The Vertebrats

In the summer of 1978, the University of Illinois and its Champaign-Urbana environs were still half a decade shy of becoming rock music’s “next Athens, Georgia” or producing its “next R.E.M.”—though it eventually failed to achieve either. Luckily, local bassist, CCR fanatic, and demolition derby driver Roy Axford and Joliet’s Kenny Draznik were already dating the sisters of teen guitarist Matt Brandabur. Roy and Kenny, after bonding over punk, had penned and taped “Hippie Space” about a year prior to when young Matt floored Kenny, his would-be guitar teacher, with his superior string skills. By the morning of July 5, 1978, the earliest incarnation of the Vertebrats had named itself after pain-in-the-neck little kids, played a backyard Independence Day party under that name, and ended that set at five songs, thanks to an upset neighbor lady and the cops.

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