Thursday, March 3, 2011


Bandleader Craig Moore (born April 15, 1947 in Fort Madison, Iowa) grew up in Keokuk, along the Mississippi River, as is nearby Fort Madison. He began hanging around with other high school rock bands even before he learned to play an instrument, particularly the Gallows and the Outcasts. Together with Gerry Gabel (the younger brother of a classmate), Moore organized a band called the Pagans in 1965 with Larry LaMaster and a schoolmate on drums. Moore was taught how to play bass guitar by Roger Dougherty, bassist of the Outcasts who gave him 3 basic lessons and sent him back to The Pagans with 'Last Night' by the Mar-Keys and 'Steppin' Out' by Paul Revere & The Raiders his only repertoire on the instrument. Moore says he played the 3-note bass riff on "Gloria" backwards for 6 months and nobody knew the difference. By the summer of 1966, the Pagans consisted of founding members Craig Moore (bass guitar) and Gerry Gabel (organ), plus Gary Stepp (rhythm guitar), also from Keokuk. Rex Garrett (lead guitar) and Brent Colvin (drums) from Fort Madison were in a band together called the Rogues and were added to the band after an impromptu meeting at a Rogues practice during which Rex & Brent simply walked out with Craig, Gerry & Gary and never went back. Garrett's mother did not like the band name, so after some discussion, the bandmembers finally settled on "gone" but with a "psychedelicized" spelling, in tribute to a band from Ottumwa that the band admired called MADD, which had a similar all-caps, double-letter spelling (and predates the anti-drunk driving organization MADD). Craig Moore put it: We were throwing words and names around; we were almost the Trees, after The Leaves.
It was this line-up that recorded the band's classic first single, "Blackout of Gretely" (written by Craig Moore and Rex Garrett), which was initially released on the Burlington, Iowa label, Emir Records in a pressing of just 600 copies. In early 1967, this same line-up recorded (twice) what would have been their second single, "Doin' Me In", but it was not released until many years later.
Later in 1967, Larry LaMaster – who had been a guitarist in an earlier incarnation of the Pagans – was added, and the band also brought in a different drummer, Dave Johnson (who was only 14 when he joined GONN). A second, lesser known single was recorded in Freddie Tieken’s IT Studio of Quincy, Illinois. (After GONN broke up, the last two original members, Craig Moore and Gerry Gabel became members of Tieken's band, Freddie Tieken & the Rockers, which became Ilmo Smokehouse in 1969-70).
The band appeared at the Iowa State Fair from 1966 to 1968 and finished second in the 1967 competition (behind Echos V). GONN opened for several national acts at the Burlington Memorial Auditorium, including the Trolls, the Mob, the American Breed and others. GONN put in many appearances in teen centers and Knights of Columbus halls throughout the region, traveling everywhere in a 1951 (or 1952) hearse. They gained renown as the "loudest band in town" and notoriety for performing in front of a large Nazi flag. Following three additional line-up changes in the latter years, the band finally broke up in 1969.

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