It was October 16, 2016, the day of the baby shower for Maisy Peterik when I happened to walk Betsy Larson from her car to the entrance of the Jam Lab where the event was being held.
I noticed a certain wistful look in her otherwise smiling eyes. “Jimmie, just got some bad news. I’ve just been diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct.” I tried to remain calm and offered her the standard encouraging word, but she seemed to possess a sixth sense about the journey she was about to take.
Thus started her brave battle with the cancer that rudely took her from us in the wee small hours of June 11th, 2017.
I remember clearly the gaggle of girls that surrounded us after the Ides Of March show at the Valley View Young Adults Club in Frankfort, Illinois – Friday night, February 29, 1970.
This date rings like a bell not only because it is the very day that “Vehicle” premiered on WLS, but also because two girls, Pam Stout and Betsy Resef, cuter and more attentive than the rest, emerged from the crowd and showed special interest in two of the Ides members. Pam took a special shine to guitarist and vocalist Larry Millas and Betsy to our lead horn player John Larson. Their interest was reciprocated and soon they were dating and double dating to beat the band. Before you knew it wedding dates were being set for both couples. And it all started at Valley View!!!
Betsy through the years was a dear friend and confidant to all. She was a great listener and always gave advice in a non- judgmental way. And if a little vulgarity is the spice of charm, she served up a very tasty dish!
As one of the “Brides Of March” (Norma Bergland, Pam Millas, Betsy Larson, Karen Peterik and Cyndy Soumar- and a bit later Gail Millas, Patsy Larson, Chris May and Mary Jane Borch) their camaraderie was legendary and their parties could get a bit wild! I remember after one of their Soires, Karen Peterik revealed that they all got more than a little tipsy on sweet cherry suise! And Betsy was the ring leader!
She and John stayed close, even after they divorced and John married Patsy and Betsy married Zeno.
Through the years the Ides alumni have always remained like family, so it was a utter shock when the reality hit of the severity of Betsy’s illness. The flood of tears is not soon to abate. Betsy was a flawless gem (a term she must have used often as a sales person at her parent’s Orange Blossom jewelry store on the South side.) Her smile could light a room, her comfort was our cushion, her humor could curdle milk and we will miss her until we meet again.
Shine on Bets – we love you.
From the heart of Jim Peterik and all the Ides and Brides of March. June 14, 2017
This picture and info was sent to us by our friend, the Legendary WLS DJ Clark Weber:
A DVD and bonus CD, put out in 2010 by Reazar Productions, features old clips from a NYC small station Tv program from late 60’s to mid-70’s hosted by DJ Barry Richards. The DVD has classic performances by many great artists of the day.
Last year when the band was playing the lovely Acorn Theatre in 3 Oaks Michigan (we’ll be there again in November-worth the drive!!) , a gentleman approached JP and gave him a set of cassettes recorded live in 1972 at a College in Michigan. Jim listened to the tapes and found out they were of pretty good quality (for the day) and the band was smokin’! Larry took the tapes and did his digital cleanup magic, making them shine a little brighter. We picked the best tunes from the tape, and now present them to you on our new disc “Lost Tapes Vol. 1”.
This version of the Ides was short-lived, but was notable because of the addition of Conrad Prybe on Trombone. This was after Ray Herr left and just before Dave Arellano joined on keyboards. Probably the last hurrah of the classic “Brass-Driven” Ides from back in the day. There are some real rarity songs like “American Express”, “Share This Feeling”and a great fan favorite “Teeny Bopper Medley”. Also a great rocking rendition of B.B.King’s “Rock Me Baby”.
The fellow who gave Jim the tapes never gave his name. We sent out a big rockin’ THANK YOU to our nameless benefactor.
This is a must for every Ides fan, and we’ve got it at a special low price of $10.
Dick Clark was kind enough to give The Ides of March a shout out for their 40th Anniversary. He will be missed.
On September 21, 2011 we lost a dear musical brother- John Larson, a member of the Ides of March since joining the ranks in 1969. Ask anyone — John didn’t have a mean or vindictive bone in his body. His sweet spirit always shone through like a star.
Not just a world-class trumpet player, John’s humor, quick wit, and creative ideas were a cog in the Ides’ machine that helped create our signature sound.
John could go on seemingly endlessly about simple things in life, like the liver dumpling soup he specialized in. No detail was too small for his discerning eye and palette. Most of all, he celebrated life every day.
John was a good sport about the hilarious intros we gave him on stage — he wanted me to make a list of them. I never quite got around to it… So, John, here it is now: “Say hello to John Larson, Nick Nolte’s evil twin”; “Welcome John Larson, the eye candy of the band..”; “On high trumpet — John Larson, a person of interest in four states” and, of course, “Here’s John Larson, the other white meat.”
John was the guy holding the high F sharp just past the cut off from a given song to prove he still had the chops (and he did!)
Playing the iconic riff from the Ides’ eternal hit, “Vehicle,” his piercing tone was the perfect complement to Chuck’s and Bob’s more mellow sound.
We experienced so much together as a band — we grew up touring North America behind a Number One record in the early 70’s; and turning from kids to responsible adults when we re-formed in 1990. John was always there for us, the court jester, lightening up the mood on days it was sorely needed.
John, you will be missed by so many. If you judge a person’s wealth by the people you can call your friend, John was the richest person I know. His voice has been stilled but it can never be replaced. Close your eyes tonight and you just may hear a distant trumpet.
New show dates, news, photos and videos will be posted very soon. Stay tuned for more info in the coming months.