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The Snakestretchers band featuring Roy Buchanan on guitar was originally organized by Danny Gatton to play a PBS documentary on WNET in New York City, hosted by Bill Graham. The original band was Roy Buchanan (lead guitar), Dick Heintze (keyboard wizard), Michael "Pokey" Walls (drums & vocals), Chuck Tilley (vocals & rhythm guitar) and Danny Gatton on bass. Danny Gatton and drummer "Pokey" Walls left the group before the show was taped and teamed up at Gus N' Johns Restaurant, also in "suburban MD". (Peter Van Allen '72-74 Bass)
Origin of the band's name
The name originated in the band room at the Crossroads Nightclub in Bladensburg, Maryland. Every break the band sojourned to the band room, drank beer and told "road stories". Chuck Tilley said one night he “dreamed he was hired as a snake stretcher”.
The band itself had no name at that time. When queried "What's the name of your band?" - "Pokey" quickly replied once - "Roy Buchanan and The Snake Stretchers" (two words). Thinking up nutty names for the band turned out to half the fun of any given night.
This name was never intended to be serious. It was “officially applied” when the group played a politically connected event at a Wash, DC PBS station and one band member casually answered the “ever popular question” with "the Snake Stretchers" - to someone who turned out to be a Washington Post reporter. It was just in fun, but once published in the Washington Post, it was accepted as fact and "coined" into a single word.
The source of the article, Michael "Pokey" Walls, a lifetime musician who played the Wash. DC club, concert and recording scene from 1965 to 1988. He worked with and recorded with Roy Buchanan, Danny Gatton and many other notable guitarists of the era. He also recorded with the British Walkers and the Chartbusters and was the main recording drummer for Paramount Artists in Wash. DC (the management and production company that handled the Chartbusters and British Walkers). He still performs in the Tampa Bay area. The account is first hand knowledge.
Other very reliable historians of DC rock are long time Danny Gatton cohort Billy Hancock and Mark Opsasnick, who penned "Capitol Rock" and "The Lizard King Was Here: The Life and Times of Jim Morrison in Alexandria, Virginia ."