Lonnie Morris, GHS Class of '69, was lead singer of Styrophoam Soule, the very busy and long-lived Gainesville cover band. With his brother Randy on guitar and his father Roy managing and booking the act, Styrophoam Soule was run as a business from the start and Roy Morris' business connections and promotional savvy kept the band constantly working. With Roy’s aggressive management, top equipment, and matching outfits that changed with the times, they worked nonstop in Florida and neighboring states for close to ten years, with varied lineups that included future Tom Petty drummer Stan Lynch . A musical training ground for over fifty musicians, the band finally broke up in 1974 when Lonnie graduated from pharmacy school. He is currently a pharmacist at Costco.
We moved from Decatur, Georgia to Gainesville in April of 1966. My dad Roy was an office manager at a life insurance company, and when we started Styrophoam Soule he expressed an interest in booking us.
We were a cover band almost completely. We only ever did three of our own songs. I was the singer.
The Beatles, that’s what got me involved in music. Seeing them on Ed Sullivan, you almost got chills the first time you saw them. Before that it was like "Purple People Eater" on the radio; I didn't pay any attention to that. But the Beatles...I was in seventh grade and everyone was talking about them so I said OK, I'll watch this. It just hit you. They were incredible, they changed music. Before them it was like, Pat Boone and all that kind of crap. There was Motown, which was really good, but for us the Beatles were just it. Anything from them. For a Christmas present, I wanted albums, Beatles, Beach Boys, Byrds albums, I was totally hooked on music after that.
First I was in The Centurys. I joined in January 1967and we broke up in May of 1968.I really enjoyed being in The Centurys. Great guys, good musicians and a good band. From that band it was me, and Randy, who was going into 9th grade was on rhythm, and John Hadley on bass and keyboards, and Bruce Bush lead guitar and Ted Hodgkins drums from Whitfield Union. We formed a band, but we didn't have a name at that time, and when John moved Bill Alexander joined the band on bass and keyboards. So it was Bruce Bush, lead guitar, Randy Morris, rhythm guitar, Ted Hodgkins on drums, me on vocals, Bill Alexander on bass. We added horns about six months later. After Bruce Bush left the band my brother Randy was the only guitarist in the group covering the lead parts and rhythm.
We all liked music. I'd been in a band in Atlanta called The Things when I in eighth grade.
The Centurys and the Whitfield Union had played The Place so we knew them...basically both bands turned into Styrophoam Soule. We didn't know what name we wanted. The drummer wanted to call it Styrophoam Eggplant, I guess because of Ultimate Spinach...but soul music was popular, so we thought, something about soul.
Later of course we hated the name. After a few months my father started making contacts and booking gigs for us. Since we were in high school he could take care of the booking and we could focus on the music. Our name recognition made it difficult to change the name of the band even though we would have liked to. We finally changed it in '74 to The Steve Morris Band. My brother Randy’s first name is Stephen. I graduated from University of Florida and moved away. They got a girl singer to replace me. The band right before and after I left was David Mason keyboards, Randy, Chuck Wood on bass, Gerry Greenhouse on drums. With some further personnel changes except for Randy, The Steve Morris Band went on for about 2 more years.
The thing about the band, we were a cover band, we were real commercial. I wasn't the best singer around but I wasn't bad and I think we had some really good musicians in that band. On cover songs many times we did jams in middle of songs with quite a bit of improvising. Later around 1972 to 1974 Randy and Chuck Wood each wrote an original song as did our keyboard player at the time from Perry, Fl named Dick Smith.
Stan Lynch is third from left.
Stan Lynch was the drummer in the band for about a year and a half. What happened was that my father wanted us to dress up nice. We were at my parents’ house and we were playing a gig in Ocala so the band members met at my house. Stan comes in wearing jeans with holes in them, and my father says "Stan, I told you to buy some nice pants.”Stan replied that he didn't see why it mattered, he’s playing drums and no one can see what he’s wearing. My father insisted, and basically Stan says no, I quit. I had a pot holder and I threw the pot holder on the floor and my dad said well if you want to quit you can quit too! Stan was only 16 years old when we went to record “Make Me Smile”, “Superhighway”, “Them Changes” and “Delta Lady” for promotion at Bee Jay studios in Orlando for us to promote the band. Stan was a good drummer but this would lead to his future with Road Turkey and later Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. I was really impressed when I later heard his playing on Damn The Torpedoes. Any way my father knew so many musicians he found a drummer to play the gig right away. Of course I didn’t quit.
Like any band, when you had that many people in and out of the band, the quality changes. There were times when there was fabulous players in the bands, and times when there weren't. We would stretch out in the middle of songs and improvise solos and do extended jams.
Sometimes my dad would book us into "adult" gigs like the Policeman's Benevolent Association. We played for the owners of the Castro Convertible sofa company three times that was in Ocala. Bernard Castro had a big house, and during dinner we'd play "This Guy's In Love With You," "Misty." Down the street was a country club, Golden Hills Academy. My father got Ray Block, a big band arranger, to write charts for a smaller group, we played a gig with a five-piece horn section. We usually had a horn section of a trumpet and sax.
We practiced in our living room at first, and my dad said "I'll book you guys," we were all starting twelfth grade except Randy when the band started, May of 1968. He would get contacts in all the frats and sororities, sent letters and promo photos and cassettes, high schools all over Florida, for proms, dances, women's clubs, Gainesville Golf and Country Club. He ran ads in the Florida Alligator newspaper. He was real social and he knew Buster Lipham. All our gear was from Lipham's. My dad handled all the booking.He took 10% or 15%.
He did it because his two sons were in it. He was the office manager at Security Life, he liked being social, he enjoyed being around young people. He got to spend time with his sons. All the money went into a family fund. We got what we needed. He made suggestions on songs. They always had to be danceable. One song we hated was Cliff Nobles and Co.’s "The Horse”,but we'd play it because it made the people happy. He went to all the jobs. We did our own sound. We had Kustom amps, all blue tuck ‘n’ roll Kustom amps. He was insistent about us not taking more than a fifteen-minute break.
My father basically bought all the equipment, some of the musicians had their own guitars and amps, he bought the drumset, the Hammond B3 organ, then a Porta B and the PA system. He owned all the Kustom amps. My dad owned the van.You didn't pay a fee to use the equipment. After my dad took his cut, the pay for each gig was divided equally. My dad was 64 in 1978. He was managing bands, and he really enjoyed it. He might have complained about girls not wearing bras and people having long hair, but he basically believed what you did in private was your own business.
He definitely knew a lot of people. If we were a player short, he knew many Gainesville musicians we could ask to fill in or join. I once had laryngitis, he got Tom Laughon from the Maundy Quintet to sing for me for a week or two or three. One time we went across the track at Waldo Road to this black record shop, listening to Joe Simon songs, and he asked, what are the good songs? In 1970 before Stan joined the band we went to Orlando to record for a sampler LP at Bee Jay studios run by Eric Shabacker. My brother has the LP. Also on the LP are Riff, We The People, Soultenders, The Barons and 8 more groups. Each band recorded 2 minutes of each song. It was intended as a booking sampler. The number is TC-1055.
When the band started we did songs by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Hendrix, Cream, The Rascals, James Brown, Wilson Pickett ,etc. then songs by Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, Allman Brothers, then Doobie Brothers etc. We covered a large variety of hit songs trying to find songs people liked but also that we enjoyed playing.
I tried to find some more obscure songs you could still dance to, like "Shape I'm In" by The Band ,"Got the Feeling" by Jeff Beck, ”Memory Pain” by Johnny Winter and “You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond” by Taj Mahal. We'd learn by listening to the record, and a magazine like Hit Parader would have the song lyrics.
We had a lot of great people in the band and it was just a great time...we worked a lot. Maybe because of the university, maybe because of the time. It might have helped to have so many fraternities.
The first job we played was a Battle of the Bands in Ocala, a month after we formed. Sometimes we would go as far as Atlanta, which we did it so Pat Armstrong could hear us, from the Armstrong Agency.
We would practice at Alpha Gamma Rho, the farmer frat a couple times, in the room where they had the parties, so we gave them a deal on our gig when we played there. Later we closed in our carport adding a side door which became our practice room.
We played all over the South: the Cedar Key Prom, the Fort White Prom, all the way to Okeechobee for a prom, Patrick Air Force Base Officer's Club, Eglin Air Force Base in Dothan, Alabama. Thomasville, Valdosta, Macon, Orlando,Tampa and of course fraternities and sororities in Gainesville.We played the Senior Dance for GHS when we were seniors but not the prom.
We wore outfits because then you looked like a group. My mother made our early outfits. She made a lot of her own clothes.
Gainesville had so much going on despite being a small town. When I moved to Gainesville from Atlanta we came in through Hawthorne, and I thought oh my God we're moving to this little hick town. But Gainesville was always fun, a lot of music there, a lot of music stores, I remember Chapter Three Records was really cool. I would go see other bands like The Maundy Quintet, The Epics, The Tropics, Noah’s Ark, Ron and The Starfires, Beloved, Riff ,Celebration and Mudcrutch. We knew a lot of musicians but we didn't really hang out with other bands. When I moved to Gainesville, I went to St. Patrick's, and Tom Leadon lived right across the street, and I remember one of the guys in school saying "you know, Tom's brother is better than George Harrison," and I said "Really, he is? " So I went over to Tom's house and saw Bernie's banjos and thought that was cool.
To this day I cherish the wonderful time I had living in Gainesville and singing with so many great musicians.This was a time when music was new and so many different styles were being heard on the radio.It was great hearing so many other great bands from Gainesville and the Florida bands and others that performed in Gainesville. And yes music is still my number one interest along with my family.
Lonnie Morris wasn’t kidding about lineup changes. Over six years here are the various lineups of the Styrophoam Soule:
1. John Hadley, bg, kb, Bruce Bush gtr, Randy Morris gtr, Ted Hodgkins drms and Lonnie Morris vcl
2 John moved after 3 months and was replaced by Bill Alexander on bass and keyboards. Bill, Bruce and Randy switched between bass, keys and guitar.
3. Same as 2 plus add Tom Wood and Alan Hill both on trumpet about 6 months after starting band. Bruce played sax on a few songs and Bill played trumpet on a few.
4. Tom left and was replaced by Brent Bloemendaal on trumpet
5. Alan left and was replaced by Marvin Rogers on trumpet.
6. Bruce left and Rob Hyatt joined on sax.
7. Steve Ewing joined band on bass and Rob left
8. David Knowles joined for 1 gig
9. Bill left and Mark Loveland joined on keyboards.
10. Ted left and Robert Simpson took his place on drums. Ted moved to go to college in Georgia
11. Brent left and Greg St.Jacques joined on trumpet.
12. Danny Beckam joined on sax keyboards.
13. Lee Farrell joined on trombone which gave us a horn section of 2 trumpets,1 sax,1 trombone for a short while
14. Lee left
15. Steve Ewing left for the Navy and Gary Gordon took his place on bass through the summer.
16. Gary left and Jamie Sterrett took his place on bass for 2 gigs
17. Greg left and Dan Daly took his place for 3 months
18. Dan left and Ray Johnson took his place on trumpet
19. Jamie left for a while and Jeff Palmermo played bass.
20. Don Maloney joined a short while on trombone.
21. Don left.
22. Band was Lonnie and Randy. Robert on drums, Jamie bass, Ray trumpet, Danny sax and keyboards
23. Robert left and Steve Roberts played drums a short while.
24. Steve left and Stan Lynch joined on drums. Ray left and Chris Platt joined on trumpet. Danny left and Tom Bogle joined on keyboards. Jamie, Randy and Lonnie were in the group
25.Stan, Jamie, Chris and Tom left. Chuck Catotti joined on baritone and tenor sax, Sal Alfieri on alto sax, Tom Wood trumpet, a bass player named Frank and a friend of his on drums, and Archie McCoy on keyboards.
26. Frank and the drummer left. Chuck, Archie, and Tom left group. Randy and Lonnie were joined by Gerry Greenhouse drums, Chuck Wood bass, Dick Smith keyboards. Stan Potts and Sal Alfieri saxes.
27.Dick, Sal,and Stan Potts left. Lee Bailey joined on keyboards, Scott Ballough bass, a trumpet player named Chris joined and a different trombonist.
28. Everyone left except Lonnie and Randy. Chip Hopkins joined on bass instead of guitar that he played elsewhere. Ron Sansone played keyboards, Gary Beckman on drums. David Sloane on trumpet and sax and Doug Shore on sax
29.Chip, Doug, and Gary left. Tony Kahwaji played drums, Scott Ballough bass, Ron keys, David Sloane trumpet and sax Rick Waelti sax. 30. Final band in 1974 was Randy and Lonnie. Gerry Greenhouse drums, Chuck Wood bass, David Mason keyboards, David Sloane sax and Randall Ball sax.
There were others that played between some of these members like Barbara Shaw sax. Jeremy Peek(?) bass, Gary Ward bass for a short while.Al Hospers played bass on a couple of gigs.
In all about 50 members between 1968 and 1974.