Who could have predicted that the chance assignation of two young men to the homeroom of "the end of the alphabet students", would bring together Windhausen and Zevos, forming a bond of friendship and music and lasting over 40 years.
The photos are from their high school yearbook from Manchester Memorial High, but they first met at Southside Middle School, down the hill opposite the high school.
John Zevos: "I first met Charlie in the fall of 1971 in 7th grade homeroom at Southside Junior High School. Since both of our last names begin with a letter at the end of the alphabet, we ended up in home room together from 7th grade all the way through senior year of high school. Southside was quite a change for all of us, coming from small neighborhood elementary schools. I went to Hallsville and Charlie went to Green Acres. Suddenly, we were thrown in with a bunch of kids we didn’t know. I first got to know Charlie when one day, early in the school year, Charlie walked in sporting a black eye that he received during a fight with our classmate Ted Bantis, who lived right around the corner from Charlie. Well, as curious 7th graders, we all flocked around Charlie asking a ton of questions about what happened. I thought, “this kid is pretty cool”. Charlie told me recently that he knew we were becoming friends when our homeroom teacher had to move us away from each other in home room. We stayed friends from then on. From 7th through 10th grades, we didn’t really see each other during the summer. Once we got our licenses and could drive, we hung around year round. At the end of junior year, I was asked by some other classmates to join their rock band as a keyboard player. I did, but all we did was practice – never played a gig. Our bass player didn’t show up a lot, so I switched to bass. At the beginning of the summer between junior and senior year, that band (which I can’t even remember the name of) broke up. One of the members, Marc Bourassa (lead guitar) and I (bass) decided to start our own band. We added our friends Mark (Vic) Desmarais (rhythm guitar) and Scott McNeil (drums) and the band Purple Haze was born. Purple Haze was pretty busy for a high school band, and it was fun, but all the time I wanted to play guitar. When we would take a break during practice, I would grab one of the guy’s guitars and fool around. After a few months I was getting the hang of it, and I asked the guys in the band if I could play one song on guitar and Mark and Marc both said no. So being the mature individual I was at the time – I quit the band. I immediately starting thinking about starting my own band while practicing like crazy on my Dad’s old Kalamazoo. Charlie had built himself his own room in the basement of his home. It was great because there was a door to the backyard right next to his room. This meant I could pretty much come and go as I pleased without disturbing his family. So, one afternoon I walked over to Charlie’s and found him in his room plunking around on his neighbor’s guitar. It was an electric (an Old Kraftsman) and we were shooting the shit while he was playing, and I was definitely checking out what he was doing. After a while, I walked home and all the way home I was thinking that Charlie sounded pretty good and looked like he had potential. I knew how important bass is to a rock band and I wanted to get a bass player before a second guitarist. I thought Charlie would be a great bass player. As soon as I got home, I went to the phone and called Charlie. I said, “I’m starting a band and I need a bass player. I think you can do it. What do you think?” He paused for about 5 seconds and said, “OK, I’ll do it." The next day we went to Charlie’s bank, he took out some money. Then we went and Charlie bought a bass – a Crestline jazz bass copy, and we started playing together all the time. For quite a while, it was just me and Charlie. Then we found our old friend Mark Desmarais who had been MIA. He jumped in on rhythm guitar and through a connection that Charlie’s sister Brenda had with the Whitcombs, we got Dan Whitcomb on drums. This band had 2 names – Krauntzis when we played electric, and The Drifting Blues Band when we played acoustic."
So, this band with 2 names played around a decent amount during the summer of 1978. There were some memorable gigs. A couple that stood out for me was a weekend gig/blowout at Charlie’s family vacation place on Newfound Lake. It was a great place. Two cottages with this kind of bridge structure that connected the cottages and worked out well for a stage. It was up on a rock with a nice lawn at the bottom for people to listen. Not many people came, but we had a blast. Another gig in Sandwich was
visited by some state troopers who were sent by Charlie’s parents to pick up his sister Brenda who had snuck out of the house to join us up north. Just another episode in our developing music adventure. When fall rolled around, I went to Potsdam, NY to continue my education. I started a band called Trout that was quite busy, and I learned a lot. This is where I started playing a lot of Dead tunes.
I played some of them for weeks before I ever heard the Dead play them. Whenever I would come home, I would show Charlie and Vic (Mark) all the new songs that I had learned. While I was in Potsdam, Charlie and Vic started jamming with this guy they called – the professor. I went to jam with all of them one night and the professor was pretty good. He could play Aqualung with the entire solo note for note. The craziest thing about this jam was Vic’s cousin Jimmy Orestes who played the tambourine by beating it all over his body. He wore a huge glove so he wouldn’t hurt his hands and after a couple of songs, he was drenched with sweat. He was into it to say the least. When I got back from school in May of 1979, Krauntzis and The Drifting Blues Band were pretty busy, mostly playing parties around Manchester and out to the seacoast including a frat at UNH. By the time I got back from Potsdam, I had my mind made up to go out west to California. It wasn’t hard to talk Charlie and Vic into going. We all felt there was nothing much happening in NH, and we wanted to see the country. Two other close friends of ours, Todd Nute and Pete Langella, joined us and in the beginning of October 1979, we set out for California. Before we left, we threw a “California Here We Come” party at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Merrimack. It was quite a shindig and we raised a little money for the trip. The trip out to California was one of the highlights of my life and it was quite an adventure. We left in 2 cars, Todd and Pete in Todd’s car and Charlie, Vic and I (the band members) in my car pulling a trailer of equipment. I could write a book about our adventures on this trip, but I will give a couple of facts. The first day we had to split up due to some trouble we were having with the trailer. We decided that Todd and Pete would go ahead and find us a place to live in San Diego since they had a good car. We would take our time and meet them out there. Well, Charlie and I ended up living in Flagstaff Arizona for a few months. We camped at a campground and looked for a place to live. when we got to the last place on our list, we got a trailer to rent and we went to Denny's to get something to eat. Charlie said, "I'll have a fish sandwich and an application." Before we left he had a job and we went to get groceries. I got a job shortly after. Vic ended up in Phoenix, and Todd and Pete were in San Diego wondering where in the hell we were. There were no cell phones. We were totally not communicating. One day after living in Flagstaff for about a month our phone rang and it was Todd. He said to me “What the f**k are you doing?” I said, “We live in Flagstaff, Arizona." It was quite a surprise for Todd and Pete, but when we split up my car was overheating like mad and after Flagstaff was the desert. One of my bandmates in Trout had told me that Flagstaff was a cool place, so after a day at the Grand Canyon and having my car’s radiator explode on me, I proclaimed, “We’re moving to Flagstaff!"
While we were in Flagstaff, Charlie and I got into a band with a couple of Native Americans. It was fun, but I think we only played one gig. Charlie and I also played an open mike in a bar where everyone except us was wearing a cowboy hat. They asked us to play some Waylon and Willy. At that time, I really didn’t know who they were talking about. We played “Tulsa Time” and “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” and we did OK. At the end of January 1980, Todd came to rescue us and we finally made it to San Diego, where our story continued.
When we left Flagstaff, it was the dead of winter. We were delighted with the beautiful weather in San Diego. It was just what we were looking for. We moved in with Todd, Pete, and a guy they met while we were in Flagstaff, Duke. The apartment was right next to the beach in the Ocean Beach section of San Diego. It was kind of a hippy neighborhood and we fit right in. During the month of January, we soon decided that we wanted to move Duke out as we really did not get along. There were not any disagreements, everyone could tell it just wasn’t a good mix. Also during this time, Pete decided he wanted to go home to Manchester, so Charlie, Todd, and I decided to move to a rental house in another section of San Diego. It was a nice house, there
was a nice yard, and it was in a good neighborhood. One neat fact was that outside one of the bedroom windows there was a tiny hummingbird nest. If you approached the window very slowly you could watch the hummingbird up close, not something that ever happened to us back home. We stayed in this house for 3 months and then we decided it was a bit too expensive for us and we also wanted to be back at the beach. We found a place back in Ocean Beach just a few doors down from where we were living before and the three of us moved in. We had some friends from home come and visit, the highlight of which was Skieks coming out for a couple of weeks. I’ll never forget when he showed up. I heard a knock on the apartment door, so I open it and there was Skieks, taking my picture as I opened the door! I also will never forget driving Skieks to L.A. International Airport so he could get back home to Manchester. We were running
late, and I was driving like a maniac through the streets of L.A. cranking the Doors, L.A. Woman album. It was nighttime and racing through the streets with Jim Morrison singing about the city at night was a lot of fun. Well, we didn’t make it on time, and I tried to convince Skieks that this was a sign and it meant that he should stay with us in San Diego. As much as he wanted to, it wasn’t in the cards, so the next day we brought him back to the airport and bid him a fond farewell. Things were going well for us and we also had some Manchester friends that came out and stayed. The summer before we left New Hampshire I met a guy who I had an instant musical connection with, Steve Cook. We met on a painting job in Nashua, and we hit it off right away. I knew he was a different guy when then first thing he said to me was, “Don’t shoot dope or you’ll end up like your brother, in the long tall grass, sleeping with your, in the graveyard”, which was from the lyrics of one of his songs "Right On Time". We started jamming regularly with his friend Mark Clark, and it was evident right from the start that Steve and I had something special. When we play together, something just clicks. Steve and Mark came out together and soon Steve, Mark, Charlie, and I were practicing every day and writing new songs. They moved into an apartment right across the street from us so that was great for getting together often. During this time Mark would tell me about his girlfriend back in Manchester, Diane Mahoney. He said she was going to come out to San Diego with Steve’s girlfriend, Sharon Manelas.
He used to always say to me, “You’re going to love Di." Well, little did he know how right he was. After a couple of months, we decided to all move into a house together. At this point our group consisted of, Todd, Charlie, Steve, Mark, Di, and me. We found a house that was still in Ocean Beach. The house was perfect for us. It was on Del Mar Ave., and we soon were calling it Del Mar Island, later to be immortalized in a song by Steve and I. It had a great basement space to practice and enough room for everyone. It was on the Sunset Cliffs and every night we went to sleep to the soothing sounds of the waves breaking on the cliffs.
Things were going along well. We had jobs to get money to pay the rent. I worked with Steve and Mark at Monty Kobey’s Swap Meet, and Charlie got a job at a car wash. We really didn’t care about the jobs, we just wanted to play music. That Fall when Halloween came, we decided to have a party. That was the night that would change my life. It was that night that I found out that Di was interested in me and although that story is too long to go into here, the feeling was mutual and we went through a lot of stuff to get together, which finally happened when we came home to Manchester for Christmas. Di and I went back to San Diego together after Christmas. Back in San Diego, we kept on playing. The band was now Charlie, me, a drummer named Sean who lived across the street, and our old friend who had moved to San Diego, Vic (Mark Desmarais). Over the course of the next few months, we were having a great time, working, jamming and hanging out in the beautiful weather.
Many friends and acquaintances from Manchester came out to see us including Steve and Mark who had stayed back home after Christmas. It was more than a little weird because of Mark being there with Di and I being together, but we made it through and eventually got married which we still are to this day. Some things are “meant to be." We were starting to play a few gigs and things were looking up. In August I decided to head home for a couple of weeks to see my family and stopping off to see my friends Vinnie and Ed in Lake Carmel, New York. I took the bus, which we had nick-named “Hotel Hell” stopping first for a few days in Lake Carmel before heading to Manchester. When I got home another thing happened that changed my life. Two days after I got back, my Dad passed away suddenly. My Mom asked me to move back and even though I loved San Diego and wanted to return, I couldn’t say no to my mother. I called Del Mar Island to let everyone know what was going on. Di immediately said she was coming back and within a month she was back. She had taken up the banjo and we started playing duo gigs here at home. In San Diego, before I left, Vic had left the band and Charlie’s brother Tom had taken his place. I didn’t feel right telling the guys that they had to come home to keep the band going. I called Charlie and told him that. I said that I knew how great it was out there and I wouldn’t feel right asking them to come back. That was how we left it, but the next day Charlie called me and said that he and Tom had talked about it and they decided that they were going to come home to Manchester and keep the band going. Needless to say, I was delighted and to this day I really appreciate those guys giving that up to come back and play with Di and me. This also solved another problem that I had. All of my stuff except for one guitar that I brought with me and a couple of changes of clothes was still at Del Mar Island. I got a job at Kelly Services and started sending money out to Charlie to help pay for a rental truck to bring my stuff and Charlie and Tom’s stuff back to New Hampshire. Well, it took a few months, but finally in December I heard a honk in front of my house and there was Charlie and Tom in a big rental truck with all of my stuff and a bunch of Grateful Dead bootleg tapes. We got right back to practicing and we had to find a name for the band as we decided the name we used in California, “Anything Illegal”, wasn’t going to work back at home. In those days I was always comparing things to lichen which is a plant that is a combination of fungi and algae. They live in a symbiotic relationship. The fungi make the food for the algae and the algae makes food for the fungi. I kept seeing things in life that were symbiotic relationships and I would say, “That’s just like lichen”. One day I said it once again to Charlie and he said, “Why don't we just call the band that!" I thought about it for a minute and since we had all lived off of each other and our musical ideas fed off of each other, I thought that it was a good idea. So in December of 1981, Lichen, the band was born. Even though it has been butchered by people over the years, some example being, Liking, Like It, Lightning, Licken, and my personal favorite, The Lynches, I am glad we chose it and 41 years later I am happy to say that Di, Charlie and I are still playing together with our drummer Bill McLaughlin – the new guy who as of today has been with us for 34 years.