A Brief History of the Band
North Tower was started in 1975, as an acapella vocal quartet, by a group of friends who attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (The name of the group represents an area of the Old East dormitory, where some of the members lived.) The group shared a common appreciation of intricate four-part vocal harmonies and quickly garnered praise for their performances around the Triangle area. The focus on strong vocals became a hallmark of the North Tower tradition which proudly continues through today.
Gary Dennis, who was a member of the North Tower Quartet, and Doug Manning, a Raleigh based musician and vocalist, were playing in a Top 40 band called Carolina Trace, and on a couple of occasions Doug had played acoustic guitar for the North Tower quartet. In 1979, Gary and Doug decided to form a new band with the bass player and soundman for Carolina Trace, Bill Brooks and Anthony Tart respectively, and add the guys from the quartet to form a Beach Top 40 and Show Group. They decided to retain the North Tower name and called the new group The North Tower Band. The lineup at that time was Doug Manning, Gary Dennis, Bill Brooks, Tom Ed White, Lowell Ball, Anthony Tart, and Alan Meisenheimer. Their original show act was a 50′s routine called “Tom Ed White and The Comets”. Shortly thereafter, Saxophonist Bob Craig joined, and Bill Brooks left to be replaced by John Smith. After about a year, Alan Meisenheimer left for the Peace Corp and Lowell Ball left for law school. Larry Dean, who went to school with Anthony Tart at Campbell University, was recruited to play keyboards. Doug Hoover, who was brought in as a sound man, moved to the drums and Gary Dennis became the front man. The expanded group began touring the mid-Atlantic states performing a mix of hits from the current charts as well as classics from the past. This move proved successful and the group decided to pursue the music business full-time in 1980.
Throughout the eighties, the band continued to establish itself as one of the most popular acts in the Southeast. The band was known for its floor shows, which included a celebration of the 50′s era, a tribute to the musical genius of the Motown-era, a tribute to Frankie Valli, and a spoof of the Oak Ridge Boys, a popular country group from the eighties. The band also entered the beach music market by recording several singles which received regional airplay.
Chuck Canady joined North Tower in 1988 as lead vocalist and guitarist. Chuck’s talents added more depth and versatility to the band. He had established himself on the beach circuit by playing with great bands such as Ocean Drive, Push, and Main Event. Chuck’s strengths have proven to be a great fit for North Tower.
The success of their early recordings led to the release of an album length project called “Let’s Go ‘Round Again” in 1989. That recording contained “Paula,” an original tune by members, Doug Manning and Bob Craig, which received the Original Song of the Year award at the 1989 Beach Music Awards presentation.
In 1991, longtime drummer Doug Hoover decided to leave North Tower to form a new group with his brothers, Pat and Greg; also members of the North Tower family. Ex-Boomers drummer, Rick Murray, and Jim Stoudemire, from the Fabulous Kays, were enlisted to propel the group into the nineties. The group quickly added Jeff Swafford to play the trumpet and built a three-piece horn section. In an era when grunge and rap were king, clients and audiences alike loved the brass. The group made several long trips in the nineties taking the party to New York, Montreal, Tampa, and Phoenix to name a few as well as continuing to perform numerous dates a year in Virginia and the Carolinas.
In 2004, the band released the studio album “It’s About Time”. The album featured the monster beach hit, “Chasin’ Dreams.” The song stayed at the top of the beach music charts for several months.
In 2005, following the departure of Bob Craig, the band hired Sax player and frontman Jeff Hinson. Between his skills as an entertainer, vocalist, and sax player, Jeff was a great addition to the band. They also hired Johnny Hopkins, formerly of the Embers, to play trumpet.
In 2008, after a 3 year absence, longtime member Bob Craig returned to the band. With his return, his son Bobby took on the role as the band’s drummer.
In 2011, founding member Doug Manning returned to the band to play bass.