I am Robert Orr, born in Chanute, Kansas in 1949 to Gene and Wilma Orr, followed by my brother David eight years later into our small family. Music came naturally to me early in my life with memories of being the conductor in our elementary school band, to taking piano lessons at age 8, taking up the trombone in the fourth grade, teaching myself how to play guitar at age 12 and forming my first band at age 14. Even earlier on, my mother and my uncle Jack encouraged my music. Uncle buying me a stack of Hank Williams 78's, and an acoustic guitar and my mother playing the family piano daily by ear basically on all of the black keys- which later would become known to me as sharps and flats. All styles of music were always in the house from the piano, trombone, guitar and dads love of the anti-rock legend, Lawrence Welk, and of course the radio was always on. Regardless, all of the music influences were omnipresent. David and I were always encouraged to play something. My first recollection of getting hooked on performing was when my parents took me to a Spike Jones Concert at age 5. Spike Jones was a very talented big band performer with humor being a big part of his show. At some point in his show, he played a bass drum with a toilet plunger. Having seen (and heard) this, I decided to attempt this feat at home with the brand new toy drum kit I had received for Christmas. You guessed, it- on the first swing, the plunger went right through the drum head and I destroyed the gift. After a lot of crying and feeling guilty, my parents bought me a toy clarinet and I Knew immediately that instrument was not for me, It didn't rock! After listening to Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Jerry Lee Lewis, on the radio, I knew what I wanted to do. Form a band with guitars, piano and organ.

The Common Few? was actually the evolution of several earlier incarnations that were short lived, i.e. “The Argonauts,” “The Executers” and “The Slippers.” Notice the similarity to the name of “The Flippers,” the group that so many Midwestern bands tried to emulate. I started out as the lead guitar player in our band, but after hearing the Hammond B-3 on recordings knew that would be my instrument. In 1968, The Common Few?” recorded our only single, “Love Makes A Man” which received regional recognition. The amazing thing about the Common Few? today is, that for the most part, the remaining core group of Ben Ennis, Darrel Brown, Bob Crumrine and myself goes all the way back to the junior high school, adding Eddie Ladd and Jeff Leverenz in high school when we decided we wanted to become a “horn band.” The original drummer Mike King was replaced by Cliff Wise when Mike went into the service. In short, The Common Few? Reunion group of 2005 is essentially the same band that played together from 1964 through 1971. This time spanning our junior high school, high school and college years with the entire group relocating to Emporia, Kansas to attend college at KSTC in order to keep the group together while pursuing our college educations. It was at this time that Gary Leitnaker joined the band. At times, I believe the emphasis was on the band and not the education. This time of growing up together created not only deep friendships, but a bond between these members that although many years separated them to follow different career paths, the reunion for the first rehearsal in 2005 brought everyone together again and amazingly enough, in good health after over 40 years years since our inception. An unexpected blessing was the addition of Lex Fox on lead guitar and vocals to this group of old friends and players. It's as if he had been part of the band all along.

By September of 1971 and with the Vietnam war in progress, some members entered the service of their country while others graduated from college and moved on. Finally after seven years, the original “Common Few?” Came to an end with a few of the members including myself, continuing playing the college and club circuit adding additional personnel under the name of “ISAAC.” A good band, but not destined to last long with more attrition within the ranks. With the break-up of “ISAAC”, I along with Larry Stewart and Lindy Gallaher moved north to Norfolk, Nebraska to join a group called “Smoke Ring” that was restructuring. This group which changed its' name to MS FUNK went on to perform nationally and although never signed to a label deal, did demo recordings for Warner Brothers, Atlantic Records, Electra-Asylum and Epic. Although starting out as a cover band, MSF went on to perform all of our own music and traveled extensively for 7 years. Eventually based out of Chicago, MSF became known as a bands band, with top performing and recording artists coming to the city for their own concerts would drop by after hours to hear MSF. MS FUNK included such performers as Tommy Shaw of Styx fame and Fergie Frederiksen of Toto, Angel and LaRue fame until disbanding in 1976.

In 1976 I decided to get out of the music business professionally, but continued to write music winning five American Song Festival awards, but decided to go into business eventually with my father and brother from 1979 to 1987 in Chanute, Kansas. From 1982-1985 I performed part time with Greg “Doc” Hockett as “Two's Company.” In 1987 my family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee where I began a 20 year career with Sherman & Reilly, Inc., which manufactures equipment for the power and communications industries in which I am currently a vice president. In 2007 my wife Carol and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary. We have four children, Angie, Mande, R.J. and Brandy and five grandchildren. Life is good.

Being inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame (KMHOF) is an unexpected honor at this time in my life and all of us are proud to be part of this select group of performers. Thanks to my brother David for encouraging all of us to take this challenge. Without his encouragement our being recognized as nominees to the KMHOF might have never happened. Love you Bro!

I feel extremely blessed to know and have worked with many great musicians in my career. Few people ever have an opportunity such as this. The Common Few? have a special place in my heart- after all, we grew up together not only as musicians, but more importantly as good friends!


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