Monday, May 31, 2021

The War Lords (Bloomington-Normal)

The War Lords were a 1960s rock group from Bloomington-Normal comprised of students from Illinois State University as well as two local high schools.

Jason Popelka - Lead Guitar (Junior / NCHS, Member Mu Alpha Theta)
John Schoenhofen - Rhythm Guitar (Junior / ISU, Spanish Major)
Tom Jacobs - Vocals, Special Effects (Freshman / ISU, German Major)
Willie Vrba - Bass Guitar (Sophmore / ISU, Georaphy, Phys. Ed. Major)
Gary Jacobs - Drums (Sophmore / BHS, All Around Good Guy)

Feb 1966
The band was active from 1965 to the end of 1966 although a few of the members had been playing together even earlier.  They performed mostly as a cover band around the area. 

The group did however record a single containing two original tunes.  "Real Fine Lady" and "I've Got It Bad" were both written by guitarist Jason Popelka and singer Tom Jacobs.  

The single was recorded in Chicago at RCA Studios in the summer of 1966 and released on Thor Records.  According to Popelka, only about 100 copies were pressed.
Thor Records 810T-0759.  In addition to the white label DJ / promo copies, there is also a red label version.

Despite its obscurity, the single has found a much larger audience over the years.  Since its release, both songs have been anthologized on various garage rock compilations including the Back From The Grave series.  

Mike Markesich's book TeenBeat Mayhem! lists the single as #830 in its Top 1000 Garage Songs from the USA and describes both songs as "trebly guitar punk pounders."

Oct. 1966
As for the group, they were still booking gigs as late as October of 1966. By the end of the year however, they would disband when singer Tom Jacobs enlisted in the U.S. Army.  

In less than two years, Jacobs would go on from being a "war lord" to a geniune war hero while serving in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. 
Tragically Thomas C. Jacobs was killed in action on September 13, 1968 while on a voluntary mission near Duc Lap, Vietnam.  His actions that day reportedly saved many lives.  He was 21 years old.

He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the nations' third highest military award, for "gallantry in action."  He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with twelve oak clusters and Purple Heart.  

Special thanks to Jason Popelka for the band info and image of the 1966 poster which was created by his late father and artist, Robert Webster Popelka.  The photo was taken in front of his business, Popelka Advertising, at 1701 W. Hovey Avenue in Normal.

Both songs recorded by the War Lords have been played on past shows.  For "Real Fine Lady" listen to our Best Of Downstate Illinois Garage Rock 1965-1968 .  For "I've Got It Bad" listen to Show #35.

The War Lords are just one of many 60s groups with ties to Bloomington-Normal.  For more bands see the McLean County Discography.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

WESN Show #51 - May 20, 2021

Rock 'n' Roll From Downstate Illinois 1958-1961

Icky Renrut 
(vocal by Jimmy Thomas)
Hey HeyStevens1959East St. Louis
Arlie MillerLou AnnLucky1960Danville
Frankie GemCrystal RockUSA1961Galesburg
Bobby Carter & The SpotlitesRun, Run, RunCardell1961Bloomington
Howard Mayberry w/ The Sangamon BoysThis Just Can't Be Puppy LoveDixie1961Decatur
The NightmaresGreyhoundFredlo1960Quad Cities
Art Buchanan w/ The PioneersQueen From Bowling GreenDixie1960Wayne City
Patey Bros. (Eddie & Lee)Hey Doll BabyRon-Mar1959Belleville
The Harmony BrothersBaby, TonightBobbin1959Springfield
Arlie NeavilleBoppin' The BugBig Beat1959Champaign
Stan Gunn and His Country Hep-CatsBaby Sitter BoogieRon-Mar1958East St. Louis
Bobby MackShe's My Little BabyTempus1959Peoria
Jonnie & The CyclonesTwisted FenderMcCady1959Springfield
Richie Deran and The New TonesGirl And A Hot RodPontiac1960Canton / Burlington, IA
Fred & Jesse, the Cuno Brothers & the Dixie RockersMine All MineKay1960East St. Louis
Ben Leonard & The FurysCongo BongoReo1960Danville
"Uncle" Buck LiteMr. DucktailRon-Mar1958Belleville
Jack & Jumpin JacksMore MoreKay1959East St. Louis
Ronny & JonnyJungle BoogieLucky1960Danville
Bill Keen & The TradewindsDon't Call MeLesley1961Bloomington-Normal
Jim Foley & The Big BeatsGoodbye TrainLucky1960Danville
Jack Rivers and His Rock-A-KatsCall On MeRon-Mar1958Belleville
Rockin' R'sThe BeatTempus1958Metamora
The Beck BrothersJust Like YouMid West1960Colchester

Thursday, May 13, 2021

WESN Show #50 - May 13, 2021

$1,000,000 War BabiesPeaceful MusicDante1967Champaign
The Sound of FuryI Can't See YouSummit1968LaSalle-Peru
Kris & JerryA Sunny DayB-J Records1966Enfield
Chuck & Mary PerrinSundanceWebster's Last Word1970Pekin
Mod 4A Puppet[Fredlo]1968Aledo
Birdlegs & PaulineSpringCuca1963Rockford
Forty Second Street Auxiliary ChoirSpringtime FeelingThunder1968Peoria
One Eyed JacksSun So HighWhite Cliffs1967Champaign-Urbana
The Rubber BandThe Park PavillionGolden Voice1969Springfield
Angelo's AngelsSpring CleaningErmine1964Tonica
Warner Bros ComboMairzy DoatsKandy Kane1963Peoria
The WombatsBlue DaydreamsAlona's Dream[1966]Metamora
The ShagsDid I Say (That I Love You)Golden Voice1967Peoria
Five Of A KindeGoodbye GirlGarric1967Quad Cities
Ashes Of DawnSee The LightBrave1968Carbondale
The Coming GenerationWithout YouSummit1968Dwight
The Chosen FewLemonade SodaFlame1966Decatur
Zimmo's ThanatopsisIn a Dream WorldGolden Voice1968Morton
The CreepersLook At MeC.R.C.1966Granite City
The MavericksTrainsSummit1968Ottawa
The Egyptian ComboGail WindsNorman1964Herrin