THE RAVENS
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In the spring of 1963, Johnny Asbury and Mickey Croasmun were each trying to put a together a band.  They did not know each other and were working separately.  Neither Mickey nor Johnny were having much sucess.  Johnny played keyboard and had a drummer.  Mickey played bass and had a singer and guitarist.  However, neither could find the musicians that they needed to complete their band.  By way of chance meeting, the drummer brought all 4 together.  Practices were held and things sounded OK but not really the exact sound that Johnny and Mickey were looking for.  The group had a few jobs but soon the drummer and singer left leaving Mickey and Johnny seaching again for musicains.

Johnny and Mickey brought in two musicians from the N.C. mountains.  One was a drummer and the other a lead guitarist.  They came in at just the right time because the band had secured a job for the summer at the old Xanidu Club in downtown Charlotte.  The club was a little on the rough side but the band made it through the summer even with a few fights and a couple of police busts.  At the end of the gig, the drummer and guitarist wanted to head back home leaving Johnny and Mickey back where they started.......with no band.

Mickey found a singer named Jimmy Moss and invited him to try out.  It turned out that Jimmy had a mellow lead singing voice, played a good rhythm guitar, and wrote amazingly good original songs.  These original songs were much, much better than the average teen songwriter could produce and his songs were used regularly.  They now had three musicians in place and had something going.  But, it was not the complete band they wanted.

Jimmy brought in Bobby Donaldson.  Bobby was way ahead of his years in his musical ability.  They all liked him and knew his talent would be a major factor in the sound of the band.  It was Bobby that came up with the name of the band...RAVENS.

One afternoon while practicing, a young man walked in off the streets and said he had heard playing but he did not hear a drummer.  He said he was a drummer and he would like for them to hear him play.  He thought he could do a good job for the band.  Since they needed a drummer, they set up a tryout for the next day.  His name was Blake Whitcomb.

One song.....that was all it took!!!  When the five played together for the first time,  "Majic" happened.  It was more than Mickey or Johnny could have ever imagined.   The sound of this band was better than any group they had played with.  As far as a band goes, they all liked each other and immediately became a "band of brothers".  In all the years together, they never fought or argued.  All decisions made by the group were "majority rules" and final.

That first winter, they played most weekends at the Merry Go Go Round on Central Ave (Charlotte).  They gained a good following and got some high school gigs.  As finances improved they upgraded their equipment to all Fender Bandmaster and Bassman amps.  They also replaced their Wurlitzer electric piano with a Hammond organ. The summer, fall, and winter of 1965 was spent on a new gig at a placed called the Cavern Club.  This club became a landmark on the teen scene in Charlotte, NC.

At the end of 1965, they secured another new venue at a teen club in Akin, S.C., at the Go Go Club.  The rules there were simple:  "THE GO GO CLUB IS THE ONLY ENTERTAINMENT FOR MILES AROUND, SO NO FIGHTS, NO TROUBLE, OR WE WILL CLOSE DOWN".  There was never a single problem at his place and they played dates there for the two and a half years the club was open.  The club closed down because of he owner's health problems.

Over the years of the "RAVENS" existence, they played not only these mentioned gigs but also some "Kilgo Shows", restaurants, high schools, and private affairs.  Their most memorable show was with the Four Tops at Park Center in Charlotte.

The Ravens could have played for years and maybe even gone national.  They had the sound and the songs but the Vietnam war was at it's peak.  by the end of 1967 and beginning of 1968, each had the cloud of military service facing them.  Mickey had been in the National Guard for sometime so for awhile the band played with four people or used subs while he had to be away.  Johnny joined the Navy Reseves and Jimmy joined and made a career of the Air Force.  They kept the band as long as they could but at last they had to lay "THE RAVENS" to rest.

In 2010, after 42 years of not seeing each other, all five held a reunion, May 2-3, in Daytona Beach, Fl.  Bobby, Johnny and Blake had stayed in music with Bobby and Johnny playing professionally and Blake playing part time.  Jimmy retired from the Air Force and Mickey played part time as he worked full time in the map printing business.

While in Daytona, the band cut a CD and played an outdoor gig that Sunday afternoon.  It was just like they had never quit playing together.  Everyone agreed that some of the best times in their lives were while they were in that band.  They talked about when they first knew that this band was different from the others of that era.  All felt that it was one evening, during the first year of "THE RAVENS" when they entered a high school talent show.  There were three bands in the show and the first two got good applause and even some cheers.   But, when Jimmy Kilgo announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, here is a new band that some of you have heard and some of you have not heard but it is a band you will never forget!!.  Presenting "THE RAVENS".

The five ran into the gym from a different door, across the floor, and up to the stage.  From the moment they entered, a massive roar went up from the crowd.  All through their three songs, girls screamed.....guys stood in their seats.....people dance in the aisles.....and finally rush onto the gym floor.  At the end of their songs, the applause, the screaming, the stomping of feet, went on for several minutes.  That's when they knew they had a "Tiger by the tail".

As remembered by Johnny Asbury, October, 2010. 
Minor editing by Jimmy Moss, December, 2010
  


A special thanks to Martha Banks Pridgen for supplying me with a 45 year old picture of the RAVENS and the inspiration needed to initiate the search for the band.  I will always be grateful to her.  Jim Moss
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