For those of you who are unfamiliar with the 80′s phenomena known as “Vehicle,” I will be more than happy to enlighten you… Vehicle was more than just a band. It was more than just a group of hard-workin’, hard-playin’, hard-partyin’ insanomaniacs (I just made that word up…cool huh?). No, Vehicle was much more than that! Vehicle became a local “movement.” (At least thats the way I remember it.) People would pack “Dr. Dons” on Thursday night to see us set up for a Friday and Saturday night gig, and we would usually do a two set sound check. Back then we played because we loved to play, and I think our audience could sense that.
But, to really understand how “Vehicle” came about, we will have to go back to a few years…
In 1975 I was fifteen years old and still lived on my family’s farm. That is about the time I met this crazy, aggressive, nutty little guy named Brian Wilburn. He and I became instant friends and music buddies. As the years went by, Brian and I played together in numerous musical groups that resulted in the two of us knowing a long list of songs together.
In the meantime, we were both trying to make a living any way we could. As for me, I worked in groceries for several years until I had my first real try at being a full time musician. I played with a group called “Knight Diamond” (never really understood that name) for about a year and a half. This was a great experience because it taught me that you can live on popcorn and mac-n-cheese.
When my time with that band came to an end, I found myself with no band, no money, and no work! One day, I remarked to a cousin that I was going to have to find a real job, to which she replied, “Why don’t you go to work with my husband? His company needs a glazier.” I said “you mean, like with donuts?”… “No” she said, “glaziers work with glass!”
So I went to work with Charlie, and to this day, I am in the window and door business. However, God has a way of taking you where you need to be. Because I went to work with Charlie Ford that day some life events were set in motion.
Through this new occupation, I met Mike Moore, Steve Mooney and Wayne Welch. They would get together and jam on Friday and Saturday nights, and I was included! It took some time, but I finally persuaded them to learn some songs that weren’t 20 minutes long, and we were on our way.
We finally put together enough songs to play a labor day party at the bass player, Steve Mooney’s house. I invited my old friend Brian to the party, and the rest is history! Over the next five years “Vehicle” would play constantly and develop a rather large and devoted following. We incorporated more and more original songs into our set list and the audiences came to know them as well as we did. We Rock and Rolled with abandon, and I always wondered if people came to see us because we were really that good, or because they wanted to see what insane thing we were going to do next.
As with many great bands , we reached the end of our road. We all worked full time jobs and played two, three, sometime four nights a week (one time we played seven nights in a row), and it just got to be too much. I was the first one to go. Living on two hours sleep a night for months at a time will just wear you down and my personal life was a mess, so my time with Vehicle was over. However, Vehicle continued on for another year or two with Mark Harrison in my place, but that eventually came to an end also.
What I have found years later, is that the time I spent with these musical brothers of mine left an impression on my heart and soul that comes out in everything I write. Mike Moore has left this world and gone on to the next, so a real reunion is not possible. But maybe some day the rest of us can get back together to play some tunes to remember him by ….jeff ervin