Some of you folks might remember a Peoria based band called Kool Ray and the Polaroidz. The band was incubated right here in The River City in that magical year of 1979.
The band was originally called The Kittens, which was a bit misleading. People were expecting to see an Exotic Asian all girl revue, not four Peoria twenty-something goombahs.
Once the band changed names and got decent promotion and management, it took off like a skyrocket. We also eschewed the Nugent, Skynrd, Journey, Styx, Kiss, REO pablum that most bar bands from the Midwest were offering at that time.
The Polaroidz played roots rock from Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Elvis and Roy Orbison coupled with British Invasion gems by The Beatles, DC5, Kinks, Hollies and Manfred Mann. Then we threw in a sprinkling of garage rock and '60's soul with cool new-wavish stuff ala Cheap Trick and Eddie Money. The band went over well (even in redneck bars) and especially with college kids who had never heard a lot of the music we played. We were all still boyish looking back then and told the fans and press we were all 18 and from Chicago, Dongola, Illinois or Mars.
We had a weekend gig at a dive in Litchfield, Illinois called Captain Jack's. The first night was uneventful and we left the gear set up for Saturday night and the four band members and our promo manager, Janie Grier Kelley piled into our road car, my '77 Malibu.
We were all pretty beat and Janie volunteered to drive us back to Peoria. It was a fairly easy jaunt on I 55 to 121 to I 74, less than two hours. When we neared Springfield we passed a disco called The Inferno. A few minutes after we passed the disco, Janie slammed on the brakes, pulled to the side of the road and excitedly announced, "There's a girl being attacked back there!"
Sure enough, some slimeball was trying to drag a young lady off the shoulder and into the ditch, caveman style. Janie backed the car up and we jumped out and scared the attacker off into the cornfields. This was all kind of surreal since we had all been half asleep or totally oblivious moments ago! The poor girl was a bit disheveled and obviously hysterical. We got her into the car and sped away. Apparently the girl had been at The Inferno and walked outside when the assailant grabbed her and dragged her off into the the fields by the expressway. Now here's the funny part (Imagine you’re in the passenger seat watching this unfold):
The Polaroidz: Wow, are you alright?
The damsel in distress: (Blubbering hysterically) Pant, pant, ohh my gawd, boohoohoo!
The Polaroidz: Well, it's a good thing we saw you, jeezuz what the hell happened?
The damsel in distress: He just kept running and dragging me! Waaaahhh!
The Polaroidz; It's okay now...where do you want to go?
The damsel in distress: Pant, pant, drool, waaah!
Dee Pearson: Hey, don't worry, we're Kool Ray and The Polaroidz! You’re safe now!
Right after she heard Dee’s comment, she immediately smiled and calmed down and started laughing in relief, as the thought of us being super heroes or crimefighters cracked her up. Soon the entire car was laughing and we found out she lived in Springfield.
We dropped her off at her house and headed home. We briefly discussed changing our name to Kool Ray and The Krime Fighters, but then wisely we kept our original handle and we were on the road again!