At the “Tops and Blue” contest
Until now I haven’t featured bands who didn’t record, but Bob Bass sent me these cool photos of his band the Bomarcs, and an interesting history of the group:
The Bomarcs were from northwest Florida in the panhandle part of the state and all of us were stationed on a radar site there that tracked the Bomarc missiles across the gulf.
We got our start at he NCO club on the site playing a regular gig there and then we started playing all over the area at all kinds of events.
We hadn’t been together long when we were sent to the Air Force “Tops in Blue” competition at Tyndall AFB Florida. We didn’t win in the competition, but it was a great honor to represent our radar site.
The early band was: Bob Bass guitar and vocals, Doyle Johnston guitar, and Johnny Joos drums. I think Johnny was the only one with any professional experience and was affectionately called “JIve Ass Joos”.
We played together for around a year and then Doyle was transferred overseas. We thought that would be the end of the band, but along came Carl Bender to play lead guitar. The Air Force kept us supplied with musicians like Carl. After Carl joined us the band really took off and we began to play professionally all over that part of Florida. Our big start was a regular gig at the Orleans Lounge in Gainesville. By then we had a bass player: Bobby Lindsey, another lead guitar: Clarence Jones and a sometimes saxophone player: Lester Hall.
Gainesville was a good town for us because it is a college town. We played several frat house parties at the University of Florida and there was a steady supply of night clubs in the area.
From a poster for the annual Forestry Day celebration held in Cross City, FL
You can see Lester Hall, our sometimes sax player in the background.
I graduated from Biloxi High school, so New Orleans was just down the road from me. I went there as often as possible and my interest in blues was born there. We also played at Panama City Beach a few times.
The early Bomarcs featured a lot of R&B, Jimmy Reed, Clarence Henry, Screaming J Hawkins etc. and a mixture of country and contemporary rock. We were only a trio at first so our sound didn’t have a lot of bottom on it. In the “Tops in Blue” contest we did “Green fields” and I believe “Tom Dooley”. Both popular songs in their time.
As I mentioned before, after Doyle Johnston left us, the band really progressed. It wasn’t Doyle’s fault because he was an accomplished musician back then and still is. When Carl Bender joined us on lead guitar along with Clarence Jones, lead and rhythm, I quit playing guitar and did the vocals. Bobby Lindsey really added the bottom we needed with his Bass playing. Bobby was a fisherman from Horseshoe Beach Fl and Clarence was a high school student from Old Town, Fl. Clarence went on after the Bomarcs to play lead for Fred Bible and the Continentals, a Jacksonville band that was very big in the area.
With this group of musicians our repertoire of songs really expanded. We did rock of the day including all the Beatles, R&B, Country and even songs like “Misty” for what we called Romantic and Droopy Drawers music. We were now a variety band.
About the time we were really making it, the Air Force stepped in again. I was sent to Newfoundland along with my then new Fender Super Re-verb amp and Strat guitar. I continued to play while there with a Newfoundland group that was very popular at the time. After my career in the AF was over, 13 years, I kind of dropped out of music and spent time raising a family. Playing music and being a family man is hard to do. Often one has to choose between the two. I was a friend of John Taylor,”Big John and the Untouchables”, and ran across him where I live now in Lakeland, Fl. John was at a crossroad at the time and was having to decide between family and music. I hope I helped him make the right choice.
Doyle Johnston and I recently renewed old acquaintances and get together from time to time. He was a US postal employee at Zephyrhills, Fl for many years and didn’t know we were only a few miles apart. I live in Lakeland and am now a freelance writer and still a frustrated musician.
Carl Bender visited me at one time years ago. He was playing lead for a band at the Holiday Inn in Plant City. I understand from Doyle that Johnny “Jive Ass” Joos owns a resturant in Cross City. The others I have not heard from but would be real interested in doing so.