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A Brief and Selective History of the Bob Meighan Band

Bob meighan band

To me, the Bob Meighan Band - at least the idea of the band - started in Vermont. I'd moved here from Phoenix and Bob came out for the summer of 1972. We lived in an abandoned restaurant we furnished with a spool table and a church pew. We went swimming with our dogs in the nearby river. We hung out in the local bar listening to Doctor My Eyes and Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues on the jukebox. And Bob wrote a new song, The Story:

"I ran to the East, I hid myself there,
I lived in the forest
and breathed in the pure blue air."

In the fall, Bob returned to Arizona. I moved back the next spring. By then the Bob Meighan Band was taking shape - with Bob on guitar and vocals, Dick Furlow on bass, Milt Miller on drums, Rodney Bryce, fiddle and Rich Howard, keyboards. Guitarist and singer David Dodt would join later. I went along for the ride.

The band covered old country classics like Crazy Arms and Silver Threads and Golden Needles and songs by Jackson Browne, Poco, The Band and others. They also performed a growing number of Bob's songs, trying them out in places like the Library, a beer sodden dive near Arizona State University, where they often shared the stage with Hans Olson and a Latino group called La Raza which started its sets with a tequila toast.

In the early 1970s, Phoenix was experiencing a musical renaissance. There were local bands like Goose Creek Symphony, Woodlord Haven, New Moan Hey and Beans (later Tubes). Under Bill Compton, KDKB was a free form beacon of musical diversity. Our friend, concert promoter Doug Clark, took over the Celebrity Theater. Bruce Springsteen, Miles Davis, Van Morrison, Linda Ronstadt, the Kinks, and many others played there. As a frequent opening act, the Bob Meighan Band became a kind of house band at the Celebrity. And that's how many people in Phoenix got to know them. As their popularity grew, the band began playing larger venues, festivals and colleges.

The band's plans for world domination included the purchase of an Eisenhower-era school bus. We ripped out seats, packed it with equipment and hit the road (top speed about 45mph), playing in Tucson, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon and Aspen, Colorado.

At some point the band moved to Tucson. We lived together in a house in the desert west of town. Rich Howard lived in the back yard, underground, in a tiny 1950s bomb shelter. After playing in some of the bars around 4th Avenue, the band was approached by the Lisa Harbor, the manager of a restaurant on the far-eastern edge of town. She was interested in seeing if live music would work there.

The Pawnbroker became the band's home. It had a large open room with comfortable seating and decent acoustics. The dance floor was off to the side, instead of in front of the stage. The Pawnbroker was a club, not a bar -a great place to listen to music. It allowed the band to showcase its musical versatility and Bob's songwriting talents (and on-stage repartee). They would start the evening with an acoustic set that included some of Bob's softer songs like Nicely Done and We Tried. By the end of the night people were on the dance floor as the band traded solos on The Dancer. The band played several nights a week at the Pawnbroker - always to a crowded room. The band's popularity and its repertoire of original songs grew. In 1975, the Bob Meighan Band's self-released album, The Dancer, sold out around the state. Capitol Records took notice and signed the band, re-recording and releasing the album.

It's amazing to me to think how all this happened over a few short years. At the time it seemed it would go on forever. But as everything does, the Bob Meighan Band ran its course. Bob continued to play in other bands. Then he drifted away from music.

In recent years, Bob's love of music and performing has been rekindled. He's been playing dates in Phoenix with guitarist and singer Norm Pratt. Bassist Dick Furlow often joins them. Their sets include a number of songs from the days of the Bob Meighan Band.

So the story goes.

Steve Zind
Braintree, Vermont

©2006 BobMeighan