I was born at the Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois and moved to the Youngstown area in 1952. In 1965, my brother John (known as Mitch) joined a band called The Volume IV. Soon, I was setting up their equipment as a full-time job.
Some time around 1966 or maybe 1967, Phil Keaggy left his band, The Squires, to join Volume IV (Larry Paxton later played with The Squires). Phil's life was somewhat unsettled, and at one point, he came to live at our house around the same time that I moved to California. The band had a regional hit, "Come With Me," and was renamed The New Hudson Exit. I returned to work as a roadie, but the band was showing strains, and after some time, Keaggy departed and Danny Marshall was hired as a keyboard player.
The times that followed were difficult and absurd, from my vantage point, in that the band members seemed to lose all interest in "making it," despite their having been voted the number 1 unsigned opening act in the region by NEEC and their having shoved aside two major record labels! Eventually, the band imploded: I went to work with Pat DeCeasar in Pittsburgh, and Danny Marshall joined Roadshow.
With DeCeasar's company, University Attractions, I became a production engineer, working with many top acts of the day like Santana, Janis Joplin, Jethro Tull, Chaka Khan, Young Rascals and Blood, Sweat & Tears. But in 1969, a friend from Youngstown, Geoff Jones (with whom John Grazier would eventually work), lured me away to work with him. During this period, I had the unforgettable opportunity to work for three weeks "inside" The Rock 'n Roll Revival Tour, featuring Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, The Coasters, The Sherrels and The Drifters.
Afterwards, I re-connected with Pat DeCeasar, both as a production engineer as well as the person in charge of his Picadilly Light Show. However, in the fall of 1969, rumors had begun to surface in Youngstown about a new "supergroup" called Brainchild. Early in 1970, I was offered a job as a Brainchild roadie and soon witnessed the quickest gathering of fans in Youngstown history, with the possible exception of Glass Harp. Finding myself among such talented musicians, I decided to become a musician myself.
I stayed with Brainchild about 14 months, learning a great deal about music and songwriting. Joe Pizzulo and I left the band at the same time, and only God knows why. Stuck in an area with so much talent, I was too intimidated to strike out as a musician at first, and found myself running sound for a Cleveland band called Freeport - featuring, among others, Kevin Rauli (later with The Michael Stanley Band) and Myron Grumbacher (later with Rick Derringer and Pat Benatar).
After leaving Freeport, I struck out, playing with my brother, John, for several years as The Behnke Brothers, and opening for acts like Bruce Springsteen and Brian Auger and Hawkwind. From there, I joined Iron Mountain, a Youngstown-based country rock band. After eight years with them, I joined a resurrected version of The Human Beinz for about one year, and when that effort dissolved, the remaining members re-organized as Special Forces. Rick Young (a later Brainchild roadie) and I worked on and off together in this band for several years. In 1986, I decided to stop performing and become a full time songwriter - a dream I am still actively pursuing.
This Brainchild reunion is, and will be, an inspiration to every local musician who ever had a dream. Take to time to read the bios of these musicians and you'll understand why. There are many roads. Believe in yours!