buffalo”! “Fade Away” is much more mellow. Both songs were written by Agafon Krukoff, who had a previous 45 on Golden North 101 in late ’66, a good version of “Walkin’ the Dog” backed with “Here I Sit in Alaska (Breaking the Legs Off Poor Little Self-Defenseless Crabs)” (credited to Dhon Cole). Anyone know who was on Golden North # 102?

Since writing about this 45, I heard first from Mike Murphy, brother of Dennis Murphy who plays drums on the 45:

Dennis Murphy was the youngest brother of myself. Dennis was 16 at the time. Dennis started learning drums from an old man in Sitka who was retired and played occasionally with groups at the Elks and Moose in the ’50s. Later Dennis studied with Bruce Golubier, the drummer with the Don Cole Trio, that was very popular in the ’60s and was the house band for a while at the Potlach Club, a popular club at the time and one of the few to have live music come up from the states. Bruce was an excellent drummer and Dennis really improved under his guidance.

The bands that I know existed in the 60s in Sitka were the Invaders, and the band had various names during those years of ’62 to ’64. The Moose Lodge had an auditorium with a stage above the bar, where they held meetings and activities. That was the first place my brother Pat and Eric Olsen started playing together and working up tunes by Lonnie Mack and Duane Eddy. Eric was playing a Gretsch guitar through a Sears Silvertone amp. Pat had a ’57 Fender Strat. The bass players were several, one of which was Joe Chicarri, spelling is incorrect, the drummer’s name escapes me. They were thee band at high school dances in ’63 and ’64.

Eric Olsen went on to police work in Sitka; Pat Murphy died in a car accident in Washington after high school and a short time in the Navy. Both graduated Sitka High in ’65. The Moose Hall auditorium is gone now along with the movie theatre and lots of other things.

I remember Agafon, but never met him. he was without doubt and incredible talent. Without any schooling or training, he was able to cover many popular tunes and was a teenage prodigy on the guitar for that time. The band was [originally] called the Pribiloff Trio because Agafon was from the Pribiloff Islands out in the Alutians.

Later when I returned to Sitka in the summer of ’67, after three years in the Navy, Dennis and I, drums and guitar, joined with Fred Stratton, bass, and Pat Stengal, lead guitar, to form a band that played several shows at the Centennial Building. We could rent the auditorium for $50 a night. some friends organized a light show to accompany the music. I don’t recall what the band was called. We played covers of the Grateful Dead, Cream, and others that were popular at the time. During this time, bands like the Wailers from Seattle came up and booked the auditorium and played shows. These were high level recording artists with expensive professional equipment. If I recall correctly, we were able to use their PA to open their show, which was a nice experience.

Dennis lives in Portland now and still plays drums, guitar and harmonica quite well.

Mike Murphy

Then I heard from Dennis Murphy himself:

I was just a beginner at drums. I had taken lessons from an old dude who was a friend of my dad, he taught me the rudiments when I was 11 or 12. I had another brother who is dead now, he had a band and I would study the drummers he had, watch em real close, and practice what I saw.

I was hired by Agafon in an audition for drummers when I was freshman in Sitka High School. One other guy tried and failed. These guys were all in college so it was real intimidating, to say the least.

The drummer had to leave town so they would take anybody to fill his place and there were not many to do so, or choose from. I had been commercially fishing with my Dad so he owed me something for that. They offered me the drumset the old drummer had been playing for $300.00 and I got my Dad to pay for it. It was a gold sparkle Slingerland four piece drumset with calf heads.

Agafon had already made a record on the same label called “Walkin’ the Dog”. So he knew J. Allen McKinnon from that recording.

We recorded that record in an auditorium up on the stage. It was a real strange place to do a recording but it was in the old days I guess you might say.

Dennis Murphy

Agafon Golden North 45 Walkin' the Dog
Agafon’s late ’66 single for Golden North
Agafon Golden North 45 Here I Sit in Alaska