Thursday, March 1, 2012

Life As We Now Know It

Though families may go through devastating times, somehow, Time does heal and life moves on. It has to.

Frank Stevens’ family picked up, after his unexpected 1966 passing, and got back into the rhythm of life. Frank’s widow, Norma, found a full-time job with Mountain Bell. Her oldest son, Kelly, resumed school life, as did her other three children. Now in high school, Kelly struggled with his studies. Understandably, in those mid-teen years that, on their own, can yield much angst, Kelly seemed to lose his focus after losing his father.

Those family ties once again served to strengthen. Switching to a different school program, Kelly would stop by his mom’s office on his way home or during lunch breaks, just to talk. And Norma did her best to make the Stevens household a place where her children’s friends could gather. Eventually, the garage was converted into a practice room where Kelly and his friends became part of that quintessential sixties-era musical expression, forming their own garage band.

With his good friend Chris Davis, Kelly and two others pursued their dream of landing a recording contract. Playing anywhere they could—from live promotions at roller skating rinks to Air Force base events—the band took on a sound vaguely reminiscent of The Doors. The foursome, morphing with the comings and goings of those other two players, always had the constant of Kelly on bass and Chris on drums. Eventually, they cut a demo and headed to Nashville to seek their fortune.

And soon returned to Albuquerque. The Doors, it turns out, had already been discovered.

Photograph, top left: John Kelly Stevens. All other photographs of the band. Center right: Kelly standing in the middle, with his friend Chris Davis to the right. Center left: Kelly on far left, Chris on far right. In performance, Kelly at left on bass, Chris in background on drums. All photographs from private family collection.

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