It's not often that a band can become legendary, but there is a group from Quincy, Illinois that can. The Maulers are arguably the best band in Quincy music history that gained that status without ever playing a note.

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Randy Phillips, Sam Middendorf and Jon Middendorf were kind enough to share their path to air guitar glory with me. They are The Maulers who's performances started back in 1983 and continued until their alleged retirement a few years ago.

For the record, here are the members of The Maulers:

  • Randy Phillips
    Peter Thruster
  • Sam Middendorf
    Alex VasDeferenz
    Lead Guitar
  • Kevin Hubble
    Bitch Pastey
    Rythym Guitar
  • Jon Middendorf
    Slats Magnum
  • Joe Middendorf
    Jim Smith

Another unofficial Maulers member was Rodney Hart of Second String Music.

Photo, Doc Holliday
Photo, Doc Holliday

Their quest for performance glory began when they found themselves in a Quincy College (what it was called then) talent show. They won and then they won again.

Randy Phillips - "What happened originally...there was an air band contest back at Quincy College in 1983. None of us went to Quincy College except one guy who's no longer with the band...He was taking life a half-year credit there or something. He said I'll get us in that...we can do something stupid and it'll be funny...All of us has either been involved in music or around music or whatever...and we won...and apparently won rather easily."

Over the years both Randy and Jon have worked with a lot of local bands and Sam played in a lot of bands. In between sets for real bands, The Maulers would perform and sometimes almost upstage the bands that really played their instruments with their wild pyrotechnics.

Jon Middendorf has his own unique claim to fame as he said he was notorious for being in the right place at the wrong time when the flash pods would go off on stage.

Jon Middendorf - "I have the distinction at the wrong place at the wrong time..."

Sam Middendorf - "There's a video of about a 45 foot flame pot going off right between his was an unfortunate but hilarious thing".

Jon Middendorf - "We had a silver jet strapped to the bottom of a mic stand and Randy picked it up and hit the switch and it went off and became dislodged...I'm still looking for part of my eyebrows on that one".

Most people in Quincy know that Randy Phillips is one of the most accomplished video creators in the tri-state area and his love of fireworks also helped The Maulers continue to gain fame. Some of their shows would involve weeks of preparation before stuff would start to blow a good way.

Photo courtesy of Randy Phillips
Photo courtesy of Randy Phillips

After decades of pretending to play music and shoot off massive fireworks, The Maulers decided to "retire" back in 2016. That retirement was short-lived as they would return for another farewell performance...probably 5 more times.

Photo, Doc Holliday
Photo, Doc Holliday

This was the time when Randy set fire to their stage.

Randy, Sam and Jon swear that The Maulers will not have another farewell show. We'll see about that. However, you can still follow them through their merch store (and it's amazing) and through Facebook.

You can listen to our full 16 minute conversation in the Eagle app.

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