Dear John 1980 – 1982
The story starts at Peaches on Hampton. South St. Louis. Winter of 1980. Larry Wilke and Bob Kuhlmann were both toiling in the tape section. During the long days they discussed music, and Bob had even played some of his songs for Larry. Larry’s friend George Schneller would often come by during his lunch hour. Larry knew that Bob played and had been part of the burgeoning St. Louis punk scene in 1976/77 before he moved to Columbia, Mo. for college. George and Larry had formed a punk band called The Victims, and Larry eventually asked Bob to come to a rehearsal to give them some feedback. Within days, Big Dan was out, and Bob took over guitar/vocal duties. They renamed themselves Dear John, and in January of 1981 played their first string of gigs: a Monday night residency at Kelly’s Stage Door, the local watering hole/disco across from Peaches. The set list included originals and a diverse range of covers (“I Think We’re Alone Now”, “I Only Want To Be With You”, “First Time”). Dear John went into Silver Creek Studios in Fenton, Mo and recorded 6 songs in early ’81.
By late summer, the first (and only) single “Frustrated Conversation”/”I Don’t Want Her To Know” was released on Bob’s AKA label. At the time, Bob was living in Fort Wayne, Indiana where he was working at a radio station. He eventually returned to St. Louis in March of 82, and the band reformed as a 4 piece, adding Randy Erickson on guitar. The band eventually disintegrated that September.