Head East is a hard rock band originally from South Central Illinois, then Champaign, Illinois. The band was formed by vocalist John Schlitt, guitarist Mike Somerville, keyboardist Roger Boyd, bassist Dan Birney, and drummer Steve Huston. They met and formed the band while studying at the University of Illinois, Champaign. The band achieved success in the Midwest during the 1970s, but fell into obscurity in the following decades.
Head East was formed in 1968 and played their first gig in Carbondale, Illinois. They released their first album, Flat as a Pancake, in 1974 on their own record label (Pyramid Records) selling all 5,000 records and 500 eight-tracks produced. With those sales, and the song "Never Been Any Reason" on radio, A&M was impressed enough to sign the band and re-release the album in 1975.. The album reached gold status by 1978 and would remain their most popular album, spawning another hit in the song "Love Me Tonight", which peaked at #54.
The band followed with the albums Get Yourself Up and Gettin' Lucky, released in 1976 and 1977 respectively. Neither album achieved the success of their debut album. However, their fourth album simply titled Head East (1978) produced another hit with the band's cover of former Argent singer Russ Ballard's "Since You Been Gone," which peaked at #46.
In 1979, the band released the double-LP Head East Live! and A Different Kind of Crazy. The former also peaked on the US Top 100 charts. The band also performed on the soundtrack to the comic anthology film J-Men Forever.
In March of 1980, bassist Dan Birney and guitarist Mike Somerville left the band, while singer John Schlitt was fired due to a drug dependency. He would later recover, become a born-again Christian and become the singer and the face of one of Contemporary Christian Music's all-time most successful bands, Petra. Schlitt was with Petra from 1985, until the band was retired in 2005.
Remaining members, Boyd and Huston, hired Mark Boatman, Tony Gross, and Dan Odum to record their following album titled U.S. 1, released in October 1980. The album was their last to reach the charts and last recorded release on A&M.
The band continued with little success, releasing albums on small labels. Some of them were Onward and Upward (1982) on Allegiance Records and Choice of Weapons (1988) on Dark Heart Records, among others. Tim Day, drummer from Daddy's Girl joined the band and toured from 99-01. They would still continue to play around, with guitarist Somerville returning from 1994 to 2003.
In 1999, a live album titled Live on Stage was released. The album featured songs from two shows at Denver's Rainbow Music Hall. The first five tracks are from a 1980 show featuring the original personnel, while the last 10 tracks are from a 1981 show featuring the latter lineup. The band continues to tour to this day, playing 30 to 40 shows each year.
The band's 1975 single, "Never Been Any Reason," was featured in the 2005 movie adaptation of Clive Cussler's novel, "Sahara".
Roger Boyd - keyboards
Eddy Jones - drums & vocals
Greg Manahan - bass guitar, vocals
Glen Bridger - lead guitar, vocals
Darren Walker - lead vocals
Dan Piper - lead guitar - (1970 -1972)
Brad Flota - guitarist (1972 - 1973)
Mike Somerville - guitarist (1974 - 1980, 1994 - 2003)
Dan Birney - bassist (1974 - 1980)
John Schlitt - lead vocals (1974 - 1980)
Mark Boatman - Bass - 1980
Steve Riker - drums (1991 - 1994)
Tim Day - drums (1994 - 2001)
Tom Bryant - lead singer
Donnie Dobbins - drums