Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, June 5, 2017



I once asked Chad Mitchell of the great 1960s folk group that bore his name, how the group got that name.

“At first,” he said, “it was an accident. Later it was a mistake.”

Chad Mitchell, Mike Kobluk, and Mike Pugh sang together as undergrads at Gonzaga University, Bing Crosby’s alma mater, in Spokane, WA. The chaplain there was going to drive to NYC one summer for some continuing education. He suggested the trio go along to try the vibrant folk nightclub scene there. They were an immediate hit, on the Ed Sullivan Show right away, signed by Harry Belafonte to a contract, and so had to have a name quickly. Chad was the dominant personality, so, on a temporary basis, they stuck his name on the group. A necessity. An accident.

Later, after Mike Pugh had left the group to return to college in Spokane and had been replaced by Joe Frazier, when Chad left the trio to pursue a solo career, the name was a mistake.

So much of life is like that, isn’t it? First an accident, then a mistake. We get a job or a mate or an addiction or a friend or a faith not by choice but by accident. Later we learn it was a mistake.

When Chad left the trio, Mike Kobluk and Joe Frazier renamed themselves simply as The Mitchell Trio, keeping the “Mitchell” in the name so that their fans would know who they were, and chose an unknown singer by the name of Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. to replace Chad. That was a lot to say, so he changed his name to John Denver. Maybe that’s what we need to do when we realize an accident is a mistake. Change the name, from Sinner to Saved.


I tweet as yooper1721.

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