AMHERST – They opened for the Beach Boys at Parlee Beach in 1989, they’ve played with music legends such as the Rankin Family, The Coasters, Dr. Hook, Bobby Day and other music icons, now Donnie and The Monarchs are playing in Amherst for the last time at a fundraising event for the Amherst Ramblers and the YMCA at the Amherst Stadium on May 15.
The band – made up of on keyboards and vocals Gary Chase, on bass and vocals Kris McIntyre, lead guitar and vocals Bob Morgan, lead vocals and rhythm guitar Lee Boyer and on drums John McIntyre – is from the greater Saint John, N.B. area.
The group began their music careers as the Basic Four. They decided later to make an appearance as Donnie and The Monarchs, entering the stage with slicked back hair, blue jeans and black leather jackets. The name stuck.
“We played as the Basic Four for three to four months, but once we made the appearance as Donnie and The Monarchs people started calling up requesting Donnie and The Monarchs to play at their events. It was then we decided to go with the new name,” drummer John McIntyre said.
Playing music from the 50s, 60s and 70s, McIntyre said the biggest musical influence on the band was The Beatles.
“We liked to play what we grew up with,” the drummer said.
McIntyre said the biggest gig the band did was the opening for The Beach Boys, a venue that saw a crowd of 60,000 people. The group has played across eastern Canada for the past 28 years at times in front of crowds of 40,000 – 60,000 people.
“We played a lot in Sackville, N.B. and years ago the Wandlyn Inn in Amherst had a club where we would frequently play,” McIntyre said.
The drummer said it was always nice to play in the smaller towns where the same crowd would frequent the audience.
“People in Amherst were always good at coming out to our events, by doing an event such as this it’s a great opportunity for us to give something back to a community that has always been good to us,” McIntyre said, adding that with their days appearing on stage coming to an end it’s always nice to say goodbye to people who have supported you.
George Baker, president of the Amherst Jr. A Ramblers hockey club and event co-ordinator said they are excited to have a band that always draws a crowd playing at the joint fundraising event for the Ramblers and the YMCA.
“Ramblers players use the YMCA a lot which is why we decided to hold the fundraiser that we’re hoping to bring in $10,000 for each organization,” Baker said.
With only 400 available tickets, Baker expects the tickets to go fast with Donnie and The Monarchs being such a crowd pleaser and with the band retiring after their last gig in Saint John in November.
“The event is an elimination draw with a grand prize of $4,500. In total there will be approximately $10,000 in cash and prizes to be awarded at the event,” Baker said.
Tickets at $100 each will admit up to 4 people, doors opening at 5:30 the evening includes wine and cheese and a great lunch from 6 to 8 p.m. and the dance featuring Donnie and The Monarchs playing from 9 p.m. to midnight with a cash bar.
Tickets are available at the YMCA or by contacting Baker at 667-5548.