Between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, I was invited by Mike Spears, a guitarist, to join a rock and roll group organized by a group of older kids from Greater Lafayette. “Kids” might be a bit of a misnomer because the lead drummer, Deni Burton, had to be at least 25 years old.
The group was called the Versateels and we performed a half dozen times during the summer. The most memorable performance occurred when we won a band contest in the open dance hall at Indiana Beach. We won playing Ray Charles “What I Say” largely because in the middle of the piece Deni and Alan Sanford, our two drummers, had a drum battle that really made the place come alive. We won the contest hands down and ended up being invited to a return engagement the following weekend.
Years later when I ran into Alan I learned that our performances at Indiana Beach had been no ordinary affair because up until the time we arrived the beach had been segregated. In fact, Alan told me that the car load of guys who had accompanied us from Lafayette had come not to support us as a group but to see to it that Deni (a black) would come to no harm.
When I asked if he was still playing I was told that some local white trash had taken exception to the fact that he had married a white girl and had slashed his wrists.