By Paul Fattig
The first thing you may notice about the original band members is their hair is as white as snow.
But that superficial observation instantly melts away when the youthfully energetic members of the rock ‘n roll band Rewind — drummer John Morrison, bass guitar player George Gleim and Diane Carter on keyboard — get warmed up.
Their enthusiastic rendition of “Stuck in Lodi Again,” made famous by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, rings true for anyone who remembers the 1960s.
“Sometimes you get pretty good if you play em 5 or 6,000 times,” quips Morrison after the music stops.
The lead vocalist in the two rock ‘n roll classics is only slightly exaggerating.
The three were members of the Navarros, an award-winning rock ‘n roll band of youth from Talent and Ashland which formed in 1962 when they were all seniors at Phoenix High School.
They played together for several years before Morrison was drafted and sent to Vietnam. The remaining band eventually morphed into a group known as the Neighborhood Children, which continued to play into the late 1960s.
Slightly more than half a century later, the Navarros are back as Rewind. They reunited about 18 months ago.
A retired journalist and administrator at Rogue Valley Council of Governments, Morrison, 68, is a former Ashland mayor. Carter, 69, is a retired teacher. Gleim, 69, and his wife, Sheila, own Sunrise Pool Service in Medford.
The newest member of the group is lead guitarist Shane Clark, a youngster at 35.
Late each Tuesday and Friday afternoon you’ll find them practicing in Gleim’s attached garage in rural Phoenix.
They are preparing for a June 22 gig at the Talent Community Center. The free event celebrates the 50th anniversary of the band and serves as a fundraiser for the Talent Historical Society. Contributions will be accepted.
Although a half-century has elapsed since they started out as the Navarros, their goals remain the same.
“We want to play music and enjoy it,” Gleim says. “And hope other people enjoy it as much as we do.”
“I feel the same — I love playing music,” Carter adds.
“There is no time in my life when I’m happier and soaring freer than being up on stage,” Morrison observes. “Just interacting with fellow musicians and the audience — there is a certain magic of communications that goes on. It’s like an addiction, I guess.”
“Addicted to music,” Carter says with a laugh.
Both Morrison and Gleim recall the night in 1962 when the two were sitting in Gleim’s ‘57 Chevrolet at the A&W Drive-In in Ashland. A musical friend named Gary Campbell from Ashland came up to the car and told them they should start a band but they needed to find a drummer.
“George pointed to me and said, John is our drummer,’ ” Morrison says.
Never mind the only drumstick Morrison had ever held was during Thanksgiving dinner. A quick study, he bought a drum set and began practicing.
“I was totally self-taught,” he says.
Campbell played lead guitar in the original band while Rick Bolz of Phoenix played rhythm guitar.
But they still needed someone who could play the keyboard. Carter had the musical knowledge the band sought, Morrison says.
“George called me when we were kids and said, We’re putting a band together and we want you to play the piano in the band,’ ” Carter says. “When I asked him what kind of music, he said, Rock n roll.’ I said, I don’t like rock n roll.”
At the time she was playing classical music.
“But I went because it sounded like fun,” she says. “And it wasn’t too long before I fell in love with the music.”
The band played at local high school dances, graduating to the Elks Club in Ashland.
“We’d play a four-hour gig and they would pay us $5 each,” Morrison says. “It was enough for gas money and a burger afterwards. It also gave us chance to hone our skills and work with crowds.”
The five-member band, including Campbell and Bolz, won a battle of the bands in Northern California and Southern Oregon, according to a Jan. 5, 1965, article in the Mail Tribune.
That spring, the band traveled to Portland to record four songs on the Corbey label, the paper reported on April 15, 1965.
The Navarros were headed to Portland again on July 19 to record their second record with the songs, “Shadow of Love” and “Party Song, ” both written by band members, the paper noted on July 1, 1965.
That summer the band’s own compositions “Moses” and “Ikie” made it to the top spot and number nine on the local radio station KBOY’s Top 20 Hit Parade, Morrison notes.
It was also in 1965 when Morrison was drafted into the Army. Before leaving, he wrote a song, “I’ll be back.” However, when he returned from Vietnam, the band had moved on, he says.
The following year, Gleim joined the Oregon Army National Guard ahead of the draft.
Over the decades, all of them have remained in music in some form. After graduating from what is now Southern Oregon University and teaching school, Carter continued playing. She ventured off into gospel and country.
“They all have their own lure,” she says.
In January of 2012, the three members of the old Navarro group decided to give it another go.
“We were concerned we had lost our chops,” Morrison says. “But musical skills seem to be something that perseveres.”
“When we got together,” Morrison adds, “we said, As long as we are having a good time, let’s keep doing this.’
“We’re having a lot of fun playing again,” Gleim interjects.
Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.