The Poker Chips

The Poker Chips began with two Parkville 6th graders, Chuck Frohlich on drums and Tom Poteet on alto, playing "The Sheik of Araby" for their enraptured classmates. They were amazing. A year later, in the summer of 1959, a real band began to form with Chuck Frohlich, Dwight Miller, Don Lehnhoff and Buzz Sappington. They rehearsed every day that summer and grew into a group of musicians and friends who were inseparable throughout their junior high and high school years. As a horn band before R&B took hold, they played "standards" all over town and out of town, at pageants, oyster roasts, adult dances, county fairs, debutante balls, private parties, and an appreciative home crowd at Perry Hall Teen Center. For shows and events they played dixieland and built a reputation as young professionals.

The Poker Chips on the Steel Pier, in old Atlantic City, NJ, posing with Paul Anka, circa 1961.
L. to R.: Don Lehnhoff, Dwight Miller, Tom Fargo, Paul Anka, Chuck Frohlich, Bill Tawney

The following 3 photos were taken in Bill Tawney's basement, circa 1961.

The Poker Chips
L. to R.: Bill Tawney (guitar), Don Lehnhoff (trombone), Chuck Frohlich (drums), Dwight Miller (trumpet), Bill Holland (tenor)

The Poker Chips
L. to R.: Bill Holland (tenor), Don Lehnhoff (trombone), Chuck Frohlich (drums), Bill Tawney (guitar), Dwight Miller (trumpet)

The Poker Chips
T. to B.: Chuck Frohlich (drums), Don Lehnhoff (trombone), Bill Tawney (guitar), Bill Holland (tenor), Dwight Miller (trumpet)

This photo below is very interesting as it shows a stage full of many of the young performers of Baltimore in 1959. The stage is the Mergenthaler H.S. auditorium and the event was the WCBM Radio Talentsville USA contest, sponsored also by Coca Cola. The performances included singers, dancers and other talents, as well as bands. The two bands kneeling are the Poker Chips (dark coats and Colonel Sanders bow ties) and the Vibra Tones (white pants). The two tall young men standing in dark suits and cross ties are the Picarelli Brothers, a well known Baltimore duo who sang in an Everly Brothers style. This is a great historical example of the kinds of venues and opportunities available at the time, that fostered the explosion of young Baltimore musicians and entertainers. If you can identify any of the other people on stage, please send us the info and we'll add it here.

WCBM Talentsville USA performers

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