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Some of Mike Rabon's music memorabilia

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Oklahoma Music Legend Remembered

Mike Rabon of The Five Americans is gone but not forgotten

Article by Andrew Griffin

Photography by Andrew Griffin

Originally published in OKC City Lifestyle

This Christmas will be the first one Carla Rabon will be spending without her husband of over 40 years, Mike Rabon, a native of Hugo, Oklahoma, and one-time lead singer and lead guitarist of The Five Americans, a pop-rock band that had a major hit in 1967—“Western Union.”

Standing in the sunny backyard of Carla’s welcoming home on Oklahoma City’s southeast side, you see a sign from the Western Union company—the cable and telegram firm that inspired her late husband’s radio hit that was on the charts that year ahead of songs by the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

Carla and Mike moved to central Oklahoma from Hugo a few years before his death at age 78, this past February. It was here in Oklahoma City where the retired teacher and school administrator who—in his younger years—toured with his band alongside everyone from The Beach Boys and The Byrds to Paul Revere & The Raiders and Buffalo Springfield.

Mike wrote in the foreword to his 2018 book Rock Catapult that, “We will not see a decade like the Sixties in our lifetime again, but hopefully our kids and grandkids will bring something like it back to life for those to enjoy in the future.”

Carla concurs, saying his love of music and literature were pursuits that brought him success early in his life.

“He had the best vocabulary of anyone I’ve ever known,” Carla said as she dug through a box of memorabilia from Mike’s days with The Five Americans and afterward, through his years teaching and writing fiction writing and raising two sons: Kye and Lee.

Recorded later in life, Mike's song “Boys of ’44,” is a moving song that Carla is particularly passionate about and hopes will get renewed attention in the wake of his passing. With the 80th anniversary of D-Day in less than two years, she hopes it can happen.

“It’s a very moving song,” Carla said.

Mike, she said, was deeply passionate about music all of his life.

“He admired someone that could play tastefully,” she said. “Mike always enjoyed anybody who was true to themselves and didn’t try to be something they are not.”

Carla is 12 years younger than Mike and was in fifth grade when her future husband’s band was riding high on the charts. She was vaguely aware of the band and “Western Union."

A chance meeting took place at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, where The Five Americans had gotten their start before settling in Dallas.

And while Mike and The Five Americans have received sporadic accolades from their home state, the band is not in the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in Muskogee, something Carla would like to see remedied.

Perhaps this first Christmas without Mike will bring a holiday surprise—renewed interest in Mike Rabon’s music—both solo and with The Five Americans—and his numerous books as well, including one about his time in the band High Strung.

“I want to get people to recognize his talent and also make his kids a little more proud of him and his accomplishments,” she said.

Her sons, Kye and Lee, meanwhile, told this reporter that their dad was a huge influence and inspiration on their lives and in their creative visions.

  • Carla Rabon poses by a Western Union sign in her OKC backyard, while holding a photo of The Five Americans, which included her late husband Mike Rabon.
  • Mike Rabon with his guitar in his later years.
  • Carla Rabon displays a poster advertising The Five Americans' 1966 single "I See The Light."
  • Mike and Carla Rabon
  • Some of Mike Rabon's music memorabilia
  • "Rock Catapult" features Mike and The Five Americans on the cover. He also wrote the foreword and is interviewed for the book.