-- Band History --
Devil's Kitchen Band was:
Robbie Stokes - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Brett Champlin - Guitar, Vocals
Bob Laughton - Bass, Vocals
Steve Sweigart - Drums
Randy Bradle - Drums (last few gigs/months)
Managers: Ron Litz, John Loyd, Harvey Morrison
Spiritual, Financial and Emotional Support: Yo Tullar
Roadies included: Carl Rozycki, Rolf Olmsted, Scott Carter, Andy DePaule
Band Aides/Emotional Support: (partial list first/nick-names only) All our love:
Yo, June, Ruth, Johanna, Carla, Fran, Fritzi, Becky, BJ, JC, LC, KC, Cleve, Cassie, Marcie, Toni, Sandy, Sandi, Rusty, Michelle, Kathy, Kay, Katy, Louise, Leslie, Lani, Lynn, Linda, Lisa, Ilsa, Jo, Jeanie, Jean, Joanie, Janice, Jane, Jan, Jen, Jenny, Jerri, Jess, Julie, Gina, Gail, Milly, Michi, May, Mia, Maya, Amy, Amanda, Arly, Ally, Elly, Roxy, Regina, Sally, Roo, Flo, Nan, Sue, Suzie, Sherry, Sonia, Sophie, Sunny, Sunshine, Phyllis, Cyn, Baby, Bonnie, Bobbi, Barb, Brandi, Candy, Cammie, Puss, Ingrid, Tina, Terry, Tania, Annie, Ann, Anna, Dani, Deb, Debbie, Donna, Darla, Stacy, Scarlet, Sheila, Shirley, Chelsea, Carol, Carrie, Connie, Callie, Heidi, Holly, Merry, May, Mary, Marilyn, Marie, Maria, Valarie, Sam, Alex, Alexis, Star, Peace, Lovey, Bunches, Trippy, Sweetie, Sissy, Joie, Joy, Karen, Kristin, Kristi, Chrissy ...
The longer story:
We're working on it... patience... hey, you know what Abbie Hoffman (or was it Robin Williams?) said, "Anyone who says they can remember the 60's wasn't really there"...-Here's a llist of bands we shared stages with...bands
Robbie says he's working on a book, so maybe that will do...
- in the meantime, here are some of our clippings below... and check out these
random stories and reminiscences
Read about each of the band members' life after the band by following the links at the bottom of the page...
From the Daily Egyptian, SIU's campus newspaper, Oct 1969:
Devils Kitchen scheduled to perform at Brush Towers
The Devil's Kitchen has returned at tonight's Brush Tower's Homecoming Dance. The band, now San Francisco-based, was originally known in Carbondale as "OM". The four members, Robbie Stokes, Steve Sweigart, Brett Champlin and Bob Laughton are all former SIU students.
During the last 16 months, they have appeared at such places as Bill Graham's Fillmore West and Chet Helms' Avalon Ballroom, (now known as the Family Dog on the Great Highway) where they appeared with the Jefferson Airplane.
Stokes, 20, youngest member, generally acknowledged leader and lead guitarist of the group, is a native Southern Illinoisan. His father, Rip Stokes, is the University photographer and the former director of the SIU Photographic Service.
Sweigart, 21, is the group's percussionist and drummer. A native of Aurora, he is married and has one child.
Champlin, who comes from a military family, is a world traveler at 23. A former folk singer and campus entertainer who sang with Theta Xi-trophied Moody and Co., he is deeply involved with the art of song.
Bob, 26, is a graduate of the SIU department of design. A former member of the Dusty Road Boys, Carbondale's only bluegrass music group, Bob plays bass.
Devil's Kitchen is an unusual group. According to Laughton, our music speaks for itself. Vastly varied, our influences range from Balinese Gamelan to the Grateful Dead. Country, rock, jazz, blues, soul and folk emerge and anything is likely to happen when Devil's Kitchen starts cooking their chops.
From the Los Angeles Times, March 27, 1970 - Whisky Review by Todd Everett
Devils - Savoy Boogie
Illness and prior commitments resulted in a changing bill at the World Famous Whisky a Go Go during the first three days of last week. Monday, Savoy Brown's bassist was ill and the group was replaced for the evening by Smokestack Lightnin' with Devil's Kitchen co-billed. Tuesday, the Kitchen played second to Brown, as originally scheduled. Wednesday, Devil's Kitchen gave way to Charlie Musselwhite. By the law of averages which says, among other things, that two out of three is better than one out of three, Tuesday seemed like the best night to review. So here it is.
The line drawn between stardom and almost making it can sometimes be both very thin and very distinct. Such was the case with the co-billing of British blues group Savoy Brown and Devil's Kitchen, a new-to-this-area quartet from Carbondale, Illinois, via San Francisco.
Devil's Kitchen is, or at least promises to be, an excellent group. Their two guitars, bass and drums format is a simple one, but one that demands more excellence from each player than if, for instance, there were a lead singer bouncing about or some other distraction. Their second set Tuesday was tight to a point, varied and interesting. The sound ranged between blues, jazz and what used to be called "good time" music.
My two favorite selections were from the last category, one called "Bullfrog" and one called, I believe, "Chlorine." They were certainly the most distinct numbers as well, the opening and closing blues being rather nondescript. The opening number was one of your standard ones, being primarily loud and fast. The group called it a "Country" song, but I doubt that Roy Acuff would have.
As I say, a fine group, well received by the audience. Their only major slip-up, in my opinion was what they called their "production number" which started off with what sounded like a Barney Kessel jazz line, the piece evolved into something that was, ultimately, no more than loud and fast.
As good as Devil's Kitchen was, though, when Savoy Brown came on there was absolutely no disputing who the star group was. Any reservations -- which were many, come to think about it -- I many have had concerning the little I had heard the group on record was negated by their in-person appearance. From the first fuzzy guitar chords, the group plunged ahead into their variations on the blues.
Now is not the time to argue about white Englishmen copying old Bukka White or Elmore James records, although there's a lot of discussion to be done sometime. What matters in this context is that Savoy Brown do whatever it is they do pretty damn well. Their drummer was tasteful, if not particularly versatile. I'll happily settle for taste. The two guitarists, alternating leads, likewise showed more taste than imagination, but... (that's all there was in the scrap book)
From the Queen City Express, circa October 1969:
Santana was not alone as a motivating force. On Moratorium Day, at the march from US to Government Square, the Devil's Kitchen from San Francisco set the mood.
They jammed for over an hour in the warm-blue-sky-day of peace. That it was a day for flying the peace sign high, for loving, and for togetherness there can be no doubt. They warmed us with "It's a Beautiful Day" music and instilled the true spirit of peace in our hearts before we embarked on our march, a gesture of our belief that all war should end. Sandy Pomerantz too extolled the virtues of love and peace that day, and later at the Ludlow Garage with the Kitchen and the UC Mummers Guild.
A note about Devil's Kitchen: it is my opinion that this is one of the best groups ever to come to Cincy. Their lead guitarist is truly one of the all time greats. He comes from Illinois, and has studied with Jerry Garcia in SF. For a long time, I had felt that the Floating Bridge from Tacoma Washington had the two cleanest, fastest, loosest, bestest guitar players I had ever heard. But this nineteen year old from the Kitchen is just as good. His use of the major third in his minor blues riffs typifies a style of West Coast guitar playing not often heard east of the Mississippi. And the incorporation of country flavors to rock is truly beautiful. They'll be back Nov. 7 & 8 -- be sure to catch 'em.
Excerpt from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about May, 1969:
The Return of Family Dog by Scott Blakey
Chet Helms is back in business. ... He announced his comeback yesterday in typical Helmsian style -- at a flamboyant press conference in the whirring, squeaking, thumping funhouse at Playland, the city's ocean-side amusement park where Helms' new ballroom will open about the first of June.
... In attendance were a number of Helm's friends, members of the press, a new rock group -- The Devil's Kitchen -- assorted lean, long-haired, pale, pretty girls, a few groupies, and Helm's petite wife, Laurie, 23.
As the Kitchen cooked up tunes near the rafters of the slightly shopworn funhouse, Helms announced he would open his new ballroom about June 1... Helms said his new venture would be the Nation's "first musical environment sensorium."
Helms said he would be putting together a new "different, musical innovation" that would be the ultimate in environment and showmanship -- a venture that had long been his dream...
Excerpt from article announcing the opening of the Family Dog in the San Francisco Examiner June 1969:
The New Family Dog Really Packs 'em In by Philip Elwood
The Family Dog on the Great Highway opened its dancehall doors to 1500 clamoring customers last night and turned away about double that number.
... Devil's Kitchen seemed like a good if not outstanding electric band and Brent Lewis's "Pulse" one-man show went over big... The original Charlatans, playing another last gig together, were informal, rusty, good humored and occasionally even together... The Jefferson Airplane was as out-of-sorts as I've ever heard them when they started at 12:30 a.m. But by their third number, and my departure, their dullness seemed to be brightening, the music was tightening up and crowd and band were melting together.
The whole show goes again tonight and all but the Airplane will be around through Sunday evening.
San Francisco Chronicle, Mon., June 16, 1969:
On the Town -- Ralph J. Gleason -- Family Dog Back At 'New' Edgewater
The Family Dog returned to action this weekend, opening the new place out at the Beach with the Jefferson Airplane, The Original Charlatans, Devil's Kitchen and sundry other attractions.
It was quite a night. To begin with, there was a monster traffic jam and by 9 o'clock only performers and press could get into the hall. Once inside, the environment was more akin to a subway at 5 o'clock or a paddy wagon en route to Santa Rita than to some sensorium palace of the arts we had been led to expect.
The new Dog house is really only the old Edgewater, the dance hall going back to the '40s. The difference is that it has been reamed out and made less comfortable, the coffee shop eliminated and one of the two balconies closed over.
The dance floor is now a squatting room for the audience. Nobody dances. There is a bandstand at each end so low you can't see the musicians. The patio in the back is pleasant and a great relief to the hot house atmosphere of the main room. The other lounges are resting places sans couches or chairs and occasionally with a clutch of conga drummers in action.
Going from the main ballroom to the patio was like leaving a sauna bath for the snow. A relief but also a shock. The Cleanliness & Godliness Skiffle band was scheduled to play in the patio but somebody forgot to provide electricity. Oops!
Inside, the sound was excellent on the main floor and rather spotty in the balcony where fans hung from the pillars and sat on the railings precariously. Glenn McKay's lights were rear projection and somewhat limited because of the relatively small screen.
The music was by and large very good. Devil's Kitchen is an excellent young band with good vocals a nice feeling and strong players. The Charlatans, (the Amazing Charlatans are really several bands, pick one, now you see them, now you don't) did some exciting things and in general turned the audience on. ..
... The event was like a hippie reunion... The Dog's on the beach now, I wish it luck.
Robbie Brett Bob Steve Stories