The Chessmen Today


The strong binding tie of the Chessmen is still intact today as it was in the 1960's. The band members have remained in contact over the many years that have past. The music and the camaraderie that was The Chessmen, has kept those precious memories alive, and the bond of friendship a lasting one. Each member has achieved success in both their lives and careers.

Denny : After the break up of the band, he remained in the Falls Church area and joined a local band , The Power & Michael. In 1968 he began a Government career as a Cartographer, ending his musical endeavor as a bass player. In 1972 he married his long-time girl friend Wendy. They have two children; Ken (22), and Shannon (15). During the early 1980's he purchased an acoustic guitar and became a member of the Music Ministry at his local Church. His church group recorded an album in 1987. He now is a member of a Praise and Worship Music Ministry that plays at a local area Church. This group recorded and produced a CD in 1995. Denny still lives in the Northern Virginia area and gets together with friends to play Rock 'n Roll and Blues.

Jimmy: After the bands breakup, Jimmy played in a local band, "Skin Flower." He then moved to New York where he played on a album for Paul Stuckey (of Peter, Paul, & Mary). He then served as a studio player in the New York area. He then went on to play guitar for Alex Taylor brother of James Taylor. This band would reform to be the backup band for Dr. John. It was in this band that Jimmy met Chuck Leavell. After the Dr. John gig he returned to the D.C. area where he joined a local bar band "DC Dog." He received a call from fellow Dr. John band member Chuck Leavell, who had been playing key boards with the Allman Brothers Band. He told Jimmy he was forming a band and wanted him for a guitar player. Jimmy moved to Macon, Georgia, and hooked up with Leavell to form the southern rock group Sea Level . He recorded five albums with this group and traveled around the world playing for large concerts. The Sea Level era was from 1977 to about 1982. It was during this time period that he married a long-time girl friend and started a family. Sea Level disbanded Jimmy and his family moved to Nashville in order to be closer to the music scene. He played with B.J. Thomas, Charlie McLean, and also served as a session player for a host of other artists. He received an invitation to join the Nighthawks; a working Blues Band based in the D.C. area. This gig kept him on the road and away from his family in Nashville. He left the Nighthawks and was asked to play for country/blues star, T. Graham Brown. This group was based out of Nashville and he was able to spend more time at home. After five years of playing with T. Graham Brown, Jimmy decided it was time to get off the road and pursue his long-time dream of song writing. He and a group of fellow musician friends started writing songs and shopping them to various artists. A Nashville player named Rick Moore was impressed with Jimmy's talent and writing abilities and asked him to produce his album "Slow Burning Fire." Jimmy played guitar and produced the entire project. It was this experience that led Jimmy to his ultimate accomplishment. His solo album project. In 1999, he recorded and released "Ain't No Stranger," a compilation of his original songs mixed with a selection of blues classics. Many players from his previous bands appear on the album. Jimmy still lives with his wife and two children in Nashville, where he continues working as a song writer, producer, and session player.

Jack: After the Chessmen years Jack joined Denny in "The Power and Michael." He quit this band after about six months and played with other local D.C.area bands as a fill-in guitar player. He joined the Air Force in 1970, and was stationed over seas. After his military service, he moved to Louisiana and married. He and his wife formed a combo and performed at local dinner theaters and restaurants. Jack furthered his education getting degrees in aeronautics and engineering. He started a civilian career working as an aeronautical engineer for the Air Force. His first marriage ended in divorce. He remarried and continued his career with the government as well as his guitar playing. He currently lives with his wife in a suburb of New Orleans. He is a member of the swamp boogie band "Hunter Logan & The Talegators." and has a current CD release, "Boogie in the Swamp." Jack also is a guitar instructor at a local music store.

Bill: After leaving the Chessmen and graduating from High School in 1967, he spent the next seven years working in record stores and Gorgetown bars. With the love of the band still in his heart he still found time to play the guitar. Between 1973 and 1979 he attended music theory in college and graduate school. Upon receiving his degree in music, he shelved the idea of a music profession and started a career as a writer. In the 1980's he worked as a writer for U. S. News and World Report and the Ford Foundation. He wrote a book during this time period which was published. He married and has two sons. In the 1990's he rediscovered his passion for the guitar and Rock Music. He purchased instruments and an array of recording gear and has written and recorded various tracks of original material. He currently has two CD's available. Bill now lives in Baltimore with one of his sons, still working as a writer, and making time for writing, playing, and recording music. He has re-established contact with the other Chessmen band members and plans on attending the Chessmen reunion in the Fall.

Doug: Leaving the band was not his idea, it was Uncle Sam's! Doug was drafted in the Army in December 1967 and was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. He married his long-time sweetheart Linda on July 4, 1968. They remained in Texas until his discharge in 1970. They returned to Virginia and he attended a junior college. In 1972 their son Jamie was born and Doug quit school and went to work full-time as a sales rep for a D.C. firm. He moved to Alabama in 1973 and worked at Kayser-Roth Corp until 1978. In 1978 accepted a staff position with the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, working in the central computer facility where his current position is; Information Security Manager. During his tenure at the University, he completed an undergraduate program in Business Administration, built a new home, raised, educated their son Jamie who has married, and lives in near by Birmingham. His interest in music remained with rock 'n roll where his roots are, but like most musicians he always takes notice of new and expanding sounds, and the talents needed to produce this music. As with the other band members, he misses his Chessmen friends and allies.

Bob: After the breakup of the Chessmen, Bob played with a couple of Virginia based bands. After graduating from high school in 1968, he headed off to New York. At a New York club where the "Mc Coy's" were performing, he met one of the band members in the opening act who was forming a new band and asked Bob to audition. After playing a number of Led Zeppelin and Procal Harem covers, this band was to reform and play a gig with Chuck Berry. Bob contacted Virginia guitarist Mike Lewis and the new band performed a gig in Buffalo, N.Y., with the legendary Chuck Berry. Chuck loves this line-up and asked them to join him, opening for The Rolling Stones. BVD has made the "Big Time." After touring with the Stones, the band would also be added to revival tours with artist such as: Little Richard, The Coasters, Gary U.S. Bonds, Little Eva, and The Platters. Bob played with Chuck Berry for about one year and then landed a gig with Gary Shearston, the "Bob Dylan" of Australia, who had a record deal with Warner Bros. When a guitarist replacement was needed, Bob recruited Jimmy Nalls. A partial Chessmen reunion! But Bob was replaced which caused him to return to New York and work as a session player. He then landed a union gig as the drummer for the Broadway show "Godspell." He played with this act for three years traveling across the U. S., Canada, and Europe. During this time he co-founded the "Roadapples," and acquired a record deal with Columbia Records. The band got caught up in the Clive Davis, Columbia Record scandal and was dropped. He then moved to Miami, Florida, in 1978 and landed a gig with a spin-off of the original "Ink Spots." He returned to New York in 1979, following a severe auto accident. He moved in with his parents while his health recovered.
Bob then started a career as a ABC television cameraman. He spent eight years at ABC, shooting everything from local news and Soap Operas, to Monday Night Football. About midway through this period, he met his lovely bride to be , Carly. Bob and Carly have two children; Jennifer (11) and Christopher (8). They live in Orlando, Florida, where Bob works as a senior video engineer at "The Golf Channel."


A final Thought:

The Chessmen years were a time that will last forever in the minds and hearts of the bands members. The love of music was the magnetic force that formed the friendships that are still alive today. The memories of the bands practice sessions and performances were the inspiration that led to the construction of this website. What was not mentioned was the many fun-filled moments spent not as a band, but as best friends.
I have put together a CD from the original tapes that were made back in the 60's. It is a collection of the Bands "signature" songs and features line-ups of the various Chessmen players. This CD is available upon request.

 Thank you very much for visiting The Chessmen web site. For those of you that remember the band, or know the band members, I hope it has brought back pleasant memories. Please share this site with others who knew the Chessmen, and enjoyed the music that they played.


 DDenny Begle.... July 2000


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