The Turnkeys were one of Kent's legendary bands during the mid 1960s, although they lasted for barely two years and never made a record, they were often considered the best band around in a scene that was one of the most talented in the US.
The Turnkeys were formed by two brothers from Kent, Don and Bob Goldthwaite. Don was the older, having graduated high school in 1964, but Bob, a couple years younger, started playing first, having been inspired by bands like the Playboys. Bob was the lead singer, harmonica player, and rhythm guitar player, and Don got the fever and started playing bass. The Turnkeys started playing around late 1965/early 1966. The rest of the band included Jerry Harrington on drums and a couple other members.
The Turnkeys played primarily blues and R&B, in the style of the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, early John Mayall, and even the folk/blues side of the Lovin' Spoonful. They were not the typical teen dance band, and quickly gained a large following in the Kent teen and college scene, appearing at places like the Cave. In mid 1966 the band personell changed to what is considered the 'classic' Turnkeys lineup - Don, Bob, with Greg George (from Akron) on drums and lead guitarist Les Alan (from Ravenna). This four piece lineup really pushed musical limits. The group got a manager, Warren Duffy, a DJ at Akron's WHLO radio. The band played all over the area, including benefits for the March Of Dimes, and Unicef
For a long time, the Turnkeys had been considering a move to the east coast to further their career. In the spring/summer of 1967, they took off for Washington, DC. Warren Duffy had moved there in the spring of 1967 and helped organize the trip. The band, now a five piece with the addition of Chuck Spatts, took off in their van and landed in Arlington, VA. The band got a few gigs in DC, such as the Crows Foot on 10th and K street, but things unravelled quickly. Warren Duffy was tripping and ended up in a hospital, and Greg George was getting homesick. George split, and a call was put out to former Choir drummer Dann Klawon to take over. The Choir and the Turnkeys had shared some gigs and after Klawon was kicked out the Choir for smoking pot, he was a free agent. Meanwhile, Les Alan had also returned back to Ohio. The band never got back on their feet, though, and Don and Bob were playing after hours gigs in DC's black community to raise rent money. Finally, after a couple months, the remaining Turnkeys returned home, with Bob hitchiking back to Kent, making it as far as western PA before getting stranded.
The Turnkeys were not done. With their reputation strong, they were able recruit Joe Walsh into the band as lead guitar (Walsh had left the Measles and was jamming with several different bands, including the Panicks). Dann Klawon came back to play drums. There was a lot of hype and hope for this original NE Ohio supergroup, and they debuted at the Electric Barn in Sept, 1967. Unfortunately, this was the only gig this version of the Turnkeys ever played. The reasons for the one and done are unclear.
Later in 1967, Don and Bob decided to return to the east coast, using some of the connections they made in DC. They stayed off and on in NYC for the next several years, finally forming Ice with former Comin' Generation keyboard player Edd Kolakowski. See the Ice page for the story on that band. Greg George played in many local bands, until joining a Beatles tribute band. He has since played in a few different Beatles tributes and had gained international acclaim for his portrayal of Ringo Starr.