Tuesday, April 29, 2008

CSI: St. Louis

In the early 1960s, Bob Kuban was a high school music teacher at Bishop DuBourg Catholic in St. Louis, playing drums on the side in his own rock & roll band, the In-Men. In 1966, Kuban's song "The Cheater" - a fairly generic, horn-driven warning against men stealing other fellas' ladies - entered the national charts, going as high as Number Twelve that spring. According to the liner notes for the CD Here Comes the Cheater, "The Cheater" was "the first international pop smash written and recorded in St. Louis, Missouri," Chuck Berry having had the good sense to get out of Dodge.

The group chose its name, according to an article cited from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "to get across two...very important points. One is that they're an 'in' group, the other is that at the same time they are men, not long-haired freaks." Short-haired non-freak Bob Kuban became a St. Louis celebrity, and the In-Men played at the opening ceremonies for Busch Stadium when the Cardinals christened it on May 10, 1966.

I don't know if Kuban kept teaching school after that, but I hope he did, because the In-Men never again sniffed the Top Forty. But Kuban's downfall was nothing compared to what happened to Walter Scott (not the same Walter Scott who was a co-lead singer with the Whispers), who actually sang "The Cheater." Two days after Christmas in 1983, Scott disappeared. The very next day, the car of a guy named Jim Wiliams was seen parked in front of Scott's house. Williams' own wife, in a sad coincidence, had died in a car accident two months earlier.

Williams married the former Mrs. Scott. In 1987, for reasons that remain elusive to me, the medical examiner decided that the death of Williams' first wife might have been a homicide, and had the body exhumed. They found that she had been murdered after all. Then, a tip from Williams' own son led police to look in a cistern, where Scott's body was found. It had been floating there for over three years, with the hands hogtied behind the back. Jim Williams would later be convicted of murder.

There's a rumor that Scott's body was found buried in Kuban's backyard, but that's not true, as you can see. Kuban remains in St. Louis, playing the occasional gig; a Scott-less version of his band performed at the Cardinals' final regular-season game at Busch Stadium on October 2, 2005.

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