Lead Dog (AKA Rex Turner)


"I started playing guitar in the 7th grade.  My dad & I made my first guitar.  It was quite a step up from the plastic ukulele that I had been playing since the first grade.  It was a beautiful dark red solid body electric.  It didn't play perfect, but it was good enough to get me started.  My first amp was an AM/FM/Short wave radio that my dad modified & we put in a box.  It was a first class rig !  I got with some other kids & formed a band playing gigs at recreation centers, sock hops, skating rinks & old folks homes.  You can imagine the fear on the faces of these old folks when they learned that these 7th graders came to play rock & roll to "entertain" them.  We were appreciated much more at the sock hops & skating rinks.  But it was all fun." Fortunately, no evidence of this first incarnation of the band has ever surfaced. The next version of the band is shown below. 

The Syyndicate Circa 1967

 Rex Turner with The Syyndicate around 1967

You can tell the guys up front are impressed with our sparkle jackets.  That's me on the right.  Other members were Steve Lampkin on drums, Pat Morgan on guitar & Georgia Stannecheck on keyboards. Note we also had leopard skin jackets too!  Cool huh?

"By this time I had moved up to a Gretsch guitar & a Heathkit amplifier that I put together myself."

This band broke up before I got to high school, but we played dozens of gigs sometimes making $25 - $50 a night (split 4 ways).  We had played in battle of the bands & had gotten mentioned on the radio a time or two.  

By high school I played in a band or two at a time.  "One was created just for an assembly at school.  We played Steppenwolf songs.  Everybody seemed to like it!"  During this phase, I got known for my light shows with the big Ameba on the wall, black lights, color organs & strobe lights.  This was the start of my love for electronics.  

"I went on to the University of Oklahoma to get my BSEE while playing in bands & working at Target the whole time.  I found a couple of fellows that played old Kinks songs.  We formed a band called Tree Flesh.  Cisco could belt out the vocals for Led Zeppelin but wanted to do Kinks songs.  The rhythm guitar player also played a flute, so we could do Jethro Tull songs.  It sure was hard making good grades while staying up till 2 AM playing jobs at several bars with all the beer you could drink.  I remember one night making $8 as my share of the cover charge.  All that glamour, beer & $8 to boot ! It sure was hard deciding on my next career move.  No sleep, $8 a night & all the beer you can drink ....or ....a good stable career in electrical engineering.  Tough call!  Still, all in all, we played a number of times, occasionally made good money & got admiration of a dozen or more people.  Unfortunately I haven't found any pictures of this band."

Warming up in the dorm room (1971) with an Ampeg guitar

Rex Turner in his dorm room at the University of Oklahoma

"I was repairing electronic equipment such as stereo receivers, amps etc. in my dorm room.  I spread ads all over campus & charged entirely too little money.  I did get to do a custom mod (a type of bi-amping) on a Hammond B3 that got used by Chicago Transit Authority when they played in the field house in Norman.  This was one of my 15 minutes of fame. I got free 5th row tickets for that show by doing the work.   Got maybe $50 for the deal too"

"During one of my many trips back home to see my family & girlfriend, I got invited to a band practice of a friend.  It was there, in Collinsville that I met who was to later become Bass Dog (AKA Steve Willingham).  Everyone was there but Steve (It was his house).  The band invited me to play bass while we were waiting for Steve to get back.  I wasn't sure, but everyone said that Steve wouldn't mind.  I was a little more than worried when we could see him come running up the road carrying a rifle.  He had heard the music & was wondering who was playing his equipment.  Fortunately, no blood was shed & we've been good friends ever since."

That led to the formation of Cobalt Blue.  Cobalt Blue was a band that started in Norman.  Steve Perry who co-wrote many of our songs at that time moved to the Tulsa area with me.  We joined up with some of the members of Steve Willingham's band while keeping the Cobalt Blue name.  We practiced three nights a week & had the cops called on us for being too loud.  "It was a whole lot louder on the inside of the house."  We played the usual mix of parties, skating rinks, bars etc.  "One of our worst gigs, was playing for the Job Corps in a building downtown.  We were chosen by this cute blonde girl to do the party without realizing that the audience was going to be 95% black.  We just didn't know any of the music they wanted to hear.  They wanted funk & we knew Deep Purple & Led Zeppelin.  We gave it our best shot & by the end of the night we were all getting along great.  Did I mention we had to carry a Hammond B3 organ up 4 flights of stairs?  Damn !"

 

Cobalt Blue at a Promo Shoot in 1976

Rex Turner with Cobalt Blue

Ronnie Wilson, Steve Willingham, Keith Broadrick & Rex Turner (L to R)

Some Other Photos from that Promo

   

Steve's SVT Amp & Rex's Marshall Stack

Rex Turner in the "old" dayz

Rex does the "Rock Star" photo

 

The Women behind Cobalt Blue

Last update 05/08/08

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