Don got an early start performing music.  Don got an early start performing music. Probably his first “public appearance” (much to his Mother’s horror) was, at four years old, singing cowboy songs on his Chicago street corner with a cup for coins.  Don was trying to raise money to support his widowed Mommy.   Some of these vocals were preserved on disc in 1948  by Don’s Mom when they entered  ‘record your voice’ booth at a local novelty shop. Piano recitals and playing clarinet, trombone and baritone horn in grammar and high school band concerts and music festivals and competitons followed.

His first performance before a real audience was.  with friend Gene Gronemeyer, in December, 1957, at St. Andrew School’s annual Christmas event held in the gymnasium.  The duo performed together the Everley Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love” and Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.” The nuns were not amused!  Don’s first rock band in Chicago was the Rumbleites, formed with drummer friend Paula Klug. In one of Don’s Chicago early 1960s rock bands, the Fantasys (which became the Bel-Aires, then the Servels), Carl Bonafede — later Chicago’s “Screaming Wild Man” — joined in on vocals.  Don also filled in as a lead giuitar player once with the Collegiates and another time with the Bacchus Five.  While attending DePaul University, Don and three Alpha Chi fraternity brothers briefly formed the AX Beatles to perform at the school’s annual music festival. When Don moved to California in 1964, he formed with fellow USC students called the Hustlers, which, with fellow Hustler Kim Mckellar, gradually evolved into the Wicks.