STILL ROCKIN’ AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: GEORGE KOEN

George Koen is a prolific songwriter and soulful lead vocalist, who records with the band, the Hammers, from time to time. George, known as George K, was born in Norman, Oklahoma, but was moved to Southern California at the tender age of two. As a kid who loved music, George grew up listening to a diverse selection of musical styles. His favorites were artists such as the Beatles, the Doobie Brothers, the Eagles, and Eric Clapton among others. He knew he wanted to be a singer and started his first band in high school with two of his best friends, Steve Simmons and Sherwood Ball. With big dreams and playing at all the local and high school events, they were quickly noticed and offered a record deal, but like your basic rock and roll story, band member personalities didn’t let it happen. George’s next band was Moxie which recorded three songs and included Eddie Bertrand, from Eddie and the Showmen and the BelAirs, on guitar. Eddie had several surf hits in the 60s. George and Eddie wrote and recorded for 20 years on and off and are still good friends today. George K’s next band project was Pax who were a regular at Busch Gardens and Orange County night clubs. His good friend, Sherwood Ball, worked with him in this band. Sherwood is the eldest son of the late Ernie Ball, musician and founder of Ernie Ball Strings. George and Sherwood grew up together and played in several bands from high school on and off for about four years. Sherwood is also one of the writers of “Flag of Freedom.” (featured in the Military edition of the Coronado Clarion www.coronadoclarion.com) His performing credits include Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Brown, and many other great bands.

Never one to sit still, George moved forward with a band called Diamondback, a country rock band based out of Southern California. Ben Arrington, the bass player for the group, and George quickly became friends. Diamondback opened for artists like Billy Preston, Paul Williams, Leon Russell, Jerry Jeff Walker, Hank Williams Jr., and many more. George sang lead on the band’s first single, “King Cotton”, which was a moderate hit with airplay from over 300 radio stations. But, like all good things; this too did pass. George and Ben went their respective ways but stayed in touch often. In 2007, George and Ben met in Las Vegas where George had recently relocated. George played several songs for Ben he’d written such as, “When You Wake” and “Running With the Wind”. Ben told George about the band he was in called Jerry McCoy & the Hammers and they began recording George’s songs soon after: first with some holiday songs, then with some good old rock & roll.

George said he got the idea to write “Flag of Freedom” from Ben who said “Hey, why don’t you write a song about freedom, independence, you know, the Fourth of July.” George thought about it for a while, thinking fire crackers and hot dogs. Then it came to him. Write the song about our founding fathers and how they gave everything for freedom, and how the heroes of yesterday and today should be honored every day, not only on patriotic holidays. Hence, “The Flag of Freedom was born. “Then we started on the circle of friends CD recorded in Arkansas, Nashville, and Hollywood. This took about a year to get the CD finished, but it came out great. It was the same cast of characters but this time, everyone got to sing lead on a couple of songs. This gave the CD a little different sound and something for everyone to enjoy with different styles of music and different styles of singers. Johnny Neel, Kim Morrison, Jerry McCoy, and myself each sang at least two songs and the others played there instruments and sang background. It came out wonderful. All but two of the songs were written by me. I am now recording ten more songs with the same musicians and will add them to the “Circle of Friends” CD as they are finished including a few sung by my daughter, Melinda.” – George K

According to George, what comes next no one knows, but there is a feeling the Hammers and George K will be writing and recording for a long time to come. The new Hammers CD, was released in November 2008 and is one we hope everyone has a chance to give a listen to. Our message is one of hope, and how if you truly believe in yourself, and don’t give up…anything is possible!

 

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