Broken glass and bar mitzvahs: Remembering Silent Majority
Mountain Brook High School students formed the band Silent Majority in 1985.
The memory lane of our high school years isn’t just paved with photographs—it has its own soundtrack, too. The music is not only from the radio, but from the local bands who played together on the unforgettable movie of our lives. At Mountain Brook High School many of those musicians have gone on to start careers, get married and raise families. But others have formed new bands and continue to play throughout the city. This is the first in a series in Village Living profiling the groups who made the music for our memories.
Brent Thompson, David Seale, Tommy Terrell and Bart Herring were in tenth grade together at Mountain Brook High School in the fall of 1985 when they decided to start a band.
“I realized I’d never be big enough or fast enough to play high school sports,” said Seale, “so being in a band was a great alternative.”
Tommy Terrell, on the other hand, actually made the basketball team but spent most of that time warming the bench. “I decided in the fall of ‘85 to see what the whole band thing had to offer,” Terrell said. “Needless to say, girls and beer won out over riding the bench.”
The group started learning their favorite cover songs from ‘80s bands like R.E.M., U2 and The Replacements. They called themselves the Side Effects.
To add a new dimension to their sound, they asked classmate Beth Sydnor Norris to play keyboards for the group. With the new member, the group expanded their repertoire to include material by The Doors, The Rolling Stones and other popular bands. They also renamed themselves Silent Majority.
One of the Side Effects’ early practice sessions, in particular, stands out in Seale’s mind. The drummer’s parents weren’t home, so the band invited a crew of guys (and girls) to come over and serve as audience. Seale was feeling a major rockstar vibe when he was suddenly inspired to jump on the coffee table.
Unfortunately, the table was glass and not very sturdy, so Seale found himself standing in a pile of broken shards. When the grownups returned, they were not amused and presented Seale with a bill for the cost of the table.
Soon, Silent Majority was playing high school fraternities, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, homecoming parties and other events.
Beth Norris recalled one party where the event planner asked them to dress up exotically for one of their sets. The planner provided the guys with Arab garb
and Beth with a belly dancer outfit. “The Broken glass and bar mitzvahs: Remembering Silent Majority costume was a bit more revealing than I felt
comfortable with,” she said. “But...”
Norris remembered one particular seven-year-old attendee of the party who carefully staked out a front-row seat to get the full effect of her wardrobe. “I just hope there are no pictures from that night,” she said.
Silent Majority continued to play together all through high school. After graduation they didn’t perform often as a group, but many of the musicians went on to form other groups that are still active today.
Brent Thompson has a trio with Tommy Terrell (a Silent Majority alumnus) and Chip Dawson; they’re called The Uptown Rulers. The band covers an eclectic mix
ranging from Van Morrison, The Eagles and Jimmy Buffett to Little Feat, The Stones and others. They play private parties, corporate events and charity engagements.
They say the music they play has evolved over the years as have the audiences. “We used to play only to people our age,” said Thompson. These days the audience might be 20 or 30 years older, so they play some songs the older crowd remembers.
Beth Norris teamed up with Frank Cater, Mark Haas, George Carbonie and Jeff Logan to form a group that now plays as The Underhills.
David Seale still writes, records and plays music with various groups around town. He and his brother Michael also host an Internet radio show called “Southbound.” The program focuses on local music and airs each Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. on www.bhammountainradio.com.
“At 42, I’m still enjoying music,” said Seale. “If I wasn’t doing something with music, there would be a hole in my life.”
Even after all these years, the beat goes on.