Chicago’s Lois Lane brings original tunes and flaming drumset to Chilliwack but calls small-town booking a mistake


By Steve Newton

Casanova’s nightclub was the scene last week of three nightly performances by touring Chicago-based rock band Lois Lane.

The group, supposedly the top drawing band in the windy city, is not your average club act band and, in fact, has toured with such bands as Pablo Cruise, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Kansas, and The Who.

For a band that has played in front of more than 50,000 at the Los Angeles Forum, the three-day stint in Chilliwack was a booking “mistake” says singer Roy Jones, though indeed a fortunate one for local cabaret-goers lucky enough to catch the band’s energetic and powerful stage show.

Jones, founder of Lois Lane, held auditions for the group in late 1977 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and players from all over America vied for a place in the band.

The current line-up consists of singer-songwriter Jones, guitarist John Verner, who has played with Ambrosia and Skylark, bassist Roger May, who spent nine years with Pocketful, keyboard player Duane Decker, and drummer Bill Gent.

“Bill was offered a million [dollars] plus to join Kiss” when their drummer quit, says Jones, and Gent proved his amazing percussion ability at Casanova’s with a solo that literally left his drum kit in flames.

Part of the band’s stage show is the “drums of fire” routine, in which Gent plays with flaming drumsticks that spread fire all across his set. Just before the band breaks in, Gent finishes the solo with huge bursts of flame that shoot from his mouth in rapid succession.

The crowd at Casanova’s gave a hearty cheer for the drummer’s daring and explosive act, but were not responsive in general to the band’s material which is all original, mostly written by Jones.

It seems the Chilliwack audience is a little hesitant in accepting songs they do not recognize, that are not top 40, which is a shame as the Lois Lane tunes are catchy and dynamic. The band members seemed a little “put-off” at the lack of enthusiasm being shown, obviously used to a more responsive crowd.

The Chilliwack dates were, if anything, at least a “toning up” for the continuation of the band’s 1981 Can-Am tour, which will lead to the Summerfest ’81 concert in Great Salt Lake that will see the group headlining before an estimated 20,000 fans.

Lois Lane seems on the verge of breaking wide open as a world-class rock act, as their single “It Only Takes a Minute” has already sold over 40,000 copies.

They recorded an album, Assault on America, in the fall of last year, and are currently working on material for a new release.

The talents of the Lois Lane members are not totally confined to the band format either, as Jones, who used to be a staff member for Warner Brothers in New York, was a world-class contender in martial arts.

Decker wrote jingles for major companies in Los Angeles before joining the band, and Verner has appeared on ABC TV in episodes of Baretta and The Six Million Dollar Man.

With all they have going for them, Lois Lane will undoubtedly make it big in the world of rock and roll. Their recent visit to Chilliwack, unheralded though it was, could prove in retrospect to have been one more stop on the way to the top.

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