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Fritz Beer’s music career began one fateful Christmas in Alton, IL. when he received a Global electric guitar; his brother Scott received a drum kit. “We used to play “God Of Thunder” by Kiss and “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin over and over and over”. As is often the case the first guy to get a guitar is the guitar player, so your best friend gets a bass. Daniel Bull got a bass and a rhythm section was born.  
Across town guitarist Steve Woodson and drummer Bruce Rodgers were trying to strike sparks as well and once everybody got a drivers licenses (except the younger Beer) the five were able to hook up. Woodson and Rogers were a package so when the group settled on a name “The Non-Conformist Wildebeest Band” the band would debut with two drummers.
The Wildebeest did mainly standard Mid-West covers such as REO Speedwagon’s “Riding The Storm Out” and other KSHE Classics, but they did manage to sneak in The Sex Pistols “God Save The Queen and thus were labled Alton’s first punk band – a label Woodson did not like.
Like so many others, when Beer first heard the Sex Pistols he figured anybody could do this, and Beer and Bull began co-writing original songs. A slight riff grew between Woodson and Beer in the form of a classic rock/punk rock stand-off, but no matter, graduation and off to college broke up the band anyway.
Beer spent his first year of college at UT Chattanooga, then returned to attend Southern Illinois University. Upon returning he was approached by a fellow Altonian he had seen peripherally in the past but was intrigued by. Jeff Schmidt, Alton’s original punk, asked Beer if he wanted to start a group. Schmidt had crazy Rod Stewart hair and wore long over coats smattered with buttons, British flag t-shirts and pointy shoes or great big rocker boots. He looked fantastic and truly outrageous at the time in the Mid-west.
Beer had seen Schmidt at the last Wildebeest show, a battle of the bands which they lost is spite of Woodson crashing onto the stage on a bad motor scooter while the band kicked into Sammy Hagar’s “Bad Motor Scooter”. “Schmidt watched our set, looking all cool in his long coat. There were still bands left to play. He walked up to me casually and said “Congratulations on winning” then turned and coolly left. We didn’t win but it was cool getting the nod from him”.
Schmidt already had a name and a plan. The band would be called the Avon Ladies and they would play English style punk ala Jam, Clash, Pistols, 999, Buzzcocks etc. Scott Beer, still in high school, became the drummer. Todd Admire, who had picked up bass since Fritz had last seen him a year ago, was the logical choice for bass. Completely like minded, they quickly built a repertoire and a reputation.
The Ladies monthly shows in Alton were simply the place be, and as their reputation grew they became a hot ticket on the regional college circuit. On the strength of the their original material earned opening slots in front of the Dead Kennedys and X.
All in all the ladies had a good run but it was clear the run was done. As college graduations loomed, talk of packing it in began – and they did.
Only Beer and Admire continued to play picking up drummer Mark Haggard and gigging as a three piece called The Weird Sisters. Uncomfortable in the role of both lead singer and lead guitar player Beer’s interest waned and the group stalled out.
In the mean time Beer's old friend and original bassist Daniel Bull had been diagnosed with leukemia, survived a blood transfusion and was living near his treatment hospital in New Orleans, LA. Feeling well enough to play, he invited Beer to come start a group. Beer packed up his songs and headed South.
In New Orleans they quickly found drummer Elzy Lindsey, who is currently the drummer in Beer’s Asheville group, The Crooked Beat. The trio began writing and rehearsing while looking for a fourth. Doug Bohringer, Altonian and old friend of Beer’s, was also in New Orleans at the time. He sat in on keyboards and the group, now called Radio Brooklyn, began touring a bit. Keyboard, however, did not fit Beer’s songs and Bohringer was replace by guitarist Bill Shroder – who Beer quickly renamed Billy Brooklyn.
TO BE CONTINUED………………………………………..