Autum History

From 1967 through 1971, Mark Henry Allerheiligen and Jim Mathis were part of the growing music scene in Kansas. The groups they played with, especially AUTUM, were among the most active in the area, averaging approximately 190 play dates per year.


By Mark Henry Allerheiligen

The following document is the history of the late '60's to early '70's rock band, AUTUM. Jim Mathis, my ex-band partner, and I agree that this is as accurate an account as we can remember.

In late 1963, Mark Allerheiligen (bass and vocals), Doug Ryan (drums and vocals), Jerry Irwin (guitar) and Ron Ham (guitar) formed a rock band called The X-Cells in Marysville, Kansas - where we were all high school students. The X-Cells performed covers of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, The Kingsmen, and Sir Douglas Quintet and played dances at teen towns, high school events, and fairs until 1965, when Ham moved to Arkansas and Irwin left the group to play in the local high school jazz group.

Burton Lister (later) joined me and Ryan and we played as a trio: I (played) keyboard bass, organ and (added) vocals; Ryan (played) drums and (added) vocals; and Lister (played) guitar. We played under the name The Nite Crawlers (this group still plays today - without me - and with the addition of Rick, Lister's son), and played covers of The Lovin' Spoonful, Doors, etc.

In 1966, Jimmy Mathis (bass) joined me and Ryan, and Lister left the band and was replaced by Jerry Childers. This group played under several names - including The Nite Crawlers, The Yoemen, and Blue Valley Sand and Gravel Company - until the spring of 1967 when Ryan left the band to go to school. Several drummers took temporary positions with the band including Al Hanson (The Dinks) and Mike Moran (The Flippers) before Vernon Cluke took a permanent position in the summer of 1967.

For a short time in the fall of 1967 we were joined by Gary Cooley and Ron Hendershot, formerly of The Playmate Blues Band, and we played under that name for a time. The core band was playing out of the Manhattan, Junction City area at this time. We played four to five nights a week, working clubs in Odgen and Junction City during the week and the 3.2 beer club circuit (i.e. The Lamplighters, Blaske's Cafe, T&C Tap Room, Touch of Gold, and so on) on weekends. This group played under the names of The Blue Valley Sand and Gravel Company and The Playmates. We added R&B and played more rock and roll and, as The Playmates, added John Mayall, Cream, Hendrix, and more CCR songs to our playlist.

Childers left the band in 1968 and was replaced by Danny Keller, a budding lead blues guitar player. In late 1968 or early 1969, Cluke left the group and was replaced by Verl "Frog" Timken. Mike Luckeroth joined as a vocalist and the band played as Playmates Ltd. The line-up was me on hammond organ, piano and vocals; Mathis on bass and as sound engineer; Keller on lead guitar and vocals; Timken on drums and percussion; with Luckeroth providing vocals. This line-up also played four to six nights a week, doing Monday and Tuesdays at the Purple Cat in Manhattan and various road gigs the remainder of the week (it was really hard to go to college and play this much, so college, for the most part, went South). The band was popular in a multi-state area and by then was playing many times in the Fayetteville, Arkansas area as well as throughout the Midwest. Because of the schedule, Luckeroth left the group and was replaced by Tom Reicheck. In late 1969, the group changed names to AUTUM.

Early in 1970 we moved to Hays, Kansas to work for Dick Doll and 3D Artist Management. This did not last long, and we then moved to Wichita. I formed DMA, a booking agency, to book the group and sell extra gigs to other independent bands. AUTUM recorded at the Sullivan Studios in Oklahoma doing several original tunes (Come My Love, Stares, Big Fat Blues) mostly penned by Reicheck. We also recorded covers of Dylan, CCR, Todd Rundgren, and traditional blues and more jazz stuff. We then recorded with Roger Johnson, formerly "Eric" Of Erik and The Norsemen, for his Carmata Record label. Nothing came out of these recordings and most of the tapes have been lost or are hard to find.

In early 1971, Timken left the group and was replaced by Darrel Millhouse, formerly of The Jades. In early summer, because of lack of success in selling our recordings and due to road stress, the band broke up. Keller went on to play with Smiley's Lugnuts, Atlantic, Celebration and, later, Doubleshot. He currently resides in Colorado and owns a sound company. Jim and I, along with Jack Trice (guitar and vocals) and Richard Bisterfeldt (drums) took a job as house band for several months at the Red Pussycat Club in Salina. We were hired to play traditional country but were fired for playing too much Rolling Stones and rock and roll. We finally gave up playing together in the fall of 1971.

Jim Mathis, with his wife Louise, went on to own a photo lab in the Kansas City area. He is currently the Executive Director of the Kansas City CMBC and operates Homer's Coffee House in Overland Park, where he still performs. I became partners with David Taylor and formed D T A Booking agency in 1972. I actively booked bands and promoted concerts with Taylor until the end of 1977, when fourteen years of constant musical activity took its toll and I moved to Arizona with my wife. I finished school there and worked for Pima College as a placement counselor and teacher. I also wrote and produced commercials for local television and was a business consultant and, in 1991, moved back to Kansas where my wife Dawn and I established a restaurant. I am still active in music performing and have a Karaoke business under the name Meadowbrook Studios.

Tom Reicheck went on to play with The Dinks and Beast but I lost track of him after that. Dan Keller still plays and records in Colorado. Verl Timken was active in farming in Hugoton, Kansas and later moved to the Dallas, Texas area where he owned a printing business and became a well known artist in the area. He moved back to Kansas in 1991 to farm with his family. He passed away of a heart attack in 2001 at his home in Hugoton, Kansas, and was heard playing his drums the night before his death. He is survived by his wife of almost 20 years, Judy.

In 1995, Keller and Timken and I began playing and recording background music. We (again) recorded under the name AUTUM and completed four 60-minute albums and three 74-minute CDs. The majority of this music was original, and tapes and CD's are available through me. This music can still be heard behind radio commercials and as music used while "on hold" for businesses in the north central part of Kansas and Nebraska.

We had several more original tunes; I just can't remember their names. We were always doing something musical. In Wichita we rented four homes in an addition. They were all two and three bedrooms. One was dedicated to nothing but practice, when we were not on the road. The room had its own set of equipment so we didn't have to unload everything to practice. The last six months we played on the road we put on 58,000 miles on each of two vehicles. We were sponsored by Kustom Electronics out of Chanute and were able to buy our equipment really cheap. As one of the pictures shows, we basically had two complete sets: Two high speakers for small rooms and three high speakers for large venues. If needed, we set most of it up for outside gigs. Our PA at those times consisted of two cabinets on each side with two JBL D 130s and a horn in each and 600-watt power amp, which was quite large for that time. Our monitors were two cabinets with four 12" Jensen speakers in each. The largest crowd we ever played for was in Wichita at the 'Arts in the Park' celebration, where we played a 2 1/2 hour show. There were between four and five thousand people there and it was broadcast live on the local FM station. That tape is around somewhere, but I don't have it.

We had played Wednesday through Saturday on the road that week and got back to Wichita at approx 8:00 am Sunday. We decided, with a little help, just to stay up as the concert was at 1:00PM. If I'm correct, we then had until Thursday off and we went out again. I believe we might have recorded a day and practiced a day also. It is a wonder we lived through this kind of schedule.

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Mark Allerheiligen