The Starfires


A Little Background…

Although there are numerous websites under the heading ‘Starfires’, there is only one group now recognized as the “Original Star Fires” which features vocalists Eddie Day and Charles McCuen. We have distinguished ourselves as the originals. The Star Fires were organized in the late fifties by drummer Richard “R. Jay” Gumbravich and bass player Roger “Griff” Griffith while friends in junior high school. Soon to be added were Howard Dymond on keyboard, vocalist Charlie McCuen, sax player Bob Gardner, and lead guitar Fred Kirkendall. During their college years, vocalist Eddie Day joined the group and John Hall replaced Rich Rodiger (deceased) and Fred Kirkendall (deceased) on lead guitar. The Star Fires made several recordings on the Laurie and Bell Records record labels. Their song “You’ve Done Me Wrong” scored in the top ten on the local record charts. One of the things that sets the Star Fires apart from other groups is their unique ability to razzle and dazzle audiences with professional showmanship and an engaging experience. Many popular recording artists played with the Star Fires at Hanson’s Amusement Park on Harvey’s Lake and the Starfire Ballroom in Wilkes-Barre. These artists included Chubby Checker, The McCoys, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Patti & the Emblems, Bobby Goldsboro, Freddie Cannon, the Shangri-Las and many more. It was not unusual for crowds to number in the thousands to see the Star Fires on stage with these popular recording artists.

And Now…

Although all of the group members eventually went their separate ways to pursue other professional careers, they are now back together enjoying their music and renewed, revitalized close friendships. Many faithful fans wait and watch for the next opportunity to kick up their heels and relive the good old days of rock n’ role.

How It Happened..

The story of how the guys got back together again is quite unique. During a torrential downpour on a hazy, hot July afternoon in 2002, founding member Roger “Griff” Griffith, now an ordained Presbyterian minister, was driving his car in the area of Harvey’s Lake. Griff says an overwhelming sense of needing to visit the now defunct Hanson’s Amusement Park, where the group once played for many summers came over him. Looking at his watch and realizing he had time to drive the short distance out of his way to see the old park once again, he made the turn at the next intersection that would put him on the lake road. Arriving at the park, with the rain still hammering down, he got out of his car with an umbrella and began looking over the old dance hall. It was almost as if he could hear the music and the noise of the hundreds of faithful fans as he approached the building. Standing there in the rain, he reminisced about wonderful days gone by that were now only a faded memory. Feeling drained from the demands of his ministry, he dreamed of what it would be like to pick up the bass one again to play and sing those great songs with the other members of the group whom he hadn’t seen or heard from in decades. Some people, Griff among them, think what happened next may have been Divine intervention. As he stood there in the rain, a man and his wife approached him. They were reporters from a local entertainment publication and explained they were doing a story of now defunct amusement parks. They explained they were assigned to do a story on Hanson’s Park at Harvey’s Lake, but had no one to talk with. They asked Griff if he knew anything about the Park. He smiled and said: “I know what it used to be in its heyday!” The reporters took notes as Griff told them of the great summers the Starfires performed there during the sixties, the huge crowds they would draw and the well-known top recording artist of the day performing with them. The story was published the following week. Griff decided to call up the guys who were still living in the area which included R. Jay (drummer), Eddie Day (vocalist/keyboard) and Bob Gardner (saxophone) to let them know about the story coming out in the media. Neither Rich, Eddie or Bob could believe that Griff had called with such a tall tale. Neither could they believe that he was now an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (“You’re a WHAT?”) and his revelation about getting the group back together. That first summer, Griff, Eddie and Bob appeared as guests with another group doing a benefit for the fire company at Harvey’s Lake. They had such a blast doing this, they decided it just might be possible to get in touch with the rest of the guys and try to get back together again. They contacted Charlie McCuen (vocalist) now living in Delaware, and Howard Dymond (keyboard) now living in Virginia. The last task was to find the whereabouts of John B. Hall, their lead guitar player who, unknown to them, was living in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg. At the same time the other guys were meeting to get things started, John came to the Wyoming Valley for his mother’s memorial service. During a conversation with the minister who was presiding over the service, John mentioned he once lived in the Wyoming Valley area where he attended college and played in a rock group. The minister being a close friend and colleague with Roger Griffith, asked John the name of the group. When John said the ‘Starfires’, the minister asked him if he knew Roger Griffith. John could not believe his ears when he heard that Griff had become an ordained minister (“He’s a WHAT?”) and had aspirations about getting the group back together. The minister told John how to get in touch with Griff and the rest is history!


Each piece of the puzzle came perfectly together after Griff made that mysterious visit to Hanson’s Park that particular summer in the middle of a storm. Griff says, “Getting the group together again has given me a whole new perspective on the value of friendships and the way music can provide an escape of the anxieties and pressures of everyday life. There is no doubt in my mind, or for any of us, that this was part of a greater plan that we don’t fully understand, but we know it is real!” Stay Tuned! The Best is Yet to Come!