His Band Once Opened for Bob Seger
By Ansley Franco
Sitting at his desk, Randy Yarbrough, MD glances over to an old Polaroid taken for a publicity shot in 1969 as he talks about his band.
Yarbrough always had a knack for picking out the drum parts in the 50s and 60s songs his older sister would play. Despite being the youngest player at 12 years old, Yarbrough helped form a band comprised of his four 16-year-old neighbors in Graysville, Alabama. The group decided to name their band Chapter Five after the five original members.
Despite the lead singer leaving the band, Chapter Five continued to practice anywhere from Yarbrough’s sister’s basement to the bass player’s back porch. To go along with their shoulder-length hair, the band played all the big tunes of the day from Led Zeppelin to Credence Clearwater Revival. This practice led to their success at a Battle of the Bands competition, where the first-place prize was a booking contract with Southeastern Attractions.
From this contract, Chapter Five got to play at proms, as well as Auburn University and the University of Alabama fraternity parties. Each member would take turns driving to their gigs, but because Yarbrough wasn’t old enough, his mom drove when his turn rolled around
“When it was my week, my mother would drive us. So we would unpack our trailer and play, but my mother would visit with the fraternity house mother upstairs. It was hilarious,” Yarbrough said.
In the Summer of 1969, Chapter Five opened for The Bob Seger System. With a lot of confidence in themselves, they decided to play one of Seger’s songs, Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man. Yarbrough said the booking agent told them, “I came to see two good bands tonight and I only saw one, and it was you.”
“The Bob Seger System performance was okay, but they were not 100 percent that night,” Yarbrough said. “We were just a little band that went to church together and none of us smoked or drank, but the Seger band was pretty stoned. You could tell the only serious one who wanted to make something of themself was Bob Seger.”
Two years later in 1971, the bass player in Chapter Five was drafted into the Vietnam War, and the band broke up.
“We sort of expected it,” Yarbrough said. “We were sad that the band broke up, but since the rest of the band members were four years older than me, who knows how long it would have lasted with them being through with high school and getting out into the world. Of course, we were little bit nervous for our bass player. Fortunately, he didn’t have to get into any kind of action.”
When the band split up, Yarbrough had three more years left of high school and he spent that time getting good grades and becoming the class valedictorian. He later attended the University of Alabama for his undergraduate degree and the University of Alabama at Birmingham for medical school.
“I originally wanted to be in internal medicine, but when I started doing clinical rotations, I discovered that it wasn’t like House or The Good Doctor where you’re diagnosing someone with a rare disease every day,” he said.
After trying his hand at cardiac surgery, radiology and other fields, Yarbrough decided on a career in Obstetrics and Gynecology. “Because UAB Medical School had a good rotation in OB-GYN, I got to do a little bit of surgery, and it’s not super-long like cardiac surgery. Plus, the patients are usually pretty healthy and you get to do some endocrinology,” Yarbrough said. “It’s turned out to be great because you still get to help people and make their lives better.”
After choosing a specialty, Yarbrough’s mom, a former nurse, said she would rather have her son play the drums because the hours were better than an OB/GYN doctor. Luckily, he can now do both because after five decades, Chapter Five is back together with three of the original bandmates. The group plays a couple of times a month locally.
“It’s a big part of my time-off life,” Yarbrough said. “It keeps you youthful. The band still plays music from the 60s and 70s, but we’re not a tribute band. We’re a transport band.”
Reminiscing on his life choices that led him to a wife and two children, Yarbrough is proud of himself for taking the “easy way out”, and attending medical school. “I ended up choosing the more rewarding route and had the best of both worlds,” he said.