Monthly Archives: June 2015

Bill Stephens

Bill’s musical career started at the age of 7 years when he started taking accordion lessons. He also sang in his church’s youth choir. When in 6th grade, he took up the cello for four years, and took piano and organ lessons as well. In 10th grade, he changed his focus to full-time chorus singing and was selected to sing in an elite show chorus and a 12-voice madrigal ensemble, as well as musicals and performing in plays.

Always fascinated by electricity, Bill learned early on from his dad how circuits work and he experimented with home-made devices as well as some retired telephones. In 8th grade, he copied the plans from an older mentor and built a “Reactance Coil”, which won him second-place in his division in the Montana State Science Fair.

When attending the University of Montana he elected to pursue a degree in Music Education and graduated with that degree in 1966. He elected to further his degree by pursuing his Masters in Music Education. During his time at UM, he sang in the University choir, the “Jubileers” – a show chorus, and in many musicals and operas.

While studying “serious” music, in his freshman year he bought a bass guitar, resurrected a discarded amplifier, built a cabinet for speakers and learned to play “Rock and Roll” on the bass. He played in several different bands, built PA systems and in 1966 recorded a ‘45 with his band, the Opus IIII. They were quite a
popular band and since they were composed of four music majors, were able to play many different genres of music, from R&B to jazz to folk.

Uncle Sam, however, would not let Bill finish his Masters in 1967, so Bill auditioned for and was accepted into the US Army Field Band’s 30-voice male chorus that toured with a 70-piece concert band. They toured the country giving free concerts. In 1969, he toured with a 30-member kick-ass big band, both as the sound engineer and a singer in a quartet.

Concurrent with his 3-year stint in the Army Field Band, he found a part-time job in a music store and demonstrated, sold and serviced Hammond organs. He created a home-theater sound demonstration room and introduced Quadraphonic sound to buyers. In 1969, he helped start a business to record conventions of international associations and produce cassette tapes for members to purchase. In 1973 he left the music store and went full-time with the recording company, then formed his own company in 1978. He moved to Reno in 1980.

He stopped singing when he left the Army in 1970. Twenty-five years later, after a hiatus in non-singing, he and his wife, Cynthia purchased a sewing machine from Sears. The salesman, Dave Brown, was ringing up the sale when Bill noticed that Dave had a pitch-pipe on his belt. Inquiring why a sewing machine salesman had a pitch pipe (no it wasn’t a Singer sewing machine), he was told that he sang with a Barbershop Chorus and they had a rehearsal that night. A BARBERSHOP CHORUS! He’d never heard of such a thing and went to the rehearsal that evening.

After his second visit as a guest, he joined up and was asked right away if he’d like to sing in a quartet, along with Rick Eisenhart, Randy House and Dave. They formed Loose Change, changed their name later to Musically Inclined, and sang for many different audiences. Unfortunately, Rick moved away and the
quartet became history.