Roger Douglass is a founding member of the Elm Street Band which formed in the mid 1980’s. He fell in love with the guitar in 1964 after hearing Dick Dale’s Miserlou at a Friday night dance at Stanford Middle School. “It sounded like a rampagin’ chainsaw and really got my attention, reports Roger, who immediately begged his parents to buy the $99 cherry red electric guitar for sale at Unimart in the Los Altos Shopping Center. Roger and friends started a band called The Leisuremen and were soon booked at local dances and parties. In 1965, The Leisuremen won a Battle of the Bands at Millikan High School Canteen. This was the start of a 45 year long musical career that included stints with Las Vegas headliners, a television summer series, recording sessions and forays into show and pop music, country & western and classic rock & roll.
As a student at Millikan High School, Roger played with such bands as The Fourmost and The Town Criers. Highlights included gigs opening shows for the Strawberry Alarm Clock. Later, while attending CSULB, Roger was asked to join X.S. Baggage, a Hollywood based show band which included Long Beachers David Silverstein, Jay Schlesinger and Bob McAlister. Between gigs at Isadore’s, L.A.’s Bitter End West and The Grand Hotel (across from Disneyland), agent Lou Alexander managed to book the band at the Hollywood Palladium opening for the Osmond Brothers (on Donnie’s 16th birthday!) and the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas alongside returning headliner Elvis Presley.
The X.S. Baggage show got the attention of singer Bobbie Gentry, who had a number one hit record with Ode to Billie Joe in the 1960’s. Gentry needed singing musicians for her Las Vegas show at the Desert Inn, Frontier and Sands hotels, hiring Roger, McAlister and Silverstein as cast members. Gentry’s Ode to Billie Joe spawned a movie and summer television series in the mid 1970’s featuring Roger’s guitar and vocals with performers and guest artists including Wayne Newton, Paul Anka, Frankie Lane, Glen Campbell, Raquel Welch, Paul Williams, Bobbie Van, Larry Storch, John Byner, Fred Travalena, Jerry Van Dyke, Kelly Monteith, Robert Goulet, Rich Little, Ann Margaret, Cheech and Chong and others. The Gentry era ended in 1977 with Roger and singer guitarist Jason Reavis moving back to Long Beach to start a country & western band.
The duo became the nucleus of the successful G.R.I.T.S. band which dominated the local country music scene from 1978 through 1984. Accomplishments included house band gigs at JW’s Cowboy, The Crazy Horse Saloon and appearances in Las Vegas and Carson City.
G.R.I.T.S. was rated the number one country music band in Southern California in 1983 by Music Connection Magazine’s Live Action Chart and was nominated for the Golden Eagle Award by the CA Country Music Association. Unfortunately, the G.R.I.T.S. disbanded in 1984.
Roger later married Candie Smith and began working at a “regular job”…
After a chance meeting with musician and former Stanford Middle School classmate Bob Hirschhorn resulted in some noisy beer fueled jams in Roger Peterson’s garage on Elm Avenue in downtown Long Beach. One night Peterson requested the group to play for a casual party in his house where a guest asked if “that band on Elm Street” was available for other gigs? Of course the answer was YES! The addition of Roland Misajon and John Navratil rounded out the group and Roger was once again singing and picking the guitar…this time with the Elm Street Band.
Today Roger keeps busy as a real estate appraiser and with wife Candie, raising twins Sydney and Michael in their Long Beach home. Roger says that “playing music in a band makes me feel 20 again!”…and that “they’ll have to pull this guitar from my cold hands.” It may be Roger’s keen sense of humor that has allowed this remarkable 45 year, nearly non-stop history of musical performances. Roger concludes that “I plan to start slowing down after my 90th birthday!”
Roland Misajon is the lead vocalist in the band, and is truly one of the “nice guys” in rock ‘n roll. Born and raised in Hawaii, Roland moved to the mainland with his family when he was thirteen. Roland initially played drums, but soon moved to guitar and keyboard. His voice is truly a marvelous instrument and his smile and “Aloha” personality give the group a special flavor. Roland and his wife Lynne, who is Department Chair of the Speech & Communication Department at LBCC, have four children: Aaron, Leilani, Maile and Kevin, and five grandchildren, Mackenzie, Logan, Griffin, Jack and Zach.
John Navratil is the drummer for the band, and he can really play! When the band plays out, John seems to have his own fan club of young kids who want to be just like him. He is the youngest, coolest and cutest member of the group, and the only member still single. He is also one of the best surfers in the area – just ask him!!
John grew up on Long Beach Eastside and is a Millikan High School grad. In his youth, John excelled at all sports, with a particular passion and flair for baseball as well as surfing. John is a masterful musician and his effortless drum licks exemplify the same intensely cool approach and style he exhibits through surfing. John is also an excellent vocalist and contributes to the band’s amazing harmonies as they do justice to covers of the Beatles and Beach Boys. He has a great understated sense of humor, and when provoked can render scathingly funny imitations of his friends and acquaintances.
In this day and age of rampant self-promotion, trash-talking and often delusional egoism, John Navratil is refreshing as a truly nice guy; grounded and modest with both surfing and musical talent to spare, but you would never hear that from him, it is through his actions that John makes his mark on the world.
An awesome Bass Player and spirit, he has been singing and playing on the local music scene for over 40 years. He is referred to as the “spiritual leader” of the group, with his never-say-die attitude and love for a good time.
In addition to being an amazing musician, Bob can also be found in a local swimming pool teaching kids to swim. “I want a no-drowning world. That’s the difference between a job and a calling,” Hirschhorn said.
Hirschhorn’s swim students love him. They think he is the best. Hirschhorn teaches them freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. He works right through kids’ crying and complaining. He becomes their friend. He remembers their names and the names of their parents and all the details of their lives. That is hard because Hirschhorn has about 80 students at any given time.
“He has taught a generation of children to swim in Long Beach,” said David Haldane, who attended Stanford Junior High (now called a middle school) with Hirschhorn and has his daughter Arianne, 7, taking lessons. “He is an icon among the parent pool set and a fixture in the city.”
Bob and his wife Eva, a local hair stylist in Seal Beach, have a son, Eric who attends Los Al High School and is a great saxophonist in his own right. “Cha Cha” their loyal dog, attends many of the band’s concerts.