With their own PA system now, JOKER began to get bookings at Jr. High and High School dances all over Washington state shocking the disco-loving Jocks and Cheerleader crowd by opening with Judas Priest's "Hell Bent for Leather." They were never invited back to any of those schools!

7th grade mixed chorus

Chris joined a band called TEMPEST who got very popular fast by playing cool tunes like "Black Diamond" by KISS and other good metal. Their bass player/singer Mark Hovland had a very good voice and Chris was vindicated as a great guitarist after being kicked out of JOKER. Eventually TEMPEST added former ROX drummer Mark Welling (known today as the main drummer for Christian-themed rock band Bloodgood) and they became DEGARMO-HOVLAND-WELLING. D-H-W had a real good local buzz and put out a recording featured Christian-themed lyrics by Hovland. D-H-W broke up shortly after that when Welling left to join Geoff Tate's new progressive band BABYLON.

By the end of the 1979-1980 school year, JOKER's drummer Doug McGrew quit the band and Joker officially broke up.

Mike Wilton attended arts college to study music for a while and eventually started a band with Scott Rockenfield, a drummer he met at EASY STREET RECORDS, and named the band CROSS+FIRE. Both were huge fans of a new group from England they discovered called IRON MAIDEN. Eventually, they added DeGarmo and Hovland and CROSS+FIRE went on to play a few local shows. They did excellent versions of KROKUS covers like "Rock City" and "Headhunter". Hovland left soon after because he had to commute quite a ways and wasn't as fond of IRON MAIDEN as the others. Needing a bass player, I was actually offered an audition at the time, but refused because I was trying to form a Seattle version of Motley Crue with Paul Passarelli. I wasn't a very good bassist at the time anyway, and didn't want to embarrass myself. Playing Nikki Sixx type basslines I could do, but forget about playing like Iron Maiden's Steve Harris.

Pictured above with Mike is Steve Pulluer who would go on to fame as starting QB for the Dallas Cowboys

They soon added a high school friend of Scott's from Redmond High School named Eddie Jackson. The year was now 1981. They named their new band THE MOB after the Black Sabbath/Dio song.

With the new company I formed called M-80 Productions I promoted the first of many multi-band rock festivals in Bellevue around that time. I was 19 then. The first one was called METALFEST '81. I offered both BABYLON and THE MOB two of the three primetime slots at the show. The top headliner was Adam Brenner's new band TKO. Only problem for THE MOB was that they had no vocalist at the time.

With the big show coming up, the guys in THE MOB sucked up their courage and called Geoff Tate to ask if he could just sit in that night and sing one set with them. Geoff very graciously said no problem. He figured it would be cool to sing with 2 bands in one night.

That night at METALFEST, THE MOB took the stage to play songs like "Murders in the Rue Morgue", Running Free" and "Wrathchild" by Maiden and letter perfect versions of "Animal Magnetism" and "Sails of Charon" by the Scorpions among others. I wasn't a big MAIDEN fan myself at the time, but it was amazing how the crowd and I were just swept away with their performance that night. Geoff, who was fairly nonchalant about the gig and didn't dress up for the show, was himself impressed by the reaction.

While TKO played, Geoff went home and showered, and then did a set singing and playing keyboards with BABYLON wearing a pink Arrow business shirt and tie, as did the whole band. While THE MOB did all covers, BABYLON was totally original. The bass player Joe Lawry was an amazing Chris Squire-esque player, but soon after the show he left to go to college and BABYLON broke up.

Geoff (far left) with Babylon

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