The Messengers
Motown's First White Group
1964 — 1973

Messenger Poster

The Messengers - Motown's first white group.

In early 1967, "The Messengers" became Motown's first white group.

Over the years 15 different musicians performed with "The Messengers". First in Winona MN, and then in Milwaukee WI. For several years "The Messengers" had one or more of their records, almost continually, in the "Top Ten" in the Milwaukee radio area. "The Messengers" also wrote and performed, the "Musical Stage Show",

"The Evolution of Love"
The First Rock Opera to go on Tour.

"The Evolution of Love"
A memory from long ago

    A long time ago,
    and far away.
    We tried to tell a story,
    in our own special way.

    A story about love,
    and how it needs to grow.
    A seed that is nurtured,
    On our way to know.

    The workings of our nature,
    as we hope to see.
    All we are a part of,
    In complete harmony.

A "Home Made Studio" for "Home Made Records".
The Messengers' Living Room.

Our 1968, Milwaukee Recording Studio, that we build from scratch.
Much of this was built in our electronics lab, in the next room.
Our homemade half inch, four-channel recorder, used integrated circuits in its electronics. It most likely was the first commercial machine to do so. The board also, used integrated circuits in the electronics we built ourselves.

Tommy's Side of the Story
( Alias:   — Tom Chick — Chick — Chickie — )

In 1962, Greg Jeresek and I got together while in high school, and did record hops together. In our hometown Winona Minnesota, we each had connections at competing radio stations, and figured two record collections were better than one. We tape-recorded the records for use at the hops, until we built our own record collection.

The Beetles came along and Greg decided to start a band, "The Messengers" in which he played the bass guitar. I managed, and booked the Winona Messengers, and produced their first record.



Greg then, went off to college in Milwaukee Wisconsin and the Winona group was disbanded. I stayed on in Winona to work and study at the three colleges there (All three at once).

Greg then reorganized a new group. In Milwaukee, The Messengers recorded a record in their living room (Midnight Hour) that became a hit on Milwaukee radio.

Greg invited me to come to see the group, and informed me that The Messengers were going to be on television and that I should be there for the show.

I invited a member of the original group (Roy Berger) to join me and we jumped into my car and we headed off to Milwaukee. We got as far as La Cross Wisconsin when my car's water pump went out. I left my car at a garage to be repaired, paid for the work in advance and raced to the airport. I chartered a twin-engine plane and with engines at near full throttle, we sped to Milwaukee arriving at the TV station just as the show was going on the air.

It was a great show. We went out to eat, caught up on events, and had a "look-see" at his set up. Greg had connected with a local booking agency and things were looking up for The Messengers.

Roy and I returned to La Cross on the train, picked up my car and we returned to Winona. It was back to the books for a while for me, and Roy became involved in another Winona group (The New World Congregation).

Meanwhile, The Messengers were booked in Chicago to open the show for the Dave Clark Five. There was a producer from Motown there, and he signed The Messengers, as Motown's first white group. The group was booked to record records in Detroit and Greg invited me to come to Detroit for the fun.

I said good-bye to my small town life, and ran away to join the rock and roll circus.

I signed a contract with Motown for some songs I was peddling, and under the guise of a writer, I proceeded to sit in on The Messengers' recording sessions.

Motown provided me with my first experiences with the black community. There were no blacks in my hometown, and the Motown family was wonderful. They were loving, creative, joyful and fun to work with. I started to learn the meaning of "Soul". A concept that seemed to be lacking in the white community. It would be many years before I could manifest the concept in my life, but I internalized the lessons and recorded the images in my mind and in the music of the day.

However, being Motown's first white group had its down side. They had not yet learned to work in the world of the white music scene, and further more, they wanted The Messengers to go with the "Motown sound". (A white group playing black music.)

We dug our heals in, and insisted that we be allowed to develop our own sound. This caused some friction and further complicated the issues of releasing The Messengers "Motown records", to "white radio stations".

These issues would go on for years.

Greg and I, almost immediately, began hatching a plan of our own that first summer with Motown.

When we signed with Motown, they were operating out of three adjacent houses on West Grand Blvd., in Detroit. Greg and I decided that we could do the same thing in Milwaukee.

We found an old boarding house on the East Side of Milwaukee. It was three stories with basement and a three-car garage. It was here that we set out to control the music scene in Milwaukee.

With our backgrounds in radio and electronics, we began the process of building our own recording studio and production house. Greg set up a string of corporations. The Messengers, Positive Publishing, Metropolitan Recording, Home Made Records, Metropolitan Sound (Our outdoor sound company) and we took another group under our wings (The Exiles) that we trained to be replacements for The Messengers when various members would "burn out" or prove to be incompatible. (Over the years, 15 different musicians would play for the "The Messengers".)

We set up a photography lab in the basement and went through about a hundred feet of film a month. We had an art studio for doing the PR material and an electronics lab also.

You might think that all that would be enough for anybody, but not me. The Messengers' house was three blocks from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and I enrolled myself in classes there.

My major was psychology, in particular the psychology of learning, and The Messengers' house was my real world lab. But still, that wasn't enough.

At the university, one of my teachers was Dr. Screven. He had received a government grant to develop teaching devices for the Milwaukee Public Museum and was also designing teaching aids for mentally challenged adults. He asked me to help and I was put on the payroll. For a time, that was my "day job". I had developed teaching devices before. I had created a teaching device that I called "Charlie" and entered it in my high school sophomore class science fair. It was made with vacuum tubes and old pinball machine parts. In fact, it was old pinball machines that played a major role in my electronic education. This knowledge had previously allowed me to help our country put a man on the moon. But, that is another story.

Part of my job at the museum was to design printed circuit cards for the teaching devices. The museum had a huge photography department that was made available to me for the purpose.

It wasn't long before I was upgrading the photography lab at The Messengers' house to be able to make printed circuit cards there also. This allowed us to stay in the lead in the ever-changing business of electronic music.

The musical style of The Messengers, in the early days, was what we called "bubble gum". Great music to dance by. But, when I was in college in Winona, I was involved in theater. We called ourselves "The Winona Players". The Winona Players were the first college group to perform at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis Minn. It is a rather famous place. As you might by now expect, I worked hard to involve The Messengers in musical theater. After a time I was able to manifest it.

The first show that we put together was titled "The Evolution of Love". It was the story of a young boy growing up in a cold world and coming to know the true meaning of love and sharing. It was a tremendous hit and we performed it until we "burned out" a couple of the members. The show's popularity and the subsequent "burn out" of the members, unhappily, prevented us from ever recording the show in the studio. And, as you know someone else was eventually credited with being the first to do this type of performance.

Things really started getting lively now !

We started work on our second Rock Opera, "The Little People". In retrospect, it had elements similar to Token's Hobbits, although none of us had ever heard of his work at that time. Our little people lived in an underworld of our current reality. They survived, using the things that we in the upper world had thrown away. They were a very happy group. Our wasteful habits provided them with a luxurious life style. One day our Messengers found themselves in their world and the musical moralistic adventure began.

From my viewpoint, this show felt forced. "The Evolution of Love" effortlessly flowed into existence, whereas this one was a bit of a struggle. Different people, different chemistry.

To my relief, this show too was well received and we played our circuit to large audiences.

The Messengers were a very "black ink" group. No need for day jobs.

About this time, a movement started in Milwaukee to create a music festival at the lake front. Our booking agency, (Contemporary Talent) had grown considerably and was the largest in Milwaukee. It was only natural that we were brought in to book the talent for the festival. I don't remember how many groups there were the first year, but by the second or third year and there after, 250 groups each year were brought in to play the festival on ten different sound stages. The festival, "Summerfest", still runs today, bigger and better than ever.

After the first year, it was obvious from the size of the crowds that we needed to improve the sound technology on the main stage. I saw this as my chance to reach nearly a million people a year, during the festival's ten-day run. So, I set out to design and build the world's largest and most sophisticated out door sound system for the world's largest (and currently the longest running) music festival.

The full story is a bit long, but I will post the rest it at some point, because of all the science lesions that I learned from the project.

I designed and built, using integrated circuits, (Which were so new, that no one else was yet using them for professional audio.) a 24 channel stereo soundboard. It had variable input gain, graphic capable tone controls, automatic volume control, and stereo effects send on each channel. This in effect, was a huge analog computer. The frequency response went from 20 Hz to 340 KHz. The high frequency response is needed to produce a good drum sound and to reduce inter-modulation distortion.

The power amp, which I designed, can continuously maintain an output of 12 amps DC and will pass a signal at unity gain at 1.4 megacycles. The amp has an analog computer circuit that can do "real time" parametric equalization with (in today's terms) a refresh rate of 1 MHz. The design uses one amp for each speaker.

This amp has never been used for a major musical event, but I have tested it with "small bands" under terrible conditions with OH WOW results. I'm saving this amp for my return to the stage.

Yes, I am truly a master of the silver balls, we call electrons.

Oh yes, the speaker system. Ever try to do something in front of a million people and not have it come off as advertised? Even wizards, don't always get to have things work right the first time. The back order of some parts produced a time squeeze that required me to take the system to festival with no field-testing before hand. Component testing had been done, but systems behave differently.

My design of "first choice", a 32 ft. exponential array of 22 cells, was rejected because of size, portability, and time restraints. We decided to go with a folded horn base cabinet and a 350 Hz exponential horn.

We purchased one base cabinet from "Electrovoice" and tested in the front of our house. It only took a few minutes before a squad car pulled up. "I was two blocks away and a fire engine went by and I couldn't hear its siren, your music was so loud," the officer said.

Good test !

I wrote "Electrovoice", and asked for the plans for the cabinet. They sent me a set of plans, but it wasn't for the cabinet we had purchased. They were the plans that the design engineer had submitted to the cabinetmakers. His design was better! I improved the design even more, and cut the wood for twenty units. I assembled four of them, and took them to the festival site. There I could do all the testing I wanted, undisturbed.

It wasn't long before another squad pulled up. "I was two miles away and I wondered where the music was coming from," he said. What a rush. The system was to consist of twenty!

The PR department "ran with it"! Bigger, Better than Woodstock !!! The Papers Proclaimed, in Full Page, Repeated Adds.

(Long Story Made Shorter.) For now, let me just say that the twenty didn't work any better than the four.   Do you know why ???

Quantum Mechanics  my friend.

The whole story is quite long. You'll have to read the book, (when published) or see the movie.

The bottom line is that I "burned out" !!!

Layer upon layer the story went on.

As they say, "hind sight is 20 / 20". If I would have stayed in the music business, I could have peddled only dreams. Today, I am almost ready to peddle new technology that will solve most of the problems that our planet is facing. I have been working with some of the most powerful minds on the planet. Scientists from the national labs, engineers, builders, doers. Together we are solving problems thought impossible only a couple of decades ago.

And, in retrospect, I needed to be groomed for this task. To begin with, I was one of the most introverted persons you could ever hope to meet. Starting with that fateful Christmas Eve, at age eight, when I impulsively ran into my parent's bedroom, until but a decade ago. I was totally blind to the world of human emotions. I couldn't see them, couldn't hear them. And, because I couldn't see or hear emotions, I couldn't conscientiously speak them either.

So what did I do after I left The Messengers ?

I wanted to learn why I "burned out", and keep it from happening again !!!

This launched a "Study Project" that is still going on today. It started with the study of Toxicities and Deficiencies. This study took on the form of Hydroponics, often called Hydroculture — growing plants in mineral water. This has given rise to my Hydroponic Reference Center, which seems to have become an international hit.

I then went to New Mexico, and did some advanced materials projects with Dr. John V. Milewski a retired researcher from Los Alamos National Lab. John got me looking at James Clerk Maxwell's original equations on the nature of electrical energy, and that evolved into a Study of our Sub Atomic World and research into the possibilities of obtaining energy for homes from Sub Atomic Sources, a project that actually started at The Messengers' Electronics Lab in 1969.

I have started to put together my Half Century Report on technology and the possibilities for a bright future. I hope that Many of you, will want to become involved.

Tommy's E-mail

Greg Jeresek's E-Mail

Bob Cavallo's E-Mail (Mother)

Michael Demling's E-Mail

Dr. Peter Holzhauer's E-Mail

Tom J. Wacker's E-Mail

Larry Mondello's E-Mail

Photo by ...

Tom Chick 
Tommy Cichanowski 

Who can spell Cichanowski Anyway!

Peter Barnes

Services were held for Peter Barnes Saturday, September 18, 2004.  He died in the hospital in North Ridge, CA.

He died of leukemia – a easily treated disease – at age 57.

Peter was a senior member of "The Messengers" having played for the group longer than any other member.  Peter wrote many of the songs produced by "The Messengers" and was a major influence in generating show material.

His talent will be greatly missed.

Larry Mondello attended Peter's Memorial in Milwaukee (Dec. 11, 2004)
and has put together This Wonderful Slide Show with music from the event.

" Tommy Talk Radio "
Take a Human Holiday

Hydroponic / Hydroculture Reference Center
Make "The Water of Life"

Keeping Ourselves Alive
Milwaukee Talk Radio Show

Wonderful "New" Possibilities
Santa Fe Talk Radio Show

The Wonderful World of Advanced Materials

The Resonate Coil Project

Tommy's first "Teaching Machine"   ( 1961 High School Project )

When winter falls,  Many find themselves in need of More Bright Light !
Seasonal Depression (SAD) can be "Cured" with Bright Light. – The Melatonin Story

The Tortoise Shell Web Site Link List

The Tortoise Shell  "Science of Health"  Newsletter
— Putting an End to Disease on Our Planet —

Tortoise Shell Life Science Puzzle Box – Front Page

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