Interracial band was welcomed in ToledoWritten by Katherine Timpf | | email@example.com
Dwight Gibson was sick of being knocked around.
So, he took his brother’s suggestion to trade his Woodward High School football helmet for a drum set.
“I said, ‘This is better than getting knocked upside the head, he said.’”
Like others in Toledo during the 1960s, Dwight was encouraged to pursue music by the success of other local artists during the time period.
“Johnny and the Hurricanes, they were big at that time … and it just so happens the bass player, Butch Mattice, was my next-door neighbor and it’s just like, you talk to your next-door neighbor and all of a sudden you see him on national TV the next night,” Dwight said.
Taking a hint from the
Hurricanes’ success, Dwight, his brother and trioleader Johnny and their white friend, Ron Harste, went to Detroit to get the
same management team the Hurricanes had. The team accepted, and The Johnny Gibson Trio
traveled back and forth from Detroit, recording.
Attaining widespread fame proved to be more difficult for an interracial band during that time.
“They would never give us the promotion,” Dwight said. “At that time was when civil rights was and here we was with two black guys and the white guy and they didn’t understand. They didn’t want us to travel in the South, so they kept us around.”
Dwight said the band played in the midwestern and eastern parts of the United States. He said Toledo and Detroit were great places for an interracial band.
“Coming from a metropolitan area like Detroit, color is completely wiped out,” Dwight said. … “The musicians, black and white, we were all like a brotherhood.”
The band broke up when Johnny went to California to pursue other musical undertakings. Dwight said Johnny now lives in Toronto, still playing music, and he has not seen him in 20 years.
Dwight said he just came back to Toledo from Tennessee when his friend Ray Whelan, Johnny and the Hurricanes’ bassist and member of Dwight’s second band, told him many of their musician friends were passing away.
“Ray called me and told me all these guys were passing away [and] I better come home and see them before they do,” Dwight said.
Coming back to a different Toledo than the one he saw in the ’60s, Dwight said he has a lot of faith in today’s musicians.
“I think you kids are brighter than we were back then,” Dwight said. “We had trouble with the management out here as did the other guys; got ripped off on the royalties. [What] the kids are doing now, they’re doing it themselves and they’re promoting it, selling it out of the trunk of their car. We never did that.”