Original Members: Steve Oder: guitar
Chuck Newby: guitar Jim Smith: vocals Dean Atkinson: drums
Later Members: Jim Moran: rhythm guitar, vocals
Tom Moran: bass guitar, vocals
Robert Mansueto: lead guitar, vocals
The Coachmen Story
Like most of the bands that came out of Coronado, the Coachmen began as a group of guys jamming in someone’s garage just for the fun of it. The composition of the jam session players was always very fluid. But, of course, that was the whole idea – we each learned from one another whether it was a complete song or just a cool new riff, drum sequence, or chord pattern. The important thing was to have fun making rock ‘n’ roll music together!
But back to the Coachmen story. Steve Oder begins by recalling,“Chuck Newby and I were passing notes back and forth in a class one day in the late spring of 1966 and ended up writing a song together. So we thought it would be a good idea to start a band. I remember coming up with the name for the band in a conversation with Chuck, because like everybody, we wanted something British-sounding.That version of the Coachmen with Dean Atkinson on drums and Jim Smith on vocals did a gig at the VFW hall soon thereafter. I didn’t stay in the band long because I had a crappy electric guitar and no amplifier of my own. I did have a really good acoustic and was perfectly happy playing acoustic stuff already.”
Thinking back on those days, Chuck Newby continues, “I remember that in those days it seemed that just about everyone was into playing either rock ‘n’ roll or folk music, so jamming at someone’s house was a common occurrence. I remember playing my 1965 Harmony, a fairly good Stratocaster knock-off, through an assortment of Fender amplifiers – including a Bandmaster, Showman, and Bassman as well as others, I’m sure – until I was able to buy my own Super Reverb. Now that was a very sweet amplifier! Although the memories are faded, like Steve and Dean, I also remember playing at all of the usual places around the island that spring and summer including several pool parties, the VFW, the Women’s Club, and the Mexican Village. I recall quite vividly how Dean was always hustling gigs for us. And the price was always right – in many cases, just free beer between sets!”
Dean Atkinson adds, “I remember that it was Steve and Chuck’s idea to organize a new band named the Coachmen. They were the original guitar players with various bass players including Chuck Tesh and others filling in whenever we had a gig. (I had just left the Rogues.) I was the original drummer for the Coachmen and, as I recall, Jim Smith on vocals joined right after Steve Oder left. Jim Smith stayed only a short time and was replaced by Jim Moran on guitar and vocals and his younger brother, Tom, as one of our bass players. Tom left the band to join the London Beats in the early summer of ’66. So Chuck and I were the only members to stay ‘til the final gig at the Women’s Club dance in August of ‘66.”
Dean continues, “After one gig at the VFW, Steve quit because in his own words, his electric guitar was a piece of crap and because there were too many guitar players, and nobody on bass.The Coachmen, in various forms, played at EM clubs around San Diego for six months before calling it quits in August of ’66. Their final gig was the first half of a Women’s Club dance that they had booked in May.
Since Tom Moran had already left the band for the London Beats and Robert and I had just started the Cubic Feet with Richie Heinz and John Chambers, the remaining members of the Coachmen decided that they wanted to go out with a bang. So Jim, Robert, Chuck, and I, along with Richie on bass and John playing his ‘new’ Vox organ, played the first two hours of the Women’s Club dance – it was more like an organized jam session – then turned the stage over to the Cubic Feet who played out the rest of the night. There isn’t much more to tell except to say that that is the true story of the Coachmen – a great group of Coronado guys who had a lot of fun playing rock ‘n’ roll music for their friends and anyone else who wanted to rock out to the music of the late ’60s.”