The rudiments of this Stonehenge lay not on the Salisbury Plain but in Clinton, Iowa, barely a landmark itself along the state’s Mississippi coast. Mark Haferbier and David Schneider shared their own ancient history. They’d forged ’60s cover band The Loving Souls in junior high, then reincarnated as Blues Projection, an un-bluesy band that progressed toward psychedelia’s harder edge. In 1968, an arsonist left nothing of Clinton High but its gym and swimming pool, forcing nearby Washington Junior High and Clinton to take halves of each school day. With afternoons off, the renamed Stonehenge hammered out its repertoire—Haferbier singing, Schneider’s guitar leads and Robert Finch’s rhythm, bassist Dick Olson, and drummer Thomas Folsom—mastering tough Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane material.
Competing for paid church basements gigs against Star-Spangled Banana and 51st Floor, Haferbier and Schneider put live earnings and monies from a meager weed hustle toward rent, although both sacrificed his diploma to Stonehenge’s altar. Folsom’s departure led to a forgettable-drummer parade of the sort later mocked by This Is Spinal Tap. In 1971, Stonehenge answered St. Louis manager Spence Stein’s ad; Stein led them to East Davenport’s twotrack Fredlo Studio, where LSD helped birth the band’s originals—though it rallied the imagination no less than did J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
The Finch/Haferbier/Schneider mini-epic “King of the Golden Hall” titled itself after the sixth chapter of The Two Towers, summoning up rings made for dwarven lords, Rohan’s famed horsemen, and the dark lord Sauron himself. Stein commissioned a 200-unit pressing on the Dymanite label, and the band delivered copies to clubs, labels, and friends. Recently of age, Stonehenge took Illinois strip club stages usually reserved for strippers. Then, forging ahead into the broader Midwest, Stonehenge adapted its sound, adding pop, then blues, rapidly scrapping the Dante-themed darkness of B-side “The Inferno” in favor of more crowd-pleasing fare. Haferbier and Schneider left Stonehenge’s circle to join The Rick Pike Band in 1972, sheltering there until decade’s close, while the rest of the fellowship dispersed across its native river landscape.