A Genuine Labor of Love

Mike Murphey
Mike Murphey Author Interview

We Never Knew Just What it Was shares the life story of the Chad Mitchell Trio. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Like many people my age, the Chad Mitchell Trio had a huge influence on me as a kid growing up in a small, conservative community during the 1960’s. More than any other music, folk music has been a significant historical influence in American history. It played a significant role in American life through the Great Depression, World War II, the post-war McCarthy blacklists, and the tumultuous ‘60’s. Because Mike Kobluk and Chad Mitchell both live in Spokane and were willing to cooperate, I jumped at the opportunity to tell their story and immerse myself once again in all that wonderful music. It was a genuine labor of love for me.

This was written with members Mike Kobluk and Chad Mitchell. What was the collaboration process like on this book?

Despite living only a couple of blocks apart, Mike and Chad don’t see each other a lot. During the summer of 2019, the probably spent more time together than when they were touring in the 60’s. We would meet together for interviews once a week, then I would talk to them separately each week as well.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned about the trio when writing this book?

The crux of the story is that these are two guys who have polar opposite personalities. Those differences led to Chad’s departure from The Trio in 1965, and John Denver’s emergence as Chad’s replacement. They didn’t speak for twenty years. Then a woman attempted to arrange a reunion appearance. They both said, essentially, I will if he will. Despite the animosity that led to their divorce, the one thing that was sacred to both of them was the quality of the music. On that day twenty years later at that awkward meeting, the woman who brought them together asked, “Do you think you remember the harmonies on Four Strong Winds? And it was as if they’d never been apart. The again shared their demand for excellence, and once again reveled in the music.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from their story?

I just hope this instill in us old Boomers a recollection of a time and place when for, so many of us, a dedication to social justice was instilled in a generation by three guys who sacrificed their commercial success to biting satire and social statements that radio and television refused to play.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Of all the groups to emerge during the folk era of the 1960’s, The Chad Mitchell Trio was unequivocally the best. Their complex harmonies, sense of comedic timing and stage presence were unique to the folk movement. They didn’t enjoy the commercial success of some other groups because their material made political and social statements that radio and television refused to air. They were wildly popular, though, on college campuses through America during this turbulent time and fostered political and social awareness among thousands of young men and women as they faced the tumultuous era ahead.
As Mike, Chad and Joe Frazier raced along a frantic treadmill of rehearsal, recording sessions, nightclub performances and concerts, Mike and Chad began to realize the demand for musical excellence was they only thing they had in common. Their personalities were and remain polar opposites.
When Chad left The Trio in 1965, to be replaced by John Denver, neither Mike nor Chad mourned the parting. Two years later, Joe’s demons caught up to him, forcing his dismissal.
When folk reunions became popular in the 80’s, fans and folk historians agreed that The Chad Mitchell Trio was the one group that would never take the stage again. Their schism was just too great.
They hadn’t spoken in twenty years.
Then came a call.
I will if he will.
Their mentor and music director Milt Okun worried the were making a mistake. They couldn’t possibly be as good as their fans remembered.
They were.
They kept their day jobs, and their distance. But once again, they had the music.
As their friend Tom Paxton noted, “Sometimes the only thing people have in common is musical talent. But if they have that one thing, they’d be fools not to use it.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on August 8, 2021, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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