Friends please notice: There have been some changes behind the scenes here at z9design.com. I've dumped my local dialup ISP and gone to cable, which neccessitated my finding different hosting for these sites. They are, in fact coming to you from a new host now. For the most part, the changeover has gone pretty smooth, BUT...
My email program, Outlook Express, crashed on me when I tried to delete my old newsgroup account. Long story short, I lost all my email messages and addresses since early May. So, if I didn't have your email address back then, I don't have it now. PLEASE send me an email so I can get your email address back! Note that my email address has changed, as well. Send me an email by clicking HERE.
My favorite Mondo story:
During the summer of 1979, Cheap Trick headlined a show at the Pecatonia State Fairgrounds in Rockford, IL. Steve Dahl and Teenage Radiation were there (I believe this was just before the Comiskey Park Disco Demolition). Molly Hatchet and AC/DC (Bon Scott) were in attendence. During the show, which featured Angus Young playing guitar while on Bon Scott's shoulders as he walked through the crowd, an airplane flew over the concert trailing a banner. The banner read: "Welcome Home Cheap Trick - The VFRS". I correctly assumed that part of the "E" had fallen off.
Later that summer, while at a VERS show, I asked "Mondo" if that banner was supposed to read "The VERS". He replied that that was exactly what it was supposed to read. He went on to say that unfortunately, most people were left with the impression that "The Veterans of Foreign Rock Shows" had wished Cheap Trick a happy homecoming.
I almost fell down from laughing so hard.
The life of an artist has always been driven by a labor of love. And so it is as we move into the Information age. I spend some time building web pages for fun, if for no other reason than just, just to learn how. No great crystal ball was needed to foresee the crash of the dot coms. The major corporations will eventually profit from E business, but unfortunately it is still some carrot on a string.
We forget that the Star Trek computer controlled culture we aspire to was driven by intellectual pursuit. Our culture and technology is driven by entertainment. Our video games are primitive Halo Decks were mindless, winless battles can be waged in the delusional confines of surreal imagination. Our economic culture is totally dependent on the feeding frenzy of consumers. Their insatiable desire for entertainment is constantly enticed with the latest and greatest technology. Perhaps most people feel incapable of creating their own entertainment. Every market niche has a parade of competing entrepreneurs. Most artists believe they must completely immerse in their work in order to be successful.
Such was the case with JC Hall. He didnt just invent Mondo Vers, he be came Mondo Vers. With that reinvention of himself came the self indulgence and self destruction that haunts most artists. Regardless, I remember him as the creative genius he was. As you know well, he could have a vision, and then run with such passion, but he was also very good at tapping the creative energy of those around him.
I remember one night at Headliners. The band had gone on stage for one or two warm up numbers before Mondo would make his entrance. As we waited backstage he said to me, I need a creative idea, something really wacky to blow the bands mind. With out thinking I ran up to our office, grabbed a large roll of aluminum foil and some scotch tape. I wrapped him up like a mummy in foil and secured it with the tape. We both stood looking at him in the mirror and just cracked up. He could do that to you, make you tap into the artist that is in all of us. When he danced out on stage the lights reflected off him like a punked out Wizard of Oz Tin man. As he sang and carried on, he tore off pieces of the foil and tossed them at the crowd. It was priceless. Pure Mondo as only he could be.
Somewhere I think I have pictures of it. Those days seem so far away, like they happened to someone else. But I have the pictures, hundreds and hundreds of them. Those slides have been packed away in air tight containers for 15 years. One day I hope to digitally scan them, but its still expensive. The quote I got last week was a dollar a scan. Where would I find the time? Im busy making new pictures. I havent used those Nikon SLRs since I got my first digital camera several years ago. Now my hard drives have several gig of images.
I too have always hoped to write that book. I have miles of disconnected writing that cover so many topics, like a tapestry of unfinished life experiences. In an age when reality TV is all the rage, surely decadent rock and roll road stories would have a market.
The Vers Website is very well done. The Stories, Legends and History are written in an enjoyable easy reading style. Fascinating for those of us that survived. I dont know how many other people out there would have any interest. Maybe you could sell more CDs if you put together a traveling road show of Vers memorabilia. Its The Trench Coat the very one worn by Mondo. Elvis has Graceland, why cant Mondo have Versland. The gift shop is always the cash cow of these operations, with music, books, photo CDs, and of course a full line of Vers clothing and accessories, I partied with The Vers and all I got was this lousy T shirt.
When I can get to my storage Ill see what Vers stuff I have. There might be recordings, even video, but I dont know. Its not about money, its about time. If I can find it, you can use it. How many of the fans have you connected with? Stereo and everyone? We all ended up somewhere, was it by design, by luck, or are we not going to, or ending up anywhere. I close my eyes and realize I have always been right here. Can I trust my memory to be accurate? Perhaps not, but who that was there could dispute it? And it goes on and on and on
(Ed. note: "Gino" was the stage manager at Headliners in Madison, where THE...VERS played many, many times.)
Greetings Non Earthling,
Hi Zoid. I used to live in Dubuque many years ago. I received your web site address to the Vers from a friend who lives in Dubuque still, and thoroughly enjoyed reading about your story.
I am sorry to hear about Mondo's passing. He was truly an incredible performer! My condolences to you and his family.
The Vers were an incredible inspiration to me as a young musician living in the void of Dubuque. I worked at the Telegraph Herald which owned the D-93 radio station. I was a designer and worked with Steve Sesterhen on both D-93 Basement Tapes albums. When I heard your music, it blew me away. This was before M-TV was in Dubuque. I was new to the Punk scene. I saw you perform at Junnie's in DBQ and was amazed. A friend took me to Madison to see the Suburbs play and I was even more intrigued by the scene there.
I saw the Vers play at the Battle of the Bands at 5 Flags Civic Center and was back stage. The Vers were in their own league for originality, spirit and sheer performing talent.
I was at home with my roommate, watching the post televised concert on TV, and he was blown away with your band. I got out my '64 Jaguar and started playing, "I'm Never Gonna Be That Old" along with the band. My roommate said let's start a band and I laughed. The next week he was running an ad in the paper to interview band people. I learned a Van Halen song and the interviews came in. We eventually met a drummer and a guitarist who needed a singer and a bass player. I switched to bass.
Keven, the guitarist, was into punk, but it was all new to us. We practiced a lot and Brian, the lead singer was a great performer but was some what limited in his range, so the punk music became more of a priority. We thought of names for the band. Brian was African American and the rest of us were white, so we called ourselves "The Generics."
I would have to say that the highlight of our band's existence was when we played a New Year's Eve show at Junnie's and opened for The Vers. To make a long story shorter, our group began to disintegrate and ended in 1992. We had a blast while it lasted and it made for a great scene in a not so great town. Your band was an inspiration for all of us and I just want to say thanks.
I would like to get a CD of the Vers from you. I live in Tempe AZ now. I finished my MFA in drawing and painting and am accepting a job at the Ramah Navaho Reservation, New Mexico, as an art teacher starting this fall.
Sorry this is getting so long, but I wanted to let you know how much I loved your band. I hope all is well with you, Zoid.
Take care, Bill
(From Zoid: It was Bill's '64 Fender Jaguar that appeared prominently on one of the D93 "Basement Tapes" albums. THE...VERS always had a great time in Dubuque, because the people there were wonderful, and that's what towns are made of, after all. I do remember The Generics, and they were a lot of fun!)
I don't know how to express my feelings on listening to the VERS CD. It brought back so many memories and moments in that time that I had to choke back tears at some points. Reading your website and reading everything brought back many memories and even reading about Mondo's death was so ultimately sad but hearing the songs again, that really hit my heart in no way that just reading about it could have.
Especially hearing "Never Going to be That Old" Wow, what can we say? Knowing now. I can remember singing along with Mondo on that song and really believing in those words, and you know I still do believe those words I still like to go out, still like to go to concerts and still most important of all like the music and damn it I'm never going to be that old. Listening to those last few songs with the crowds and Mondo talking and annoucing the bands names.
But anyway Zoid, the CD made me laugh, it made me cry, but most of all it made me remember one of the best times of my life that will never be forgotten and now I have a little piece of it to keep and to listen to whenever I want. There will never be any band better then the VERs for me and thank you Zoid for for bringing it back to me...
You were a part of it, every bit as much as we were, Nancy. None of it would have happened without you. Thank YOU so much!
P.S. You could understand the words on "Never Gonna Be That Old?" I still can't make them out, and was always too embarrassed to ask...
Zoid: Can't remember if we ever met or not. I played guitar in a mostly-covers, skinny tie/power pop/new wave band out of Ames in the early '80s called The Tunes. We did lots of shows with the Phones, Flamin' Oh's, Suburbs, etc.; not sure if we ever did one with y'all. I think we played a lot of the same venues, at least (the MQ/Filmore and Granddaddy's in Ames; Crow's Nest in Iowa City; Lemon Tree in Cedar Falls ... good god, that was a long time ago!).
I also was a reviewer and editor for the Iowa State student newspaper and I think I assigned one of my staffers to review a show of yours once (I tried to cover as much local/regional music as I could). I was, of course, a big fan of The ... Vers and saw lots of your shows.
Here's the scary part: my old band occasionally covered "New York's In Heat." I never had a recording of The ... Vers doing it; just heard it on KUNI a few times and we learned it from memory. We probably got it all wrong, but we thought playing covers by good regional bands was fun.
So I just got a little nostalgic, did a Google search, and hit your site. I was really sad to hear about Mondo. What a great frontman! It's cool that you're still playing. I had some great times at your shows and will always remember them fondly.
Very nice job on the site. Take care.
Thanx, Jim! And thank you for the CD of your band, the Tunes, covering New York's In Heat! You guys did the song very well! They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I am truly humbled!
I would like a CD. Surfed to your site on a whim today over a beer and old memories.........
I saw you guys maybe five times in Des Moines 20-25 years ago..............great fun!! You, the man of many goofy faces, and great guitar licks!!
Damn, though, I did not know Mondo had passed away. I'm sorry.......truly........I will always remember the penis nose and "I Did it My Way".
Anyway, here's what we're going to do. You'll tell me where to send the $20; I'll send you the $20. You'll send my sister a CD!!
She's the one who first told me to see you guys way back then..
She got this cat a couple years ago and fucking named it Mondo!!
(I don't know if she knew of his death or not.....)
Anyway, she'll love this!!!
And maybe I'll get to hear a tune or two myself!
Oooh... That's kinda spooky, Alan. Mondo LOVED cats. It's been almost a couple years since... maybe it IS Mondo!
Wow, I can't believe that it took me this many years to finally surf the internet and look for someone who remembered The...Vers, and you simply won't believe what prompted it. My husband and I were at a couple's house this evening having a bar-b-que with our families. We were discussing our home towns. They are from Dubuque, IA. I said that I used to go to a bar there that had live bands. Mike, the male half of our couple friends, said it was probably Junies and we used to go there just to see The...Vers. I flipped out - in my adult live this is the first time that I met someone who I didn't hang out with back then that even had heard of The...Vers.
I immediately went home to get some things. I found my jacket in the back of my closet, the D93 basement tape albums, lots of photos, and your single. I have also burned a CD with the songs from the D93 albums, the single, and other songs you guys sang by the original artists. I took the things over and we had a VERS party!!!
Zoid - you guys gave me so many memories and so many friends. I had friends in all the Iowa towns you played in - Ames, Cedar Falls, Iowa City, Dubuque, Des Moines.... You know most of the bars you played in are gone, too. The Fillmore, the Night Owl, So's Your Mamma's, Junies.. just to name a few. I think for several years I didnt miss a night when you were close (within 100 miles, LOL). I could tell you some wild stories about some of the road trips Jeff and I took just to see you guys. I see that Jeff and Sharon sent you some photos of tour pins.
I know somewhere in my house there is a box with memorabilia in it - some of your picks, some of Jimmy's sticks, posters, itineraries, more pins, and the song lists you used to tape to the back of the speakers.
I loved you guys - wow, what a trip down memory lane. I am really sorry to read that Mondo died. He was truly special. I had some pretty weird conversations with him at parties. I knew some day I would see him again - I am truly sorry that can't happen.
Thanks for the website, thanks for the memories - my favorite song was "I'm Never Gonna Be That Old" - guess it was somewhat a prediction for Mondo.
If I can dig up the box of stuff, I'll scan some things and email you again.
Love always from one of the biggest Vers fans that existed,
Lori L Grant, formerly known as Mose.
And I must have a CD - please let me know how to get one.
Lori did indeed scan some great photos and send them. They include shots from So's Your Mother in Des Moines, the Fillmore in Ames, and even shots from the last engagement THE... VERS played (without Mondo), a weekend at Maxwell's in Iowa City. Thank you so very much, Lori!
This IS just a bit spooky. A VERS fan, who wishes to remain anonymous, sent this photo in, of her cat, which she named after Mondo. What's spooky is that the real Mondo passed on in August, 2001, and this cat was born in December, 2001, her naming the cat without being aware that Mondo had recently died. [insert theramin music here] I don't know if I believe in reincarnation, but Mondo did love cats, and this one does have a rather long nose!
In the picture, Mondo is enjoying the toasty warm jeans that have just come out of the dryer. Oooohh, yeeeaaah...
Wow! After all these years...I decided to get on the web and search the VERS...and here you are! I wonder if you remember me? Scott Holliday...you probably remember the gigs that Steve and I put together in Garrison and Vinton, south of Waterloo. Well I do!!! Those were the BEST kick ass parties that ever happened to those towns!
In spring of 1980, Jeff Harrison took me this dive bar in Cedar Falls called the Circle (nite owl) and when I walked into the back, I had what pshycologist's call a S.E.E. (significant emotional event)!!! The VERS had just taken the stage and Brian was on lead vocals. Jeff had told me that you GOTTA see this band, and he was right..THE VERS were the best!! I think I saw THE VERS 50 times. When you'd come to Cedar Falls, we'd go Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday! Eventually, we went just about everywhere! Iowa City, Dubuque, Ames, Madison, (even had the Madison Police escort us OUT of town!) and many other places!
The 2nd time I saw THE VERS, Jeff got us backstage during one of your sets, I was a little star struck, thinking this was pretty cool...Im backstage with "the band" and everyone else is NOT! Not really knowing what to say, I asked if you guys played anything by AC/DC? After at first being politely told that you didnt, along with a few chuckles from around the room, I curiously asked why not? I remember this plain as day, you said, "because we think they SUCK". From then on, we were backstage a lot!
There are a few things that stand out above the rest:
Eating pizza and doing the "dine and dash" at the Brown Bottle with "Sluggo Stein", before a show at Maxwells. (good thing we didnt get caught and THE VERS would've played sans drummer.)
Charlie bringing the suspended ceiling down at the old Crows Nest during a Five Year Love.
Me singing I Wanna Be Sedated on stage in Cedar Falls. (my 1st and only live rock n roll performance).
Getting Brian half drunk before a show in Ames. (yes we knew he was only 16).
Your Eulogy summed it all up exactly. Though I never knew him like you guys did, I was around him enough to know that he was ALL those things you said: Singer, clown, genious, idiot, the list goes on... But one thing that he most certainly was: Entertaining! God, he was good! One of the first gigs that he did after time off for the throat, was our show in Garrison. Actually, Brian did the show, but Mondo came out and did Sex and Drugs and Rock n Roll, in the trench coat, boxers and penis nose. Man, most of those farmers in the crowd had never, (still probably havent) seen anything like it !!! He worked the crowd with such mastery, spontineity, and humor! You may be interested to know that Charlie let us record that show on you mixer, and I still have it!! We actually got a couple shows recorded. I even have a few pics, I know Jeff does too!
Well, I'm sure I have taken enough of your time while I reminisce, but THE...VERS were a very big part of my life! They truely were. You REALLY did deserve a major label! but, you're right that Mondo wouldn't have been able to handle it!
I will order one of those CD's soon!
Really? I said that about AC/DC? Geez, what a prick I was! That's weird, because I LIKE AC/DC! At the time, though, they were probably somewhat "old hat." Young musicians can be so cruel. Sorry!
I definitely remember the Circle! Lot of good times there. Loud room. No AC in the summer, and everybody was sweating nearly as much as we were. Good looking blonde bartender called Chirp who wore black leather biker clothes. She was secretly a belly dancer. Uh-huh...
I saw your name out on rec.music.makers.guitar and had to email you. I don't know if you will remember me, but here goes...
My name is Chris Leland and I live in Dallas, but in the late '70s-early '80s I lived in Dubuque and Iowa City. I first saw you at Junnie's, and some place in Platteville when Lance was still with the band, and of course, Headliner's. Later I moved to Iowa City and was a bartender at Maxwell's and was the guy who talked Chuck and John from The Crow's Nest, and Ken Williamson from Maxwell's into booking you guys at those two places (so I wouldn't have to drive all the way back to Dubuque for shows;)).
You rewired my amp speakers in the downstairs dressing room at Maxwell's (from parallel to series) so that I could pull two tubes and get better sound with lower volume (I no longer have the amp but I still have your note regarding how to put the speaker wiring back to original written on the back of a sales flyer from The Merry Go Round at East Towne Mall in Madison). I hopped up and played either 'Matchbox' or 'Slow Down' with you at Maxwell's one time as well. Mondo introduced me as Ted Nugent.
Mondo came back to Dubuque with me one Sunday for Easter dinner at my mom's house after you'd played a Saturday show in Iowa City and she still remembers laughing for 3 hours solid (he was on a roll), and that she had never seen anybody eat so much.
I checked out your web site today and just found out about his passing. It still hasn't hit me yet. I'm so sorry for everybody's loss, and especially yours. I'm sittin' here remembering his Farah Fawcett T-Shirt with 'Big Tits for President' scrawled across it.
I still have the 5 Year Love '45, along with a green news letter announcing Brian Fabian as temporary vocalist, and also have the black/white band button with red lettering.
I'm now in a band called The Mumbles with veteran members of some really good defunct Dallas punk/alternative bands and we are doing nothing but late '70s-early '80s punk and new wave covers as we all now have day jobs and can't tour as an originals band. I will be getting in touch in a week or two to buy a cd. I very much want to add a couple ...Vers numbers to our repertoire (if you don't mind).
I do indeed remember everything you mention (except your Mom). "The Mumbles" sounds like one heckova fun band! I'm sure I speak for everyone in THE...VERS in saying that we would be honored and tickled pink to hear that someone was doing any of our songs! I'd love to hear it, maybe I can get down to Dallas sometime and hook up with you!
The newsgroup you mention must have gotten a crossposting from me. The newsgroups I hang out on are