Top 10 Head East Songs

Head East Songs

Our Top 10 Head East Songs list presents the best Head East Songs like “Never Been Any Reason,” “Since You Been Gone” and many more. Hailing from East Central Illinois, Head East is a rock band formed in 1969 by a group of talented musicians that first went with the name TimeAtions. Larry Boyd, Roger Boyd, and John Schlitt were University of Illinois students at the time while Steve Huston was enrolled at Eastern Illinois University. Unlike these four men, Danny Piper was the only member who did not attend any post-secondary education program. However, before Head East officially became recording artists, Larry Boyd and Danny Piper dropped out of the band and were replaced by Dan Birney and Mike Somerville.

Becoming Head East

Time Actions was a name that was quickly dropped in favor of Head East after the band’s roadie made the suggestion. The date of the name change was August 6, 1969, as was mentioned in an interview with Steve Huston. According to his story, it was explained the roadie was tripping on acid when the sun rose up and appeared as if a giant talking head was suggesting the band’s new name should be Head East. When this was brought to the attention of the group they found the name appealing enough to use. The reason why the date of the band’s name change has been remembered was that this is what they used when they played their first gig in Carbondale, Illinois.

While performing in the Midwest, Head East discovered the venues didn’t want the band to play original music. Instead, they wanted them to stick to previously recorded material by other artists. Long before “Never Been Any Reason” made an appearance on radio stations, it was a song performed by the band that had the club owners thinking it came from Three Dog Night.

Evolving Head East

In 1974, Head East independently recorded and released their first album, Flat as a Pancake. As Pyramid Records, it sold all five thousand of the records printed, as well as five hundred eight tracks. In the Midwest, Head East had evolved into regional rock favorites. Thanks to the success of the album, as well as its hit single, “Never Been Any Reason,” word reached A&M Records to sign up the band and release the album a second time in 1975. Flat as a Pancake became a certified gold seller by the Recording Industry Association of America by 1978. To this day, it remains the band’s best-selling album of all time.

1976’s Get Yourself Up and 1977’s Gettin’ Lucky were the next two albums Head East released after the band made its nationwide debut in 1975. However, neither of them was able to match the success level of Flat as a Pancake. It wouldn’t be until 1978’s Head East album would the band experience another hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 with “Since You Been Gone.”

The next two albums released came in 1979 as a double LP recording. Head East Live! was the first, then A Different Kind of Crazy. They also had music featured on the J-Men Forever soundtrack that was released that same year.

Head East Detours

In 1980, Birney and Somerville opted out of Head East while John Schlitt was fired from the band due to his drug addiction taking over his ability to perform. Since then, Schlitt became a born-again, spirit-filled Christian. It would be after this life-changing detour in his life he would rise from the ashes and join the Contemporary Christian rock group, Petra.

It was also in 1980 that Head East released the album, U.S. 1. This was the final album the band recorded while with the A&M label. This was also the final album that made a chart appearance on the US Billboard 200. Since then, there were three additional albums recorded and released by the band. Onward and Upward was a 1982 small-label release, as well as 1988’s Choice of Weapons. Neither achieved much success as commercial releases nor did 2013’s Raise a Little Hell. There’s also a 1999 release of Live on Stage, a recording that featured the performances from the 1980 and 1981 concerts Head East performed at Denver’s Rainbow Music Hall.

Head East Today

In 2011, the Iowa Rock n’ Roll Music Association inducted Head East into its Hall of Fame. The concert that was held at the time by the band included Steve Huston and John Schlitt as they performed some of their classics before a live audience. The current roster of Head East still has Roger Boyd at the helm. Touring with him are Glen Briger, Eddy Jones, Greg Manahan, and Darren Walke.

With a history that spans over fifty years of classic rock, Head East continues to entertain its fan base with the same high-energy performances that define who they are as a band. As far as Roger Boyd is concerned, as long as he can still lift his synthesizer over his head and play he will continue to do so.

On February 28, 2020, Mike Somerville passed away at the age of sixty-seven years old. He was the primary songwriter behind Head East that was responsible for most of the original material the band performed as recording artists.

Top 10 Head East Songs

#10 – Don’t Let Me Sleep in the Morning

Gettin’ Lucky was among the great albums released in the mid-1970s that had enough going for it to become a commercial success but simply fell short due to a highly competitive market when it came to commercial hits produced by recording artists that seemed to receive better breaks in the music industry.

For Head East, the band often met with opposition from club owners when it came to performing original music material. Even as Gettin’ Lucky was the band’s third studio album released, the album failed to generate enough interest to have many of its copies sold. “Don’t Let Me Sleep in the Morning” may not have had the best lyrics going for it but it was still performed by a talent pool of musicians that knew how to put out a good rockin’ tune nevertheless. The song’s infectious melody had a knack for implanting itself into a listener’s brain even if the lyrical makeup of the song failed to lay out a story that made sense.

#9 – Gettin’ Lucky

The title track from 1977’s Gettin’ Lucky featured Head East’s uncanny ability to perform as a melodic band that knew how to put play together with a sound quality to thoroughly entertain the fans. The vocal arrangement of “Gettin’ Lucky” was regarded as one of the most memorable among a fan base who saw more to what made this band tick than what met the common eye. This song was designed for listeners wanting to do more than sit and listen to a great fast-paced tune. “Gettin’ Lucky” urged folks to get up and dance the blues away and simply have a roaring good time.

#8 – Fly by Night Lady

“Fly by Night Lady” was one of the songs released from the album, Flat as a Pancake. Released in 1975, this was one of many hard-rocking songs that justifiably earned Head East a loyal fan base. When it came to delivering invigorating hook-laden arena rock, the group mostly from Illinois had no trouble in this department. “Fly by Night Lady” made reference to a woman and her lifestyle choice as a lady of the night.

Unfortunately for Head East, the music industry was favoring disco and punk, which dominated the radio stations that left little room for progressive hard rock to make its impact at the time. Regardless, Head East continued to do what it did best instead of switching up its style. This formula worked among the loyal fan base of the Midwest as they shared the same mindset. “Fly by Night Lady” was a shining example of classic rock at its finest that’s just as timeless as the genre itself.

#7 – I Surrender

For Head East, Russ Ballard from Argent served as a huge influence on the band’s own musical career as performers. “I Surrender” was one of many songs the band recorded in a manner that won over scores of fans. U.S. 1 was the band’s fourth studio album, which was released in 1980. It was the hope this would improve the band’s fortunes as recording artists but this wouldn’t be the case. After this, the core of Head East ultimately left Roger Boyd as the final founding member of the band that would carry on.

“I Surrender” was technically a song about a man surrendering himself to his love interest. However, in a way, it was as if this song served as the band’s own way of admitting the glory days as recording artists were already behind them. Where Head East failed to make a chart impression, Rainbow succeeded. Rainbow was a UK-based supergroup that not only turned “I Surrender” into a big hit in their home nation but “Since You Been Gone” as well.

As a fan, “I Surrender” took on a more profound meaning. It was a time when John Schlitt’s own personal demons caught up with him as his alcoholism had taken its toll on the man. Not long after this, he personally surrendered himself to Christianity before teaming up with the Christian rock band, Petra.

#6 – Every Bit of My Heart

From the 1977 album, Gettin’ Lucky, “Every Bit of My Heart” was a song that highlighted the energy Head East was noted for as a rock band that knew how to perform well as a group. While the rest of the nation paid more attention to disco, Head East remained steadfast to the roots of what made classic rock stand the test of time as all-time fan favorites. What made “Every Bit of My Heart” a gem was the spirited performance behind a song that had its lyrical composition feature jabs of bitter sentiments.

#5 – City of Gold

“City of Gold” was the third single released from Head East’s debut album, Flat as a Pancake. Although it failed to chart like “Since You Been Gone” and “Never Been Any Reason” did, the song still made a lasting impression on an audience that quickly became a loyal fan base that has followed the band’s highs and lows throughout its career. As a song, “City of Gold” made reference to a cityscape that was made entirely out of gold. In the lyrics, the invite was extended to embark on the search of such a city, hoping perhaps it wasn’t just a fictional landscape told about when he was a youth.

#4 – Jefftown Creek

“Jefftown Creek” was a song that was recorded on Head East’s debut album, Flat as a Pancake. First released in 1975 as an independent label, the success of the sold-out copies of the album won over the attention of A&M Records. With a bigger label to distribute the album, additional copies were made and Head East got its first taste of nationwide success. Although “Jefftown Creek” wasn’t released as a single it became a fan favorite. The progressive hard rock style that defined Head East’s career was well embraced by the American Midwest while the rest of the nation seemed more interested in disco and punk at the time.

“Jefftown Creek” was a song that took a trip down memory lane as the lyrics spoke of a man changing from who he was once before to what he’s become. This was Steve Huston’s song as he and the band simply shared a piece of their past about a campground that was an old hangout to go to and get high.

As a song, “Jefftown Creek” has since become a cult favorite among Head East’s fan base. It remains one of the most requested songs each time the band performs in concert.

#3 – Love Me Tonight

In 1975, when Flat as a Pancake was rereleased as an album, “Love Me Tonight” became Head East’s second hit to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100. It peaked as high as number fifty-four. This was the follow-up single behind the band’s signature hit, “Never Been Any Reason.”

According to Roger Boyd, it was the intent of A&M to have “Love Me Tonight” first recorded by the Bay City Rollers. However, Head East refused as there was a fear they wouldn’t be able to record this song of theirs themselves. This hard-hitting rock classic addressed a former love interest with the hope of getting together again. As a highway tune worth listening to while behind the wheel, “Love Me Tonight” definitely fits the bill as a number that should keep you awake and entertained while you’re on the road.

#2 – Since You Been Gone

“Since You Been Gone” was a 1976 Russ Ballard original that was covered by Head East in 1978. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number forty-six hit after it was released as a single from the band’s fourth studio album. The self-titled record put the band back on the official music chart three years after “Love Me Tonight” and “Never Been Any Reason.” In Canada, “Since You’ve Been Gone” was also a number sixty-four hit on its Top Singles chart. As far as chart hits go, this was the song that outdid the other two singles, “Never Been Any Reason” and “Love Me Tonight.”

Among Head East’s fans, “Since You Been Gone” has become one of the band’s signature hits. Theirs, along with Rainbow’s 1979 version, made this song a popular favorite among rock music fans. It was covered by a number of artists but it was Head East’s version that made the biggest impression on North American soil.

#1 – Never Been Any Reason

The popularity of “Never Been Any Reason” continued since its 1975 release as a single. In 1993, it was on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack, and then again in 2005’s Sahara. It was also played as a tune on different television programs, including Friday Night Lights and That ’70s Show. On the US Billboard Hot 100, “Never Been Any Reason” peaked at number sixty-eight. Mike Somerville was the man behind the songwriting of this cult classic, as was the case for most of Head East’s original tunes. The highlight of this song came from Roger Boyd’s double-tracked solos throughout, despite the fact this was an accidental mix into its recording.

During a timeline when computerized music mixing wasn’t available, the Minimoog synthesizer was used. For Head East, when the Minimoog was used a second time during the recording process the band forgot to mute one of the Moog-based solos. When the members heard it while recording, they decided to go back and record the second part so it could match up with the first.

Another highlight behind “Never Been Any Reason” was the alternating vocal performances by Steve Huston and by John Schlitt. At first, it’s Huston’s two-line intro of the verses before Schlitt took over the rest of the song’s lyrical course. The multi-vocal harmonies sung by the rest of the band also made this song a musical treat for listeners taking in the entertainment value of a song where the narrator had just returned home and gave his love interest at the time a piece of his mind.

Feature Photo: Maltesen at the Danish language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Head East Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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