John Van Horn and the Fender Benders
John Van Horn
  • John's Story

I started a band in 1959 called the Fender Benders. We were a local kid band that played fire halls, Moose lodges, high school parties, and anywhere else we could. Previously, in 1958, Link Wray came out with Rumble, a guitar instrumental that became a big hit nationwide. When I first heard it, I thought it was the weirdest thing I had ever heard. Then, after hearing his band with Doug Wray (drums) and Shorty Horton (bass), I knew what I really wanted for a career.

Later, in 1961, Link's older brother Ray Vernon opened up a small recording studio in Washington, DC. I went there to record a couple of songs and the rest is history. My band changed players several times and when we got the right people together, Ray became our manager. He booked us at a lot of different clubs around DC. During this time we were also recording with Link and others in Ray's studio. The Fender Benders had a hit instrumental in 1964 called "XKE" and the flip side "Drag Strip" became famous for most of the race car strip advertisements on the radio, and still gets used today.

Ed Cynar (bass) , Richie Mitchell (bass) and I worked on and off with Link's band during the 1960's through the 1970's. We travelled to a lot of clubs on the East Coast and did a lot of TV shows, including Dick Clark, Jerry Blavat, and Joey Reynolds. Link had several more instrumental hits during this time (Jack the Ripper, Batman Theme, Run Chicken Run and more). We kept busy working all the time either in the studio or on the road.

In 1971, I came out as a solo artist and signed with Mercury Records. This album did very well for a first timer. I continued on as a solo artist until the late 70's. Link moved to Arizona and Doug Wray and I continued to record and play clubs together. Doug passed away in 1984 and I pretty much quit playing music as a career.

Link's music started getting put in the movies (Pulp Fiction, Independence Day, Breathless, Twelve Monkeys, This Boy's Life and many more). People started calling me and pushing me to record again. So I looked up my old friends Richie Mitchell and Anton Fig (David Letterman's drummer) who used to work with Link when he was with Robert Gordon, and set up a studio date. We cut several tunes, including one with The Orioles doing background on one song.

At this time I also met Mick Fleetwood who had opened up a nightclub in the Washington DC area. I sat in with Mick on several occasions and he was the one who really got me going.

So here I am again with a NEW CD. I have mixed a few of Link's instrumental hits on it along with some new tunes and some re-recorded things off of my Mercury album. Ed Cynar (bass) has rejoined the group along with my son John Van Horn, Jr. (guitar) and Pat Greenwood (drums) to make this album. Mick Fleetwood and Anton are on some live cuts from Mick's club. We plan to hit the road in the spring of 1998. I hope you enjoy this CD.

John Van Horn

Copyright (c)1998 John Van Horn. Used with permission.