The Band in 1967

Issaquah Press, 1988 

Past and present

Friendship helps Associated Sounds swing past 20 years


By Michael Landauer

In a day when most professional bands are lucky if they're together two years, the nucleus of one Issaquah amateur group has been fashioning tunes for almost two decades. The band's business card says it all: 

       Associated Sounds

           Dance Band

The members of Associated Sounds have made it work, more out of friendship than any lofty aspirations of stardom, says the group's drummer and original founding member, Tom Needham.  In 1967 Associated Sounds had six members including (from left) then-keyboardist Maxine Pangburn, Rick Shillenger, Larry Searles, Rod Shillenger, John Thrash (no longer with the band) and Tom Needham on drums.

We all went through elementary and high school together with the opportunity to play music with some very excellent musicians. Many of  these people have quit playing but none of us in the group could stand 

the thought of that, he said.

Associated Sounds' first gig was New Year's Eve 1966-67. All the members were barely 15, Needham said, with three of the boys reaching that birthday just weeks before their first public performance as a group.

The band grew out of the music revolution of the late 1960s. The band  started practicing as so many groups do, in someone's garage after school, just for something to do,Needham said.

Originally we thought we'd become just another rock&roll band, but those guys were a dime a dozen, he said. So the boys took another route; swing music.

Most of the guys listened to this popular dance music throughout their lives through their parents' record collections, Needham said.

Now, their repertoire includes swing, country and western, polkas, schottisches and even some popular rock tunes.  "We try to cover just a little of everything for everybody". 

Band in 1988

In 1988, band members included (from left)  keyboardist Tom Howard (who joined the band 12 years ago), Rick Shillenger, Searles, Rod Shillenger and Needham.Needham said.

Having to play gigs under candlelight or flashlight illumination because the power blew out, Needham's drums rolling across the stage after a support gave way and other relatively minor problems have done little to sway the group's love for performing.

Needham said that people often come up to them and ask, "Aren't you the kids who used to have the band?"  

He said almost from the start, there have been rumors of the bands demise.  But it's not only the group's love of music that's acted as a strong bond for Associated Sounds, it was and still is parental support, Needham said. "Our parents are still our biggest fans," he said.

Although the group's love of music works to hold Associated Sounds 

together, they have never earned enough cash from the band to make even a meager living, Needham said. The jobs the members have are diverse.

Keyboardist and vocalist Tom Howard is a supervisor at a local hardware store, trumpet player and bassist Rick Shillinger is a video processing technician, trumpet player/vocalist Larry Searles runs a dental lab, tenor sax and guitar player Rod Shillinger is a health technologist, and Needham is the fire captain.

The band's last gig was October 4, and who knows when they'll have another gig. But the guys remain busy, Needham said. We've played just about all the places in Issaquah that could hold people. We're just going to keep going, he said.

Although the band has been on the road on and off for nearly 20 years,  it has stayed pretty close to home. About the farthest it's traveled is Hope, British Columbia.

In Memory of Stanley H. Hilzer (Guitar)

On December 20th, 2005 we lost Stanley to cancer. We had 3 great years with Stan, and will miss his smilin' face and his tasty solos, but he will not be forgotten.  

Keep on Strummin' Bubba !

In 1959, Began playing guitar at the age of eight.
1964, First professional performance was with a hometown band called the “Movin Marauders” age 13.
1967, Opened for the nationally known American band “The Byrds” in Cheyenne Wyoming with a group called “The Rocking Coachmen”
1969, Joined the band “The Drivin Dynamics” two years after Randy Meisner left the group. Randy would
later become a member of Poco & the Eagles.
1971 Started a group with his brother Steve, called “the Hilz Brothers Band”, touring the midwest.
1975, Moved to Tucson, Arizona, then to Houston, Texas and formed a band called “Legal Tender”. This band headlined with other groups from Austin, Texas at the now defunct Texas Opera House. This was a main showcase for American & Internationally known bands to
play & show their stuff.
1980, Stan got home sick & returned to Nebraska to spend time with his only child. In the last days, in the knick of time before he left Houston, Stan wrote his best song to date, “I’m Coming to See You”, for his daughter, April Dawn Hilzer.
1981, Started a country rock group called “Go-Fer-Broke” after the band lost all of it’s equipment in a house fire at his mom & dad’s rented farm.
1986, Stan returned to college playing guitar on the weekends with a band called “Second Wind”. Playing
with the most talented sax player & musician Stan had ever known, Marvin Snell.
1991, Stan graduated from the University of Wyoming College of Engineering with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He loves amplifiers.
1992, Moved to Seattle, Washington and began playing in various church groups.
1996, Met Ricky Shillinger while playing in a church band in Kent, Washington.
2000, Inducted into the Nebraska Rock & Roll Hall of Fame along with Randy Meisner of the Eagles & Poco, as a former member of the Dynamics. Check out
2003, Joined the Easy Street Band.