The oldest of the Original Night Riders, was born in Nov of 1950 and attended Southern Alamance High School, in Graham, NC. Ray began singing in church choirs and quartets when he was 10 yrs old. His influences in music were his Father, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Ricky Nelson, Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, and Dolly Shaw, a High School Music Director. Ray was very fortunate to have many “rides” during his teenage years which consisted of a 1967 GTO, 1967 Ford Galaxie 500 Fastback, 1968 Ford Torino, and a 1969 Chevelle, in which I’m sure he courted his future wife, Doris Hicks Atwater. Ray’s involvement in the band is Rythym Guitar player and one of the Lead Vocalists, but is capable of filling in on Keyboards, Piano and Bass if needed. Ray enjoys writing songs and often call upon his wife Doris to pull him out of the hard spots. Doris and Ray have a daughter, Bridget, and a son, Gabriel, and a Grand Dog, Sandi. Ray says, “For a great life pick the right wife and friends, but put God first ”
Karl von Gunten
The youngest member of the band being born in 1955 comes to us originally from Massillon, Ohio, currently residing in the Raleigh area. Karl attended Washington High and recieved a Physics Degree from Wittenberg University, and has been involved in music for over 50 years, being influenced by family, musical theater, 70s bands, classic rock, jazz, and the list goes on. Karl has been performing on stage and in orchestra pits for over 50 years and is the Drummer/Percussionist for the Night Riders. His stage debut was at Winthrop in The Music Man at the age of five. An accomplished vibraphonist and percussionist, Karl has performed with jazz bands in Ohio and North Carolina, including the Wittenberg University Jazz Ensemble, Canton Civic Opera of Canton,OH, Capital Area Community Chorus of Raleigh, NC, Jeff Fields Big Band and contemporary jazz trio Elder Brother. He serves as the “house” drummer for his church in Cary, NC and drummer for the U2FX ministry, and was a member of CFX and the Bogus Basement Band. He and his wife Nancy have a 22 year old daughter, Laura.
The original Bassist for the Night Riders was born in April 1951, attended Southern Alamance High School, and was a member of the NC Army National Guard. As a kid Steve listened to 45’s playing on an old record player with Mom & Pop. Songs like “Since I Met You Baby,” “(Let Me Take You On A) Sea Cruise,” “You Talk Too Much,” and “The Twist” by Hank Ballard. Steve started playing drums in the Eli Whitney Elementary School Band and singing in the youth choir at church. As a teenager he drove a 1961 Ford Galaxie, 2 door hard top, “3 in the floor” and a 45 RPM record player hung under the dash. Floyd Cramer, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Rick Nelson, Everly Brothers, Rightous Brothers, Motown, Roy Orbison, DJ Charlie Brown on WKIX, DJ Gailes Stuckey on WBAG were his influences in music. Steve’s Uncle Wink Shoe, an avid dancer and his Aunt Louise, who let him play her stereo for hours on end, were also musical influences in his early teens. Steve is married to Kay Dawson Rogers, and have a son and daughter, 2 grandsons and a grandaughter. If you need a lift, turn on some Carolina Beach And Shag Music to make your day.
We call him “Q”. An easy going quiet man of few words with an “up front” approach and sense of humor that hits when you least expect it. “Q” now lives in Raleigh, but grew up in Jacksonville, NC and was born in Jan. 1952. He attended Jacksonville High School and transported his musical equipment in a Volkswagon. He jammed with his buddies and has been involved in music since his early High School years. His influences in music were Steve Cropper and all the old R&B and Blues players. “Q” attended NC State Univ and earned a BS in Electrical Engineering and is quite an accomplished and adaptable Lead Guitarist and Bassist having played for an extended period with Time Machine and later with The Al Williams Band. “Q” is very capable as a back up vocalist, but prefers to concentrate on playing the guitar. “Q”, a family man is married to Elaine and has 2 sons, Ben & Patrick, and a grandson, Charlie. His role with the Night Riders is as a Lead Guitarist and back up Vocalist and we are very fortunate to have him and that he came along when he did.
The Saxophone/Flutist of the Night Riders, now residing in Raleigh, comes to us from Hammond, Louisiana, and was born in 1951 (?). The “Hot Rod” of his youth was a 1962 Plymouth Fury 2 door coupe. After graduating from Hammond High School Benny attended Southeastern Louisiana University and has been involved in music for over 40 years. Being influenced by New Orleans R & B, Jazz, Swamp Pop, Funk, Soul, Big Band, Rhythm & Blues gave Benny the talent and opportunity to play in the following bands, Lenny McDaniels, Levee Band, Luther Kent, and Salett Jazz Ensemble. Benny has also played in the horn section with, The Contours, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Gene Chandler, Jerry Butler, Eddie Holman, Candi Staton, Percy Sledge, The Coasters, The Dixie Cups, Frankie Ford, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, and Ernie K. Doe. As an extremely talented Band Instrument Technician and Member of the National Association of Band Instrument Repair Technicians, Benny is also the Owner of Russell Band Instruments and makes his entire living within the music industry. He is married to his lovely wife Susan, has 3 children, Ben Jr., Grace, and David and has 2 grandchildren, Ben III and Isabella.
Born in Dec. of 1950, began playing music (piano) at the early age of 8 and is now an accomplished musician, playing Piano, Guitar, Trumpet, Keyboards and is one of the lead vocalist with the Night Riders. David attended Southern Alamance High School in Graham, NC and graduated from Guilford College, Greensboro/Southern Methodist University – Perkins School of Theology and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education/Certification in Church Music. His musical career was influenced by his parents, Mr. Rhodes (Band Director), Ed Lowe (Guilford College), Ann Woodward (Voice), Elvis Presley, The Beatles, James Taylor, and Motown. David’s mode of transportation back in the day was a 1965 Pontiac Tempest (2 dr. hardtop) which tranported him to gigs with, The Night Riders, The Verbs, and Blue Eyed Soul. Other bands that David joined or help form and played with are, Mind, Body and Soul, Due South, Airport, Alpacas, and Bare Fax. David met and married Phyllis Jordan Marlette from Raleigh, who attended Garner Senior High School and have a son Jonathan David Marlette. David is one of the remaining original Night Riders and we still look to him for leadership & guidance.