Van would like to hear from you.  If you have a question for him or a story you would like to share that relates to the Moonrakers or one of their concerts, you may contact him at

Van wanted me to let everyone know that he is still out there doing his thing.  Here is a picture of him taken last month (August 2018) performing at the California 2018 Wine Festival.  


Denny and Van at Disneyland, 1989

We were playing all kinds of songs, just the two of us. He was all set up electronically and I just had to sing and play guitar.


Van wanted me to post this story on his page and he adds a comment about meeting Sammy Cahn at the end:


Recorded by Frank Sinatra, accompanied by Sammy Cahn, who also rewrote the lyrics.

Cat. no APPLE 01...

In 1968, a bizarre and mysterious recording was made that linked two of the 20th century’s pop culture behemoths in an unlikely pairing.Frank Sinatra, perhaps the greatest single musical performer of the century, recorded a modified version of one of his biggest hits as a favor to Ringo Starr, the drummer for the Beatles', the group that single-handedly made artists like Sinatra seem passé and irrelevant.

As the story goes, in the summer of 1968, as the Beatles were recording what would become their magnum opus, "The White Album," Ringo wanted to surprise his wife, Maureen (a huge Sinatra fan), with a special gift for her 22nd birthday. Through the efforts of Peter Brown, the Beatles’ business manager at the time, Ringo reached out to Sinatra in California and asked him to make a recording for his wife. However, a book called "Magical Mystery Tours" claimed that it was actually another Beatles assistant, Ron Kass, who asked American songwriter Sammy Cahn to recruit Sinatra for the project. Either way, Sinatra was obviously touched by this request, so he had Cahn rework the lyrics to the classic song “The Lady Is A Tramp” and recorded the new personalized version specially for Maureen at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles.

In a 2005 interview with WMGK radio in Philadelphia, Brown said Cahn played piano on the recording.

Ringo gave the record -- unofficially called “Maureen Is A Champ” or “The Lady Is A Champ” -- to his wife on her birthday, Aug. 4, 1968.

The revised lyrics include such gems as "She married Ringo, and she could have had Paul/That's why the lady is a champ;" and “Though we’ve not met, I’m convinced she’s a gem, I’m just F.S., But to me she’s big M."

I actually MET Sammy Cahn one day at the ASCAP offices in NYC. It was around 1979, and we chatted for a minute and I shook his hand.  He came out of a side door into the outer offices where I was waiting.  He had a thick manila file of songs under his arm, like carrying schoolbooks, and the receptionist introduced us.  I'm lucky for that. He wrote a ton of great songs.  


In October, 2014, Van and I attended The Fest For Beatle Fans in Los Angeles.  The guest lineup was fantastic and included Billy J. Kramer, Peter Asher (of Peter and Gordon), Mark Hudson, previous members of Wings, and Joey Molland of Badfinger to name just a few.  It was a great time!  As it turned out, Van even got a chance to sing a few songs.  

Van has said he always enjoyed Badfinger's music and above is a shot of him with Joey Molland, the band's only surviving original member.


After hearing of the recent passing of Apple Records Recording Artist; Jackie Lomax, on September 15, 2013, Van wanted to share his experience with how he became friends with him.  Here is the story:

One of The Beatles APPLE RECORDS first recording artists was Jackie Lomax, and my friend Les Peterson informed me recently that sadly, Jackie has passed away while he was visiting his home Country of England.  To make his passing even sadder, Jackie was there to attend his son's wedding.  

Jackie Lomax never became a big BIG English Rock Star, and during the "British Invasion" of the '60s he was virtually unknown to most Rock Fans, but, because I was a singer in The Moon Rakers, his music became important to me, which I will explain.

I had the pleasure of actually MEETING him one day at a Ventura, California television station where I worked in the early 90s as a Producer and Account Executive. Jackie was there that day to do an interview for one of our local programs, and I was introduced to him outside the station after his interview and we shook hands.  He was dressed like the Rock Star and entertainer that he still was, from his long hair down to his Beatle boots.  I, on the other hand, was nattily attired in my "professional" customary white button-down shirt, striped tie and sport coat.  I hadn't played in a band in years, though I still got calls to do  "solo" gigs now and then, but rarely.

I told him that I had found his song "Sour Milk Sea" on a new "Apple Records" Album I had bought in the 60s, when it was first released, and that as a singer in a Denver Rock Band, The Moon Rakers, I had worked it out with the band and we added it to our playlist and performed it a lot.

Jackie then told me a great story about the day he was in a London recording studio actually RECORDING that song. Jackie told me that George Harrison was there in the studio because George was his Apple Records producer, and at one point during the session, as Jackie was in the recording booth looking down at his lyrics sheet between takes, he looked up to see the OTHER THREE BEATLES, standing in a group with George, all watching him through the Engineer's Booth glass window just a few feet away.  There was George, John, Paul and Ringo, all of them smiling and clapping their hands with the beat of the track, obviously enjoying what they were hearing.  They had come to the recording session to see what Jackie and George were up to.  He told me that he remembered that particular moment, seeing them all there enjoying his recording performance, as one of the biggest  memories of his Life, even many (30) years later.  When I told Jackie that I was still playing around with my same old Telecaster guitar but wanted to get better, he wanted to see the old Tele, and he invited me to take guitar lessons from him at Blue Sky Music in Ojai where he was teaching.  

I didn't hesitate to take him up on his offer and once a week for several months I scheduled a drive up to Ojai between sales calls, threw my old Telecaster in the trunk of my Lincoln, loosened my tie, (lol) and took a one hour lesson.

He was an inspiring teacher, always upbeat, happy, and full of great ideas for me to try in his tasty Blues/Rock style.  He told me that he had learned some of the guitar riffs he showed me directly (as, "in person") from both George and also from Eric Clapton.  You can imagine how impressed and happy I was to work with him, trying to absorb his lessons, knowing that I was learning from a down-line like THAT !

"Sour Milk Sea" is still one of my all-time favorite songs.  It had been a difficult song for me to sing in The Moon Rakers because I don't have Jackie's vocal-range and we did it in the original key, but I sang it anyway and the band had fun playing it, and it always created excitement with the crowds.  Maybe I'll cover it again someday and record it for a CD.  

To me, the chance encounter I had with one of my personal 60s Rock Icons, Jackie Lomax, and actually MEETING him and sharing music with him, was a highlight in MY Life.  

     I hope to run into you again in the "next world" someday Jackie.  You are a great entertainer as well as a fun and diligent teacher, and I know God has already placed you in a band with your friend and Producer George.  I feel very fortunate as a long-time fan, to have actually met you, and as your student actually shared moments of your musical creativity with you.  During our lessons and conversations, I know that we became friends. Thanks Jackie,



Here we have a current live recording of Van singing "Here Comes the Sun" on August 9, 2012 at Ventura, CA.  Since The Moonrakers performed several Beatles songs in the sixties he decided it would be appropriate to include a Beatles song on his page.  Enjoy by clicking here.

Here we have the latest addition to Van's page.  This is a song he sang and played harmonica on at a party on Mother's Day, 2012.  It's called "I Love To See You Smile."  Click here to listen to it.  This song along with several others can be purchased on CD from Van for only $9.95 including shipping. If you are interested in a copy, please write him at the e-mail address listed above.

Next, we have another live performance of Van singing "Joe Sure Knows How To Live" recorded in April 2012.  You can hear it by clicking here.

Recently added is a clip of Van singing "Shower the People" recorded in late 2011.  You can hear it by clicking here. Copies of the full version of this song along with other recent recordings by Van can be obtained for a small contribution to 'The Cause' by contacting him at the e-mail address above.

A new clip of a different mix of "Three Brothers, a Garden and Love" has been posted in the blue paragraph near the bottom.  Check it Out!

Van recently found a photo from a show he played with a trio in 1980 in New York.  This is what he had to say about it:  The photo is of my small trio from Lou's Bar and Grille in Utica, New York taken on New Year's Eve 1980. The Bass Player on the left in the picture is Buddy, and the Drummer behind me is James. The group performed there every Friday and Saturday night for the entire winter.
The owner of the place, Al Barbato, owned a Les Paul Gold Top that he kept in the storeroom propped up against a wall.  He let me play it every week so when I'd come in on Friday and Saturday nights I'd go back there and pick it up and use it. 
That was a fun little trio we had, and the audience was as cool as they get.

I was at the EAA Camarillo Airshow again this year (2009). They put on a great show with lots of nonstop action. There were aircraft coming across the flightline from all directions at once.
The coordination of all the different aircraft in their operations, solo and in formations, was truly amazing.

And here is the latest of Van's songs for you to hear called "Who Can Say."  Click here to listen to it.  

Next is a track recently recorded by Van called "Harmonics of Gravity in the Wind."  It is an experimental meditation song that is best listened to through headphones.  Here's what Van had to say: "It's sort of a "meditation" type music thing I'm experimenting with called Frequency Following Response.  I titled the track "Harmonics Of Gravity In The Wind" and for a small donation to "The Cause" any Raker Fans out in cyber-land can get one sent to them, plus four more Frequency Following Response tracks on the same CD for a total of FIVE Frequency Following Response Tracks.  If you turn it up a bit and listen thru the headphones you'll hear how it does what is known as Frequency Following Response which is a thing the brain does automatically under certain states of listening to certain sound Frequencies, and it creates a state sort of like meditation."  Click here to listen to this song.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the CD please contact Van at the e-mail address mentioned above.

Up next is a re-working of the Beach Boys song "Getcha Back."  Van spent a lot of time on this project that he did mainly for fun because he liked the song.  Now you can check it out by clicking here.

  What follows is a clip from an extremely rare single that Van released in the early seventies.  Here is the information on it:  


This extremely rare record was recorded in a studio in Burbank, California in 1971.  Van used multiple tracks to get the sound, playing all of the instruments himself, including the sound of his Ford F-1 pickup motor mixed in on one track, and an AM radio tuned to KRLA in one part of the B-side.   The drums were borrowed from friend John Kay of Steppenwolf who lived in L.A. at the time.

You can hear Van's vintage Fender Telecaster on the beginning and throughout “Planet of Love,” as well as the bottleneck slide guitar work on the B-side, “Slider's Glider.”  "Planet of Love" rings with a definite garage rock sound with the lyrics delivering a message of hope.  The B-side, “Slider's Glider,” is an instrumental that he wrote for a short Drive-In-Movie trailer about gliders in the air over Aspen, Colorado.  It has a floating Wes Montgomery guitar style, and a classical sounding piano interlude in the middle where the sound of a Rolling Stones record mysteriously fades in for a moment and then fades out.  

Only 500 of these 45s were ever pressed, but the song did receive airplay on several Rocky Mountain radio stations.  All of the recordings made during the 1971 "Planet of Love" sessions were mastered at Paramount Records by Van's friend, L.A. Sound Engineer; Ray Thompson.  Click here for a soundclip of "Planet of Love."

Van has recorded another new song, a Tribute to the five original members of The Beach Boys called "Three Brothers, A Garden and Love."  Today, June 2, 2011, I have posted a new clip of it from a different mix than what was previously posted on November 23, 2008.  You can hear this clip by clicking here. As with the songs mentioned below, if you would like a copy just write Van a note at the e-mail address at the top of the page and he'll send you a personalized autographed CD for a small donation to "The Cause".

Van has recently recorded two new songs.  The first is called "Surgin' U.S.A."  It is a takeoff of The Beach Boys song, "Surfin U.S.A.  Click here to hear a sample. This is what Van had to say about it:  "It's a NEW 2007 Political Project that has been getting airplay on classic rock stations and college stations across the U.S.  Air America has also played it."  
The second song is a cover of The Beach Boys Christmas song, "Little Saint Nick." 
Van: "I worked with Beach Boys writer Roger Christian at KOVA Radio in Ojai, California and we wrote some songs together in 1980.  As a tribute to his memory I'm taking musical surfing safaris down memory lane and will be covering a lot of The Beach Boys material in the coming years."  Click here for a sample clip of "Little Saint Nick."

If you would like a copy of either or both songs, just write a note to Van at the e-mail address above and he'll send you a personalized autographed CD for a small donation to "The Cause".  

Hello friends.....
  I've received Moonraker email from people we went to high school and college with, played in bands with, and generally ran around with in Colorado in the old days.  Time has sure gone fast in the last 40 years, but I know that the Rock and Roll Spirit of our High School and College days will always be a part of us and our memories. 

So HEY everybody, get out your old baggies and sandals now and then......  keep your old boogie shoes dusted off and don't grow "too" old...."too" fast. 
Here's sending lots of good wishes and warm feelings to all our old Moonraker friends.

Van Dorn