Monthly Archives: October 2013

Procrastination has always been a bad habit of mine, as it is with many people these days. We become so caught up in our own daily dramas that we sometimes put off the very things that should be a priority. In my case, that overlooked item was a simple ‘Thank You’ to a special person. That special person was, Bennie Barresi.

Bennie & Me Bennie & Me

It was 1973 when we first met.  Having been a tom-boy during my childhood in Colorado, when I arrived at Washington H.S. freshman year, I had a bit of difficulty finding my place with the schoolgirls. Bennie noticed me wondering around aimlessly at Sam’s—Coke in one hand and cigarette in the other—and he offered to show me around WHS. He was the first classmate who took the time to introduce himself and make me feel welcomed at my new school. He was truly my first real friend in Arizona.

My family loved Bennie and his family was quite fond of me, and we spent almost every day together.

I remember that Ms. Barresi made the most delicious spaghetti sauce in the world. And I’ll never forget the time when Bennie stashed a piece of lemon pie in his room and took a huge bite of it, but had to spit it out because his cat had urinated on it. Ah, those were the days.

With Guitar With Guitar

Our common bond was music. Bennie played the guitar— I sang. We were indeed the next: Sonny and Cher, Ike and Tina, Carpenters (okay, maybe not the Carpenters). J Our signature songs were:  Bobby McGee (Joplin), Something (Beatles), Country Roads (John Denver), Stairway to Heaven (Zeppelin), and Leaving on a Jet Plane (Peter, Paul & Mary). As well as a few original pieces: Sunrise and Throwbacks.  I’ve included the lyrics to the chorus of each song at the end of this story.
Even though Bennie left school in 1975 we maintained our contact and friendship. It was difficult enough to juggle my job at the Indian Drive-In Theater, WHS musical’s rehearsal, WHS choir practice and a college-boyfriend during Junior/Senior years, but somehow there was always time to hang out with Bennie and make music. We would jam at least twice per week, and as the world of technology advanced, so did our recordings.

Bennie was an absolute genius when it came to improvising. After the release of one of Queen’s most famous albums, Bennie was so impressed with Freddy Mercury harmonizing with himself that Bennie rigged up a way for us to dub, over-dub and over-over-dub our voices.  I remember that Bennie once made a reel-to-reel recording of himself singing all of the parts of ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ (Beatles).

working on a tune... working on a tune…

On the subject of Bennie’s musical genius, the thought comes to mind of a portable amplifier he made out of some old stereo parts and an empty cracker box. It was a sight to behold, but, it worked! He would plug his electric guitar and my microphone into that thing and we were wired for sound!

We made a recording in his bedroom studio one time of ‘Dreamboat Annie’ (Heart). It was the first time I had ever sung harmony, but the results were amazing! And that was all because of Bennie’s coaching and editing of the tape.  We had such dreams back then of becoming famous singers.

I realized near the end of my senior year, that although I had a decent enough voice, I didn’t have ‘star’ quality. I sang with a few bar-bands until 1983 and then with the exception of singing at spiritual gatherings or church choirs and coaching youth step-dance groups, my performing days were over. From what I now have learned from his good friend Andy Olson, Bennie continued with music until the end.

Bennie was a major part of my life until 1979 when I moved back to Colorado. He had always been my, “Johnny Come Lately” and was without doubt my best friend throughout my high school years. When I returned to Phoenix in 1981, unfortunately, I was involved in an abusive relationship. I felt trapped and doomed and confided my situation in Bennie.  Naturally, he rescued me.   He took me to his home, his mom fed me, we went into hiding for a few weeks — then I got myself back on track.

My buddies... My buddies…

We both got busy with our lives and unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy to make music a priority any more. I had to work, pay bills, go to night school and think about my future. Somewhere along the way, Bennie and I lost touch. We never officially said good-bye, we just lost touch.

I’ve been living in Europe for the past decade. I work as an ELL-teacher at our local high school and one day with colleagues, we were sitting around talking about our own high-school days. Our discussion was focused on the importance of friendships when you are a teenager. I told stories about my talented friend, Bennie. I told them how Bennie was such an important part of my life when I was in high-school and how I truly believe that without his intervention I might have become a domestic violence statistic.
I realized that night that the life I’ve created for myself is partly due to the help I received from Bennie. If he had not helped me out of that relationship nightmare, who knows where or how things would have turned out. I told my fellow teachers, that one of the first things I would do when I went to America for a visit in 2008 would be to call Bennie and say a seventeen-year belated, Thank You!
When I was contacted by Andy Olson in response to my search for Bennie, I was shocked and deeply saddened to have heard that Bennie had been killed in a car accident on Halloween night, 2005.

Needless to say, I’ve learned a powerful lesson—never hesitate to let people know how much you care.

To the family and friends of Bennie, I extend my belated condolences.

To the heavens, I say—Bennie, thank you for everything and for always being a dependable friend; I only wish I could have told you in person. Thinking back on a conversation we once had with each other, I can imagine you are having a great jam session right now with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix! J So I end this with a quote from Jimi: “You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven.”  So, B-B-B-Bennie,  I’ll go on being the crazy jet and you go on enjoying your gigs in Heaven. Until we meet again…

Rest in Peace.

Love, Kathy

bennieb2 Bye, Bye Bennie, May the sun always shine on you..

Listen to the some of Bennie’s music below and you will hear why he touched so many people in his lifetime..

I’ll Have-To-Say-Goodbye

When The River Runs Dry

Prayer For The World


Editors Note: Bennie Barresi was my best friend and died tragically on Halloween night, 2005 when he was hit by an SUV near 43th Avenue & Northern in Phoenix. The last song he played was an acoustic version of “Leaving On A Jet Plane” for a couple girls he met, before he jumped on his bike (with guitar on his back for the ride home).

Bennie Barresi was an explosion of musical ideas from the day he picked up his first guitar. In the early days, I watched him struggle to get through a song without messing it up, but then, he took a giant step forward and became a master at his craft. His sound was a  mixture of Cat Stevens and Jethro Tull and so many other influences.

In my home studio, we recorded a lot of material over the years. Some of those songs are featured above. The track “Prayer for the World” was recorded live in my parent’s back yard at Arizona Country Club in Phoenix. That’s where I had my wedding  to Cheryl and Bennie was the photographer for the event. He also brought his guitar and various tape machines (with his backing tracks for songs that he was going to sing) and I had it set up for audio. Around 1 am, as the wedding reception was getting smaller, Bennie grapped his guitar, cranked up the PA and out came “Prayer For the World”  (echoing throughout the golf course). We were ready to settle in and listen to this one man show for as long as it lasted, but after a couple of songs, we woke my mom up and she yelled “Andy, turn it down!”

Listen and enjoy… and Happy Halloween!

Andy Olson

P.S. You can see the Tribute Page to Bennie HERE


Miss Holly King & Rockabiily & Beyond

This Saturday at 11am on Deep Oldies and Sunday at 1pm on Radio Free Phoenix, join Miss Holly King for 2 brand new hours of Rockabilly & Beyond. Here’s Holly with more…….

Howdy RFP and Deep listeners…

It’s been a while since I have done a show and I wanted the first ones to be about dear friends and fond memories. The first two in the series are about my favorite records stores. Hour 1 is for brothers Dennis and Don Chiesa  of “Tracks In Wax.” Hour 2 is about Brad Singer “The Sun God” and Zia Records.

Dennis was the owner and operator of Trax In Wax and passed away in May 2011. His brother, Don, passed away several years prior to this. Dennis was a big fan of Radio Free Phoenix and Deep Oldies.

Dennis Chiesa

RFP could be heard playing on a regular basis in the store. Trax In Wax on Central Avenue in Phoenix is still open and operating with the same vision that Dennis left us with.

Hour 2 will be in tribute to Brad Singer, the founder of Zia Records. Brad died on May 3rd  1998 and himself left quite a legacy…..


Hope you all can tune in this weekend Nov. 2nd and 3rd for a rockin’ good time on Radio Free Phoenix and Deep Oldies!

William Edward Compton

This page is dedicated to William Edward Compton.  Bill was the father of Free Form Underground Rock in the Phoenix area in the early 70’s with KCAC and KDKB-FM. For 5 years (1971-1976), Bill was the the program director of KDKB. The DJ’s picked their own music and the station had a full fledged news department. Along with boyhood friend, Hank Cookenboo, the air staff included Toad Hall, Marty Manning, Scott Nicolson, Nina Joy, Lee Powell, Dennis McBroom and many others, KDKB in those early years, created memories that still live on through the listeners that were touched by station and miss it. Radio Free Phoenix continues this legacy of Free Form Rock and has been for the last 9 years.

Several years ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Bill Compton’s best friend in high school, Walt Chatham. Walt discovered Radio Free Phoenix while in search for information about the whereabouts of Bill Compton. He wanted to invite Bill to the 1964 class reunion of John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas. Walt had no idea that Bill died in a car accident in 1977. He was shocked to say the least. I explained what a difference Bill made in the lives of the people he touched through the radio, the music he played and what he stood for.

Walt Chatham

Walt sent me some great pictures and articles about him and Bill Compton and I wanted to share these  on this page, so here’s Walt…….

In 1963/65 while students at John Tyler High, a close friend of mine, Bill Compton, was a DJ at Tyler’s KDOK. I was also a DJ at Tyler’s KTBB. Just kids I guess, but we were given a chance. The school paper, ” Lions Tale” did an article on both of us. My station was adult contemporary and Bill’s, the evil Rock and Roll! We were on the weekends because of school. I had adult vinyl and the WCFL Chicago White Sox Network. All I did most of the time was wait until the end of an inning and play a spot. Oh yes, and the news. On the dreaded yellow paper. I remember announcing, “The Pope is dead”.

– Walt Chatham

The above article is from John Tyler High School in Texas and their school newspaper, “The Lions Tale” – published October 10, 1963, featuring a new DJ named Bill Compton and his high school friend, Walt Chatham!

Walt Chatham at KTTB, Tyler, Texas

“Sweet and swinging sounds for a Sunday afternoon” that was my Sunday show. Bill called me on the phone gagging. (two) 17 year olds, what did we know? He played that Kinks, Stones, Beatles stuff, while I played Montavani and Strauss! That was when we had to “back time” the vinyl. Put the needles down, spin the turntable backwards so it would time with the news, brought to you by……….me!  (four) dings on the TT and it was a bulletin. Ran back to the TT room and pulled it off. “Gov. Wallace shot” Oh well………………..loss?

– Walt Chatham

Bill Compton in Shades

Good day!

I really miss Bill.

Andy, you just made my day.

It was at a school dance when the sun glasses subject came up. I asked Bill why he wore his sunglasses all the time, even at night. Bill simply said,

“When you are cool, the sun shines all the time”.

Some guys just ended up with all the cute girls. How did he do it? The legacy lives on.

In art class I threw a piece of clay at the clock on the wall and missed Mrs. DeBorde.  Bill shook his head. I threw it again and hit it! Off to the Vice Principal’s office again. Win the battle, lose the war!

The “Mike” mentioned in the yearbook signing was our friend. We were at “George’s Chili Rice” in Tyler (open campus) when President Kennedy was shot, 80 miles from us. Bill did NOT like that, Mike and I didn’t either.

– Walt

The pictures that have the name underlined are from 1963 yearbook. The other one is from 1964. Such a clean cut young man. Nothing like Jerry Garcia! God bless Jerry.

1963 John Tyler High School Yearbook

1964 John Tyler High School Yearbook

Hope these emails keep Bill’s legacy going. Maybe they will help a little. Not too many people know, but Bill was an athlete. We all wanted him to play football. He knocked me on my arse many times. For little guys, like both Bill and I, Bill hit like a freight train! He always picked me up off the ground! I tried so hard to knock those sun glasses off, never succeeded!

In a final note…..

Thank God there were no videos or cellphones. Bill and I went to a vacant (haunted) home outside of Tyler. We had to pay $10 for a quart of beer in 1963 from bootleggers. We looked for ghosts. Tyler was in Smith County, dry county. Yea right.  Oh, 5 cents for Doublement gum to cover the odor when we got home. My Dad said you smell like Doublemint ……..and beer. You been with Bill? Nope!

Should have said yes………so?

Bill went on to become a respected DJ, and I just went to war with the rest of my friends.

God Bless Bill Compton and God Bless Rock and Roll!.

Walt Chatham

Listen to rare audio with Bill Compton from Tyler, Texas:

Bill Compton & Hank (Cook) Cookenboo – At the Drive-in

Bill Compton – KTBB Signoff

For more on Bill Compton, click on the following links:

Radio Free Phoenix – Guru of Goodness and Good Music

Phoenix New Times – KDKB At 20

KCAC Lives Blog – Obituary for Bill Compton – KDKB Birth Pangs

Arizona Music Hall of Fame – Inductee Biography For William Edward Compton

Listen to Join Radio Free Phoenix for  Mark O’Connor (vocals & lead guitarist) of the The Fast Camels in a music & interview special with Andy Olson. The Fast Camels are from Glasgow, Scotland, and have been a favorite of RFP for years. Mark came all the way from Glascow to talk with RFP and to play songs from their forthcoming CD, Dead Rooms & Butterfly Dreams plus plenty of tunes from their first one, The Magic Optician. Join us his Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 3pm AZ/Pacific time on RFP!

Listen to an archived version of this great Special below:

Fast Camels Music & Interview Special

Also read about the release of the new Fast Camels CD HERE

RFP presents this Saturday, October 5th & 6th, Higher – a 2 hour Sly & The Family Stone Radio Special. This is an intensive radio documentary about Sly & the Family Stone, their music, their turbulent history, and the indelible marks they left behind.

Sly Stone used his music to speak about peace, unity and love, and with the Family Stone, he backed up his words. As the first major rock band to be multi-racial and mixed gender, Sly and the Family Stone made a Statement even before they hit their first funky notes. They crossed musical genres. They crossed racial and gender lines. They were socially conscious but not political. These are a few things that Sly and the Family Stone brought to the table during their years as a band, and what they did continues to influence artists today.

In the first hour, we’ll hear the story of  Sly & The Family Stone  from many of the musicians who played in the band.

In the second hour, we’ll hear about the impact of  Sly & The Family Stone  from Chuck D, Bernie Worrell, the late Isaac Hayes, Robert Randolph, warren Haynes and many more!

RFP presents The Harry Nilsson Radio Special this Saturday, October 5th & 6th. This is a one-hour radio special profiling Harry Nilsson. Some of Nilsson’s classic songs included in this special are Jump Into The Fire, Everybody’s Talkin’, Me & My Arrow, Without You, Don’t Forget Me, and Coconut. You’ll hear a lot of Harry’s work and talk with family and friends about the man and the artist. Harry passed away in 1994 and RCA has just released a complete Box Set featuring his complete recording output for the label – 14 albums plus 3 bonus discs.