For the past several weeks, I have written about former Logan Countians who at some point left these hills and achieved what I shall term as a “forgotten avenue of greatness.”
From “Radiator” Charlie Byles, who spent years developing his special breed of tomato — the Mortgage Lifter — to former professional football greats Lionel Taylor and Charlie Cowan, to Max Butcher, former major league baseball player, I have tried to both educate readers and emphasize to them that there have many former Loganites who at least should be recognized for their achievements, most of which far too many of us have either never known about or just have forgotten.
Just as the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” holds true, I would think the word “great” could be defined similarly, in that what I might consider as “great” most certainly may not fall into that category in someone else’s opinion. President Donald Trump being a perfect example, for instance. Some define him as “great,” while others declare him to be the worst president in American history. Bottom line: To each his own.
My point is that many of the people I shall name in upcoming stories in this weekly column may not always seem to be of the same significance that others may be.
Although I shall next week delve into more names of persons that truly may be of more interest to you than a former Loganite I’m mentioning this week, I will now ask you to do something that just might fall into the “weird” category, but you must trust me.
Go to YouTube, Google or use any other method to find the song titled “Escape” (The Pina Colada Song) and listen to the tune that was the last No. 1 song of the 1970s as rated in Billboard Magazine when the song reached its peak in December of 1979. Unless you’ve either lived in a cave all of your life, or you’re very young, you will identify with the song by Rupert Holmes that concludes with two lovers realizing they have more in common than they thought.
Ah, ah, ah. I said listen to the song before reading further. Don’t cheat, and it will be worth the experience. Stop reading now and listen to the song.
OK, I realize nine out of 10 of you likely just cheated, but if you’re one of the 10% who didn’t, then pat yourself on the back. Connecting the popular song to this story is what makes it — in my humble opinion — so cool.
You see, if you listened to the song that sold well over a million copies, you would have been listening to the musical talents of a former all-star tight end from a 1970 Logan High School football team, who can vividly be heard playing bass guitar, not only during the recording of that song, but on three albums recorded by Holmes.
The talented former Loganite, who hails from Holden but also lived at Omar, is none other than Reggie Chauncey Nedd, who captained the West Virginia football team in 1970 to a 28-3 win over the Kentucky all-stars.
At Holden Junior High School in 1967, he lettered in four sports — football, basketball, baseball and track — before playing football, basketball and track at Logan High.
Most of us never knew what became of Reggie after he left Logan, only hearing rumors that he was somewhere playing music. Recently, following a Facebook post of a memorial marker at the gravesite of another local guitar talent (my brother-in-law, Denver McCloud), I connected with Reggie and realized that he, like so many others from Logan County, has made us proud.
Even though bass player Frank Graves is who toured with Holmes, it was Reggie, who now uses his middle name “Chauncey” in his popular New York band known as “Chauncey Nedd and the Neddman Band,“ who you will hear in the original Pina Colada release. On YouTube, the song has been heard at least 2,909,921 times.
For those of us who can remember Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” or Don Cornelius’ “Soul Train,” both of which were popular television shows for mostly young people during the 1970s, it is likely you have unknowingly watched Reggie Nedd on those shows, as he appeared on both with various bands.
Nevertheless, the guy who refers to himself as “Neddman 304,” which links his roots to West Virginia’s area code, started in music at a young age as he performed on a regular religious Sunday radio show with his uncles’ group — the Pioneer Five — in 1960 via the now defunct radio station WLOG.
After attending West Virginia University and studying music, Nedd in 1975 found himself in New York, along with his agent, Greg Rapapor, who knew Rupert Holmes’ father. According to Nedd, Rupert had “an amazing studio” on the top floor of Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.
Reggie and Rupert became good friends, with Nedd trying to land his new friend a record deal with Warner Records, but after that didn’t happen, Rupert’s father put up the money for his son to start his own record label. The pina coloda song was recorded on that label and became a hit, selling over a million records.
Rupert Holmes, according to Nedd, became an Off-Broadway producer and was very successful.
Meanwhile, Nedd continued playing music with various artists before forming his own band, which includes the talents of former band members of such artists as Sting, The Police, Wilson Pickett, and others.
You can hear the group Chauncey Nedd and the Neddman Band on YouTube.
One might say, however, that his real day job is also enviable. Nedd has served as the physical and weight trainer for the village of Hempstead, New York, training police officers for the past 35 years. It is a position he treasures.
So, the fellow who first attended Cooper Grade School at Holden before integration later allowed him and others to enroll at Holden Junior High, appears to have joined the ranks of many other former Loganites who have roots in Logan County that extend to places all over the world.
I personally never really knew Reggie Nedd, but I remember hearing his musical talents when I was but a teenager and was able to illegally be in the Twilight Club, a very popular night club once located just around the curve from what is now Southern West Virginia Community College. At the time, Mud Fork was not a place that black men desired to be. However, the always likable “giant” of a man was a fixture at the Twilight Club on band nights.
There’s one other twist to this story. You see, Reggie played in numerous local bands that were popular back in the day, the Robin’s Hoods being the more popular band in the area during the ’70s. That band consisted of Nedd, Garland “Tinker” Ball, Carmello Pansera, Denver McCloud and Danny Dress, who played drums.
Even so, there was later another three-person band that went by the band name of “C-H-N”, which stood for Carmello, Hall and Nedd. And, although Carmello Pansera later became a good friend and sponsor of a softball team that I was fortunate enough to be a member of (Brotherhood Club), it should be noted that Billy Hall, who learned to play drums by turning the top of his grandma’s sewing machine lid sideways, practicing with drum sticks on it to Beatles music when he very young, was a special person to me.
You see, Billy Hall, who holds the distinction of being the first person ever on Mud Fork to have and wear what was called “Beatle Boots,” was a dear friend and close neighbor of mine at Verdunville’ s No. 16 coal camp community.
And, of course, he was a member of the “Porch Sitters” — that bunch of coal camp kids that sat day and nightly on the company store porch dreaming of places thought to be unreachable for them. Places like, well, New York.
Thanks to Reggie Nedd and others, who have succeeded after leaving their native turfs in Logan County, my fellow Loganites should know that there has always been outstanding talent come from the hills and hollers of Logan County — a place where dreams begin.
“I hope I have made Logan County proud,” says Neddman 304.
You have Reggie. You have, indeed. Have you ever thought about teaming up with Landau Eugene Murphy for a session?
Dwight Williamson serves as magistrate in Logan County. He writes a weekly column for HD Media.