The search for new members to round out the band eventually brought Kirk Wilson into consideration. The daughter of famed local golfer and restauranteur, Helen Sigel Wilson, Kirk had a fine, strong voice and an effervescent personality that made her a standout on stage. Richard and Jimmy would still take the lead vocals on some songs, but Kirk became the lead singer in most cases, giving the band a fresh new sound even on many of the older originals.
The decision had been made toward the end of the Pabs era to include long-time roadie and genuine friend of the band, Bill “Bicey” Ferguson on trumpet for certain songs. He was always there anyway, why not let him play? But a lone trumpet does not a horn section make, and shortly after Kirk was inducted, saxophonist Sammy DiPietroantonio was added to the lineup. Soon, most songs had intricate horn parts, and the band took on a much fuller sound.
Sammy convinced bassist Tony Waldman to audition for the band. His quiet, soft-spoken demeanor disguised his musical intensity, and he put down a solid bottom with his Paul McCartney style Hofner bass. Tony brought with him a punchier, funky style of playing that would keep the rhythm section tightly focused throughout the remainder of the band’s performing days.
Everywhere that Bicey went, his dog was sure to go. Known alternatively as “Rasputin”, “Rasper”, or most commonly “The Pig”, the pugnacious, white, female boxer became an unofficial member of the band. She is even mentioned on-air during the WIOQ radio concert broadcast live-on-tape in 1975 (see Recordings below).
While thoughts of fame and fortune were always tantalizingly on the horizon, every attempt to interest record companies in the band was met with rejection. A number of recordings were made, but none were released to the general public. Until now, that is.
Then one day in late 1975 came devastating news. Kirk Wilson, only 21 years old, had died suddenly, apparently the result of an aneurysm in her brain. She had been riding a horse at the time, and suddenly just fell off. Those with her had initially thought she died as a result of the fall, but it was later determined the aneurysm had caused her to lose consciousness, precipitating the fall.
Band members and friends were on hand at the funeral, and with no better way to express their grief, those who could play an instrument participated in a memorial jam afterwards. She was sorely missed. The Kirk era was sadly short -- lasting less than one year.
Following that tragedy, the band decided to forego a dedicated lead singer, with Richard
and Jimmy dividing up the main vocal duties. That signaled the start of the “Transition” era
that you can explore next.
First, however, check out the following links for more from the Kirk era: