....................LINK TO MUSIC ..........

When I was a student at Emporia State University, Chuck Cowan , Max Gile, and I formed a trio.

Collectively we were The Chessmen and performed throughout the Midwest, ultimately creating and producing an LP album called "Chickens Out." After about a year, we returned to our alma mater for a sold out "farewell" performance before we went our separate ways, thus leaving our flyspeck on the history of music.

The back of the album reads as follows:

The Chessmen

     With surprising regularity, new singing groups are constantly appearing on the entertainment scene, trying to "make the big time." Most of them are good, but it takes an added "something" to make one particular group stand out from the rest. The three young men who recorded this album have that "special something." This quality is hard to define, but probably the word best describing it would be personality.
     The Chessmen have a spark, a charm, a talent that attracts audiences wherever they go. In addi­tion to singing, each of the three has a special contribution to make to the group. Chuck Cowan, the leader of the trio, is quite versatile, playing the guitar, bass, and banjo. Max Gile, who is the oldest, plays the bass guitar and acts as a balancing force between the other two. LaRue Watts, doubling on guitar and percussion, is the comedian of the group.
     The style of The Chessmen is entirely their own. They use the unique idea of backing folk music electronically, which consequently gives it a modern, refreshing lift. The resulting sound lends itself to listening enjoyment.
     The Chessmen met and began their career while students at The Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia, Kansas. Since then, their music and humor have delighted numerous college and night club audiences over the country. Their plans for the future are big — and well they should be — for The Chessmen have what it takes to go a long way.


That was over 50 years ago and the LP album exists only in the libraries of friends and family, who probably lack the record players to hear it at all. As a side note, the album came up on Ebay last year and didn't sell! That's show biz.

For my 60th birthday my cousin, Jerome Niebaum, digitized Chickens Out and presented it to me in the form of a music CD. The digitized tracks are offered here for anyone who wishes to listen. Pause or complete each before moving to the next.

Side 1
1. Mangwani Mpulele

2. The Drunken Sailor

3. Good News

4. Yellow Bird

5.   The Fox

6. Joshua

7. Saro Jane

8. Coplas

Side 2
1. La Bamba

2. Raspberries, Strawberries

3. Lonesome Traveler

4. Hold Im Joe

5. Sinner Man

6. Mbube

7.   Chickens

That's all folks!


  1. Hi LaRue, I'm Lorenzo.

    I'm from Vicenza, Italy, and i would like to ask your help regarding this album...
    I have a copy of "chickens out" but I cannot find any info about the exact year of release...
    If you wonder HOW your album arrived on the other side of the ocean, well, in my town the U.S. Army has troops stationed so i guess that somebody brought his collection with him and sold it here before going back to the States. I would be really greateful if you can tell me what year it was when the LP was published...
    Thanks in advance !

    1. Dear Lorenzo, As I recall the album was released in 1961 when we were playing nightclubs in the Midwest and doing the occasional college concert. Thank you for sharing one of it's jouneys with me. Sincerely, LaRue