Remember the Anchorage Music Scene?

by Michael R Dougherty

The Blue Chip Stock

The Blue Chip Stock

The Blue Chip Stock
The Arsons
The Outlaws
The Pulsating Heartbeats

Do you remember some of the bands that made up the Anchorage, Alaska music scene back in the 1960's to 1970's?

Rock Bands

The band in the picture above is the Blue Chip Stock. Their keyboard player, Skip Conte, also played for Anchorage's Pulsating Heartbeats, and went on to play for Three Dog Night and the Blues Image and co-write their hit song, "Ride Captain Ride.

Other Anchorage rock bands included the Arsons, the Outlaws, the Pulsating Heartbeats and Mother's Apple Pie and Baseball Band.

Country Western

When I worked at KTVA channel 11 in Anchorage, a KBYR DJ by the name of Bruce Kier brought in Johnny Collinsworth from the Buckaroo Club to do a 1/2 hour weekly show that we produced during the week and aired on Saturday nights called "Johnny Collinsworth and the Country Capers Country Music Variety Show". My brother Tom Dougherty and I directed the shows. Guests included Nancy Lee and a fiddle player named Shorty Ladd. The band was excellent and the show was very creative.

KTVA also did another show called "Country City Music Time" and we shot the weekly show on location at Country City on the Seward Highway.

While at KYES channel 5, we did a weekly show with a country singer named Sonny Day. His steel guitar player's day job was Chief Engineer for KTVA.

The Pines Club was another popular venue for local music and well known entertainers as well.

Show Bands

A fellow by the name of Doug Hager became a local Anchorage, Alaska legend as Mr. White Keys. I first met Mr. White Keys when KAKM channel 7 had him host a series of local radio DJ stories for the weekly Anchorage TV magazine show, "Southcentral".

Mr. Whitekeys, aka, "W. Keys" and his band played regularly at Chilkoot Charlies, where they "cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you". Later, Mr. White Keys opened his own place in Spenard, the Fly-by-Night Club, where his band was known as Mr. White Keys and the Fabulous Spamtones. At the club, if you ordered spam, you got a free glass of champaign. Later, Mr. White Keys put together the "Whale Fat Follies" and the rest is Anchorage, and Spenard history.

For Teens

The place to go for live music for Anchorage teens, were a number of teen night clubs put together by local DJ Ron Moore (the Royal Coachman) and Pacesetters.

Some of the bands included the Arsons, the Chandels, G Morgan S and the Jets, the Gatormen, the Pulsating Heartbeats, the Johnson Brothers, the Nomads, the Outlaws, Proof, the Prophets and the Quarrymen to name a few.

Do you remember the Royal Pad, Cinnamon Cinder and of course the Cheetah on Government hill. There were also weekly teen dances featuring live music at Shindig City, a Mountainview roller rink, the national guard armory and the old Sports Arena on Fireweed.

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now check out Coke Show Memories and remember when.

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Thanks for the Memories
by: Mark Thompson

I remember those days with great fondness. What a great place for teenagers with the Cinnamon Cinder and Pacesetter's Shindig City. I had moved up in 1965 and a year later was playing twice or more every weekend and having a ball.

Playing for the Arsons and Mother's Apple Pie and Baseball Band was so much fun. We got to open for all the great acts that came to town. I especially remember opening for Sam the Sham, Charles Lloyd, Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band (Rick was a wonderful gentleman) and the Turtles both in Anchorage and at the Alaskan Centennial Exposition in Fairbanks.

After I did a hitch in the Air Force where I was stationed at Elmendorf AFB, I joined Proof with Gary Sloan, Ted Luther, Curtis Cunningham and Spike Poulan. That's when I met Mr. Whitekeys when we both played at a lounge near Lake Spenard (The Fly by Night Club).

I've recently communicated with Mike Caporale (drummer for Proof and Mother's Apple Pie and Baseball Band) and Dave Cannon (guitar in the Arsons and Mother's Apple Pie and Baseball Band). Mike is a screen writer, director and man of many talents. He just wrote a book called "The Best of Times" with a large section about those glory days. Dave Cannon is a retired lawyer living in Nashville. I actually went from playing for The Arsons to becoming a Firefighter/EMT in Kent, Washington. I married Karyne Brannon and we are both retired and living in Edmonds, Wa.

John Lee of the Breakers and Proof fame lives near me and were still great friends. He's still playing in a local blues band called "The Seattle Houserockers" and has CD's available.

Check out The Arsons on the Varsity Show right now

Thanks for the memories.

A Note from Anchorage Memories

Mark - thank you for commenting on our story about Anchorage bands. You were certainly a very important part of the Anchorage music scene and it's great to learn about some of the other musicians who were also such a huge part of our lives in Anchorage "back in the day"

Thank you

Past Member of Hydra
by: Anonymous

As a member of Hydra back then, thanks for the mention.

👍🏻Kenny’s brother (and the main songwriter) Dave Gundacker is still writing and performing. Look him up on Facebook, etc. Still as good as ever...

by: Amy

Hydra was local. Kenny and Dave Gundacker were brothers and went to West High.

Their sister Donna was my best friend since I was 13 and I knew them growing up.

Dave was on guitar and wrote songs. Kenny was lead vocals. They played Monkey Wharf quite a bit too, in the early 80s.

They got a record deal but then Kenny passed away. Dave is still rockin out in a band In California, and is on Facebook.

Alaska's Music Scene
by: January Grizzell

I had the pleasure of singing and preforming with Johnny Collensworth, Shorty Ladd, Jim Zusou (sp?), and others.

We did some Muscular Dystrophy Telethons driving around and singing at different gigs all day until the bars closed, ending up at Tips in Eagle River.

There was a recording studio in the basement of the old Country City where we recorded.

Mr. Whitekeys come down a few times to visit and talk to Johnny. History said the place was haunted.

Also cut a song with Kenny Blackwell.

And did guest spots at Mt. Alyeska in the original lodge.

Danced my heart out at the old Pines, and was offered the lead singing position there after Nancy moved on. But I had a good job and was raising two kids so I declined.

The Johnson Brothers
by: Nancy Crain-Smith

I have great memories of hanging out with the Johnson Brothers.

I dated Steve for awhile and my girlfriend dated Pete. They were both great guys. Would love to know what ever happened to them. Lost contact after I married and moved to California.

by: Teena Malaski.

Yes Hydra was in Anchorage band, they play at Chilcoot's, and opened for a few bands.

They played in early 80s.

One of their songs made it onto an album that was strictly rock bands of Anchorage. Can't remember the name of the album, but I do have it put away somewhere. They were very very good band.

They got a record deal in California. Then Kenny past away.

A Note from Anchorage Memories

Thank you for the update Teena. We are sorry to learn of the passing of your friend.

Alaskan Hill Billy Band
by: Anonymous

The Country Western performers Johnny Collinsworth, Nancy Lee, and Little Shorty, the Hunch Back, use to play at the Montana Club. The Alaska'n Hill Billy Band, along with Dewy, ha ha Allen,and Drummer Lonnie. Nancy only played every so often.

by: Teena Malaski

I had a very good friend who started a band right out of high school.

They did pretty well. Till tragedy struck in California.

Kenny Gundacker was a very close friend his band was Hydra.

Burgundy Rose
by: Linda Cordle

What ever happened to the band Burgundy Rose?

I remember them winning a national contest- battle of the bands I think. They usually played up at the teen club on Government Hill. Late 1960's early 1970's? It was a curling club later. I think.

A Note from Mike

Linda: Perhaps a site visitor can answer your question about the band Burgundy Rose.

The teen club on Government Hill was called the Cheetah.

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