Stone Wall

Cavern was one label in a long lineage of Show Me State concerns trying to break out of the Missouri Valley. Louis Blasco’s Cardinal dominated the landscape throughout the ‘50s but was waning in the wake of his 1954 death. By the time of his son Allen’s 14th birthday in 1965, only the Blasco family’s Happiness Music publishing company was still afloat, scraping in pennies from covers of “My Happiness” by Connie Francis, Elvis, Tony Orlando, et al. The business was in his blood, but that didn’t mean Allen’s teener garage outfit the Clergymen had anywhere to bleed.

A few years later, the younger Blasco would drop his cassock to worship at the altar of Clapton. With his Shawnee Mission High classmate Greg Whitfield installed on bass, Blasco set his sights on landing Kenny Mairs—formerly a Chontel, formerly of 19th Century Sound Affair, and recently 86’d by London Wood—to form Stone Wall. Mairs was a shade older than Blasco and Whitfield, and brought maturity, a few semesters of community college, and a double bass drum to the fold. In March of ’69, they hit Cavern with a set of originals and twin Marshall stacks. John Pearson sat behind the board. “I’d never been in a studio before,” remembered Blasco. “They only had four tracks, but they allowed us to experiment. On ‘Living Today,’ we sped up the guitar on the bridge, an old trick, but one I hadn’t heard of yet.” The resulting four songs were shopped around, but other than a polite nibble from Decca, no deals were tendered. The tape was shelved in another cave and forgotten about.

Mairs and Whitfield slunk off the Wall shortly after, but for Blasco, “There was nothing to fall back on. There was no family business to go into. This was the family business.” Stone Wall was reconfigured with future Morningstar guitarist Rick Bacus on bass and Leroy Cline on drums in the fall of 1969. A year later Alan Cohen took over the bass and Pete Jacobs got behind the kit, business as usual. Under the wing of Brewer & Shipley manager Stan Plesser and his Good Karma Productions, Stone Wall found themselves at the foot of bills for Ted Nugent and Brownsville Station. “’Smokin' In The Boys Room’ was just entering the top ten, and we still wiped up the floor with 'em!” said Blasco. “I’ll never forget Cub Koda’s beady little eyes boring holes through us as we walked off stage after our second encore.” Koda would get the last laugh; by 1976 Stone Wall had crumbled.

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