|I received a lot of great information from several sources. Special thanks goes out to Rick Bacus & Janet Jameson for putting up with my nagging questions and to Michael Waggoner for filling in the blanks.|
first formed in 1969. The line-up went through many changes before
settling in to the final five of Rick, Mike, Jerry & the two Gregs. The original line-up
consisted of Michael Waggoner, Butch Soto, Greg Leech, Greg Harris & Melinda Mendenhall.|
This line-up would release the single "Virgin Lover" (Butch Soto) / "If I Didn't Want to See You Anymore" (Michael Waggoner and Larry Sands). Kip Cohen (later with Columbia) heard the single and asked the band to drive up and play for $200 on a cold Tuesday night at the legendary Fillmore East in January of 1970.
1970 Dave Lorenz replaces Butch, Ken Rowe replaces Dave and Joel Weinberg then replaces Ken. Melinda exits, Janet Jameson enters. Greg Leech exits, Scott Donaldson enters.
1972 - 1973 Exit Joel, enter Jerry Chambers. Exit Michael, enter Steve Starr. Exit Scott, come back in Greg Leech. Exit Janet, exit Steve, enter Rick Bacus.
1975 or 1976 Enter Mike Edmunds.
Before their recording contract, Morningstar had amassed quite a following in the Kansas City area. Their sets consisted mostly of original music instead of covers. Michael Waggoner, now the band's manager, was able to get them some pretty prestigious gigs prior to their record deal and it was Good Karma Productions that helped them secure a deal with Columbia/CBS.
In 1978 the debut album was released. Over the next two years, the band would play a lot of concerts, and I mean a lot. They seemed to be willing to play for anyone, anywhere. I tried to make it to as many of these as possible. I saw them open for Triumph during this period, headline at a few venues (like the Midland Theater), switch headlining duties with Missouri at amusement parks and I even saw them play in a high school auditorium, (I bought a ticket and pretended to be a student) where they almost literally rocked the roof off. Part of the ceiling tiles fell during the concert! They had quite a show.
1979 saw the release of their second and unfortunately their last album. Like I explained on the home page, this was not the time for great music to be getting airplay, not in the Midwest anyway. Things still aren't much better in the Midwest, but that's another story. Then, and I'll quote from Heart of the Rock, "Morningstar were just one of over 60 bands cut from the CBS/Columbia roster at the same time." Without funds to go any further, Morningstar disbanded.
In 1998 both albums were released on CD in Japan. Many of us were lucky enough to have copies imported (at a hefty price). Like many artists through the years, Morningstar tried to leave their mark against the harsh reality of the record industry. For those of us lucky enough to have experienced them live and/or recorded, their mark was left and judging by the sales of the re-release of this music on CD, they aren't done yet.