Chapter One
The "Pre-Sons"
June - December 1966

On December 6, 1965, Blaine Smith, a Washington, D.C.-area rock musician, committed his life to Jesus Christ, through the radio ministry of Fourth Presbyterian Church. Blaine soon began attending that church, a large congregation in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of Washington. At the time, Blaine was guitarist and leader of the Newports, a popular D.C.-area rock band.

In May 1966 Russ Cadle, director of college ministries at Fourth Presbyterian, asked Blaine if he could form a band to perform rock music with a Christian message for the church’s summer college meetings. The church had a growing college ministry, and Blaine agreed to give it a try. He recruited Don Williamson from the Newports to play drums and be lead singer for this band. Don Laut, a college member of Fourth Church, joined as bass player, and four other students at the church joined as singers: Chris Peterson, Robin Woodhams, Lee Johnson, and Jim Kennedy.

This band performed for all of the Monday evening “Breakaway” meetings held for college students at Fourth Church throughout that summer. The group was enthusiastically received, and attendance at the meetings grew. It also performed for the church’s college retreat over Labor Day weekend, and for two or three events during the school year. Its material was limited, though (“contemporary Christian music” didn’t exist then). It reworked the lyrics to certain popular songs to make them “Christian.” “Oh How Happy You Have Made Me” became “Oh How Happy He Has Made Me,” and “My Love” became “His Love.” The band featured the occasional popular gospel song too, like “People Get Ready.” But there were no original songs yet--that would await Sons of Thunder.

Still, the students at Fourth Church loved this group, for it was a new and fresh concept. No other church in the area was featuring rock-style music with Christian lyrics at that time. Most important, this band paved the way for Sons of Thunder, which was born there the next summer.

This band never gained a name, but is remembered affectionately as the “Pre-Sons” by members of Sons of Thunder today.



Pre-Sons Photos


We only have a few photos from this period, but hope you enjoy what we have. (If you have a photo of this band, please email it to us, and we'll post it.) These are taken from a Fourth Presbyterian college event at band member Jim Kennedy's home, summer 1966. You'll find hundreds of photos of Sons of Thunder on other pages in the site, so please browse on!


(L to R) Jim Kennedy (singer), Robin Woodhams (singer), Don Laut (bass), Chris Peterson (singer), Lee
Johnson (singer), Blaine Smith (guitar), Don Williamson (drums, singer)


Sons of Thunder
P.O. Box 448
Damascus, Maryland 20872


Celebrating America's Pioneer Christian Rock Band

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