" + $site_name + " logo

Chapel Hill's First Movie Theaters

by Charly Mann


Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.


Chapel Hill's 1960s Rock Bands & Hugh Taylor

by Charly Mann

The rock and roll band era stated in Chapel Hill in the early sixties. While the members of these groups were white, most of their repertoire were cover songs of black artists like the Tams, Wilson Pickett, and The Drifters. The roots of this sound can be heard in much of the original music performed by Chapel Hill musicians over the last four decades. James Taylor, our most well known rock star, and singer-songwriter, has had as many hit songs that were covers of this 60's music as those written by him. They include Handy Man, How Sweet It Is, and Everyday. His two most recent albums, Covers and Other Covers (which was released on April 8th, 2009), are made up almost exclusively of the music of this era.

The common denominator of all these bands is Skip Via on guitar, bass, or dulcimer. Two of these bands, the Sands of Time and Bedpost Reunion, feature lead vocals by members of the illustrious Taylor family. Livingston and Hugh in Sands of Time, and Hugh in the Bedpost Reunion. According to Via, the Bedpost Reunion did some studio recordings. They used a recording studio that was located on Estes drive near where the main Post Office is today. He believes Jack Becker, Chapel Hill High School Class of 1970, may still have tapes of these recordings.

This is The Sands of Time performing at Guy B. Phillips Junior High School in Chapel Hill in October of 1966. Hugh Taylor is the lead vocalist

Skip Via, Fender Telecaster playing through a Fender Deluxe Reverb, David Hackney, bass, Biff Bream, guitar, Hugh Taylor, vocals.

Corodon (Don) Fuller, Mel Jones, vocals

The song you can listen to here is Hugh Taylor's rendition of The Tams classic What Kind Of Fool. It was one of the songs done by him in the Sands of Time. On this rendition his back-up singers are siblings Kate, Livingston, James, and Alex Taylor, who are also from Chapel Hill. lt is from his CD, It’s Up to You, which you can order directly from him at 508-645-3511. Hugh now runs the Outermost Inn in Gay Head, on Martha’s Vineyard.

Hugh Taylor

The Sands of Time photos were provided by Skip Via


UNC's First National Champion Basketball Team

by Charly Mann


Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.


The Essence of Chapel Hill in Pictures

Chapel Hill is more than a place; it is a state of mind. This collection of photographs captures the timeless essence of what we all love about this town.


Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.


How UNC Got Its Carolina Blue and White Colors

From 1904: Note that Ardell was in Philantropic, and Archer was in Dialectic. Almost every student at that time was in one of these groups.


Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.


Decatur Jones - Destined for Musical Greatness

In 1970 Chapel Hill seemed to be at the epicenter of the music world as James Taylor's chart topping album Sweet Baby James brought national attention to our little town. While our village was certainly the incubator for many great singer-songwriter talents in those days, including Bland Simpson, Don Dixon, and Mike Cross, the one person everyone knew was destined for stardom was Decatur Jones. He reeked of charisma and talent, yet for some inexplicable reason the stars did not align themselves for Decatur, and his flame has largely faded from our collective memory. Former band mate, and long time Chapel Hill musician, Skip Via recounts for us the recording of Jones’ album that sadly was never released. If any of you have photos or additional memories of Decatur please contact us at chmemories@gmail.com.

Decatur Jones, Chapel Hill singer, Coconut Grove, Florida 1982

Decatur Jones (center with orange t-shirt) and friends Coconut Grove, Florida circa 1982. (photo is by Wayne Sloop)

by Skip Via

In the summer of 1970, Chapel Hill native Decatur Jones assembled a group of local musicians and brought them to New York to record an album. Over the course of a week or so, we recorded 12 tracks in a small studio called Blue Rock Studios in Greenwich Village. All of the tracks were recorded as live takes with Decatur playing and singing in real time along with the other musicians. All of the songs were written by Decatur and arranged by the musicians that played them.

Decatur passed away several years ago at age 44. The album we recorded was never released.

Included here are two of the tracks we recorded with notes on the musicians.

Where Will You Be

Harlan Collins (known during high school as Paul) was living and performing in NYC at the time this recording was made and stopped in to record backing vocals on this track.

Decatur Jones: vocals, acoustic guitar
Jack Becker: double bass
Harlan (Paul) Collins: backing vocals
Corodon (Don) Fuller: piano
Jay Norem: drums
Skip Via: mandolin

Ode to Uncle Sam

The album's producer (name not remembered) brought in a "hot" bass player who was new on the NYC scene. He was a tall, thin, African-American who played excellent bass. Given the time of this recording and my memories of what he looked like, I like to think it was Stanley Clark. I have no proof at all--just my rock and roll fantasy, probably.

Decatur Jones: vocals, acoustic guitar
Unknown: electric bass
Corodon (Don) Fuller: exquisite blues piano
Jay Norem: drums
Skip Via: electric guitar

(Editor's note): Via claims that Corodon (Don) Fuller was possibly the finest musician ever to come out of Chapel Hill



Bite Sized Facts Link for Useful facts, financial success, universal truths, and great health info

Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.



What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.

-- Charles Kuralt



Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".



Check out Charly Mann's other website:
Oklahoma Birds and Butterflies


We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.





There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.



The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.





The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.





William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.



The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.



Chapel Hill's main street has always been called Franklin Street. It was named after Benjamin Franklin in the early 1790s.



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.



Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.



The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.



Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.



Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.



All rights reserved on Chapel Hill Memories photography and content

Contact us