It’s 1964. Any young man worth his salt was contemplating an assault on a guitar, a keyboard or a set of drums, as The British Invasion and The Beatles were forever changing the landscape of popular music. Once upon a time, there was indeed a group of young men matriculating at UNH exacting their own dream. From those innocent yet fruitful times, a powerhouse of a band was cultivated, a band that continues to entertain crowds from the seacoast of New Hampshire and beyond.
The Spectras, formed by Chris Quankenbush, Dick Ray, Chip Wayne and Les Warren, may have originated as a garage band but quickly began to distinguish themselves with their comprehension of showmanship, singing abilities and high energy performances. From the campus, they moved on to the teen dance clubs and private parties on Long Island during the summer of 1965 as their popularity grew, refining their many skills onstage.
Returning to UNH in the fall, the band began to incorporate their original material as well as appearing on local television, but perhaps they secured their biggest plum in 1966; they became the house band at the infamous Hampton Beach Casino for 4 summers (1966-1969).
1967 saw the band expand their sound, complimenting it with a dynamic 4-piece horn section and adding “touring” to their resume. Opening for many iconic bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys, Lovin’ Spoonful, The Doors, BS&T, Janis Joplin, The Rascals, Ray Charles, Simon & Garfunkel Paul Revere & The Raiders and many more, simply fortified and confirmed their status as a top name band in New England.
1969 the band recorded their first album “And You Love Her”, garnering national exposure from Billboard Magazine and also charting a single “Best Years of Our Lives”.
As the late 60’s shifted into the 70’s and 80’s, the band went through many changes in personnel as well as philosophical differences. Dick Ray, back from a tour of duty in Vietnam, reformatted the group with 7 members including a 3 piece horn section. Adding “relentless road warriors” to their already large resume, the boys toured extensively throughout the region and also found time to record another 45 “Home Again/Keep On Drivin”.
Tired of the touring grind, the band called it quits in 1980. However, in 1990, serendipity struck in the form of a UNH reunion. Band members were contacted and not only did they re-group, they were so well received which resulted in more offers coming in.
Today, The Spectras continue to entertain thousands of fans, with new recordings, outdoor concerts and private parties. 2014 will mark the 50th Anniversary of the band and a tour in celebration of this accomplishment is being planned.
(by Lew DiTommaso)