By Judah Heimlich
Through his travels as a drummer he was signed to a national recording contract, with his music on the radio and the television. He played with artists such as Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand, he has recorded the likes of James Brown and Harry Connick Jr. and he made his way to PLU through a newspaper advertisement.
Bob Holden may appear like an ordinary Pacific Lutheran University employee or teacher but his journey to Parkland is unlike any other.
Holden grew up in Portland, Oregon and his interest in music began early “it started in the 5th grade playing for my school band and then going on to take private lessons” Holden said.
In 1963 Holden was in high school when a band called The Kinsmen recorded the hit Louie Louie. The keyboardist at the time was Don Gallucci who was a sophomore in high school and got let go from the band due to his parents not letting him go on tour.
Gallucci decided to start his own band bringing in Holden. “He saw my band playing at Club Chase and asked if I wanted to join his new band that had a guaranteed recording contract” said Holden about Gallucci asking him to join what would become Don and the Goodtimes.
The bass player and sax player from Holden’s previous band The Imperials also came with to join the new band. The band traveled to Seattle to record their first song called the Turn On Song which was only instrumental.
After they recorded the song they went back to life as normal. One day while “sitting in my mother’s car at work the song came on the radio and I was like hey that’s us” Holden said. The song became a regional hit and made its way onto the top 100 nationally.
The record company wanted them to record more songs but they realized they needed a singer if they were going to make it. So the band found a bass player and guitar player to sing along with Holden and the sax player.
They had a few more hits that reached the top 100 but did not make it big until Dick Clark asked them to join his record and be the show band for the television show Where the Action Is. “Where the Action Is was like modern day MTV” Holden said “kids would come home after school and at 3 o’clock they would turn on that show”.
Don and the Goodtimes recorded their first big hit I Could Be So Good To You before going on a national tour with artists such as Neil Diamond and Tommy Rowe.
Soon after the band became successful they started going in different directions though. “Some of the members started doing drugs and other things I did not want to do so I quit the band” said Holden about the breakup of Don and the Goodtimes.
Holden moved back to Portland from California and “did what every former musician does, I became a machinist for 2 years” said Holden.
Holden’s next path in life led him up to Seattle when he became partner in the first 16 track record studio in the northwest in 1969. He then sold his part in that company and bought the controlling interest in what would become Holden/Hamilton/Roberts. He worked at HHR for ten years records and ad production for clients.
He sold his part in the company and started a traveling 16 track record company. “We drove around in a Winnebago that was converted into a recording studio so that we could go to the clients to record wherever” said Holden.
After pursuing this career for a bit he decided it might be time to start looking for another form of work. This is when he found an ad for Director of Audio Services at PLU and in 1982 he began his employment there.
Holden started teaching the next year with his first class being Recording Techniques. He has been teaching various classes since and is now the Associate Director of Media services and he teaches the Audio Production class.
Senior Linnea Anderson who has worked for Holden for 4 years and has also taken his audio production enjoys working with him. “He is very interesting to talk to and is always telling stories of recording people over the years” Anderson said “I like working for him because he knows what he is doing and is very knowledgeable about the equipment”.
Holden’s youngest son Alex is a junior and PLU and is currently enrolled in his audio production class. “At first I thought it was going to be weird taking a class from my dad but since the class is so hands on it is just like him teaching me stuff at home” said Alex.
Holden enjoys teaching students about audio production “I love sharing my love for audio to get people inspired” Holden said “audio production is magic the way you can adjust people’s emotions and feelings with what you create”.