Brutal Rough (the band)

Left to right: David Earl, Chris Yurko, David Barrett, Ken Van Kampen.

The small staff of a golf magazine is an unlikely spawning ground for a rock/blues band. But we just happened to have the right ingredients at Golf in 1989.

David (Duke) Earl, undoubtedly the only golf writer with a gold front tooth, was a passionate and talented guitarist who had made a living playing in bands before turning to golf journalism. Chris Yurko and Ken Van Kampen were pretty darn good on guitar and drums, respectively. I was a rock enthusiast who learned to play the bass to fill out the band.

In addition to playing a few gigs, we went to a studio and recorded three songs that are linked here.

Killing Floor: Our signature song. Vocals: David Earl.
Killing Floor
(There seem to be a few glitches from converting the MP3 to a url.)

Rude and Stupid: This was at the same time Jake Trout and the Flounders were doing golf lyrics superimposed on known songs. We started out doing the same thing. The song is “Birth School Work Death” by the Godfathers, with a replacement chorus of “Slow Play: Rude, Stupid.” The genesis of the title was a column in the magazine where Frank Hannigan wrote that slow play was not only rude, it was also stupid. Vocals: Chris Yurko.
Rude and Stupid

All Along the Watchtower: Based on the Hendrix version, of course. Vocals: Ken Van Kampen.
(Can’t get this file to work as a url.)

Our strangest gig was in the lobby of our Manhattan office building at lunch hour. Yes, from 12 to 1 o’clock unsuspecting workers in the 30-story building heading to or from lunch were greeted by a loud rock band, the sound bouncing off the marble walls. It was a promotion for a Times Mirror Magazines environmental initiative (encouraging recycling), and we wrote a rap song especially dedicated to the occasion. A rehearsal take is linked here.

Resource Rap: As I recall, we were given the requirement of including in the lyrics the line “doing what’s right for natural resources.” Excellent lyrics by Earl and Yurko. Vocals: Yurko.

Brutal Rough performs in the lobby of 2 Park Avenue, New York City.

We did our practicing in the office, in a small room that served as the Golf Magazine library. And we did it loud. With Chris Yurko, there was no other way. We got a complaint once from a guy on the floor below (not a Times Mirror floor), he came up on the elevator to see who was making that racket and try to get us to stop it. Our publisher happened to be working late, and he told the guy, “It’s the company band.” We kept playing, and did not turn it down.

We played live at a pub near the office a couple of times; also at a birthday party for a Times Mirror honcho that was held in the back of a bar/restaurant. The highlight was when our colleagues at Yachting asked us to be the entertainment for two evenings of its Race Week on Block Island. It was the one time that nobody knew who we were. We weren’t those four guys who worked for Golf Magazine, we were the band that had been hired to play for a couple hundred people. And we pulled it off!

In fact, while we expected it to be a case of people all talking to each other with the band as the background noise, it turned out that most of them were actually watching and listening to us. And giving us an enthusiastic reaction. It helped that David Earl was a performer who had lots of charisma derived from pouring his heart, soul, and sweat into it.

Brutal Rough ended after about a year when David Earl took a job with USGA Journal. He died of a heart attack just a couple of years later, much too young. This is dedicated to the memory of Duke.

TOPICS: Non-Golf

ABOUT: David Barrett

David Barrett was an editor at Golf Magazine for 18 years and has written two books on golf–Golf Courses of the U.S. Open and Golf's Dream 18s. A long time ago, back when Seve Ballesteros and Tom Watson were the perennial favorites, he covered the Masters (as well as SEC football, ACC basketball, etc.) for The Augusta Chronicle.

7 Responses to “Brutal Rough (the band)”

  1. Jim Frank

    DB: Great memories. I remember you guys playing (screaming? caterwauling?) “Sweet Jane” at some TMM party. Those truly were the good old days. JAF

  2. Greg Midland

    Love the photos, and hearing the stories. Also like the velvet rope separating you from your fans in the lobby.

  3. Bubs

    What a blast from a past! I remember you guys playing at the TMM Holiday party many years ago. Enjoyed the post and especially the picture! Rock stars!

  4. David Barrett

    That was actually a different band that did a few songs at the TMM Holiday Party a few years later. Those guys were talented, too, but that was a one-off thing. Didn’t gel quite as much as Brutal Rough. The worst part was they fired our singer the day before the party. And he was a good singer and good frontman, too! Why couldn’t they have waited a couple days? Still, it was fun to sing “I Wanna Be Sedated.”

  5. Chris Yurko

    David, I just found this site by accident and boy am I laughing. I lost my Brutal Rough casette tape years ago and have hoped beyond hope to recover that some day to show my kids and not only do I get the music back but a whole history of the band. Wow! I am amazed by the accuracy and dtail sof your reflection but not surprised since you are a great journalist and writer. I’ll have to dig through my memoriabilia crate but I am sure I have the original lyric s to the Resource Rap in my basement along with some flyers promoting one of our gigs. I remember that birthday party gig and, was it Bob Beauregard? who upon introducing the band put a wicked slur into my name . . . Chris Yurrrrrrrrrrrko? I only found out a few years ago that Duke had died. He was quite a character, smoking stogies in his office and attracting the venom of some pregnant woman who worked at Ski magazine down the hall. I still have some of his blues LPs that he let me borrow for inspiration during our playing days. I’ms ure Ill think of more stuff to add. Glad Brutal Rough hasn’t been lost to the sands of history.

  6. JC Matlak

    David, I had been wondering what ever happened to David Earl., we were in a band together in Charlotte NC in the late 70s early 80s He was a good friend, so sorry to hear he passed away. Thanks for posting this tribute.

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