By D. J. MORROW INGRAM
CRISIS MANAGEMENT: Members of the Mid-Life Crisis band show no signs of middle age blues. From left to right are band members Steve Lee, Jim Stunkard, Carl Raynes, Charley Stewart, John Dougherty and Steve Parkhurst.
If this is what a “mid-life crisis” looks like, I’m ready to have one.
For nearly nine years, five Tulsa natives (and one OKC guy) have been rocking parties with their mixture of 1960s and 1970s classic rock under the moniker, “Mid-Life Crisis Band.” They have become a popular mainstay at private and corporate parties and special events.
“We never wanted to go out and play the bars,” says bassist Jim Stunkard. “And we still don’t. We may do a few like Full Moon or Suede, but we keep busy with the private events.”
The group, which averages about 80 dates a year, was originally called Fog, which stood for five old guys. When they added a sixth person, they changed the name to Mid-Life Crisis. The members were all musicians for different bands in the 1960s and all but drummer Charley Stewart graduated from a Tulsa high school between 1962 and 1968. After college all quit pursuing music for a variety of reasons. Stewart, the “youngster” of the group graduated from an Oklahoma City high school in 1975, and is the fourth drummer to be a part of the group.
Two years ago they released a CD, “Still Alive,” a 17-track collection of ‘60s favorites recorded live in concert. The CD was recorded at several live programs—St. John Street Party, Utica Square—and produced by Hank Charles. It features party favorites like “Gloria,” “Momma Told Me Not to Come” and “Mustang Sally”—songs his fans enjoy and ask for. The CD can still be purchased at Purple Glaze in Brookside in Tulsa and Broken Arrow, All About Music in Collinsville, a store owned by band member, guitarist John Dougherty and Blue Moon Discs in Brookside.
A look at the band’s website, www.mlcband.net, reveals a lot about each member’s personal life. Each tells a bit of his life story. Here are a few excerpts:
Jim Stunkard (bass guitar): “High School Band: “King James & His Court” with Lester Van Dyke from Rogers High and some other guys whose names completely evade me 40 years later. No one could sing very well and our harmonies were non-existent….Jim is single with a couple of grown kids. Jeff [son] is his partner in the Purple Glaze Studio and is now referred to as Sophia and Isabella’s father. Clay is a commercial painter and father of Carissa.”
Steve Parkhurst (keyboards, guitar, vocals): “I am married (35 years) to my sweet Linda, and together we raised 3 children and are spoiling 4 grandchildren. My favorite pastimes are golf, playing my organ louder than the lead guitarist on stage and playing “Let’s drown Paw Paw” with my grandchildren in our backyard pool.”
Carl Raynes (lead vocals): “May of 1997. Vicki (wife of 35 years) answers the phone at our house and tells me there is a guy asking for the Carl Raynes that sang with Boss Tweed in the sixties. It was Jim Stunkard, our bass player, on the phone. He told me he had run across some guys who played in different bands around town in the sixties; and that they were looking for a lead singer and frontman. Although we didn’t know each other, I was familiar with all their bands and anxious to get together with them. We started out just getting together on Tuesday nights to play a little of the 60s music. I convinced the then president of my company to hire us for our annual awards banquet at Shangri-la. …Who would have though we would all be playing the music we love and having the time of our lives after a thirty-year hiatus?”
John Dougherty (lead guitar, vocals): “In 1997, my late son Andrew was taking guitar lessons from my old pal Mike Bruce and I decided to learn a few new chords myself. Mike suggested that I get a few guys together and jam for the fun of it. I called former “Break-A-Ways” (Dougherty’s college band) drummer Johnny Winters. John knew Steve Lee and had heard about Jim Stunkard. Steve Lee had heard about Steve Parkhurst because both their daughters are former Miss Tulsa. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in Winters’ living room with a bunch of guys I had never met before playing really awful rock and roll and having the time of my life! We became a ‘garage band’ a few months later and after a couple of years began calling ourselves F.O.G…Five Old Guys. In the meantime, we changed drummers a few times and Carl joined the group. Six Old Guys (SOG) just didn’t have a ring to it so I suggested we call ourselves Mid-Life Crisis…and the name stuck…..performing with this band is a rock and roll dream come true.
Steve Lee (rhythm guitar, vocals): While in High School, I was a member of ‘Band at Random’. While at O.U., I was a member of the ‘Sigma Chi Fraternity House Band’. In December, 1969, I married my high school sweetheart and left any organized musical participation behind. Two children, 4 dogs, 12 cars, 7 houses, 3 cities, 2 businesses and 2 grandchildren later, I decided to re-enter the world of organized music – the fabulous Mid-Life Crisis Band.
Charley Stewart (drums): “About five years ago…I was asked if I would play a wedding gig for a band called ‘Smooth and Saxy’ which was a jazz group….through my association with Saxy, I started to get calls for gigs with a lot of the other great Americans around town doing clubs and concerts such as Juneteenth, Mayfest, the Blues Festival on Brady, Jazz on Greenwood and such. These gigs were with groups like Smooth and Saxy, Just Us, Up Front, Leon Rollerson, Horner Johnson and others. I still get calls to play with these guys and I take the gigs because I absolutely love to play and they are fabulous players. Then I was recommended …for an audition with Mid-Life Crisis. Steve Parkhurst called me and you know the rest. Sherry (wife of 20+ years) has been with me all these years supporting my drum ‘habit’ without question. ….I am big time pumped to be with you guys myself and I am humbled that I was the guy you chose. It is a big honor.”
Fans can view Mid-Life Crisis’ schedule on their website, www.mlcband.net. To book the band, access an email via the website or call 918-636-9311 9311 or 918-274-8880.