Roadmaster can trace its musical family tree back to 1967 when Asher “Adam Smasher” Benrubi met Michael Read while attending Shortridge High School. With the addition of Rob Swaynie, they formed the widely popular college band Pure Funk. By 1971, the lineup included Rick Benick (guitar), Toby Myers (bass) and Stephen Riley (drums).
After Pure Funk evolved to Roadmaster, Todd Rungren, front man for Utopia, invited the band to New York to record a demo. That led to a contract with Indianapolis label Village Records and the release in 1976 of the self-titled album. When Benrubi left the band, Steve McNally took over lead vocal duties. The band added cover tunes by J. Geils Band and Utopia to the R&B music they were currently playing.
Riley left the band in 1977 and Bobby Johns took over on drums. By the time the second album was recorded, Village Records had become a subsidiary of Mercury. The summer of 1979, Roadmaster toured as the opening band for Pat Travers and Blue Oyster Cult. It was often included on the bills of huge outdoor shows on its off days. One of Myers’ favorite memories is from a Columbus, Ohio, show. Touring in a Winnebago, that day the band went from being stuck in traffic (with “Drivin Ivan” Solomon behind the wheel) to opening for the Cars, Cheap Trick, Eddie Money and Todd Rungren in front of 75,000 people. “It was blazing hot, and our set was roaring and the crowd loved it,” Myers says.
The band dissolved in the early ’80s and in 1989 played a local mini-reunion tour. McNally passed away in 1998. “We all miss Mac,” Myers says. “His voice was truly one of a kind.” Benrubi is now a St. Louis, Mo., morning radio personality and fronts the band Smash. Johns lives in Florida and works with children. Read continues to play music, currently with Zanna-Doo and Ribs and Bone, also writing scores for video projects. Benick played with Grand Ole Opry star Hal Ketchum.
While Benick lives in Nashville, Tenn., rumor has it he’s moving back to Indiana. Myers played for John Mellencamp until 1999. He now plays with his band NoNet. At Nashville West, his studio, Myers records other bands and works on his own music.