Howard Roice Nelson Jr. grew up on a farm flanked by stratigraphic and metamorphic geology in southern Utah. After school and chores, rather than play he would explore the land on horseback or build things. Music provided a social outlet for the shy youngster. On 24 February 1964, inspired by The Beatles' debut on American television, Roice and four other junior high schoolers gathered in that hotbed of rock ‘;n’ roll, a garage, from which they emerged as “The KeyNotes,” with Roice the lead and rhythm guitarist.

Normal teenage behavior notwithstanding, Roice was marching to the tune of a different...

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