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July 25th, 2012

War takes center stage at the Ridgefield Playhouse theater

Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan, lead singer and keyboardist for War and the only remaining member of the band’s original lineup, plays during the group’s July 18, 2012 show at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, CT. For the Hudson Valley Press/ED McCARTHY
By Reneé Ruwe

RIDGEFIELD, CT - One of the Danbury area’s premiere entertainment venues, the Ridgefield Playhouse, welcomed the hit band War on July 18, 2012.

The announcer opened the show as if it was a heavy weight championship fight. The drummer then appeared before the audience, shadowboxing to an enthusiastic reaction. Finally the entire seven-member band came on, including co-founder Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan, who serves as singer and keyboardist. Their high-energy set included all of the group’s big songs, which the band referred to as the “War Hit List.” They played classics like “Slippin’ Into Darkness”, “The Cisco Kid”, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” and “Low Rider”, to name a few.

War has gone through many incarnations throughout the decades, as would any band that has been around as long as they have. The are now a more “international” band, with members from Ecuador and Mexico.

This story really began for me in 1970 when I was a three-year-old in Seattle, Washington. My father Jordon Ruwe, an accomplished jazz woodwind player and author of numerous music theory books, was good friends with the Hammon brothers, including Ron Hammon, who was the drummer of War for many years. I grew up listening to the music and my first concert was a War show. I am thrilled to have now met with Lonnie Jordan and reminisced about the beginnings of the band.
War has a rich and interesting history in rock music. The band was originally started in 1962 by Howard E. Scott and Harold Brown, who later added Charles Miller, Morris “B.B.” Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan, Lee Oskar and Papa Dee Allen to the lineup. The band, performing under the name The Creators, recorded several singles on Dore Records. After changing its name to Nightshift in 1968, the band was discovered by Producer Jerry Goldstein and Eric Burdon at a show in North Hollywood.

Burdon, the mega million-selling former lead singer of the British invasion group The Animals, joined the group, now renamed Eric Burdon and War, and they released their first album, Eric Burdon Declares “War”. The album included the band’s first hit, “Spill the Wine.”

War has sold more than 50 million records to date. The band has transcended racial and cultural barriers with their racially diverse lineup and their message of peace. They should certainly be candidates for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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