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The Hardeman Boys and Petra take Freed-Hardeman University back to the ‘80s

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The ‘80s, or at least its music, will return to Freed-Hardeman University Homecoming Nov. 11-12 (fhu.edu/homecoming), when two groups from the decade return to campus for performances.
The Hardeman Boys, organized in 1982 by Frank McMeen, specialized in Southern gospel and crossover country. The original quartet will return to campus for a concert at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, in Chapel Hall.
Petra, a popular rock band from the ‘80s, will perform at noon Saturday, Nov. 12, at the tailgate party on Brewer Center lawn. The group, consisting of Jeff and Kandy (Turbeville) Shackleford from Bolivar, Tennessee, and David Decker, from Milner, Georgia, was featured at Homecoming 2021.
The group organized in Fall 1980 and played together until Spring 1983. The crowd favorite by far was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s iconic “Freebird,” according to both Kandy Shackleford and Decker. Since their college days, Petra has played at Phi Kappa Alpha’s annual Hootenanny a number of times. In addition to those returning for the November concert, the group also included Michelle Gossett Lasley, Gary Miller and Doug Methvin.
One of Kandy’s favorite memories occurred when her parents saw the group perform for the first time. “My mother was especially entertained when Jeff Shackleford, whom I was dating, jumped off a speaker during ‘Piece of the Rock.’ She said she knew then that Jeff and I were a perfect match!”
Petra’s real claim to fame, however, was the Pre-Exam Jam, an annual concert featuring on-campus groups in a concert held before finals week each spring. “We actually gave birth to that one,” Decker said.
Original members of The Hardeman Boys included four vocalists: Kyle Wadley, lead singer; Todd Tunnell, baritone; Kevin Owen, bass; and Steve Hammond, tenor. The band consisted of Wade Morris, keyboard; Dale Alden, drums; and Jonathan Matthews, bass. The group plans to honor the memory of Hammond at their performance. He passed away in 2017.
The second year’s group included the following: Brent Simmons, Todd Davis, Tim Mitchell, Preston Walden, Dale Alden, Wade Morris and Harold Bamburg. The band remained the same as the first group.
In addition to traveling for the school, including an Alaskan tour, The Hardeman Boys produced a cassette album, performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage, opened for Ronnie Millsap and placed second on Nashville Network’s “You Can Be a Star” grand championship.
The group became somewhat entrepreneurial, selling tapes and even 8×10 glossy photographs of the group.
“We sold a lot of recordings and an unbelievable number of glossies for autographs,” McMeen said.
The group featured a rendition of FHU’s alma mater on their recordings and at their performances. “It was important to us that our school song be on every recording,” McMeen said.

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