the Sabers

Barberton, 1965-8

The Sabers were formed in 1965 by three Barberton junior high school students. Guitarist Dave Lawson was the band leader, while Dave Kelley on bass and Eugene Pocopak played drums. In the fall of '65 Andy Gunn joined and took over lead guitar - just in time for the group to enter and win the school's 9th grade talent show. In the fall of '66 Bruce Beckle added keyboards to the group. Bruce had studied some accordion but persuaded his father to buy him a Farfisa organ if he could join a band. With the lineup intact, the Sabers built their following playing T.A.C dances after the school's football and basketball games. The group also played the Staff nightclub in Rittman and the Barrel club in downtown Barberton. In the summer the Sabers played dances at Doylestown park. The Sabers' look was matching outfits, including sport coats, blue shirts, and black and white checkered pants. Initially the group was managed by Dave Lawson's parents, but Jimmy George from Doylestown, who had connections to Quentin Welty and B-W records, became their manager. It was George who brought the group to Akron Recording in the fall of '67 to record a song he had written called "Skinny Minnie Ma-Ha". He had arranged to get the record released on Tiretown records and through the label owner, Edgel "Ed" Groves was asked to produce the recording. The actual A side was the Miracles classic "Mickey's Monkey", a live favorite of the group.

When the 45 was released, the group had an autograph session at Barberton's Music Box record store with special guests Big Chuck and Houlihan (the replacements for the departed Ghoulardi). "Mickey's Monkey" got some airplay and the groups lip synced the side on an Akron TV show (possibly Chippewaction). Because their record was a soul cover, the group got a booking into a soul revue show at the Akron Armory. When five caucasian teens took the stage, the reception was decidedly mixed, and they were booted after a couple songs. In the spring of '68 they recorded some songs at their practice and submitted it to a WAKR talent contest. They won the local round, which netted them a Vox guitar, some record players, and records. WAKR passed the tape on to a statewide contest, but the group never got a response. In the summer of '68 the group played county fairs in Medina and Sandusky. The Sabers disbanded in spring of '69 when the members graduated high school. Dave Kelley eventually ended up out in the San Francisco Bay area and has been a world class industrial designer - among his many designs was the original computer mouse on the Apple MacIntosh computer.

Some parting words about the Sabers from Dave Lawson - "A tremendous experience - lot of fun, lot of heartaches" - and Bruce Beckle - "(the Sabers) is the only 45 I own - I play it once every three years - and have to ceneter it on my player as I don't have a 45 adapter".