The Crusaders

  The Crusaders pose in red sport coats with black bow ties. The Crusader played for the Reed City High School prom in the early 1960's.

The Crusaders combo shown above (wearing matching blazers they bought from saxophonist Phil Sirrine at Town and Country Men's Shop) included the following:

Jim Braendle, technician (holding Glen's bass guitar)
Glen Newton, tenor sax (borrowed from Jim)
Jon Hansen, rhythm guitar
Dan Kirchner, lead guitar
Ed Roberts, drum set

The group shown above evolved from an earlier group in which Jon played lead guitar and Denny Deal played rhythm guitar. Jon's brother Lee had shared the drumming responsibilities with Ed because neither of them could afford an entire drum set. By pooling their resources, they had enough drum equipment to make a full, yet modest, set.

All were students at Big Rapids High School (BRHS). Ed Roberts, the group's founder, met Glen in the high school band and stage band and originally invited him to join, even though he was in junior high, because of his trumpet playing skills. Soon, however, he was playing more piano than trumpet.

Jon was old enough to drive, so he picked up Ed and Glen, and they rode to their performing engagements in his car. Glen was the youngest member of the group, so he had to sit in back with the drums piled on top of him. Fortunately, most of their performances were at the Chieftain Roller Rink in town, less than a mile from Glen's house. After skating ended, the rink held sock hops, for which each of the band members was paid $2.00. Even in the early 1960's, that wasn't very much money, but Ed insisted that the exposure compensated for the low pay.

Ed was the better drummer, and when he acquired an entire drum set, Lee bowed out. Dan moved to town, replacing Denny, and shortly after that Glen bought a Sears Silvertone bass guitar (made by Danelectro and shown in the picture above) and Silvertone amplifier so the group could play Ventures hits (like "Walk, Don't Run" and "Wipe Out") with the same instrumentation.

Dan's guitar playing abilities went well beyond those needed for Ventures songs and other guitar-oriented tunes of the day, and soon he became the group's lead guitarist as they expanded their repertoire to include many old standards. Sometimes Glen borrowed a tenor or baritone sax from one of his school friends to play saxophone features, but he more usually played piano, trumpet, or bass guitar.

Ed approached BRHS band director Aldie Long with a question about whether or not the group could play a song or two in the Band Follies, the band's annual spring variety show. Long was so impressed by the Crusaders, especially Dan's guitar playing, that he told Ed that the Crusaders could play as many songs as they wanted in the Band Follies.

The Crusaders, augmented by vocalists Glen Corrie (lead) and Gordon Brown (tenor backup vocal), recorded the song "Little Cathy", written by Glen Corrie (lyrics) and Glen Newton (music). This song, on which Glen Newton played bass and sang baritone backup vocal, is the only vocal the group ever performed.

After Jon went away to college, Ed, Dan, and Glen continued playing as the Starliters.

This page was last updated
Friday, February 07, 2020.

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