Davis musician Gary Lee Yoder, RIP: In Oxford Circle, Kak and Blue Cheer, he was part of the 1960s San Francisco Sound

Updated Aug. 13 with link to Live Tracks that featured short talks with musicians who played with Gary, plus information about Davis Music Connections program on Aug. 17

We’re sorry to report this news: Gary Lee Yoder, whose Davis band Oxford Circle became part of the San Francisco Sound in the 1960s, died on Saturday, Aug. 7. He was born in 1946.

Gary lived in Davis most of his life, and continued to perform in town after returning to Davis following his time in the Bay Area.

He was also a member of the Davis High School Hall of Fame as a player on the school’s undefeated varsity boys basketball team of 1961-62.

After Oxford Circle broke up, he and band co-leader Dehner Patten formed Kak. The group played fewer than a dozen concerts but recorded a self-titled LP for Epic in 1969, renamed Kak-Ola when released in expanded form on CD. Many listeners consider it to be an obscure gem from the psychedelic era. A live recording of Oxford Circle was released on CD.

After Kak, Gary recorded solo material, and became a later member of Blue Cheer.

At least three KDRT program hosts plan to play some of Gary’s music:

  • On Tuesday (Aug. 10) and Wednesday (Aug. 11), Bill Wagman will include recordings by Oxford Circle, Kak and Blue Cheer, and local performances, on Evening Becomes Eclectic (Tuesday at 6 p.m.) and The Folk Brothers (Wednesday at 10 a.m.)
  • On Thursday (Aug. 12) at 7 p.m., Live Tracks, the local live music show hosted by Jim Buchanan, will play music from Gary’s career, including songs Jim recorded of Gary playing in Davis. Call-ins are expected from Joe Louis Walker, a renowned blues musician who played with Gary; Jim Keylor and Dehner Patten from Oxford Circle (Dehner was also in Kak); Chris Lockheed, from Kak; Alec Palao, who produced CDs of Gary's music; Dean Sylvester, Davis musician; and Richard Urbino and René Martucci of Cold Shot and According to Bazooka, longtime Davis musicians. Aug. 13 update: Here's the program, now available online.
  • On Tuesday (Aug. 17 at 3 p.m.), Davis Music Connections will discuss Gary's music and life, and play songs from Kak and Oxford Circle.

You can also listen to Gary talk about:

  • Sports and the Davis High School team on Sports Focus Recap with Preacher in a program from May 2019.
  • His music and experiences on Davisville with host Bill Buchanan in programs from 2014 and 2016.

Additional stories:

We’ll continue to post more information as we have it.


Dehner and I had played together in Cherry Jam and that was our connection and why he contacted me for KAK. Gary was always supportive and used my keyboard and vocal skills on the KAK album, where I got to play harpsichord and organ. He introduced me to a whole other level of the music biz and song construction.

We lived in a mansion in SF on Broadway and Buchanan, which was fully furnished with Asian art and plush furnishings in the 8 bedroom house. It was like I was living the R&R dream.

We lived above the merry-go-round on Santa Monica pier while recording the album, which was interesting. We would get back there at 4 a.m. from recording, and the merry-go-round would start up 9 a.m.-ish.

After we broke up I went on to record and play with Randy Holden from Blue Cheer in our two-piece loudest band in the world playing double set of drums and keyboard/pedal bass through our 16 Sunn cabinets....

Gary was always very supportive and he left us too early.....adios

Chris Lockheed

Hey Chris,

I remmeber visiting you there and I believe that was the last time we were together. I missed Bruce's memorial at Ft. Baker so missed you there.

Good to read some of your history.

Karen and I in our 55th year and doing well.

Take care and be well,


oh ya..my email if you are ever so inclined


Oh man...we go way back. We knew each other in high school but seldom hung out together. He was into sports (basketball) in his junior/senior year. They went undefeated in '61 I believe ... 22 and 0!

He and Jim Keylor (bass) had a band (The Hide-A-Ways) going around '63-'64 and needed a guitar player to replace Bob Daigle, who passed away suddenly. I could barely play at that point but I guess I passed the audition. We finally acquired Paul Whaley (drums), changed our name to The Oxford Circle, got a manager in Sacramento (Gary Shiro) and off we went!! What a ride.

We played everywhere and finally got into the San Francisco scene around 1966. That changed our lives for sure! Our first gig at the Fillmore was opening for Them ... wow!! We would play there several more times, and The Avalon quite a few also.

Paul eventually left the band to join Blue Cheer just starting out. Originally they were a five-piece blues band. Gary kicked around doing a few solo records while Jim and I played with other people locally and out of town.

Gary and I got together with Chris Lockheed (drums), Joe Dave Damrell (bass) and formed KAK with Gary Grelecki (song writer/producer). We recorded one album for Epic Records and played only a handful of gigs. When the band broke up, Gary joined Blue Cheer as guitar and songwriter. (My timeline might be a little off).

Jim and I joined two road bands, Roxxon and Rocky Road out of Sacramento. Then we all went separate ways after that and really only saw Gary every once in a while. He stayed in Davis, Jim moved to the Bay Area, and I headed to the Northwest. We would get together every now and then.

It was always great to see Gary. We always stayed in touch! We will all miss him and his great voice!!!

RIP 'Gara' Lee.  Love ya man!

Dehner Patten

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