Head East still going strong—part one

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116302645126108.jpg’, ‘Photo by Kathryn R. Martin’, ‘“[W]e just wanted to be big enough to tour around a bit and see where it would take us,” said Roger Boyd of Head East’s beginnings. “But it did get larger than I expected.”’);

Editor’s note: The following is the first of a two-part interview with Head East’s Roger Boyd.

There were no tricks but plenty of treats at the 2006 Rockin’ Halloween party Tuesday, Oct. 31 at the Ramada Inn in South Beloit. Roger Boyd and Head East made sure of that.

A compact but dedicated crowd enjoyed music from the 1970’s classic rock band. Some fans even brought old LP covers and posters from the band’s heyday for Boyd to autograph.

Released in 1975, Flat as a Pancake was the groups debut album and spawned the hit “Never Been Any Reason,” which remains a staple on classic rock radio across the country.

Between greeting old friends, confirming hotel rooms and doing sound checks, Roger Boyd, one of Head East’s founders, sat down with The Rock River Times and chatted about the band’s past, its future and how the industry has changed since the days of “arena rock.”

Jim Hagerty, The Rock River Times (TRRT): Head East has been around with several lineups over the years. How long have you been at this?

Roger Boyd(RB): Personally, I have been in this industry for as long as the band has existed. In two years, Head East will turn 40!

TRRT: Who actually started Head East?

RB: It was me, my brother (Larry Boyd) and Steve Huston. Those were the three founders. And I still get together and jam with them from time to time.

TRRT: I understand you were once known as the TimeAtions. Was that the name of a previous band, or was that the former name for Head East?

RB: Wow! You did your homework. I knew someone would bring that up. My manager actually included that in our bio to throw in a bit of trivia. But yes, our first name was the TimeAtions. I am not sure why, but that was our name before we changed it to Head East.

TRRT: How did you come up with the name? Why Head East?

RB: That’s a funny story. It was actually our stage manager at the time that came up with it. We were throwing around band names one day, and he sort of said in passing that we should call it Head East. And it was changed really without any of us really knowing about it. Our first two shows were under both names. We did a Saturday show under the old name. The next night in Carbondale, we were doing sound check and we saw a poster with the name Head East on it. We all looked at each other and said, “We are the band that’s playing here tonight, right?” Then, we realized it was us. So that goes down in history as Head East’s first show. That was Aug. 6, 1969.

TRRT: Many musicians today do whatever they can to make it in this business. They tour non-stop, shop labels etc. Was it your goal to make it big, or did it just happen?

RB: Well, define “big.” I mean Led Zeppelin was “BIG.” We were not Led Zeppelin “big,” but we were pretty big. And really, we just wanted to be big enough to tour around a bit and see where it would take us. But it did get larger than I expected.

TRRT: Flat as a Pancake came out in 1975. How did that evolve?

RB: Well, to be honest, we released that on our own label first before ’75, which was Pyramid Records. We sold 10,000 copies of that—5,000 on vinyl and 5,000 on 8-track. We were already getting airplay and had a pretty big following. That’s when A&M came in and signed us. They pretty much came to us.

TRRT: “Never Been Any Reason” came from that record. Was that an instant hit?

RB: It was and by 1978 that album went gold. And it’s pretty cool. That song is sort of an anthem for us on stage and on radio.

TRRT: I have seen, over the last decade or so, that many of the bands that came up in the ’60s and ’70s are still touring and making music. Do bands like Head East ever totally break up?

RB: I would have to say yes, they do. But it all depends on how much of the music stays in your blood. I know for me, I don’t have any plans to quit playing. As long as people will listen and I can still play, I will. What usually happens is that some guys just get plain tired and the band goes away, or somebody dies and that often times means the end of it. But as long as an original member or two still owns the name and the rights to the music, they keep it going with other players. Styx is still doing it. They got lucky. They don’t have Dennis (DeYoung) back, but Tommy (Shaw) is with them and he sang many of the hits. Their original drummer is dead, but they still are doing it. With bands like us, Foghat and Molly Hatchet, it’s only one or two original members. With the exception of Molly Hatchet, we are all still going strong. And I think it’s a cool thing because anyone who has spent any amount of time in this industry knows that rock ’n’ roll is not known for its longevity.

From the Nov.8-14, 2006, issue

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