Jesus Music The Early Years PT 4 Theophilus

Jesus Music The Early Years PT 4 Theophilus

The Jesus Revolution started in California and broke out around the world in the Rebellious Sixties. While this movement was growing three young men in south Texas, living in two different towns, were experiencing their own “Jesus” revival. They were musicians who went to church and loved their heritage and music, but embraced the sounds of Love Song, Larry Norman, and others. And this “new” music sounded like what they were hearing on their local radio stations, KEYS, KTSA, and others.

I am from Ingleside, TX. I grew up going to the First Baptist Church there. In 1973 I was a music major at Del Mar College in the big city of Corpus Christi. While in college I was part of the BSU [Baptist Student Union], continued to sing with HIS, and was working part-time at Allen Piano & Organ at Padre Staples Mall.

While working at the store one day Paul Donaldson walked in and made an inquiry about a Leslie speaker cabinet for his electronic organ. We did some preliminary research and didn’t have the model he really wanted. He said he would be back.

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L-R Paul Donaldson, Cliff Donaldson, Chuck Whetstone Theophilus in the GBC Studio. W. 11th Street. Houston, TX

A few months later Paul came back in and decided to purchase the Leslie speaker with the wood cabinet. Paul invited me over to his house to jam and play music with his brother, Cliff. Paul said that they were forming a Christian band and were needing an electric guitar player. I said I’d be glad to come over and that, yes, I played lead guitar. [I played it very poorly, but I played]

I didn’t even own an electric at this point. So I took over my Alvarez acoustic that had a pickup in it and tried to wow them on Love Song’s Little Country Church.  They were not too impressed.

They said, “You play piano, too, don’t you?” I said yes. So, the next song or songs we played together I was on the Donaldson’s spinet piano. When we finished playing they said, “You stay on the piano.” The Donaldsons went to the Parkside Church of God.

Jesus Music The Early Years PT 4 Theophilus

The Donaldson boys went to college in Houston, TX at Gulf Coast Bible College [currently Mid America Christian University in OKC]. They invited Richard Watson and Chester Harkins to come down to Corpus Christi to play some music and sing and preach on the streets. These two college graduates actually drove the 200 miles south and joined us. We had a short rehearsal on Saturday, then loaded up our equipment and the Donaldson spinet piano and went to Parkdale Plaza to sing. We set up, sang, shared our faith and had a great time.

The 3 of us played at a few churches around Corpus Christi singing the few songs we knew and giving our testimony. I remember one night we got paid $30. We split it 3 ways.

The next thing I knew it was August, 1973 and the brothers had to go back to GBC to resume college. I had been considering going to East Texas Bible College and they were recruiting me, but I chose to attend GBC to keep this new band together. We didn’t even have a name.

While at GBC we joined forces with Richard and Chester. We sang at The Fishing Hole, a Christian coffee house on West 11th Street in Houston. We also sang at area churches and on the streets in various parking lots where we would witness.  One day we decided we needed to name our band. I was reading in The Gospel of Luke. He mentioned his friend, Theophilus. I brought it up to the guys and they didn’t laugh. So, we picked the name that means “Lover of God.”

Jesus Music The Early Years PT 4 Theophilus

Chester and Richard moved to North Carolina to work in a new church plant that was meeting in a barn. That left the 3 of us to continue. We did. We recorded our first cassette and traveled through the Plains states during our Christmas break.

1607080_10151853203331400_128954850_nWe had a dual purpose for this tour. We wanted to sing and represent GBC [they provided the van we used] and we wanted to go skiing in Colorado.

We had a lot of fun, met a lot of people that I’ve known through the years and touched lives singing songs from our new recording. Richard Tiner recorded and produced the recording, Theophilus.

Stay tuned for another segment as I talk about new members of the group, our West Coast tour of 1974, and the last tour that I was on with these guys in 1975.

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Comments

Jesus Music The Early Years PT 4 Theophilus — 2 Comments

  1. I am SOOO happy to see this! These are some of my happiest memories! You all were AWESOME! What a witness you carried EVERYWHERE you went! I was VERY thankful you made it to Arizona! I KNOW my parents were honored to have you in our humble home. My dad, always singing in men’s quartets, was SUPER impressed with your talents, gifts, and willingness to use them for the Lord. Some of your songs STILL “ring in my head” and my heart to this day. You touched my life in a VERY Special way! ☺ I will love you all forEver! ☺

  2. I am SOOO happy to see this! These are some of my happiest memories! You all were AWESOME! What a witness you carried EVERYWHERE you went! I was VERY thankful you made it to Arizona! I KNOW my parents were honored to have you in our humble home. My dad, always singing in men’s quartets, was SUPER impressed with your talents, gifts, and willingness to use them for the Lord. Some of your songs STILL “ring in my head” and my heart to this day. You touched my life in a VERY Special way!☺ I will love you all forEver! ☺

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