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Children of Tyme

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“Children of Tyme formed over the summer of love in 1967. The original lineup included Garry AuFrance on lead vocals, Jeff Baker on lead guitar, Doug Bonnell on drums, Bob Dyer on bass, and Jim McCormick on organ. Jeff And Doug came out of a band called the Mystiques which was active in town in 1966-1967. Garry and Jim were previously in a band called King’s English. I knew Bob, who was already a proficient guitarist around town, and asked him to join the fun. Back then, most, if not all, of the musicians in town who were active got their start literally in someone’s garage with the garage door up, blasting away. Reflecting back, how parents and neighbors put up with that is beyond me!

Our first gig was at the YMCA in the fall of 1967 as we entered high school. Our contract indicates we were paid $35, plus 15 cents per person over 140 people. It was an inauspicious start.

The band worked hard at our craft and gained popularity around town, especially our high school class. Soon, we were everywhere it seems. We played the Teen Center, YMCA, Country Club, Findlay College, Bluffton College, and private parties. I literally kept a calendar during those years and we were playing 3-5 times a week while going to school. The administrative side of the band got to be a little much at that point, so Doug’s dad, Clarence Bonnell, agreed to take over as our manager, handling all of our bookings and contracts. He was a great influence on us over the next several years and was a steady hand managing five teenage boys, which was not easy. After every gig was over, the back door would open, and there he was waiting for us with an open U-Haul attached to his green Plymouth, pitching in to help us load all our equipment. A lot of those nights, especially weekends, we didn’t get home until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.

At this point, finding places to practice consistently was becoming a problem. We had run out of options. Clarence negotiated a contract for us at the Teen Center which allowed us to safely store all our equipment and practice there when they weren’t open. In turn, we agreed to appear there once a month. It turned out to be an ideal situation for us and the Teen Center. Clarence also booked one of our first club dates at the Roadhouse in June of 1968. That, in turn, started to spark interest from other clubs and we increasingly were booked for out-of-town dates.

A seminal moment for us came in the 4th quarter of 1968 when we added Mike Shively from Leipsic. Mike was one of the best alto sax players in the state and also played keyboards. He did the arrangement for us of “Eleanor Rigby” which proved to be our signature song. His addition allowed us a lot of new opportunities to do more sophisticated material from bands like Chicago Transit Authority, Blood Sweat and Tears, etc., all of which proved extremely popular with our audiences.

In 1969, Clarence negotiated a contract with Gene Cleary’s group of clubs for us to appear on a regular, rotating basis. We started to appear regionally in all their “places” like Ottawa, Celina, and Port Clinton, and others. In July of that year, we had a major setback. We were playing in their Celina club that week when we walked in for a Saturday afternoon practice and stared up at a mostly bare stage. Other than Doug’s drums and some mic stands and cables, all of our equipment had been stolen. This created an immediate crisis for us because we had to play that night there. I reached out to Phil McClurkin who owned Porter’s Music store and asked for assistance. He was phenomenal. He also owned a store in Lima and told us to drive up there and pick out whatever we needed and we’d settle up later. Well, later turned out to be months as we decided what to do. In January of 1970, we entered CER Studios in Fremont, Ohio, and on January 18th, we recorded “Eleanor Rigby” which survives to this day.

All good things come to an end. As we approached graduation from high school that June, the band dissolved in the spring, as all of us went off to do other things. As we often told each other, we had more fun than we legally were allowed. And we did! It was a tremendous experience that allowed a bunch of teenage boys to grow into young men and we are forever indebted to Doug’s dad, Clarence, for his guidance during some turbulent times. Also, to our high school class for all their support and our many fans that we gained throughout the state, we couldn’t have existed without you!”

As remembered by band members:

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