St. Johnís Mod

Dublin, 1966-9

Johnny and the Rebels promo pic Dublin Inn

John Durzo (Johnny & the Rebels, J.D. Blackfoot, Strongbow, Tyler, Muff Bros., Money) and Phil Pence (Johnny and the Rebels) formed St. John's Mod after Johnny and the Rebels broke up in 1966. They enlisted the help of fellow Dublin High Schooler Mel Reid on keyboards. Bob Vallely was brought in from Columbus North High School on bass. He was a close friend of John and Mike Haines (Strongbow, Trolley), who had known each other in high school. Bob enlisted fellow North High School hair dude and drummer Jim Luce. Somebody found Greg Morris to play guitar, but he got lost on his way to the 2nd rehearsal and they never saw him again. The band then found John Schwab (McGuffey Lane), a quiet, mildly psychotic guitar player from Mifflin High School, who fit in perfectly. Phil Pence bought an old ambulance from Dale Peters (James Gang) while Dale was attending OSU (and playing in the Guvnors). The band used the vehicle as an equipment truck.

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St. John's Mod played pool parties, bar mitzvahs, high school dances, and teen dances with WCOL personalities Bob Harrington, Jerry Dean, and Johnny Hill, but also started playing in local area bars during the summer and fall of 1967. They played at numerous OSU fraternity parties, several venues on the Ohio State Fairgrounds and campus, Valley Dale, Vets Memorial, the old Beasley Deshler Hotel, the Blue Dolphin North & East, a few De Molay Halls, the USO at Lockbourne AFB NCO Club, various armories across Ohio and Indiana (part of the "Mike Moran's Screw-The-Bands No-Pay Tour" of 1967 with the Unknown Kind), some VFW posts, wedding receptions, the Girl's Industrial School of Scioto Village (the guitar player left with the director's daughter!), and even the Ohio School For The Deaf. They played in the Northland Battle of the Bands and made it onto the album doing their rendition of the Four Tops song "Reach Out" (unfortunately, this is the only recording of St. John's Mod). They played in Newark (Hi-Lo, Club Kno-Place), Mt. Vernon (Steve's Bar, Marauder Lounge), Lancaster (Four Archers), Delaware (Eckels Lake, Strand Theater, Community Club), Gahanna (Purple Onion, Outer Limits), Columbus (Mr. Frankie's, Pirate's Den, Oakland Lounge), Grandview (Remo's Lounge), Worthington (Vogue Lounge), Shawnee Hills Swimming Pool, and the Reynoldsburg Roller Rink.

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John Durzo went to Miami University in the fall of 1967, but managed to come home to play almost every weekend during the first semester. Durzo left the band during Christmas break 1967 and the band continued to play as a quartet. Durzo joined the Water Bears in February 1968 (Oxford, Ohio) as their bass player, replacing Steve Walmsley (Lemon Pipers). St. John's Mod stayed together as St. John's until May 1969 and then disbanded.

John Schwab began a solo career, which eventually led to his joining McGuffey Lane. Phil Pence sold the ambulance and went back to school, graduating in 1976. The rest of the band members drifted apart. Mel Reid moved to Philadelphia and finally settled in Washington, DC. Bob Vallely lived in southern Florida for a while, and then moved to South Carolina. He and his wife are now in the St. Louis area. Jim Luce migrated to Mansfield, Ohio with his family. He and his wife are still there, where they continue to groom his perfect hair every day.

Story and photos courtesy John Durzo