I am mentioned at the end of the article.
Page 4B The Valley Times
Monday, August 12, 1985
By Verda Mackay
Special to the Times
By day, Chuck Eras is a Livermore businessman. By night, his trumpet sends sweet music into the air as he leads the Chuck Eras Band in the music of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, as well as more contemporary sounds.
Appearing with the band are “The Illusions” — singers Joann Tucker and Shirley Rogers.
A favorite among Valley residents, the band has gained attention from outside the area. It is a regular feature at the Pleasanton Summer Concert Series at Wayside Park, and will close the series on Friday, appearing from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
On Aug. 17, the band will board the U.S.S. Enterprise, one of the largest active aircraft carriers in the Naval Fleet, to entertain for the carrier’s Family Day. The next day the group will be featured at tea dancing at the Pleasanton Hotel from 5 to 9 p.m.
For most of his life, Eras has been a musician. Beginning his training at age 13 as a trumpet player in a Los Angeles junior high school, he was playing dance music with the school band by the ninth grade.
As a high school freshman, he was finally getting paid for playing with “The Teen Timers,” earning a total of 87 a night. During that time, he was invited to try out with the University of Southern California marching band, and played with them for a year.
Having joined the Naval Reserve while in high school, Eras was activated during the Korean War. He served as a gunnery fire control-man stationed on the U.S.S. Valley Forge in Korea. During that time, he played in the 35-piece Navy band. After military service, he returned to Los Angeles where he played in a local dance band until he started his own group in the early ’60s. At that time, each man was paid $12 to $15 per night. By the late ’60s, each was making $30 to $40 a night.
“Musicians are usually fairly low paid, unless in a top name spot,” Eras explained with a smile.
For a period of about 10 years, he didn’t touch his horn. He recalled that he felt his musical career was over. “I didn’t have time for music,” he said. “I had to earn a living and my insurance business demanded many night hours. Anyway, I’d always thought of music as a sideline — a hobby.”
Then he joined the Elks Club in Anaheim, playing lead trumpet and soloing with the club’s dance band. He was back to music, and enjoying every minute of it.
When he was transferred by his company to Livermore in 1977, he joined the Local 510 Musicians Union and suddenly had many opportunities to work.
“I did a lot of Chinese funerals and Portuguese parades,” he recalls, “and generally concert band work. When I wasn’t playing, I was rehearsing every night at the union hall.
“One night at a union hall rehearsal, I met ‘The Illusions,’ Joann and Shirley, who were singing with another band and had another female vocalist with them. I played in that band for a few months until it broke up.
“I’ll never forget the time in December, ’79 when the girls had an engagement to appear at Santa Rita prison to play for the prisoners. They invited me to play with them, but I told them a trumpet with three girls and three guitars just wouldn’t fly. I got a group together to back up the singers with background music. We weren’t very good because we didn’t know their numbers and had to fake it.”
But that experience paid off. Chuck suggested to the women that they form a permanent dance group, which is now known as the Chuck Eras Band and “The Illusions.”
Although they are kept busy playing for dances, weddings, parades, graduations, anniversaries, grand openings and special events, each member holds down a fulltime job.
Eras is sales manager for northern California, Wyoming and Nevada for the R.L. Polk & Co. mailing list specialists.
A Pleasanton resident, Joann Tucker teaches guitar at Amador High School, while Shirley Rogers, also from Pleasanton, is a sales representative for R.L. Polk & Co.
Other members of the band are Ken Benotti of San Leandro; Bob Erickson of Pleasanton; Bob Hamaker of Walnut Creek; Ken Cefalo of Tracy; Pete Sims of Pleasanton; Bill Fulton of San Ramon; Collin Morrison of Livermore; Hank Segrove of Concord; and Tom Tucker.