Music News & Reviews

The cast of The Connell’s‘ ’74-’75’ (in order of appearance)

THOMAS RAY

In the original video, “T-Ray” had his right arm in a sling because of carpal tunnel syndrome. He was working in the early 1990s as a computer artist before eventually becoming disabled due to what he called “depression, anxiety and too much of the world.”

“I’m on disability retirement now, and I spend my day trying to figure out what to do,” he said with a laugh. “A little writing, some photography and not a lot else.”

He has been married twice and has two children, ages 18 and 15.

LANGSTON CRAVEN

Craven appeared in “ ’74-’75” wearing overalls and a tool belt, and he’s been in the electrical end of the construction industry ever since. He has worked for a series of electrical supply companies over the past 30 years in the Triangle as well as Southern Pines, living in Aberdeen since 2001. He and his wife of 30 years have no kids, but four dogs.

BEVERLY FREEMAN

The video was made not long before Freeman got married, so it’s not surprising that she was showing off her engagement ring on camera. Nov. 20 will mark her 22nd anniversary. She and her husband have one son, a 19-year-old sophomore at Appalachian State University, and she works doing affirmative-action plan development for firms that do business with the federal government.

STEPHEN GURGANUS

At the time of “ ’74-’75,” Gurganus owned a garden center. It closed in 2000 and he went into planning and public administration, spending a decade with the N.C. Department of Transportation followed by a year at N.C. State. This past May, he went to work as land planner at the Raleigh law firm Womble Carlyle.

After an earlier divorce, Gurganus remarried in 2001. He now has two children, 11 and 7.

“It’s a challenge,” he said of parenting young children in his late 50s. “But it’s kept me feeling young, energetic and connected with the community.”

ANITA HIGH

High is the lone non-Broughton alumnus in “ ’74-’75” (she graduated from Sanderson), and at this point nobody can quite recall the specifics of how she came to be in the video. Regardless, she was working for the Wake County health department and raising a young son and daughter back in 1993.

The kids are grown (and she has two grandsons via her son), but High has been retired on disability since a heart attack and series of strokes in 2010. She also got married on Aug. 26.

ANDREW BATES JR.

Bates was working in electrical maintenance when he appeared in “ ’74-’75,” memorably doffing a “His Name Is Jesus” ball cap to reveal that his teenage Afro had faded away to reveal a mostly bald head. The three children from his first marriage are all well into adulthood, but he has another daughter he’s raising from his second marriage while taking care of his elderly mother. He also works as a forklift driver. (Bates did not respond to requests to have a new photograph taken for this article.)

HARVEY HEARTLEY JR.

Heartley appeared in the original video toting a briefcase and looking every inch a bank vice president – rather somber.

“I think that’s what they wanted in the video, as a banker,” he said. “Someone who was not ‘grinny,’ but serious.”

Heartley still works in banking. His daughter Haley is in graduate school in economics and finance at UNC-Charlotte and scheduled to finish up next year.

“I’m hoping she’ll be the next wave of financial Heartleys,” he said.

DAVID HOGGARD

Hoggard actually graduated from Broughton in 1974, but no one made a more dramatic “ ’74-’75” appearance than he did. He was shown in a wheelchair, the result of aplastic anemia – possibly contracted from exposure to radiation or toxins while he’d been flying jets in the U.S. Navy.

Despite his disability, Hoggard remained remarkably upbeat, even after he was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2011. A bone-marrow transplant from his sister could not save him, and he passed away in 2013, survived by his wife, Susan. She and their daughter, Alison, then 4 years old, both also appeared in the video.

“He loved being in the video and the attention it got,” said Susan, who works at SAS (and graduated from Sanderson in 1975). Alison is now 26 and teaches first grade in Charlotte.

BRYAN STATON

At the time of “ ’74-’75,” Staton was driving a truck for a food company in Cary. He continued working in the food industry trucking business until 2009, when he nearly lost his lower left leg to infectious cellulitis. While doctors saved the leg, he’s been retired on disability ever since.

“I don’t have a lot of feeling left down there,” he said. “But it’s still attached and I can still use it some.”

Staton has been married 18 years as of this past June 7.

JACKIE McLAURIN

In 1993, McLaurin was a preschool teacher assistant raising two young boys, who are now 29 and 27 years old. She has worked for schools including St. Mary’s and Ravenscroft. Currently, she’s office manager at an Episcopal church.

As to the video, in which she appears about to yell at someone off-camera, memories are hazy. Reminded of that, she laughed.

“I think somebody called out to me and I turned my head,” she said. “But I don’t remember anything beyond that, what was said.”

BUDDY BOWMAN

Bowman appeared in “ ’74-’75” with his twin sons, Tim and Joe, now 26. Bowman remarried in 2000. He and his second wife have a 14-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter.

As for his career, Bowman works for the Swiss company Syngenta in Research Triangle Park. And he still has vivid memories of the time when “ ’74-’75” was in power rotation all over Europe.

“That video was out about six months before any of us got to see it because it was just running late nights on MTV over here,” he said. “Before that, a buddy of mine came back from Vienna and told me, ‘Man, I am so sick of your face. That video you’re in is running every 30 minutes over there.’ ”

MARK VALLETTA

Had all gone according to plan, Valletta’s wife Jan would have been in the “ ’74-’75” video alongside him. But she didn’t make it because she was pregnant with their daughter.

“Her lifespan kind of coincides with the video,” he said of his daughter.

The Vallettas have been married 35 years and also have a 27-year-old son (a third child, born in 1985 with spina bifida, passed away before age 3). During the big recession, the glass/cabinetry company that Valletta had worked with for many years went out of business – while his mother was grappling with Alzheimer’s. That helped lead to his current job with a nonprofit called Resources For Seniors.

Meanwhile, Valletta is also helping plan the Broughton class of 1975’s 40-year reunion, which was recently postponed to April 1, 2016.

CATHY HARTOFELIS

At the time of “ ’74-’75,” Hartofelis had actually left Raleigh to work in real estate in Connecticut. She and her husband moved back to Raleigh in 2001, around the time their daughters (now 32 and 29) were clearing out after high school.

“But we didn’t stay empty nesters for too long, because my parents moved in about 10 years ago,” she said.

Still married after 34 years, Hartofelis now works for a health analytics company in Raleigh.

FRANK KING

A radio deejay and standup comic by trade, King endured a long, difficult stretch including a heart attack, multiple heart surgeries, a 2010 bankruptcy and serious consideration of suicide (crippling depression and heart problems run in his family). But he bounced back, thanks to the cruise-ship business – and a willingness to crack jokes about his own near-suicide. He even did a Ted Talk about it.

“Been there, almost done that,” King said. “I’ve gone from being a funny speaker to a speaker who’s funny, with some ah-ha’s to go with the ha-ha’s. Nobody knew all that about me and I was glad to get out of the closet, not have to pretend anymore when I’m raggedly depressed.”

When he’s not on the road, King lives in Oregon with his wife of 28 years.

PAUL COOPER

Cooper has spent his career working with computers, the last decade at UNC-Chapel Hill. He’s been married three times and has a daughter, now 32 years old with an infant son, living in Los Angeles. And he’s still involved in music, a longtime side gig that goes back to producing the Connells’ first demo recordings in 1984.

“Lately, I’ve started working with Byron McCay and Subliminal Surge, on a tune to see if we can get a single going,” he said. “So yeah, I’m still tied into the music world all these years later.”

JONI COBURN

Coburn, who was a homecoming queen at Broughton, has spent the past 20 years working for the state department of motor vehicles. Two of her daughters appeared alongside her in “ ’74-’75,” waving goodbye. They’re now 32 and 29; she also has a 40-year-old son from her first marriage.

None of her own kids are married yet, which means … still no grandchildren.

“But I am patiently waiting,” she said with a laugh. “I think it’s all part of God’s plan for them to come close to my retirement, so I’ll have the time to spoil them rotten, the way my parents spoiled my kids.”

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