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Blackhawk County was formed as a folk/rock duo in 1973 by Bill Coleman - vocals/guitars, (seated left) and Scott Riordan - vocals/keyboards, (seated right) while we attended Western Oregon State University, then Oregon College of Education in Monmouth, Oregon. Our complimenting vocal style and high energy show quickly gained popularity in the Northwest, and led to our first recording, "Oregon: I Can't Go Home," dedicated to Joann McDaniels, an Oregon native imprisoned in Turkey on charges of smuggling drugs. (Click here for more about Joann and the writing of "Oregon")
"Oregon" hit the airwaves in 1974, remaining at number one for nine weeks in the Northwest, and rising to number 16 on Billboard's national charts. The song played extensively over the Armed Forces Network to military personnel stationed in Europe and the Far East, including Viet Nam.
Scott and I added bassist, Spencer Palermo, (standing left) originally from Massachusetts by way of the Olympic Peninsula, just prior to our first recording session. Drummer, Dennis Parish (Schick) (standing right) from Portland joined the band as "Oregon" gained momentum, and we immediately took our newly expanded band on the road.
We performed through out the Northwest and Rocky Mountain states opening for Jerry Lee Lewis, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, The Beau Brummels, Flo & Eddy of the Turtles, etc. as well as headlining our own concerts. Our only album, "Monkey Zoo" was released the following year, 1975, also on Seagull Records.
Blackhawk County disbanded in 1978 as Scott and I each pursued solo careers in music. Palermo and Parish continued performing as side men for other bands in the region until the early eighties. Currently, Dennis Parish lives in southern California, working for a medical supply company. Spencer Palermo studied cinema at the University of Oregon and was last seen working in the film industry in California.
Both founding members of Blackhawk County became successful lounge entertainers through the eighties. Scott Riordan left the music industry in the early nineties and is currently employed as a systems analyst for the State of Oregon. He lives in Monmouth.
I returned to my roots in 1995 by releasing the first of four collections of "Civil War" and "Old Time" folk music. I added an "Old Time Gospel" collection released in 2003, and currently tour the Unites States performing original Civil War musical dramas with my lovely and talented wife of nearly forty years, Carla.
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