It was probably Laird Brown’s idea, although it could’ve been cooked up by any of two or three friends.
A Tacoma auction for a local nonprofit was coming up. Someone — either long-distance trucker Brown, or Olympia family doctor Mike Boyd, or music teacher Rick Stockstad — decided to put a rock band and a keg of beer on the auction block.
The winning bid for that rock and roll party was $4,600 — in 1984 dollars.
The only drawback? The band didn’t exist.
“Laird and Mike and Rick started putting one together, and I came over as the lead singer,” Tacoma Realtor Ron Lunceford said. “We kept adding people and came up with a name — The Diptones — because it sounded like a 1950s or 1960s-era band.”
It needed something more, though. So Brown or Boyd or Stockstad randomly came up with “Daryl” and called the group Daryl & the Diptones.
By the time the party was held, they had lead, rhythm and bass guitars, a drummer, saxophonist, keyboardist and three backup singers called The Dipettes.
They even rehearsed once or twice, came up with a set list from the ’50s and ’60s.
“We had an absolute blast,” said Lunceford, who was 35 at the time.
Over the years, the supporting cast changed, succeeded always by amateur musicians who joined the five originals — Brown, Boyd, Stockstad, Lunceford and Gregory Kleiner.
Each year they’d average 10 dates, leaving summers and Decembers unbooked so their young families could have quality time together.
“We all had kids around the same age,” said Jeannette Lunceford, who joined her husband in the band in the mid-’90s. “Once we had all the kids on stage with us, singing ‘Do-Wah-Diddy.’ ”
From the beginning, Daryl & the Diptones was a commitment that all band members made in addition to their full-time careers. Their current roster includes an anesthesiologist, a bookkeeper, a communications specialist and a medical administrator.
“It lasts because we accept we’re Dips,” Ron Lunceford said. “We screw up, but we’re amateurs. We don’t yell at each other. We have fun”
Without fail, the band rehearses once a year or so. Most years.
Daryl & the Diptones rehearsed in October for the band’s next gig — a Nov. 15 dance at Landmark Convention Center in Tacoma.
It will mark their 30th anniversary.
All the original members are in their 60s; several, including Boyd and Brown, are retired from their day jobs.
“The Boyds spend a lot of time in Arizona, the Browns in New Mexico, but they fly up for the gigs,” Ron Lunceford said. “People scatter over 30 years. We don’t have the family get-togethers we once had, but we are still like brothers and sisters.”
There have been knee surgeries and an indisputable loss of hair among the musicians. Lunceford’s trademark onstage shades now have prescription lenses.
Two things have not changed.
Daryl & the Diptones still have fun despite the occasional missed chord transition or off note. And they’re still raising money for charity.
In the span of those 30 years, the band has played for the benefit of the Children’s Therapy Center of Pierce County, the Morgan Family YMCA, the Hilltop Health Ministries, the Commencement Bay Rowing Club, the Fife School District, Stadium and Wilson High School, the Boys and Girls Club, the FISH food bank and other organizations.
Fourteen years ago, they found a new cause.
“We did a dance for the Tacoma Community College Foundation First Generation Scholarship program,” Ron Lunceford said. “We raised enough money to have a scholarship named after the band.
“Every year since 2000, a first-generation student has received a Daryl & The Diptones scholarship of about $2,200.”
When the scholarship is presented, Jeannette Lunceford said with a laugh, “the students kind of look at us funny.”
In all, there have been about 30 Diptones and Dipettes. Over the years, not one was named Daryl.
The music is still vintage, as are most band members.
“We used to decide which charities to play for based on the likelihood that the crowd would dance,” Ron Lunceford said.
“I love watching the people dance,” Jeannette Lunceford said. “The music takes them back, and they’re happy, playful.”
On and offstage.