The Chancellors

The Chancellors: Jim Ovaitt, Rick Garfield, Rick Blomstrom, Mike Gilliam, Bruce Reinoehl
Back row: Jim Ovaitt (keyboards), Rick Garfield (drums), Rick Blomstrom (lead guitar).
Second row Mike Gilliam (bass guitar), Bruce Reinoehl (rhythm guitar).

The Chancellors Fenton 45 One in a MillionThe Chancellors were a quintet from Lansing, Michigan with two 45s on the great Fenton label. Since my original post I’ve been in touch with Chancellors rhythm guitarist Bruce Reinoehl, who wrote up a short history of the band:

The Chancellors was a mid-Michigan band which was active between mid 1965 and late 1967. The band formed around the direction of keyboard man and lead singer Jim Ovaitt. During the summer of 1965, the group underwent several personnel changes before its final composition of Jim Ovaitt, keyboards and lead singer, Rick Garfield drums, Rick Blomstrom lead guitar and vocals, Mike Gilliam bass guitar and vocals and Bruce Reinoehl rhythm guitar and vocals. At the time we were all high school students in East Lansing and Okemos, Michigan.

Our first jobs consisted mainly of high school dances. As we continued to improve we moved up to Michigan State University fraternity parties and local night clubs. In early 1966, we cut our first record. This was the “Journey” / “One in a Million” record of which only a few hundred were pressed. Today that record is quite scarce. I can remember the fairly primitive by today’s standards studio which at that time did not have the ability to double track recordings. That meant everyone had to play all parts of both songs well enough to make a record. That sounds easy especially with all of the rehearsing we had done before going to the recording studio. As with anything one makes, the builder is the one who knows where the blemishes are. There always seemed to be something that just was not good enough. By the time we were finished, I never wanted to play or hear either of those songs again. That changed when I heard “Journey”, an instrumental, used by one of the local radio stations as a lead up to one of their news broadcasts.

The Chancellors Fenton 45 Dear JohnBy late 1966, the Chancellors were becoming fairly well known in the mid Michigan area. We were playing jobs in Saginaw, Bay City, Jackson and as far away as Harbor Springs. We played at nightclubs where the Byrds and Beach Boys had played a week or two previously. We also cut out second and final record around this time. This was the “Dear John” / “5 minus 3” record.

The picture which was staged on the piano was taken in at the studio of Jim Ovaitt’s piano teacher. The on stage pictures taken while playing were taken at the Band Canyon a nightclub in Bay City, Michigan. Among other bands playing there were the Byrds. The pictures of the equipment were taken at Club Ponytail in Harbor Springs, MI. The Beach Boys also played that club. The motel photos were taken in Harbor Springs. Neither club is still standing.

Playing with the Chancellors was a great experience but it was also obvious that we were not cut out to be professional musicians. All of the members of the band ended up going into professions other than music. In looking back, it was a lot of work but also a lot of fun. I treasure the friendships and memories that have resulted from my experiences with the Chancellors.

Bruce Reinoehl

The Chancellors Fenton 45 JourneyBruce Reinoehl and Jim Ovaitt co-wrote both songs on the first 45, “One in a Milliion” and “Journey”. “Journey” and “5 Minus 3” feature Jim Ovaitt’s organ playing, but “5 Minus 3” is especially interesting for being a raucous duet by just Ovaitt and drummer Garfield.

The organ also dominates their first vocal song, “One in a Million”. “Dear John” gives the guitarist and vocalist more room and succeeds as a pop song.

Thank you to Paul Reinoehl for helping me get in touch with his brother and for sending in these great photos, and to Bruce Reinoehl for his history of the band.

Note: one source lists this group as cutting a third 45 on Chamus: “Places We Once Knew” / “Something for Sure”. However, this was a different Chancellors band out of Lincoln, Nebraska featuring Keith Goins and Max Carl Gronenthal. That band had another release on El Cid: “Everbody’s Got To Lose Someone Sometime” / “It Was A Very Good Year”, both singles are good blue-eyed soul with horns. Tip of the hat to Martin Hancock for pointing out this was a different band.

The Chancellors at the Band Canyon in Bay City, MI
The Chancellors at the Band Canyon in Bay City, MI
The Chancellors at the Band Canyon in Bay City, MI
The Chancellors at the Band Canyon in Bay City, MI
The Chancellors at the Band Canyon in Bay City, MI
The Chancellors at the Band Canyon in Bay City, MI
The Chancellors at the Club Ponytail in Harbor Springs, MI
At the Club Ponytail in Harbor Springs, MI

21 thoughts on “The Chancellors”

  1. I’ve been enjoying your site. Do you have more pictures from the Club Ponytail? It was a favorite destination for many of us up here in Northern Michigan. My sister and I have been trying to locate posters and photos; these are always fun things to have at class reunions. Keep up the great work on this website!

    1. Hi Bruce. This is Rick Blomstrom. Somehow I have lost your contact info. I was just at my 50th class reunion and had a classmate ask if I had a copy of our records. Unfortunately I have move some in my career and can’t find any. He said that one in a million is his favorite song of all time. Do you have any copies left. I would love to send him one. Please call me at 512-623-9669 or email reblomstrom@gmail.com. Thanks. Rick

  2. Have you had any luck w/finding posters, etc. for the “Tail”? I was one of the “bartenders” there during the 1965-1969 seasons & did not have the foresight to save ANY of that stuff. Would love to find any of it to be able to share w/classmates & family. Lemme know, THNX!

  3. Sorry that I missed your reply to my comment until now. I’d love to have a copy of the postcard – my sister and I have been gathering everything we can. You can e-mail it to me at: sunnyg@racc2000.com Thank you very much!

  4. Tim, We’re still collecting things from the ‘Tail….it’s great to see how many of us are still talking over the good old days. My dentist’s mom worked there,too. It’s a small world! Lee

  5. Hi Linda! I’ve had some contact with your sister, and I know my sister has been e-mailing you. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t talk to someone about the Club Ponytail – we were so lucky! Your folks were the best! Lee

  6. Hi…I am the one that people need to contact about the Club Ponytail as my parents owned it. I am in the process of writing a book about the Tail and am accepting stories of personal experiences during those Ponytail years. Please give anyone interested my email address lsp2448@yahoo.com. Glad to see you still have such great memories and loved to see your picture of the old stage. Thanks, linda

  7. I was born and raised in Petoskey, and went to the Pony Tail a couple of times and even wittnessed the fire, and watched it on a hill called Pill Hill in Petoskey when it burned, it was a sad time. I beleve the former name was Club Manitou, and was a favorate gambling spot in the 30’s 40’s. There were even secret tunnels and rooms in the basement.Please email me any post cards and pictures if you would be so kind. I have none just memories. Thank You All!

  8. Jim Ovaitt is living in Traverse City, MI. He and his wife Marsha have two sons and run a Remote Control racing / aquarium & fish hobby store. The Ovaitts are truly wonderful people and many people in the community are glad to have them as friends.

  9. I found this today and am thrilled beyond words. I have tried to tell my friends and kids and family of the absolute fabulous times I spent there as a teenager. It was the highlight of my summers, along with Petoskey Bathing Beach??!! I saw Bobby Venton and Roy Orbison and a mess of others…..too cool for words. I was there this fall and drove back in to take a look. Only the walls and the empty outdoor band shell.
    Sad…..it was so neat. I would be interested in anything that you may have in the line of pictures and additional history. I think I have most of it. My family had a summer home there and The Tail was Thee Place To Be. Oh man the memories. Cindy

  10. HELLO JIM, BRUCE, MIKE & RICK B.!!! I HOPE THINGS ARE GOING WELL FOR ALL OF YOU, AND YOUR FAMILIES!!! LET’S PLAN A BAND REUNION SOMETIME SOON, MISS YOU GUYS, OUR PERFORMANCES AND OUR GREAT FRIENDS & FANS OF THE BAND!!! EBAY UPDATE: I JUST SAW “ONE IN A MILLION” UP FOR AUCTION . . . ASKING $199.99!!! (is that a “TWO FOR ONE” special???? lol:) WE SHOULD ALL GET TOGETHER FOR A BAND “JAM” REUNION!!! MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS: boomtowndrumwrld@aol.com – FROM YOUR LAS VEGAS “DRUM BUDDY” – RICK 🙂 GARFIELD /// I STILL HAVE SOME OF THE 60’S “FAMOUS” BAND PICTURES HANGING IN MY DRUM STUDIO IN LAS VEGAS, NEVAD!!! STILL PLAYING & TEACHING DRUMS & PERCUSSION, PLUS TEACHING SOME STUDENTS PREPARING TO AUDITION FOR THE . . .BLUE MAN GROUP AT THE VENITIAN ON THE LAS VEGAS STRIP!!! HOPE TO HEAR FROM EVERYONE SOON. . .WARMEST WISHES, RICK GARFIELD AKA “RICKY ROCKER”! 🙂

    1. Hello Lori! I am sorry that I missed your message! It has been quite a long time, since I have been back on this site. To answer your question, through the years, I have sold a number of items on EBAY, including a Ludwig drum stand, which it sounds like . . . you now own! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! From time to time, I sell some of my equipment on Ebay, as I modify my equipment for teaching Drums & Percussion, to all levels of students, from beginners . . . to fellow professional drummers, . . . just needing a “Tune-up”!!! I still have my Slingerland, dark blue sparkle drumset that I played at The Ponytail and the Band Canyon, pictured above on this site!!! I mainly teach all styles of music now, on Four sets of PREMIER DRUMS, from ENGLAND!!! I love the deeper sounds that they produce, . . . especially for drum soloing!!! If you, or visitors to this site, are ever looking for more drum equipment, or have questions, please feel free to give me a call! I can be reached in Las Vegas, at (702)516-7829 . Thanks again Lori!!! Rick Garfield – Drum Instructor (Professional Drummer / Percussionist).

      1. Hi Rick. This is Rick Blomstrom. How are you? I was just in Okemos for my 50th class reunion and a classmate asked if I had a copy of our records. I have moved some in my career and can’t find them. He said one in a million is his favorite song of all time. Would you have a copy or a tape of the recordings?

  11. I was telling some people at work about the Ponytail and the groups that played there, I went to school in Indian River, The Ponytail was the place to be on the weekends, I saw a lot of the groups from 1963-1966. It was hard at times to save up the $8 to $10 to get in. It really was the best of times. I remember one group called The Loyd’s of London who was the summer band I believe in 1966. The green river drink from the soda bar was my favorite. Stan was always everywhere, and I remember Linda, she was so popular at the time. Thanks for the site. George Mcdonald.

  12. I was there… back in the late 1960’s I went to the Ponytail for the rocken” fun, and always wondered about the place. I was working, and living on Mackinac Island, I now live in Saint Ignace, Michigan. I have a few stories about the Ponytail “Roadhouse”, the tunnels were really cool. The underground rooms were awesoms. cell: 248.496.5101, George T. (Archambeau), Archer, 28 Michigan Street, Saint Ignace, Michigan 49781.

  13. I was in the band called the Shillings from Arizona that played at the Tail the summer of ’66. I have only one poster from that summer when the Animals were there. Had a great time playing there, met my wife Joni there and the rest is history. We now live in Boyne City and would like any pictures of that summer at the Tail. The only other piece of history is the picture of our group that the Boyne Citizen had posted.
    There is an interesting story of how we got to play there that summer.

    I’ll try to get in touch of Linda for any information she may have for the year of ’66.

    My e-mail is: vascozuc@gmail.com

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