The Lighthouse Boys

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The Lighthouse Boys
TheLighthouseBoys2014.jpg
(L-R) Mark Underwood, Steve Johnson, Stephen Underwood, Jimmy Woods, Tommy Smith, Bill Underwood
Background information
Origin Bakersfield, California, U.S.
Genres Southern Gospel
Years active 1974–present
Website TheLighthouseBoys.com
Members Mark Underwood
Steve Johnson
Bill Underwood
Stephen Underwood
Tommy Smith
Jimmy Woods
Past members Tim Cantu
Dathan Fernandez
Ken Edwards
Jon Edwards
Hearl Smith
Ted McClaren
Terry Mullin
Tim Williams
Mike Smith
Kenny Knight
Gary Miller
Frank McNinch
Jeff Edwards
Joe Underwood

The Lighthouse Boys are a Southern Gospel band from Bakersfield, California, and progenitors of "The Bakersfield Sound". The group began in 1974 by brothers Mark and Bill Underwood and their friend Steve Johnson. In 1976, the trio expanded from a vocal ensemble to a full band with the addition of Frank McNinch, Garry Miller, and Kenny Knight. The band recorded their self-titled debut album in the late 1970s, which was released in 1980. The band has undergone many line-up changes throughout their recording and touring careers, but the core trio has remained at the helm during their history.

Career / Ministry[edit]

Founding and early years[edit]

Founded in 1974 in Bakersfield, California by Mark Underwood and Steve Johnson, who had been writing songs together since in 1973. By 1974 Mark’s older brother Bill Underwood joined and they began performing all around California.

In 1975 Mark attended a concert that was put on by the Jesus music band Amplified Version, Mark began to talk with them, and they convinced Mark that for The Lighthouse Boys to continue successfully they needed to get a sound system to take with them on the road. That same year a sound system was purchased. In 1976 The Lighthouse Boys became a full quartet when Frank McNinch joined on bass vocals to fill out the sound. They also added Garry Miller on bass guitar and Kenny Knight on drums to fill out the rest of the band.

In 1977 The Lighthouse Boys performed at The Blackwood Brothers and Gospelares Talent Show in Fresno, California at the Selland Arena. They also made an appearance on The Bakersfield, CA local broadcast of The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.

In 1978, the group began recording their first album. They entered Buck Owens' Recording Studio to record five of the songs that would go on that record. Jim Shaw who produced the album was later quoted as saying "They were fun sessions. I just remember they had a nice, gospel-flavored country sound and that we enjoyed working with The Lighthouse Boys"[1]

The 80's[edit]

By 1980 The Lighthouse Boys finished and released their first album and went through a major member change. Steve took some time away after the departures of Frank, Garry and Kenny in 1979. With new members Tim Cantu, Dathan Fernandez, Ken Edwards, and Jon Edwards along with Mark and Bill the group had won their first award, recorded a live album at the "Western Desert Gospel Sing" on Memorial Day at The San Bernardino Fair Grounds in Victorville, CA. The Lighthouse Boys had become one of the top artists in the west.

In 1983 Mark, Steve and Bill joined up with a few other musicians to form "New Covenant" to perform and record while The Lighthouse Boys took on a very limited schedule. "New Covenant" recorded three songs, two of which were released on a Sampler LP for what was known as The WGA, on that LP was a re-recording of The Lighthouse Boys song "When The Saints of God are Called T'ward Heaven." In 1984 The Lighthouse Boys made another appearance in Bakersfield on the local broadcast of The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. Mark and Steve continued to write songs that would eventually re-define the group’s sound." The group continued to make appearances on local TV programs and various annual events, Mark spent some time with a group out of Taft, CA called "Sonrise." On Memorial Day 1987 The Lighthouse Boys made an appearance performing three sets over two stages at The Western Desert Gospel Reunion at the San Bernardino Fair Grounds in Victorville, CA. In July they entered the studio again to cut a new single that was originally planned to be given to Jimmy Swaggart, instead it sparked a desire to re-emerge on the road, this time joined on drums by Bill’s son Stephen Underwood.

The 90's[edit]

In 1989, Mark Underwood, Steve Johnson & Ken Edwards signed a one year contract as writers with a publishing company. The Lighthouse Boys went into the studio to record 6 songs, but soon after the recording Ken Edwards took time away to help his father's radio station in Dry Prong, Louisiana. A young man by the name of Terry Mullin joined as lead singer. The Lighthouse Boys guest appeared for soloist Debra Hoopiiaina on her album "Bought With A Price." In 1993 after Ken Edwards' return and a move down to bass vocals for Terry, The Lighthouse Boys released the previous six songs recorded from 1989 as a compilation album with five songs from their first album. In 1994, The Lighthouse Boys went back into the studio where they felt at home: Fat Tracks - formerly The Buck Owens Recording Studio. They joined the Western States Gospel Music Association and hit a North West US tour in the summer and released their third studio album “Golden Classics.” On December 31, 1994 while The Lighthouse Boys celebrated their 20th anniversary, the original quartet Mark Underwood, Steve Johnson, Bill Underwood and Frank McNinch reunited for one concert in which they performed five songs from their first album.

In 1995 The Lighthouse Boys released the radio single “Midnight Cry” through the Rick Hendrix Company. Between 1995-1997 they toured the North West and Southern parts of the United States. In October 1997 they made an afternoon showcase appearance at Suwannee River Jubilee held in Live Oak, Florida. The fans were so enthused by the performance The Lighthouse Boys were asked to perform on the evening show. The quartet also began performing annually at The Great Western Quartet Convention (a "spin-off" event from the National Quartet Convention).

In 1998 Mark temporarily lost his voice, a young man by the name of Tim Williams had just stepped down as music minister at his home Church at Northland Assembly of God in Bakersfield, CA. Tim was originally joining to play keyboards, but because of Mark's vocal health, Mark continued playing keyboards and Tim took over singing Tenor. The result of the vocal switch was the launch of the career for one of the best Southern Gospel Tenors to ever come out of California in a long time. In 1999, while touring in support of their 25th year, Stephen Underwood (a diabetic since 1991) landed in the hospital with only a 30% chance of living due to Gangrene, it had already entered his blood stream. After many prayers from all over the country, Stephen recovered and rejoined the group on stage just two weeks after surgery.

2000’s[edit]

In March 2000, The Lighthouse Boys released “Golden Classics 2”. In October after 20 years with The Lighthouse Boys, Ken Edwards left the group. Terry Mullin and Tim Williams left as well to reform Golden State Quartet. In December of that same year, Bill Underwood underwent ankle surgery and a quadruple bypass within the same week. The Lighthouse Boys took a much needed rest from the road. In 2001, original member Steve Johnson stepped back in, Stephen Underwood moved from the Drums to Lead Vocalist and The Lighthouse Boys set back out on the road. In 2002, they met up with producer Mark Yeary and recorded the single “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.” The song was recorded for a special compilation project called IAMM Volume 1. They also guest appeared on the album "I'll Be There" by Mark Yeary's sister "Cathy Hollowell."

In November 2003, The Lighthouse Boys met up with a piano player originally from Lamont, California. Mike Smith grew up watching The Lighthouse Boys and The Crownsmen perform before moving to the Bible Belt to play with several Southern Gospel groups himself. Upon his return to California, he joined The Lighthouse Boys as their new pianist. With the addition of Mark’s son Joe Underwood on Bass Guitar, and Drummer Jeff Edwards (son of former member Ken Edwards), The Lighthouse Boys were a full live band again. In February 2004, the group celebrated their 30th anniversary. The group was on one of their busiest tour schedules in years. The Lighthouse Boys were rebuilding the core of their ministry with Mike Smith as a main staple in the lineup. In the summer of that year, he bought a motorcycle to help him get from Bakersfield to his home in New Cuyama, California and to his job in Santa Maria, California. July 11, 2004 at Bishop Calvary Baptist in Bishop, California was Mike’s last performance with The Lighthouse Boys and last performance ever. He performed his favorite song “I’ve Never Been This Homesick Before,” and “Jesus is a Friend of Mine,” a song he wrote a few years prior to joining The Lighthouse Boys. Later that same week, Mike was found by his bike after falling asleep while driving home from work. He had run off the road in the hills outside of Santa Maria.

In October, Bill Underwood left the road to pastor a church. Steve Johnson had left the year before to start a company with his wife. Mark brought up his son Joe Underwood to sing baritone, they continued with Stephen Underwood as a trio until they briefly shut down in December of 2005.

40[edit]

In 2006 Mark, Steve, Bill & Stephen came back together to perform limited concert dates, their first concert back was the 2006 Great Western Southern Gospel Fan Festival at The Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. They again performed there in 2007. In 2008, The Lighthouse Boys went live again for the first time in four years with the addition of Tommy Smith; a veteran Bass Guitarest who had played with the likes of Bobby Durham, Brian Lonbeck, Mark Yeary and filled in with The Buckaroos. In December of 2009 Stephen Underwood returned to the Drums, and Ken Edwards stepped back in to sing lead. April 29, 2010, The Lighthouse Boys returned to the Great Western Fan Fest and released Midnight Cry: The Lighthouse Boys Essential Collection, a 20 song compilation celebrating the years from 1994-2000. On October 30, 2010 for the first time in 10 years, The Lighthouse Boys reunited the most popular version of the group with members Mark Underwood, Bill Underwood, Ken Edwards, Terry Mullin and Stephen Underwood for their entire set during the final 5th Saturday Sing of the year. Tim Williams also joined them on 2 songs.

In December of 2012, Jimmy Woods (son of Bakersfield Country Music Legend, Bill Woods) joined The Lighthouse Boys on keyboards. The Lighthouse Boys returned to The Great Western Fan Fest in Visalia, CA with Tommy Smith singing Lead vocals.

In 2014, The Lighthouse Boys announced their 40th Anniversary. In May of 2014 4 Hymn Promotions announced the signing of The Lighthouse Boys to their artist roster, also later that month, they rejoined The Western States Gospel Music Association (WSGMA).

Personnel[edit]

The Lighthouse Boys lineups

1974-1975
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals, bass guitar
  • Steve Johnson – lead vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar

With supporting musicians

  • Helen Underwood (Embry) - Piano
  • Sharon Underwood – backup singer
  • Donna Johnson – backup singer

1976-1978
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals, piano
  • Steve Johnson – lead vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Frank McNinch – bass vocals
  • Gary Miller – Bass Guitar
  • Kenny Knight – Drums

1979

1979 - 1980

1981-1983 (off and on)

1984-1985 (off and on)

1986-1987

1987 - 1991

1991 - 1992

1992-1993
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals, piano
  • Steve Johnson – bass vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Ken Edwards – lead vocals, bass guitar
  • Stephen Underwood – drums

1993-1997

1997

1997

1998
  • Mark Underwood – keyboards, vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Ken Edwards – lead vocals, bass guitar
  • Stephen Underwood – drums
  • Terry Mullin – bass vocals
  • Tim Williams – tenor vocals

1998-1999
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals, piano, keyboards
  • Steve Johnson – bass vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Tim Cantu – sound engineer, drums
  • Stephen Underwood – lead vocals

1999-2000
  • Mark Underwood – piano, vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Ken Edwards – lead vocals, bass guitar
  • Stephen Underwood – drums
  • Terry Mullin – bass vocals
  • Tim Williams – tenor vocals

2001-2002
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals
  • Steve Johnson – bass vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals
  • Stephen Underwood – lead vocals

2002-2003
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals, piano, keyboards
  • Steve Johnson – bass vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Stephen Underwood – lead vocals
  • Joe Underwood – bass guitar
  • Russ Higgens – drums

2003-2004
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Stephen Underwood – lead vocals
  • Joe Underwood – bass guitar
  • Jeff Edwards – drums
  • Roger Peirce – bass vocals
  • Mike Smith – keyboards, vocals

2004
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals, keyboards
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Stephen Underwood – lead vocals, drums
  • Joe Underwood – bass guitar
  • Roger Peirce – bass vocals

2005
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals
  • Stephen Underwood – lead vocals
  • Joe Underwood – baritone vocals

2006-2007
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals
  • Steve Johnson – bass vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals
  • Stephen Underwood – lead vocals

2008
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals, keyboards
  • Steve Johnson – bass vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Stephen Underwood – lead vocals
  • Tommy Smith - bass guitar
  • Chuck Crocker - drums

2009
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals, keyboards
  • Steve Johnson – bass vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Stephen Underwood – lead vocals
  • Tommy Smith - bass guitar
  • Franky Olds - drums

2009
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals, keyboards
  • Steve Johnson – bass vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Tim Cantu - drums
  • Stephen Underwood – lead vocals
  • Tommy Smith - bass guitar

2010
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals, keyboards
  • Steve Johnson - bass vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Ken Edwards - lead vocals
  • Stephen Underwood – drums
  • Tommy Smith - bass guitar

2011-2012
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals, keyboards
  • Steve Johnson – bass vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Tim Cantu - drums
  • Stephen Underwood – lead vocals
  • Tommy Smith - bass guitar

2012

2013-Present
  • Mark Underwood – tenor vocals
  • Steve Johnson – bass vocals
  • Bill Underwood – baritone vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Stephen Underwood – drums, Vocals
  • Tommy Smith - lead vocals, bass guitar
  • Jimmy Woods - keyboards

Studio musicians[edit]

A list of Producers, Engineers and Musicians that The Lighthouse Boys have recorded with over the years.

  • Jim Shaw – Engineer, Keyboards
  • Doyle Curtsinger – Bass Guitar
  • Terry Christoffersen – Guitar, Steel Guitar
  • Brian Lonbeck - Guitar
  • Mark Yeary – Producer, Keyboards
  • Max Reese – Engineer
  • Tracy Heaston – Producer, Keyboards
  • Mike Pillow – Producer
  • Jerry Mulkins - Guitar
  • Jimmy Woods - Keyboards
  • Nick Forcillo - Engineer

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • 1980 The Lighthouse Boys (TLB Records)
  • 1993 The Lighthouse Boys (TLB Records)
  • 1994 Golden Classics (TLB Records) radio single "Midnight Cry"
  • 2000 Golden Classics 2 (TLB Records)
  • 2003 The Lighthouse Boys - LIVE (TLB Records) Labor day 1980
  • 2003 After I Get to Heaven (TLB Records)
  • 2005 The Best of The Lighthouse Boys 1974-2004 (TLB Records)
  • 2010 Midnight Cry, The Essential Collection (TLB Records/Ultra Entertainment/Indie)

Singles[edit]

  • 1995 Midnight Cry Radio (Rick Hendrix Company)
  • 1995 Feelin' Mighty Fine WSGMA 20 Songs (WSGMA)
  • 1995 (I'm) Gonna Walk Them Golden Stairs When I Die WSGMA 20 Songs (WSGMA)
  • 2002 The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power IAMM Volume 1 (Various Artists / IAMM)
  • 2010 (There'll be) Peace In the Valley (For Me) (TLB RECORDS)

Other Appearances[edit]

  • 1983 WGA Sampler LP - as members of New Covenant (I'm Goin' Home & When The Saints of God Are Called T'ward Heaven (WGA)
  • 1991 Debra Hoopiiaina - Bought With A Price (Indie)
  • 1995 Rick Hendrix Radio Source 1995 Volume 1 (Rick Hendrix Company)
  • 1995 WSGMA 20 Great Songs (WSGMA)
  • 2002 I.A.M.M Volume 1 (International Association of Music Ministries)
  • 2002 Cathy Hollowell - I'll Be There (Oreely Multi-Media)
  • 2003 Don Hodge - Song Promo (Indie)

References[edit]

External links[edit]