|Schmiddy circa 1989
Professor Schmiddy Rants about the Covingtons
Ah, The Covingtons. The Covingtons were a shock onto the local music scene- equated to the likes
of oil being mixed with water. Something didn't quite fit. There were too many metal bands, hippie bands, and funk combos...
and then there were The Covingtons.
To find any one defining moment in the Covingtons short-lived
but highly memorable history, might just be slightly left of difficult.
The thing about going
to a Covingtons show is that you knew you were going to be entertained by the band itself, as well, a band member or a friend
would usually get out of line during or after the show. You knew that by going to a Covingtons show you were going to have
a good time and have SOMETHING to laugh about regardless of who provided the laughter or how outrageous it was. Reading the
recollections contained within may just be testament to that.
Must press onward...
Here are a few memories that stick
in my mind.
Late fall 1991 saw a one-night tour to the unsuspecting city of Columbus, Ohio.
A local Michigan bar band, The Knaves, headlined and booked this show at the South Heidelberg. We thought we would make a
big party of it. Roadtrip. The five Covingtons, assorted girlfriends, Admiral Frank, Eric Warda and I, loaded into 3 modes
of transportation, with all the gear.
The South Heidelberg was this dive bar just off OSU's campus and obviously enjoyed
its selection of colorful regulars. The bar and stage (if that's what you wish to call it) was located in the basement of
this 100-plus year old building. The stage was behind this 3-foot high stucco and wood wall that was apparently booths for
a restaurant before it had been gutted at some point in the building's history.
Drinks were already
flowing and it was time for the Covingtons to go on. A few songs into the set, Freddy must have noticed his Tambourine slowly
coming apart (likely because he was beating it against a wooden post to keep the beat). Therefore, Freddy did what every true
rock star should do in a situation like this...continue to whack it until it is completely unusable and almost unrecognizable.
At some point, I noticed that I was the only one that came with the Covingtons entourage that
didn't smoke. So I proceeded to make my way across the street to the 7-11 and buy me a pack of Marlboros, smoke the whole
lot during the Covingtons set, by myself, just to prove that I could do it! Well done 'ol chap.
JAEGERMEISTER FOR EVERYONE!!!!!
Some drunk kat at the bar decided that he didn't like the way that Freddy of accessorized,
strolled up and in mid-song tore the iron-cross necklace from around his neck, threw it on the floor, stepped on it, and did
his best to grind it into the floor. Yeah, the night was blurry for everyone. The Knaves played, and the show ended with an
all-star entirely unrehearsed Knaves/Covingtons jam session, which if my memory serves me right, included Miserlou, of all
songs. I think Maltese was playing drums on that one!
Appologies to the owners of the bar and
the few remaining, highly lubricated bar patrons. Speaking of lubricated, we loaded up the gear and poured Freddy into Eric's
3:00 AM (likely MUCH later!) Fred has his torso out of the passenger window- voice completely
shot from sing...OK, screaming, as well as the booze, yelling at the top of his lungs, "HELLO COLUMBUS!" Over and over
We reach our final destination of the Holiday Inn, where we have, 3- $15.00 hotel rooms, thanks to my Holiday
Inn employee status. We were astounded by the price of smokes in the lobby vending machine, $1.10 per pack! I think someone
raced to the store to get more beer as well. Yeah, we needed more.
Freddy, Maltese, & I wind
up in the same room, and Fred wasted no time finding the prone position!
** Now at this time I need to explain to you, the consumer, that our dear Freddy Fortune has a tendency to walk
and talk in his sleep. This night was no exception**
Only wearing his undies, he was laying atop the bed, spread eagle, facedown. Maltese and I decided that we would
stay up for a bit to watch Gary Busey in "The Buddy Holly Story." Fred was tossin' and mumblin', I thought this would be a
great opportunity to throw crushed corn chips at him. He rolls over with chips all over his face, gets up, and is uttering,
"It's good. It's good." Over and Over. He makes his way around the bed, still mumbling, to the full-length wall mirror and
is trying to CLIMB INTO IT!!!! NO LIE.
"It's good. It's good." He tried, strangely, with no luck, to get into Alice's Wonderland
for the better part of a half-minute, still jabbering, "It's good. It's good."
He finally gives up, walks right past Mike
and I, never acknowledging the fact that we are sitting there laughing at him. He didn't even look at us. So, he finds the
bathroom and pees for, like, five minutes. I turn out the lights and turn off the TV and we wait for him to come out. He opens
the door, bangin' and bumpin' into shit... he hits the bed. The lights come on and he's OUT and ALREADY back to sleep! Amazing!
Mike and I watch the remainder of "The Buddy Holly Story" and crap out. The following morning, we tell Fred of his attempted
adventures to 'Wonderland' and he is in total disbelief. We go to check out the 'Goody Boy' (a genius diner virtually unchanged
since the mid-50's) and it's closed on Sunday's! Drat! It's a long drive back home with many hangovers. "HELLO COLUMBUS!!!!!!!"
no one even loaded up on cheap smokes.
|Michael Maltese & Greg Boes Boozin' It Up Columbus Style
"The Cross Street Station incident."
John Michaels gets wasted
during the show, at the end of the set throws his guitar over the audience and hits the lovely Kelly George in the head, causing
a gushing wound. We pack up and head back to the house where I tended to Kelly's Rickenbacker inflicted injury. John is banned
from Cross Street. John & Kelly make friends soon after.
"Piss on Motown."
Until recent research this show at Finney's in Detroit was thought to be the last Covingtons show. All of the Covingtons live-show
entourage showed up for what was thought to be a historic Covingtons moment. Greg, the drummer, sat this show out due to a
broken arm, but showed up to see how the show would go without him.
The show ground-to-a-halt when the crippled Greg decided
he wants to do an encore song regardless of his limitations.
After a five-minute discussion of 'what should we do?' they
decided on Milk Cow Blues. Greg falters half way through and loses tempo. The try it again, but slower. It still sucks, but
they finish. The band schmoozes and packs up. Eric Warda, myself and a third party (fuzzy as to whom,) drove together.
Heading toward the exit door, Eric notices that the line to the restroom is a mile long, he thinks about it and passes. We
get to the car and he sees that we parked in front of a dumpster. He gets out, goes BEHIND the dumpster to pee, and all of
a sudden... sirens and flashing lights from nowheres-ville, baby! The cops get out, question him, tell him to spread 'em,
search him, then they cuff 'em & stuff 'em, pull his record up to see if he has any outstanding violations. They had him
detained for at least 20 minutes, uncuffed him and gave him a ticket and a court summons!!!!!!!!!!! In the shittiest part
of Detroit, he has the courtesy of peeing BEHIND a dumpster, most vagrants in Detroit piss on business' doorsteps, in the
street, wherever! In this cesspool-city, there's crack, smack, cocaine, guns & hookers being sold on every street in the
city, and they pick some guy peeing BEHIND a dumpster.
Months later, Eric went back to the Detroit court, and I guess was
laughed at by everybody but the judge. $75.00 fine! He got off easier than The Litter!
"Just Like Me."
A week or so prior to THIS Cross Street Station show, Freddy & I, with other friends in tow, went to
a 30 year old tuxedo shop in Grand Rapids that was clearing out its back-stock of vintage jackets. We bought several of the
same jackets. So, to this show, we somehow wore the exact same outfit, head to toe! We laughed about that for a while. The
band was ready to start, and Freddy was at the bar getting a very last minute cocktail. The band was getting annoyed that
they had been up there for several minutes waiting for him, and I was going to introduce the band, so I jumped up there and
told the guys to do "Just like Me." They started out and I said something like, "Thanks for coming out. My name's Freddy and
we're the Covingtons," and burst into "Just Like Me." I finished with the first verse and Fred strolled up, pulled me offstage
and finished the song.
This is only funny if you know what Fred and I look like standing side-by-side. I'm 5'8", he's 6'3".
He's got a lot of hair, I don't have much. I've got a goatee, he don't. I was out for a good laugh, and I got it.
"Your Reputation POST-cedes You."
In 1998, I was bartending at a brewpub in Ann Arbor, and Ian, one of the kitchen staff, chatted me up about music. I didn't
know hip he was and did my best to describe surf, garage, ETC. He asked me if I ever saw a band called The Covingtons! I FLIPPED!
This was 6+ years since they last played, and he said he saw them at the Old Heidelberg ...a few years ago. Yeah, quite a
few! He continued, saying he LOVED the Covingtons. Apparently stuff of legendary proportions.
Here's my tribute to the greatest garage band of the late eighties/early nineties: IN my day The Covingtons
were a rowdy bunch of misfits, practicing in Freddy's basement while his folks ate roast and watched the tube upstairs.
A bit short on technique (perhaps), but when it came to smoking cigarettes, getting drunk, and making a whole bunch of
rockin' noise, we kicked ass.
|Michael & Freddy Down in the Cave
What stories can I remember...they all seem to involve Chan. Him drunk
at the club. Drunk in the van. Throwing
his guitar into Kelly George's
head at Cross Street. Hitting that kittie cat in the van en route to
Spago for hot dogs
and him not realizing it. The 3 band salute to
America, playing with Vibrolux (and Berglund) before joining...
Or Freddy boozed up, starting to crash in the stock room basement at Cross
Street and Eric yelling at him
to get UP: "Fred, you're not fucking
falling asleep in the basement!" Sleeping next to the ashtray in the
at the Ypsilanti Cave house. And the Cave parties. Sleeping down
there in the filth. Or Fred
& Chan getting into a fight in my Ann Arbor living room one new years eve. That was a good time.
An Greg...Busch beer and those damn clove cigarettes. Good old Greg.
And that's not even talking about the shows. I have to think about this
one when I have some more time!
Greg Boes: (AKA The Dirt Burglar)
I just thought of one incident that was almost unbelievable. The Covingtons were playing
at Paycheck's in hamtramck, (I think). anyway, Tom conway was a regular guitarist in the band at the time. but,
little did we know, he had started another band at the same time. so here we are at paycheck's and we are supposed
to go on, but Tom is missing. no one knows where he is. turns out he is playing with his other band at some bar on 8
mile. as I recall, Mark Trefelli or someone we knew filled in for Tom, and Tom knew about the Covington show
well in advance! I think his lame excuse was that the other bar paid more and his band was the new weekend band.
Another Tom story was the time he showed up early for a show, (Ann
Arbor, maybe Colombus?),
and drank the whole band's allotment of free beer-BY HIMSELF! 2 or 3 pitchers, although it was probably meister
brau or an equivalent. still, that was not nice, TOM! enough for now. Tom is a good guy. this is just what
popped into my head.
I remember the day the call came. It was your basic late spring/early
summer sunny day that could be any other late spring/early summer day in suburban Detroit. My buddy John Fell called. He had
been doing some painting with Chan and Chan said his band needed a bass player.
John: Dude, Chan's band needs a bass player
Me: Who's Chan?
John: You know, John Michaels.
Me: Oh yes, of course, Chan.
Me: Will I get to wear a shiny green suit with Beatle boots, drink myself
silly, and jump around like a lunatic while playing a borrowed bass?
Me: I'm in
And so it began.
As it turns out, I was only in the Covingtons for about
6 months. I never got to play with Maltese. I missed the Columbus spectacle. But still, it was a good run. A blurry run. But
a good run nonetheless. I still can't stand the smell of Jim Beam, the result of a chaotic show at the Hamtramck Pub where
I drank myself into a stupor and nearly took someone's head off with the neck of my bass. The Dirt Burglar in drag at St.
Andrews still gives me nightmares. The Old Miami shows were always a blast. The only thing I regret about those shows was
my girlfriend was always there so I couldn't hit on Peg from the Gories. Not that she was gorgeous, but there was something
about her. One show at the Miami, Chan left the stage at least 3 times to take a leak. This was only a 45-minute set. I think
one time I went with him.
Man, what else? For the longest time, I thought I was the
only one in the band who "smoked". One night at Paychecks, the Organ Goddess Deb follows me out to the parking lot. It was
like she was psychic or something. It was good to share one with a band member before a show. Whatever happened to her? She
was the coolest.
Of all the memories though, there is one thing I remember most.
Writhing. Not me, Fred. No one can writhe like Freddy. It's truly a sight to behold.
At the end of the show Fred would first fall to his knees. Then he'd start shrieking. Not screaming. It was definitely a shriek.
A manly shriek. But still a shriek. Then he'd fall on his back. The shrieking would continue. Chan and I would have to get
out of the way because the writhing was about to commence. How can I describe this? Freddy's face would contort and his body,
well, it was like he was getting a blowjob while someone was electrocuting him and ripping his guts out with a serrated knife.
Women and children would flee. Grown men would openly weep. Clouds would appear out of nowhere on a bright, moonlit night.
Get the picture?
All good things come to an end. As much as I loved playing
with these lunatics, I somehow deluded myself into thinking I needed more of musical challenge. I quit. I was replaced. And the Covingtons went on to further glory without me.
The Covingtons saga actually starts at a 4th of July party in Freddy's back yard back in the
late 80's. Chan, Boes and myself were in a band called the Phenomenal Fish Recipe and were invited to play with two other
bands, the Gories and the Visogoths (Freddy's band). After the bands played, a jam session ensued with members of
all three bands plus Tom Conway.
|L-R Johnny, Dave Renneker, Mike Floyd, Freddy, Bob, Tom
Out of this jam session an ALLSTAR band, the Sinmen was born. The Sinmen played one show,
kicked Freddy out because he couldn't bang the tambourine properly and broke up. From the wreckage of the Sinmen, Victims
of Circumstance was born with me, Conway, Boeberitz and Paul Katrich. Victims of Circumstance was a 60's Garage Punk
band, and all humility aside, we were pretty damned good.
|The Victims Of Circumstance Paul, Tom, Jeff, Bob
While Victims of Circumstance was enjoying a decent run on the local scene, Freddy, Chan &
Boes (my old chums) decided to start their own 60's garage Punk band. Freddy hates this story but, I was over at his
house and he was talking about starting the band and what to call it. I saw a guitar case laying by the wall with
a sticker on it from my old junior high school, you guessed it, Covington Junior High School. Although I personally hated Covington
Junior High School, I told Freddy that the Covingtons was the perfect name for his new Garage 60's Punk band and it stuck.
The Covingtons original line-up was Freddy on the Kent Bass, Chan on the Rickenbaker (he's probably still playing
the same guitar to this day) and Boes on the Ludwig drum set (that is still in my basement by the way). One of the most distinctive
feature of the Covingtons that is seldom talked about is the Vox gear. From the beginning it was all Vox all the time!
Chan had the Vox Super Beatle and they also had the Vox Orbiter (straight out of the Jetsons or something). Oh yeah,
and then there were the suits. 60"s shark skin suits were required band attire with skinny ties and short hair. Imagine
the contrast between us and well, EVERYBODY ELSE!! This was the late 80's early 90's. In the words of Goober &
the Peas "we don't give didlee squat about our peer group!"
I remember helping out with
learning songs and went to many of their gigs. One of my favorite memories was at a show at the Old Miami where they started
a song, it broke down and they all stopped, just staring at each other not sure exactly what to do. I yelled out from
the audience......1 - 2 - 3 - 4 and they all started the song right on time and played it all the way through. The
Covingtons eventually added Debbie on keyboards and Steve on bass and this freed up Freddy to explore just how outrageous
he could be not having to hide behind a guitar, and, oh yes, he could be pretty outrageous!.
Well, Victims of Circumstance broke up. Freddy called me and asked me to fill in for Steve on bass at a show at Paychecks.
It was fun playing with my old friends and we all dressed up as military people. I have no idea why but we did,
except Chan who was always a pain in the ass. "I..I..I don't want to" he whined and dressed in a suit. The part time
gig turned into full time and I had to go out and buy a Vox! I had a Hofner (Beatle) bass and a Vox Sovereign bass
amp (it didn't have the best sound quality and the plug looked like it was from WWII but it was louder than hell). shortly
after I joined, Conway invited himself to join as well. Tom had a continuing on again off again relationship with
the Covingtons but Tom would never buy the Vox, wear the suits or "Turn it down!!".
the next several years, with a few line-up changes we played, drank and made our way up the ladder to bigger and better
gigs. We actually (well at least Chan & Freddy were) interviewed by the local Observer & Eccentric newspaper
and an article ran along with a picture and everything! The most memorable quote in the article came from Chan, "We started
out on the weekends just drinking beer but now we drink beer and play music. It gives us one more thing to do".
The last show in this run was a headline show at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. These were the infamous days of Margaret
the cage dancer and I remember a small brou ha ha from the local feminists.
Chan's mommy and daddy made him move to
Vermont to get away from our evil influences so he could pursue his art career. This kind of killed the band. The
whole chemistry really was Freddy & Chan. But, the band would not die. Freddy hooked up with Mike Maltese, Conway
came back and we continued on, now based in Ypsilanti. we even recruited Mark Trafelli from the Knaves for a short
I don't actually remember why we stopped playing but we had a couple reunion shows at
Finney's that are kind of legendary. Freddy & Maltese soldiered on with the Garage flag with Fortune &
Maltese. Chan moved to New York and started Johnny Chan & the New Dynasty Six (there's four of them). Maltese split
and Freddy and Schmiddy started Freddy & the Four-Gone Conclusions.
I didn't quit my day
job but I still jam now and then with my own band
Groovy Guru & the Sacred Cows. We're not Garage 60's punk but we
still have a good time.
|Bob "Groovy Guru" Kaufman & The Sacred Cows
OK...the funny stuff:
1. The band fight
While rehearsing "Out of
Our Tree" which has a kind of awkward break, Greg missed the break, I stop everybody and go "Greg, you missed the break".
To which Greg responds "it doesn't matter". Well, Chan who usually never loses his cool, uncharacteristically, turns
beet red and says "WHADDAYA MEAN IT DOESN'T MATTER!!" and proceeds over to the drum set and shoves Greg right off
of the stool!! Invectives were invoked, slurs were incurred and Freddy
and I just looked at each other and cracked up!!
The Cross Street Station Guitar throwing incident.
That poor girl! I just remember that for some
reason she wasn't mad..I mean she was bleeding and everything. After we got back to Freddy's I remember that everyone
tried to smash this guitar and it would not break. I took it out in the street, threw it up in the air as far as I could
(probably 25 feet or so) and it bounced off the pavement with a couple of more scratches but would not break.
3. Finneys #1
Greg trying to play drums inebriated and with a broken
arm. Boeberitz actually subbed for Greg on this gig and when Greg came up to play Milk Cow Blues with his broken
arm Jeff was standing next to him clapping his hands trying to keep Greg in time. it was pretty ridiculous.
This time Greg was the drummer with no broken arm. This may have been unfortunate
because with his healthy arm, Greg was able to drink a few too many beers before we started. One of the first songs was
"Red Lights" which is a pretty fast song. Well we start playing it and I hear from behind me a couple of beats are
a little off then a couple more beats are a little more off then Greg STOPS DRUMMING COMPLETELY! Right in the middle
of a song in front of a bunch of people. We all keep playing for a few more seconds and then when it becomes obvious
that Greg is not going to start drumming again
we all stop turn around and look at Greg demanding an explanation. I mean
we were pretty pissed off as this was pretty embarrassing for us. There is almost complete silence and Greg waives
his drum stick at us and slurs "Let's just skip that one". This was also the gig that Freddy went out into the audience
mad that people were sitting down during the show and in mid-song made them stand up and kicked their chairs across the
Those were the days!!
|1987 Post Visigoths Pre Covingtons
Thinking back on the Covingtons, there is always a rush of memories! So many that when I try to
recall them all at once I am overwhelmed!
It has been mentioned before, but the infamous Cross Street
Station show in Ypsilanti, that got us banned from the joint! John decided that he was going to smash his guitar after the
last song. Well the owner cut us off before the last song. Johnny goes nuts anyway, and trys to break the thing! It is indestructable!
finally he gives up and hurls it across the bar! It hits Kelly George in the head and blood begins to flow! Next thing you
see is the owner and bouncers dragging Chan out of the bar! I stroll outside and there is John with not one but two chicks
all over him! Oh the power of Rock & Roll Stupidity! Luckily Kelly is a friend or we would have been looking at a lawsuit!
For some reason when John gets drunk he apparently turns invisible, I know this to be true! At a frat party at Greg's fraternity,
I think we played at it or it was a different night. Anyway Chan gets really liqoured up, and proceeds to go on the rampage!
In the kitchen & the living room they had 2 small swimming pools full of goldfish! How frat is that! Anyway, at the end
of the night John goes out of the house and comes back with a cement deer, which he throws in the pool. Nobody sees this!
Then he comes back in with a second deer, in it goes. Then he comes back with a bicycle, and then another, in they go. Nobody
notices this. Then I see this absolute maniacal look of Satan in his eyes! He goes into the kitchen and grabs this huge butcher
knife. He goes over to the pool and slashes it! Water starts flowing all over the place! I grab him and get him the hell out
of there! Nobody Sees this happen!!!!
I remember one night Greg had booked us at the Olde Miami, down in the
Cass Corridor. At the time it was pretty scary around that area. Hookers pissing in the alleys, gun shots, dirty needles all
over the ground. Any way we play the show, and the owner stops us from packing up our gear. He says why are you packing up,
you are playing tomorrow night right? We are like what? Yeah you are booked for two nights. So we agree, but don't want to
leave our gear there. He is like look we have I guy who sleeps here at night and here is the friend who stays with him, he
then proceeds to pull out a huge shotgun. Ok the gear stays!!!! More to come as I think of things!
The big photo shoot! We made arrangements for a photographer to do a session for us. The day before
the session Greg shows up at John's house with a Mohawk haircut! We go balistic! He is going to ruin our phony 60's pictures
with a 70's chop cut! So John escorts him immeadiately down to a Hamtramck wig shop. There he bought a page Boy wig to
wear at the session! I call this Greg's Taxi Driver phase. Soon after, Greg is seen wearing an Army jacket and mirror
shades, sporting the Mohawk! He is seen kicking garbage cans in the alley and acting like Deniro! Hey
Tuff Guy!!! Greg also got us banned from a bar too, the Hamtramck Pub, I can't remember all the reasons but one of them was
for smoking those tacky cigarettes "jarms".
Greg may have been a little easy on Tom in his write up, but Tom was not always a nice
guy! In fact sometimes he could be a real Dick! Take for instance the time he shows up for practice with a new Fuzz pedal.
He goes over to my Vox Orbiter, Turns it up to 10, plugs in his guitar in the fuzz box, turns his guitar all the way up, and
stomps on the pedal! This immediately blows both of the speakers in my amp. We tell him he has to pay for new speakers or
to get them re-coned. He refuses saying that the speakers would have blown any way at some point! Yeah Right! He did pay for
them after all, but then later ran off with money from the band fund! He also would never turn his guitar down during shows
and was always so damn loud he drowned out everything. So we gave him the boot, only to have him rejoin after Johnny moved
to New York. Then he pulled the stunt Greg mentioned
where he left us standing on stage with out a guitar player at Lilli's.
I would love to write something, but it would probably be about Me, Me, Me, Me or maybe even a little something
|Looking Pretty Garage for 1980!
Of course, I forgot all about writing up a Covingtons story. However, I will work on it.
I was just checking out the website. It's awesome! Love the youthful
pictures of everyone.
Those were the good old days.
AND as I was reading through the Band Blab, I started feeling really
famous...I am the girl that got hit with
the guitar in the infamous
Cross Street Station incident. Just for the record....I don't know if it
the alcohol or the shear excitement of seeing the Covingtons,
but I did not feel a thing until the hot liquid started pouring
neck. My first thought was, "Damn! Someone spilled something
on me!!" I started to figure
things out when I put my hand on my neck and
saw the blood. At that moment, Michael Maltese also realized
was happening, and wisked me out the back door and away from all the
chaos. Everyone was really concerned, as I tried
that it didn't hurt that bad, but they just thought I was delirious from
loss of blood.
I remember going back to Fred's house afterward, where
someone (maybe Mike) put some sort of frozen food product on my
I'm proud to report that I still got up the next morning
and made it to class.
All's well, that ends well.
- Kelly George