The music of the 1960's, an era with such artists as: Chuck Berry, The Beatles, The Animals, The Rolling Stones, and The Byrds. Bands using rhythmic lines to convey expressions of love, politics, and social issues. It was this melodic force that lured a group of young friends to form a musical combo that would lead them to years of musical enjoyment and a lasting friendship.

The original Chessmen Band consisted of:

Doug Sandford ... Lead Vocals
Denny Begle ... Bass & Vocals
Jack Rowe ... Lead Guitar & Vocals
Roger Stanley ... Keyboards & Vocals
Bob VanDorn ... Drums

Denny and Doug had been players in two previous bands in Falls Church, VA. Bob, Jack, and Roger were members of bands in the Lake Barcroft area of Falls Church. It was at a private party where members of each band were asked to perform together that Denny met Jack, which laid the foundation of the Chessmen. The bands strong and solid rhythm section accented with Rowe's scorching guitar solos, made The Chessmen popular with local and area teens.

Roger Stanley was replaced with Jimmy Nalls, a local guitar player from Arlington, VA. Nalls and Rowe were neighbors while growing up and together had learned guitar riffs and solos while listening to bands such as The Ventures. The addition of Nalls to the group gave the band a blend of R&B, rock, and surf melodies. His strong guitar style and vocal ability coupled with Rowe's guitar artistry, molded The Chessmen into a stellar musical act. Jack returned to his previous group where he was the front man and the lead guitarist. The void was filled with temporary players until a replacement guitarist could be found. Bill Rust a native of the D.C. area joined the band as a rhythm guitar player. His guitar style, talent and love of music was the perfect combination for The Chessmen.

This line up of players would have the longest tenure:

Doug ... Lead Vocals
Denny ... Bass & Vocals
Jimmy ... Lead Guitar & Vocals
Bill ... Rhythm Guitar
Bob ... Drums

The Chessmen were managed by Jerry Torregrossa who organized practice sessions and booked performances. Jerry left the group for active duty in the Navy and his management position was filled by his brother Damon. A member of a local college social group, Damon booked the band for many college fraternity events in the D.C. area. Damon left for active duty in the Army and his management position was filled by Craig Hagaman. Craig is married to a cousin of the Torregrossa brothers so the management of The Chessmen "remained in the family". For reasons that I can't remember, Bill left the group and Jack Rowe returned as guitar player and vocalist. This line up would stay in tact until the break-up of the group. Doug was drafted into the Army and the band was never the same, missing his strong vocals and stage presence, The Chessmen disbanded in the late 1960's.




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