The City of Guntersville will honor a local legend next weekend by declaring Saturday, Oct. 12, Pat Upton Day.
The late Pat Upton was a singer, songwriter and guitarist with the band Spiral Starecase. He wrote and was the lead vocalist on their 1969 gold-selling single “More Today Than Yesterday”, which peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 6 in the RPM Top 100 in Canada. The song has been covered by Sonny & Cher, Diana Ross, Andy Williams, Lena Horne, and Patti Austin.
A native of Geraldine, Upton was a musician for most of his life. He got his professional start in high school with the Geraldine High School Future Farmers of America Quartet. While in the Air Force, he joined a band that evolved into Spiral Starecase — the name was borrowed from a movie of that era, and intentionally misspelled. Once, while the group was performing in Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra heard about “this talented young man’s voice” and attended one of their shows at the Flamingo.
After Spiral Starecase split up in 1971, Upton formed another band. On New Year’s Eve in 1976, his band opened for Elvis Presley at the Pontiac Stadium in Detroit. Soon after, he joined Ricky Nelson and his Stone Canyon Band as a backup singer and musician.
Returning to Alabama in the 1980s, Pat opened PJ’s Alley nightclub in Guntersville. On Dec. 30, 1985, Ricky Nelson performed at the club and afterwards asked Upton to accompany him on a flight to Dallas, Texas. Upton declined due to business obligations. The plane later crashed, killing Nelson, Nelson’s fiancée, Helen, and five members of Nelson’s band.
In 1999, Pat was asked to perform “More Today than Yesterday” at Jimmy Carter’s 75th birthday celebration. It was a favorite song of the president and Mrs. Carter. The classic tune was also featured in several movies, including “California Dreamin’,” “My Girl,” and “The Mule.”
In the late 1980s, Upton joined a California-based oldies show, “30 Years of Rock-n-Roll,” and eventually retired. An avid golfer, he became a fixture in the Guntersville and Geraldine communities. Pat and his wife, Lynn, were married for 43 years and raised four children: Danielle, Pat Jr., Jenifer and Nicki.
Upton died July 27, 2016, after a long bout of illness.
In conjunction with Pat Upton Day, the Guntersville Museum will have a small exhibit of his memorabilia, including his guitar, album, jackets, awards and photos, on loan from Upton’s family.
The exhibit will be open Oct. 8 - Nov. 3. Hours to view the exhibit are Tuesday-Friday, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. The exhibit is closed on Mondays. There is no cost for admission.
The Guntersville Museum is located at 1215 Rayburn Ave. in Guntersville. Call 256-571-7597 for more information.