top of page


These are a few of the many people whose paths crossed Springwood Avenue in Asbury Park, New Jersey. In some way, they have all impacted the music history of Asbury Park’s west side community.

Many of the biographies on this page are based on first-hand interviews conducted by AP-AMP since 2017. Full interview transcripts and videos can be found at the Bruce Springsteen Archives at the Monmouth University Library and the AP-AMP Digital Museum. Thank you to all the individuals (and their families) who have shared their stories with us.


Interview are on-going! Please contact us if you or someone you know has stories or photos relating to the history of Springwood Avenue.


Frances Bennett

Frances Hartwell-Bennett is a life-long resident of Asbury Park, except for the years that she lived, worked and studied in New York City. She was born in the year 1949 in Neptune, New Jersey at Fitkin Hospital, presently known  as Jersey Shore University Medical Center (JSUMC). She was educated in the Asbury Park School System (Bangs Avenue Elementary, Bond Street Elementary and Asbury Park High School).


Ms. Hartwell-Bennett grew up in very close proximity to Springwood Avenue, and as a result of that, she was able to experience many of the finer things that Springwood Avenue and the west side of Asbury Park had to offer, i.e. live music, social clubs, dance halls, parades, church, and high fashion.


Gregg Bouie

Gregg Bouie (aka, Toogie) was born in Neptune, NJ and grew up in Asbury Park. After serving in the Army, he returned to Asbury Park and began singing with his band, “Toogie & the Gang” around 1973. The band played at countless venues in Asbury Park and the surrounding areas, but the Turf Club was their mainstay.


Bouie has also been a DJ for many years. Gregg MC’d AP-AMP’s Turf Jam in August 2022, a throwback to his days DJing and MCing as Bouie Brothers at the Turf Club and many other local spots.

Gregg Bouie performs at the Orchid Lounge in Asbury Park, New Jersey, c. 1980s.

JT Bowen

JT Bowen was born in 1947 in Rochester, New York. He was raised in the church and started to sing there. He met Clarence Clemons in 1960 and remained friends (and often bandmates) until Clemons’s death in 2011.


Bowen was the singer of The Chosen Few, an R&B band based in Asbury Park, with Clarence Clemmons and George and Gilbert Davis. He was later the lead singer of Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers. Bowen is still involved in music today.

jt bowen.jpeg
Photo: Conni Freestone

Bill Carter

Bill Carter was born in 1948 and raised in Neptune, New Jersey. Growing up, he lived next door to Dee Holland and later in life, the two played together. Carter learned piano as a child, and started playing the saxophone in high school and participated in the Neptune school band programs.


He was in a group called the Soul Sound when he was around 17 and became the house band at the Admiral’s Table. He continued playing past high school and played at various venues, including the Orchid Lounge, across Asbury Park. He also played around New York with Jason Bryant of The S.O.S. Band. Carter still plays saxophone today.

Photo: Conni Freestone

Donald Clark

Mr. Donald Clark was born in Fitkin Hospital in Neptune on May 17, 1937 and was raised in South Belmar, which is now Lake Como in a home his father bought at age 17.  His father, Chester, developed, owned, and operated Chet’s Grill on Springwood Ave., beginning in 1947. Chet’s was an institution. Glenn, Donald’s son recalls, “We opened the doors at six o'clock in the morning. We closed at noon. There was no minute before, minute after. You got there at 12:01? There was a lock on the door already. Period.” Both Donald and Glenn Clark worked in Chet’s.


Mr. Clark earned a physics degree from Lincoln University followed by an electrical engineering degree at Howard University in 1962.  He worked for the FAA in NYC installing landing aids at 13 airports from DC to Maine to West Virginia. He later worked at Fort Monmouth developing landing systems and aircraft systems for the Army. He then worked in Washington, DC serving as the deputy associate administrator for minority small business for the Small Business Administration and later returned to Fort Monmouth and also worked again for the FAA, back in DC in the private sector, followed by serving as the manager of air operations for the Bermuda government. Mr. Clark resided in Neptune until 2023 until moving to Georgia. He sat down with the AP-AMP team and his son Glenn Clark in 2023. 

Donald Clark (left) with his son, Glenn Clark 

David Clayton

Along with Al Covington, Ben Dinkins, Richard Witcher, and Ernest Daniels, David Clayton was an original member of the Equations, and later the Nu’Eara vocal group. Younger than the other members, Clayton would sneak out to practice with the band. Clayton enjoyed performing at the Orchid Lounge. The crowds at the Orchid Lounge were always appreciative and it was a great place to play.


Fifty years later, Clayton still performs with almost all the original members of the group.

The Equations (Left to Right: Ernest Daniels, Benjamin Dinkins, David Clayton, Al Covington, Richard Witcher). Photo credit: Madonna Carter Jackson

Valmont Corbett

Valmont Corbett was a member of the dance group, The Madisons, along with Ricardo Washington, Starlone Thomas, Ricky Miller, Ricky Wise, and Tyrone Johnson.


Raised in Asbury Park, Valmont performed with The Madisons in the 1960s at many venues and remembers the “good times” on Springwood Avenue. He was also a track star at Asbury Park High School. As a member of The Madisons, Valmont helped choreograph many dance routines to songs like Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood” and the Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud.”


Valmont also performed as a “sword boy” with the Muscaleros, a 46-member drill team from Neptune and Asbury Park, NJ.


Al Covington

Al arrived in Asbury Park in 1963 from Greensville, North Carolina and has been a part of the community ever since. He attended Asbury Park High School, where he began to meet the eventual members of what would be The Equations, and later, the Nu’Eara vocal group. During this time, much of Black popular music was transitioning from Doo-Wop to what would soon be known as Soul or R& B music. Although competent in singing acapella, the group soon began to appear with a band. The core members competed in talent shows, sang at various engagements in the area, and received a record deal. Some 50 years later, minus one original member, the group is still going strong.

The Equations (Left to Right: Ernest Daniels, Benjamin Dinkins, David Clayton, Al Covington, Richard Witcher). Photo credit: Madonna Carter Jackson

Ben Dinkins

Ben Dinkins was born in 1949 and grew up not far from Springwood Avenue. He began singing in churches and then moved towards secular music. When he was in high school, he joined a band with Al Covington, Richard Witcher among others. Their group, The Equations (which would later become the Nu’Eara vocal group) played around the Asbury Park area. One memorable performance location for the group was The Orchid Lounge. Their group later received a record deal.  The original group, minus one member still performs today, around 50 years later.

TurfClub (BenDinkins, in white), c. 1970s (photo courtesy Greg Bouie).jpg
Ben Dinkins (in white) at the Turf Club, c. 1970s. Photo credit: Gregg Bouie

Al Griffin

Al Griffin was born in 1929 in the apartment above his family business in Asbury Park, New Jersey. At age fourteen, he started playing the drums and began performing with local musicians such as Dee Holland and Cliff Johnson on Springwood Avenue. He has performed all over the world with performers such as Dinah Washington, Milt Buckner, and Eddie Chamblee at venues such as the Apollo Theater (NYC) and the Fontainebleau (Miami, FL).

Left to right: Danny Turner, Milt Buckner, Al Griffin. (From the Otto Flückiger Collection, c. 1950s)
(Photo courtesy Al Griffin)

Kyle Hicks

Kyle B. Hicks is a highly skilled and versatile drummer known for exceptional technique and musicality. Born and raised in Asbury Park, NJ, Kyle B. Hicks discovered his passion for music at an early age and began playing drums at the age of 5. He quickly developed a natural talent for rhythm and groove.

Throughout his career, Kyle B. Hicks has performed with some of the most renowned musicians and bands in live settings. His ability to adapt to various genres, including rock, jazz, funk, and pop, has made him a sought-after drummer by artists from different musical backgrounds.

Kyle B. Hicks draws inspiration from a wide range of musicians, including legendary drummers like Buddy Rich, Tony Williams, and Stewart Copeland, as well as modern drumming icons such as JoJo Mayer and Chris Dave. This fusion of influences has helped shape his distinctive sound and approach to drumming.

Outside of playing live and recording, Kyle B. Hicks is also experienced in carpentry and home repairs as well as enjoying family.  He believes in the power of music to bring people together and is dedicated to passing on his knowledge and passion to the next generation of musicians.

Kyle Hicks (Rock Church, Virginia Beach, VA. 2012).jpg
Photo: Kyle Hicks at Rock Church, Virginia Beach, VA (2012)

Dolores "Dee" Holland

Dee Holland was born in 1923 in Neptune, New Jersey. She began playing piano at the age of three. She started performing in Asbury Park with local musicians as a teenager, and enjoyed a 41-year career with the federal government. Dee continued to perform locally on Springwood Avenue, in churches, and throughout the Jersey Shore.


Al Holmes

Photo: Conni Freestone

Songwriter, guitarist, and singer Al Holmes was born August 26, 1954 in New York City. Al was raised in Harlem and began singing and playing piano at a very young age. In the summer, he would often visit his family in Asbury Park and his aunt gave him his first guitar as a teenager. In 1969, the year he entered high school, Al moved to Asbury Park. He began playing in venues on Springwood Avenue and around New Jersey, and was a member or leader of many bands over the years. He often played with local drummer, Poncho Donato, as well as his mentor, blues guitarist Willie Mitchell. Al performs regularly in the Asbury Park area today, and has shared his music and stories at several AP-AMP events. Al was interviewed by AP-AMP in 2019 and has been a friend and advisor for AP-AMP ever since. Al performed as part of the house band for the Turf Club in the mid-1980s and AP-AMP was so happy to have him come back to perform at the Turf Club as part of the Tuesdays at the Turf Series.

The Jaywalkers (band)

Photo: Asbury Park Press

The Jaywalkers (Billy Lucia, Billy Ryan, Mickey Holliday, and John Shaw) were the house band at Mrs. Jay's in Asbury Park in the late 1960s. They regularly played on Springwood Avenue (including at Big Bill's) and the surrounding area.


John Shaw III shared this memory with AP-AMP:

"I once met an older guy, Asbury [Park] club owner named Big Bill… he told me how back in the early 60s, a local group called the Jaywalkers had it going on around the shore. He said there was huge demand, and he knew he never could afford to compete with clubs like Mrs Jays, where the Jaywalkers were the house band, but he learned they were off [on] Mondays… and a deal was struck. Big Bill said it was risky for both sides at the time, and the Jaywalkers were the first white guys to play an African American club. Big Bill said it was standing room only every time, and those shows inspired many groups to be formed in the next few years. I was told by Mr. Big Bill, that those Monday nights were ground zero for Jersey Shore Rock and Roll."


Cliff Johnson

Cliff Johnson (saxophone), Clarence Pickney (drums), and Dee Holland (piano). 1965.

Clifford “Cliff” Johnson was born in 1925 in Asbury Park. His mother was a music teacher and started him on piano at a young age, but he switched to saxophone when he was around 13. He began playing jazz and swing as soon as he could, and started gigging in Asbury Park around 14. Memorably, he played at Cuba’s club on Springwood Avenue. He performed with Tommy McCloud and the Squires of Rhythm. He also performed with other local musicians such as Al Griffin and Dee Holland. Johnson spoke fondly of the camaraderie he and his bandmates shared.


Vel Johnson

Vel has played for various jazz functions and has opened for Hugh Masekela, BB King, Spyro Gyra and others. His musical influence include Miles Davis, Grover Washington, Lester Young, John Coltrane, and Charlie Parker. His interest in music started at an early age and his first instrument was the trombone and the keyboards. The turning point for him was in 1986 a very good friend and musical artist inspired him to   play the saxophone. Currently he plays the Alto, Tenor and Soprano Saxophone. Vel is a native and resident of New Jersey and is  well known  on the Jersey Shore music scene. He will soon be releasing a CD entitled “Sunset Groove.”

“When I was a kid, we lived in the Boston Way Village, a few blocks away from the Turf Club. I used to stand on the corner and wait for the door to swing open to see the band on the stage. When I came home from the military, I started playing the Turf with some of the local bands in the area. The Turf is a very special place and will always be home to me.”  – Vel


Chris Lowell

Chris Lowell was born in Detroit and built her career as a jazz vocalist in New Jersey. Chris sang with countless musicians in Asbury Park and along the Jersey shore.

“ … Some of the Springwood Avenue crowd would come up and… dig us, you know, and play with us… At the end of the gig, they would escort … us down to Springwood Avenue and we would play…

“ … That’s what jazz is all about. You just have to feel it. And do it. And if it works, it works.”


Duval Moore

Duval Moore was born in 1947 in Asbury Park. He grew up listening to jazz at home and heard bands at a bar in Newark, NJ where he worked as a cleaner. In high school, Moore was a track star and still holds the record at Asbury Park High School.


His father, Odyssey Moore, opened the Orchid Lounge where musicians such as Dee Holland, the Escorts, Doctor Donnie Smith, and George Benson played. Duval worked at the Orchid Lounge for many years. Moore’s favorite Orchid Lounge memory occurred when he was in the military between 1967-69. He remembers inviting the sergeants to the lounge and “having a ball down there.”

Duval Moore wins the 440-yard run in 51 seconds against St. Rose.
(Photo credit: Asbury Park Press)

Desi Norman

Desi Norman was born in 1952 raised on Ridge Avenue in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He played in the Asbury Park High School band, where he studied with Dorian Parreott. After learning piano as a child, the vibraphone became his primary instrument in high school. Desi met Grant Green at the Orchid Lounge on Springwood Avenue, and at age 18, joined him on tour, playing in venues all around the world. Desi later performed around the Jersey Shore area at venues such as the Stone Pony (opening for Jimmy Cliff), and alongside countless musicians, including Jah Love, Gladstone Trott, Chris Lowell, and in a trio with Dee Holland and Bill Carter. 

Though he played at all the venues on Springwood Avenue, his favorite was the Orchid Lounge (it was a “pretty club”).  He is still an active performer today. “Springwood was on par with any jazz neighborhood anywhere in the country… people all over knew about Springwood.” His advice to musicians: “keep listening.”

Photo: Conni Freestone
david parreott

Rev. David J. Parreott, Jr.

Reverend David J. Parreott Jr. was born in 1934 in Asbury Park. He is the older brother of Dorian Parreott. In high school, he was active in many sports teams. At the same time, he played the drums (bongos and timbales) in a band called “Cubops” that his brother, Dorian started (see photo). The band performed in talent shows, auditioned on the Ted Mack show, and the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY.

He was drafted in the U.S. Army and fought in the Korean War. After the war, he finished college at North Carolina Central University, then joined the Asbury Park Police Department in 1959, and his first 18-month assignment was patrolling Springwood Avenue. After an illustrious career, he retired in 1985, and later served on the Asbury Park City Council and Asbury Park Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Rev. Parreott is an avid photographer and carries his camera with him wherever he goes. He also keeps a thorough archive of his family’s history in Asbury Park.

The Cubops
(Dorian Parreott, saxophone and David Parreott, drum and maraca)
(Photo courtesy of D. Parreott)
dorian parreott

Dorian Parreott

Dorian Parreott was born in 1935 in Asbury Park. He grew up in Asbury Park and began singing in the children’s choir. He started the Cubops and played in talent shows, the Apollo Theater, and auditioned on the Ted Mack Show. While playing with the Cubops, he started to move towards the saxophone as his main instrument. He then went to North Carolina Central and majored in music. While in North Carolina, Parreott played in a mixed band around North Carolina.


After returning to New Jersey, Parreott worked in instrument repair. He then taught music at Asbury Park High School before becoming a professor at Kean University for four years. He also served as president of the New Jersey Music Teacher’s Association. Parreott is still involved in music and plays in churches and events. He also still repairs instruments around New Jersey.

Dorian Parreott, teaching music at Asbury Park High School.
(Photo courtesy of D. Parreott)

David Peace

David Peace was born in 1947 in Neptune, New Jersey. He began making music in Asbury Park as a boy, and continued to perform locally as a teenager and adult. He was a member of the group, "Charles and Dave," who performed at the Turf Club in the 1960s and 70s.

"Charles and Dave" performing at the Turf Club in the late 1960s 
Photo: Bob Lee

Bill Sanders


Big Bill  was born in 1926 in deeply segregated Walterboro, South Carolina. After serving in the military, he moved to Asbury Park with his family in 1946.


In 1961, he opened Big Bill’s Bar. Converted from a Hampton Inn, it was an elegant nightclub featuring great jazz and popular foods like corn bread, yams, and pound cake. His lounge attracted clientele from Philadelphia and New York not just for the great soul food but also because it acted as a hub for musical artists in the area. It closed in 1973 due to a fire, but Bill Sanders’ effect on Asbury Park, its community, and the music scene lasted many years past the nightclub’s closing. Sadly, Big Bill passed away on September 10, 2021 at the age of 95 in San Francisco.


To learn more about Big Bill’s Lounge, check out this link:


— written by Ahan Iyer

Photo: Asbury Park Press

Karen Lee Schwarz

Karen Lee was born in Newark, NJ and spent most of her childhood in South Orange, NJ. She attended Montclair State University as a music education major. She moved to Asbury Park in 2003. She is now a high school music teacher. After Dorian Parreott left in 1990, the band program lost strength. She worked hard to revitalize the Asbury Park High School band program. She played with Dee Holland at small restaurants and churches; their final performance together was at Restaurant Plan B on New Years Eve. Karen is currently teaching elementary school music in Asbury Park and performing on multiple instruments in the Jersey Shore area.

Photo: Conni Freestone
charles trott

Charles Trott

Charles Trott was born in 1951 in Brooklyn, NY. He moved to Asbury Park in 1953 with his parents. His brother, Gladstone Trott, was an active pianist in Asbury Park and the surrounding area. Charles grew up surrounded by music, playing clarinet and singing in the choir. He was also in a swing band in high school. He turned from music to art and attended Pratt Institute. Mr. Trott is a visual artist and arts educator. He joined the Asbury Park African-American Music Project (AP-AMP) and designed the logo for the organization. The illustration used in the AP-AMP logo depicts a jazz quintet with a saxophone, pianist, bassist, drummer, and singer. The colors used in the logo are the colors of the Asbury Park schools. He hopes to see visual and other performing arts incorporated with the music returning to Springwood Avenue. Mr. Trott is the founder of Diasporic Images of African (D.I.A.), a project that uses visual arts to show Africa’s connection to countries and cultures around the world.

Photo: Conni Freestone
gladstone trott

Gladstone Trott

Born in Long Branch and raised in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Gladstone “Gladdy” Trott began playing piano at an early age. He graduated from Asbury Park High School, where his band director Dorian Parreott described him as “a musician’s musician and a true professional” (Asbury Park Press).

Trott was a teacher, singer, multi-instrumentalist, instrument repairman, composer, arranger, bandleader, and much more. Trott was the organist and choir director at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church and performed with various jazz groups on the Jersey Shore for decades. He formed his own group, The Simple Life, in 1976. Over the years, he played with countless musicians, including Sandy Sasso, Tommy LaBella, Cliff Johnson, Dorian Parreott, Dee Holland, and Palmer Jenkins.

In addition to performing in New Jersey, he also played internationally twice: once as a pre-teen in Hamilton, Bermuda’s City Hall, where he played “My Momma Done Told Me” as an encore to a recital of Spirituals and Gospel music. This would be his first public musical expression of Jazz and Blues. Later in his life, he would find himself playing briefly on tour in Brazil. He also played in Asbury Park’s Convention Hall for his high school graduation.


Ricardo Washington

Ricardo Washington was a member of The Madisons dance group, along with Starlone Thomas, Ricky Wise, Tyrone Johnson, and Valmont Corbett.

Mr. Washington passed away in April 2024.

Image: The Madisons in the 1960s, in front of the Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ. Top left, Valmont Corbett, top right Ricky Washington bottom left Ricky Wise, in the middle Starlone Thomas, bottom right Tyrone Johnson.


Robert Watt

Mr. Robert Watt was raised in Asbury Park and remembers Springwood Avenue well. He was drawn to the French Horn at an early age, and through his own initiative, learned to play it. He played the French Horn in the Asbury Park High School band. While in high school, he had the opportunity to play with a professional concert band at the Arthur Pryor Band Shell on the boardwalk. After graduation, he attended the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music.

In 1970, he was hired by the Los Angeles Philharmonic — becoming the first African-American French Hornist to be hired by a major symphony orchestra in the USA. He played with the LA Phil for 37 years, retiring in 2008.

Some of the many people he has performed with include: Yo-Yo Ma, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Wynton Marsalias, Henry Mancini, Gladys Night, Isaac Hayes, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Barry White, Rihanna, Paula Abdul, Herbie Hancock, Lalo Schifrin, The Carpenters, Benny Carter, Quincy Jones, Bon Jovi, Elton John and film composer, John Williams.

In 2014, Mr. Watt published his autobiography, “The Black Horn.”


Richard Witcher

Richard Witcher was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey and moved to Asbury Park as a child. He joined Al Covington in forming a band and later invited Ben Dinkins to join them. Along with Ernest Daniels and David Clayton, they formed The Equations. The group played in Asbury Park and notably Springwood Avenue. The group played at significant venues such as the Orchid Lounge, Turf Club, and Big Bills. They started to branch out of Asbury Park and played in New York and North New Jersey. Witcher and almost all of the original members are still performing many years later.

The Equations
L to R: David Clayton, Al Covington, Benjamin Dinkins, Ernest Daniels, Richard Witcher.
(Photo credit: Joseph A. Carter Sr., 1917-1980)

Fred "Willie" Wynn

Fred “Willie” Wynn, a man of many talents but only one love. Fred was born the son of a sharecropper in Benevolence, Georgia and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. Born with an entrepreneurial spirit and an autodidactic ability he eventually found his way to Asbury Park. Coming here first as a cook, he quickly availed himself with the local music community, where he met and worked with the likes of Dee HollandDorian Parreott, and many others. As Fred would say, learning music expands the capillaries in your brain and will make you smarter than you think you are.   

bottom of page