I came back to tell you about the music scene in Wisconsin from my eyes, it was an exciting time. It’s hard to know where to start. The Beatles came in ’64, I saw the Doors at the arena ’67, Cream, Hendrix, and the Allman Brothers played the Scene, which was run by Benadetta Balistrieri in the late 60’s. The Midwest Rock Festival was coming to State Fair park in ’69 with Blind Faith, Joe Cocker & the Grease Band, Jethro Tull, along with my favorite local groups Soup and Ox. This was an era of excellent music feeding the souls of the young…!
Leading to ’68 there were CYO dances where bands had a chance to play along with the Strobe, and other clubs. We had the Messengers, the Destinations, the Corporation, the Baroques, the Sidewalk Skipper Band, the Skunks, Tony’s Tygers, the Robbs, and don’t forget about the Goodwill Industry building on N. 92nd, it held 1200 people and we always filled it. There were other great bands that would soon arrive on the scene. The first Summerfest that I can remember ’68 was on the hill with the stage at the bottom of the Art Center on Lake Dr, New Colony Six, and many classic Rock groups. This is what I had scene leading to ’69, those were the best days of my life (name that song?)! The music leading up to ’68/’69 was just incredible. You had the Byrd’s Mr. Tambourine Man, Eight Miles High, the Temptations, the Jefferson Airplane,Paul Revere & the Raiders with Kicks and Good Thing, the Young Rascals-they had a ton of hits,Wilson Pickett, Smokey, the Supremes. You have to remember back in those days music was the most important thing in our lives and we could listen to Pop, Hard Rock, R&B, Soul, Blues, Jazz, and Country. We could listen to all of it and be cool…! We actually need to bring music back, but not this processed garbage. Back to the real stuff… I can’t list all the great songs for there are to many, I’ll get a few in though. The Lovin Spoonful, the Yardbirds- Shapes of Things WOW, Donovan, the Stones, the Kinks-Who’ll Be the Next in Line,You Really Got Me, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, classic, the Animals-Don’t Bring me Down House of the Risin Sun, the British Invasion in general. Do you realize they got American blues records off the ships, put their twist on it and sold it back to us. How many of you knew that? Music feeds the soul….anyway it comes! These were all my influences too, along with Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells, Howlin Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson.
I had been playing drums now 6 years, heavy practicing. I joined my 1st group “the Epilogue” with Dale Peterson from the Chessman, they rehearsed a couple blocks away from me. They were great, we played rock, blues, pop (British Invasion pop). I started to learn how to perform my music, not just play it, I was hooked, no turning back now! I continued to play out and practice. I was offered a job with a group called “Prism”, I was thrilled. We had a girl singer so we played a wide range of material from the Jefferson Airplane to Billie Holiday with Jim Appleby on guitar. Later that year Rick Cier one of the finest keyboard players in town joined us. Eventually things fell apart as happens in rock bands, drugs, alcohol, and just plain personalities. I had met a guitarist who was starting a band Jeff Dagenhardt, the band “Comus”. He played with all the blues greats Sam Lay, Muddy, everyone, I was honored. That lasted a year, I was offered a gig with a group called “Short Stuff” they were the best blues band in town and I was 16. Junior, the keyboard player used to drop me off at high school, looking back what a time. My family was very supportive as long as I got the grades. They did hold that over my head, No Grades-No Music…! I learned so much from Junior and Kenny Berdall. Jimmy Liban only did a few shows when I was in the group and he moved to Nashville. Jimmy is a great talent. I hear Junior does a Little Richard impersonation in Vegas. He does look just like him. Junior Luv ya Bud. Same to you Jimmy and Kenny! I was getting more into Zeppelin and heavy blues. A band called “Tongue” was looking for a drummer. They played heavy blues. I was the 54th drummer they auditioned and I got the gig.
“Tongue” was where I wanted to be. They already had a great following. We played great shows, we would show up in Eagle River WI, there would be a stage and 3,000 people waiting for us. We had a road crew Bunny, Rube, and eventually Woody to, all we had to do was slam two beers and go play. They set up the equipment and tore it down when we finished, on to the next town. We traveled in a limo, life was the best! This went on for 4 years. Colorado, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, we played mostly, also we built quite a following. We were in Hollywood for the 1st time staying at the Tropicana and I forget the name of the restaurant downstairs Al’s I don’t remember, but the best burgers. We were recording at Hollywood Central Studios, we would eat at Southtown, a soul food place on Wilcox. Going back to the studio I was with John Rhys who owned the studio and was producing us, and I saw this beautiful black woman, now I am only 17. I said wow look at her, John said look at her feet, I said what…? Look at her feet, well they were so big they were hanging over the shoes. John said Teddy look and learn, that is not a woman, that is a man dressed as a woman, well needless to say when I see a woman the first thing I do is look at her feet, have sine 1972. That night we went to the Whiskey and I could’nt believe it the Who were there, and later that night we ran into Keith Moon at Denny’s on Sunset. For a kid 17 that was exciting. Our album never was released do to legal problems, for you young players have attorney’s on your side.
We played Denver on the way back home and that is where I met Bobby Barth who later we would start “AXE”. He was such a great songwriter, I loved his material. So back to Milwaukee. The fun places to play now were the Stone Toad, Teddy’s, the Electric Ballroom, the Saloon, the Alternate Site at the lakefront and more in Milwaukee. Wisconsin had a great music scene. “Tongue” played the same places as Styx, Reo Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Clicker, and Luther Allison W/ my buddy Jimmy Solberg an incredible blues guitarist. Music in Wisconsin was smokin’. Headliners, the Nitty Gritty in Madison, The Barr in Oshkosh and Eau Claire, the London Inn, Lord Jefferies pub Eau Claire, the Modernaire Bar in Eagle River, the Rathskellar in Fondy plus all the festivals. I will never forget we were coming through Tennessee and bought 1/2 a truckload of fireworks and on Sunday after a killer show Sat. night, we woke up loaded up a row boat and hid it until dusk. We said Hop who was the owner, check this out, we had pushed the boat out shot a flair at it, it blue like Mt St. Hellens. Fireworks were flying everywhere, I still can’t believe the men in blue never came…? Then there was Pine Point in Menomonie, and a ton more. We had all kinds of places to play. Again Music helped the soul…! Many groups went on to big things I wish Doug Yankus from Soup did not pass away(what a talent), Jon Paris from Ox went on with Johnny Winter and many others. If your in NYC go see Jon on monday nights at BB Kings in Times Square he hosts the evening. Don’t forget the Bull Ring and Sweetbottom, Daryl joined Genesis. Tongue broke up, I moved to L.A. (see L.A. ’75-’76) We had wonderful music here and it continues, we’ll get into the 80’s next time, fasten your seat belts for that one. Let the Music comeback….See you soon.