In 1966, Craig Moore made the following recorded announcement: "The universe is permeated with the odor of kerosene." Fifty years later, tonight, he'll be making the same claim from a stage right here in Peoria, Illinois.
That announcement was the cryptic opening statement for the fuzz-toned drenched, guitar riffed and ripped howling first single from the band, GONN, called, "The Blackout of Gretely.” It was recorded in 1966 and was released on Emir Records, which was a label out of the city of Burlington, Iowa. Craig Moore and Gonn were from Keokuk, Iowa and they pressed 600 copies of this single. I'm not sure how many they sold from the initial pressing, but I've heard rumors that it sold at least tens of twenties at the time!
The original band consisted of, Craig Moore on bass and lead vocals, Gerry Gabel on keyboards and vocals, Rex Garrett on lead guitar, Gary Stepp on rhythm guitar and Brent Colvin on drums.
Band members came and went through the years, as they usually do in rock and roll groups and Gonn eventually broke up in 1969. All the various members went along on there various musical and non-musical ways and carried on with adult lives...or something like that.
But a funny thing happened as time wore on. “Blackout of Gretely” slowly became an international garage rock classic song. It started getting included on garage rock compilation albums, most notably on Rhino Records “Nuggets” box set which was released in 1998. Since the advent of the internet and online radio shows, “Blackout of Gretely” has been played, listened to, written about and revered by garage and punk rock fans and musicians all over the world.
This year GONN turned 50-years-old and to commemorate this anniversary, they released a double album of tunes with original members from the band and special guest stars as well. They also scheduled three reunion shows: One in Keokuk, Iowa, another in San Diego, California and one right here in Peoria, Illinois, which happens tonight at the Limelight Eventplex!
I stopped in yesterday to Craig Moore’s record and music store, Younger Than Yesterday and picked up the new album: Time Travel: 50 Years Come and GONN and asked him a few pre-concert questions. Those are below as well as some photos of GONN through the years and details about the new album and tonight’s show. Read on and get GONN!
Craig Moore—The MBIP Five Minute Interview @ Younger Than Yesterday!
Here we are at Younger Than Yesterday on University street. As you can see, there’s a flyer for tonight’s show prominently displayed in the door window!
As we enter the store with the Little Golden Records dangling from the ceiling we run smack-dab into the store-owner and band-leader of GONN, Craig Moore! There he is with the new GONN double album and he’s sporting a GONN t-shirt which you can buy at tonight’s show! I’ve already got one and will be flying my GONN colors tonight at the concert!
We went over to the GONN section in the record bins to start the official, MBIP Five Minute Interview with Craig Moore! And here we go!
MBIP: So are the rumors true that you started your own record store just so GONN could have it’s very own section in it?
Craig Moore: (Laughing) No, that rumor has been highly exaggerated!
Who would you say was the single biggest influence on GONN back when you first started 50 years ago?
Wow, that’s tough to pick out a single one. Of course there were The Dave Clark Five, The Yardbirds, Paul Revere and The Raiders The Stones...I guess I’d have to say the Animals. Especially Eric Burdon. You know I couldn’t have been as pretty as Keith Relf (from The Yardbirds), but I could be Eric Burdon! And his vocals were really an influence for me. And of course Chas Chandler was a big influence on my bass playing too. I learned how to play listening to him!
What’s the biggest Spinal Tap moment you’ve ever had with GONN?
It would have to be playing at The Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. “Hello Cleveland!”
When I was living in New York and first started subscribing to Sirius Radio, I was listening to Little Steven’s Underground Garage show and all of a sudden, “Blackout of Gretely” came on and it was really exciting to hear it on a national radio show! Who else have you heard of playing the song on radio?
People tell me they hear it all the time. I was really thrilled to hear that [former Rolling Stones manager] Andrew Loog Oldham played it on his show. And Kim Fowley played it as well and someone told me that they heard it on Michael Des Barres’ radio show. You know I’ve never heard the song on the radio yet! People just keep telling me they’ve heard it and I’ve yet to hear it myself!
What’s been your proudest moment from your experiences in GONN?
Well, having our music being played and appreciated on radio all over the airwaves and internet is certainly one. I guess it would be when we were included on the boxed set of Nuggets back in 1998.
Do you get stage fright before a show?
No, I get excited, but not scared. We’re all really getting excited for the show at Limelight!
Who’s the most famous musician to ever sit in with Gonn?
That would have to be the Yardbird’s drummer, Jim McCarty. We’ve become friends through the years and he’s played at a couple of gigs with us and that’s always a treat!
Finally is it true that the ominous first line from Blackout Of Gretely: “The universe is permeated with the odor of kerosene,” came from Peter Tork of The Monkees?
(Laughing) Yeah, it’s true! He said that at the end of one of The Monkees episodes and it must’ve stuck in my mind. When I first said it on the recording, I didn’t realize that’s where it came from. I discovered that later!
GONN—Photos And Nuggets Of Information From The Internet
GONN is all over the internet. Just go to your good friend Google and you can find a wealth of information about the band. Here’s some photos and nuggets of information about the band I found that you can read as a primer for tonight’s show!
GONN is a 1960s American garage rock band from Keokuk, Iowa whose signature song is "Blackout of Gretely."
They were reputed to be “the loudest band in town” with an energetic, cutting-edge rock n’ roll music style that gained widespread popularity in the Tri-State Area.
The band appeared at the Iowa State Fair from 1966 to 1968 and finished second in the 1967 competition (behind Echos V). GONN opened for several national acts at the Burlington Memorial Auditorium, including The Trolls, The Mob, The American Breed and others. Following three additional line-up changes in the latter years, the band finally broke up in 1969.
The bandmembers kept in close contact even after their breakup, and most of the members remained in music. The band's fame grew over time as "Blackout of Gretely" became better known, and the band began receiving letters and telephone calls from fans around the world. The song was included on a number of bootleg compilation albums, and a live version of the song was included on the first EP by the Fuzztones, Leave Your Mind At Home (1984).The release of a 1985 retrospective album of GONN's mid-1960s recordings on Voxx Records brought numerous gems into the open.
Lenny Kaye told Craig Moore in person at a Patti Smith Group concert that "Blackout of Gretely" would have been included on the original Nuggets Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 double LP in 1972 except that it was too long. The song was, however, featured on the Nuggets box set released by Rhino Records in 1998.
Greg Shaw states that "'Blackout of Gretely' is without doubt one of the Top 10 great punk records of all time" and noted that it had sold for as much as $1000.00 by the mid-1990s. In 2008, the UK publication MOJO Magazine also listed it in the Top 10 garage psych singles of all time.
Spurred by "Project GONN" of The PSPOT (an internet-based resource dedicated to the '60s music underground), a grassroots campaign led to the nomination of GONN in The Iowa Music Association Hall Of Fame And Museum. The band was inducted in a ceremony in 2004 and, as with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was celebrated with a live concert by the inductees.
In 2005, GONN received an invitation to appear at a special event sponsored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
GONN has carried the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll legacy around the world...literally.
The New Album—Time Travel: 50 Years Come And GONN
To mark the 50th anniversary, a new GONN album was released, titled, Time Travel: 50 Years Come And GONN. It was produced by Craig Moore and Rich Teegarden and it’s a double album, limited release that came out last week on November 25th, Black Friday. How appropriate! The double album set includes live performances, unreleased tracks, new songs and it’s a celebration of 50 years of GONN. The specially commissioned cover and poster art is by Dave Moe and the graphics were done by legendary album cover artist, Janie Kelly. It’s a limited edition release, so get a copy while you can. You can find copies at Younger Than Yesterday records here in Peoria and various online locations including this one.
GONN: The 50th Anniversary Show Tonight In Peoria at the Limelight Eventplex
Tonight is the second of three anniversary shows by GONN at Peoria’s Limelight Eventplex. Opening bands are Super 88 (featuring guitarist Dave Moe who drew the "Time Travel" album cover and poster) and Sin Thetic from Galesburg, Illinois. Tonight’s show features all five of the original 1967 band: Craig Moore, Rex Garrett, Gerry Gabel, Larry LaMaster and Dave Johnson. It’s going to be a legendary show here in Peoria and tickets are still available. The doors open at 6PM and the show starts at 7PM. All the information you need can be had by clicking right here. I hope to see you there!