The Lighthouse Boys
|The Lighthouse Boys|
(L-R) Mark Underwood, Steve Johnson, Stephen Underwood, Jimmy Woods, Tommy Smith, Bill Underwood
|Origin||Bakersfield, California, U.S.|
|Past members||Tim Cantu
The Lighthouse Boys are an American Southern Gospel band from Bakersfield, California, and progenitors of "The Bakersfield Sound". The group began in 1974 by brothers Mark and Bill Underwood and Bill's brother in-law 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 and released it 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
Founding and early years
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"
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. 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.
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 recorded backup vocals 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.
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 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 February 2004, the group celebrated their 30th anniversary. In the summer of that year, their keyboardist Mike Smith 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. 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 2005.
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 Guitarist who had played with the likes of Bobby Durham, Brian Lonbeck, Mark Yeary and The Buckaroos.
In December 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 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 The Lighthouse Boys rejoined The Western States Gospel Music Association (WSGMA). In February 2015, The Lighthouse Boys released their single "From Heaven's Point of View" to digital music stores  and to Radio through Patterson Music Promotions.
January 25, 2016, The Lighthouse Boys original drummer Kenny Knight passed away suddenly at age 52
In April of 2016, "The Lighthouse Boys Ultimate Collection" featuring songs from every studio recording including 2 new songs.
In May of 2016, Stephen Underwood officially stepped down from live performance, Randy Ivie (formerly of Golden State Quartet) filled in in June and joined officially as new Lead Singer in September.
Personnel (past and present)
(with supporting members)
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
|Year||Album||Members who performed||Record label||Record producer|
|1980||The Lighthouse Boys||Underwood, Johnson, Underwood, McNinch, Miller, Knight||TLB Records||Jim Shaw, Mark Underwood|
|1993||The Lighthouse Boys||Underwood, Johnson, Underwood, Edwards, Underwood||TLB Records||Mark Underwood|
|1994||Golden Classics||Underwood, Underwood, Edwards, Underwood, Mullin||TLB Records||Mark Underwood|
|2000||Golden Classics 2||Underwood, Underwood, Edwards, Underwood, Mullin, Williams||TLB Records||Tim Williams, Sammy Lee|
|2003*||The Lighthouse Boys - Live||Underwood, Underwood, Cantu, Fernandez, Edwards, Edwards||TLB Records||The Lighthouse Boys|
|2003**||After I Get To Heaven||Underwood, Underwood, Edwards, Underwood, Mullin, J Johnson||TLB Records||Mike Pillow, Mark Underwood|
|2005||The Best of The Lighthouse Boys 1974-2004||TLB Records||Stephen Underwood|
|2010||Midnight Cry, The Essential Collection||Underwood, Underwood, Edwards, Underwood, Mullin, Williams, J Johnson||TLB Records / Ultra Entertainment||Stephen Underwood|
|2014||Songs For Easter - Limited Edition Compilation EP||Underwood, Underwood, Edwards, Underwood, Mullin, Williams, J Johnson||TLB Records||Stephen Underwood|
|2016||"The Lighthouse Boys Ultimate Collection"||Underwood, Johnson, Underwood, McNinch, Miller, Knight, Edwards, Underwood, Mullin, Williams, Underwood, Hood, Smith, Woods||TLB Records||Stephen Underwood|
*originally recorded May 26, 1980
**originally recorded from 1995-1997
|Year||Song||Members who performed||Record label||Producer|
|1995||Midnight Cry||Underwood, Underwood, Edwards, Underwood, Mullin||TLB Records / Rick Hendrix Company||Mark Underwood, (Engineer) Max Reese|
|2002||The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power||Underwood, Johnson, Underwood, Underwood||TLB Records||Mark Yeary|
|2015||From Heaven's Point of View||Underwood, Johnson, Underwood, Underwood, T Smith, Woods||TLB Records, Patterson Music Promotions||Mark Underwood, Stephen Underwood, Nick Forcillo|
- 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)
- NewReleaseTuseday.com Artists Profile
- NewReleaseTuseday.com Album Details
- A 30-year musical journey, Bakersfield Californian January 31, 2004
- A 30-year musical journey, Bakersfield Californian January 31, 2004
- Video footage of The Lighthouse Boys reunion concert recorded October 30, 2010
- The Lighthouse Boys Announce New Single, SGNScoops.net February 9, 2015
- Patterson Music Promotions announces The Lighthouse Boys New Single to radio, Southern Gospel Times April 5, 2015
- NewReleaseTuseday.com Artists Profile
- TheLighthouseBoys.com Discography
- Gospel Voice Magazine June 1994 “Just West of Here”
- Resource Publications, "The Christian Music Directories" formerly "The Recording Locator" - http://www.rpinet.com/cmd.html
- http://www.thelighthouseboys.com The Lighthouse Boys Official Website
- http://www.ccauthority.com/interviews/lighthouseboys.htm Interview with The Lighthouse Boys on CCAuthority.com
- http://nl.newsbank.com/cgi-bin/ngate/BCAB?ext_docid=1006D5E2B46C4AB9&ext_hed=A+30-year+musical+journey&ext_theme=bcab&pubcode=BCAB "A 30-Year Musical Journey" Bakersfield Californian Newspaper (must have a user name and password)