Tanner Free Fare 1984. Members were Steven Tanner, Randy Merritt, Lenny Brooks, Gary Bickerstaff, Kirk Frederickson and Anthony (Tony) LeClerc. Customarily dubbed as 'The Band From Florida' our tour began in Wichita, Kansas and ended in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For those who are unfamiliar with who we were and what we did, we were a performance band that catered to high/jr. high schools across America and Canada. We provided the vehicle for a more sustaining message of hope, courage and empowerment. We encouraged thousands of youngsters to stay in school and not to become a 'statistical casualty' of high school drop-outs. Furthermore; after exemplifying that not all rock stars had to be into drugs and alcohol in order to perform 500+ shows in a years time, we encouraged our audience to consider introducing a commonality that each of our members had in order to maintain our viligence. That commonality was the fact that we were all Christians. The enthusiasm that they were witnessing was a common thread that we shared and excitement of the idea of being able to share it with our audience. That common 'thread' was also our established base for who we were, and why and how we did what we did. We met some interesting individuals along the way, performing over 500 shows and reaching out to over 250,000 people. Our outreach touched the lives of not only students, but it spread into the homes of those students and instructional and non-instructional staff as well. This means the parents, sisters and brothers of the students that came to our shows were also witnessed to indirectly. Also the teachers and their families as well as the janitors and school cafateria workers and their families. That was our goal and we suceeded day after day, and night after night.
The tour continuted through Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. We were able to boost our promotional sales by aquiring 'buttons' with our original poster picture. We sold a ton. I guess I should put one up on Ebay, huh? I still have an original FREEFARE poster as well as our face poster and both black and grey bandanas. We visited a good many historical sites along the way to include but not limited to The Mighty Mississippi River, The Saint Louis Arch, Saint Patricks Cathedral, a world famous resturant named Molly Murphy's in Oklahoma City, First Avenue where PRINCE filmed Purple Rain, Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Rockefeller Building, Doc Serverinsen's Bar and Grill and Central Park as well as many other state parks, local festivals and exhibits including the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. It was a toss up between the Renaissance Festival and Wille Nelson that day. We were very fortunate to perform two FFA conventions while on tour in Dallas,Texas and Still Water,Oklahoma. In my adulthood, I managed to revisit some of the locations that we toured. While in Halifax some time after the tour, I visited the site where Titanic victims were brought ashore and embalmed. A funeral home turned resturant. Imagine that. Ya' know, I just couldn't bring myself to eat there. In one of the most noted cemetaries in Halifax, Nova Scotia, there are over 115 Titanic victims buried in graves with the design of the bow of the ship. Most of the stage show pictures presented on this site were taken at Queen Elizabeth High School in Halifax, Nova Scotia by Sherri Snair.
Just as in other jobs, there were also hazzards. Tony suffered from a controlled pyro-technical accident in which a 'flash-pod' ignited into his face, chest and arms. It was during a pre-show test in which Tony pre-loaded a small amount of powdered mercury underneath a very thin wire connected to two bolts which were in-turn connected to a 110v supply switch. The switch was mistakenly switched 'on' and unnoticed until it exploded. Thank God for miracles and he ONLY received 3rd degree burns and 4 nights in the hospital. That unfortunate turn of events allowed each one of us to broaden our horizons as musicians. Compensating for our temporary loss, we all took turns playing bass guitar at some point in our shows. This unfortunate turn of events even gave Steve Tanner the opportunity to sit on the drum throne from time to time, and to perform out front as well. We found that Gary could play keyboards, drums and bass. We also found out that Kirk could sing, well..that's still up for debate. We taught him the basics of playing bass guitar, and with little instruction, he was able to play simple bass lines. As you know, most rock songs have simple bass lines anyway. LOL Tony made a full recovery after about a month and rocked out the rest of the tour in style.
We started our tour with the custom 'Showcase' bread truck, but after another band that was touring out in Colorado had a vehicle fire, we gave them our truck. After what seemed like forever, we finally got our new touring bus and boy was it worth the wait. Complete with A/C. I thought being a Florida resident, meant that I knew what hot was; boy was I wrong. As we were entering Kansas via Oklahoma, we encountered a sweltering dry heat in excess of 113 degrees fahrenheit. There is nothing like breathing super hot oxygen into your lungs. As well as touring the Mid-West, we were also fortunate enough to tour Eastern Canada as well. Which meant visiting places I'd only read about in school. Did you know that Newfoundland time is 1/2 past the hour because of it's location between time zones? When we arrived in Port Aux Basque, Newfoundland, the snow drifts were nearly 4 feet tall. That didn't stop school from carrying on however. Collectively, we had to enhance our diction in order to be more clearly understood. Although the spoken language is English there, they were not used to hearing southern accent. They spoke Frenchlish. English with a very thick French accent. We had initial difficulty understanding them, as they us.
Oh yeah, here's a little knowledge to drop on ya'. There were some regions that were secluded enough to have never seen a black person 'in the flesh' before, only on TV. While it was quite humorous, it was amazing all at the same time. I was blazing a new trail and didn't realize it. I had kids and parents alike ogling and asking me if they could touch my skin. They were shocked to find out it wasn't tough like 'alligator' as they thought. After the assembly shows, these kids would run home and tell their parents. At the night shows, we were surprised to find almost as many parents present and in some cases grand-parents present as well as students. But I also have to admit, it was a 'great feeling' when the MOMS came up to touch and feel as well.
Talking about culture shock, after an assembly show in Newfoundland, we were prepared MOOSE STEW by the principal and his wife who was also a teacher. Let's just say, I didn't like it. We were often invited by students/staff to attend their churches, and other civic functions and that was always a pleasure. We worshiped in nearly every denomination excluding charismatic of course. We were also invited to many Sunday dinners, by some very generous individuals who were nice enough to open their front doors to us. Homecooked meals were always accepted and welcomed to say the least. We even went canoeing on one of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes. Later in life, many places I visited on tour made a more meaningful effect as an adult. We see things in a totally different light. I may not have thought about such historical sites when I was in some of these famous locations, but in hindesight, I am glad I made the tour. While most of the pictures contributed to this site are performance photos, obviously, there were literally thousands of missed photo opportunities I'm sure. I will never forget what I saw; ever ! Besides, memories last longer than pictures anyway, don't they?
Tanner FreeFare '84 Face poster
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OMG!!!!!!!! I saw you in 86 (I think)in Hamilton Montana. You guys not only rocked my world but my opinion of myself. I looooooove Tony!!!! You guys rocked our little town and we loved it. I am 32 now and I think fondly on your show and the message that you brought to our lives. If you guys have an albumn I would love to have one. Please write me and I will provide my address.
Keep the message alive.
I can't believe that I found anything on the web about you (and trust me, I been looking.)
Keep on Rockin!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hamilton Montana class of 1992.
I like to live by the motto.......Life's too short, and rock is the way.
love, Jenny Kahler
Jenny Kahler |
January 23, 2006
FreeFare! I found you! Hey Guys...I came across an old FreeFare bandana, so I thought I'd look you up. Sure enough, here you are! I really can't remember much except that I saw you all when I was in eighth grade at Guilford Middle School in Greensboro, NC, around '85, and you guys were cool. Thanks for bringing it to NC! It's great to know you are all Christians. If I don't see you here, then I'll see you in the hereafter.
Julie Hunnicutt |
March 10, 2006
Hey, FreeFare came to my school back in 82. I remember it well. Used all Gibson and Lab Series gear. Tragedy struck when the drummer was killed in a car accident later that year.
Is there a main FreeFare site somewhere?
May 31, 2006
Hey guys - did you ever tour Australian high schools in the early 80's? I remember an American band by the name of Free Fare played at our school when I was in Year 9 or 10 (equiv to your 9th / 10th grade)- about '81 or '82? I am curious to know if that was you?
DeeMaree Bell |
August 06, 2007
Saw you guys when you played at Charlottetown Rural High School in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, back in the early 80s.... possibly 1984??
You guys put on an exciting show which I still remember till this day.
I remember Lenny played a Peavy guitar.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Walter Vessey |
June 24, 2009
I saw your group perform at St. Kevin's High School in St. John's (Goulds), Newfoundland in the early/mid 80s. I had this poster on my wall for years!
Thanks for the flash back to the past!
Chantelle O'Driscoll |
May 02, 2012