Welcome to my Twin Cities Music Highlights page. This is my attempt to gather information about the music scene that took place primarily in the mid-to-late 1960s in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, with an emphasis on connections to St. Louis Park, my home town. References to the Echo are to St. Louis Park High's student newspaper.
St. Louis Park Senior High School opened in the fall of 1956. Things got off to a rough start, as the Minneapolis Star reported:
It all started…when an early-morning disk jockey plugging "Oscar Socks" urged students to don knee-highs of one design left leg, contrasting design right leg. Girls responded in droves…But Principal Edward Foltmer…suppressed the fad promptly. "We’d be opposed to any distracting influence at school," he explained with a cautious smile. "We can’t allow bizarre clothing." A bag lunch protest last Friday, with many girls wearing black and spurning the school’s hot lunch, followed. Boys at St. Louis Park High came to the girls’ rescue. "The boys wore their shirt tails out in protest after we weren’t allowed to wear Oscar Socks," student Elaine Smedberg said. "But the administration made ‘em pull the shirt tails in. So the boys hiked up their pants, wore them around their ribs. Then a week ago, about 15 boys peroxided their hair." Next morning, "the kids hissed the principal and started singing 'Chain Gang' in school," other girls reported.
Record Lane was the house record store at Knollwood Plaza in St. Louis Park in 1961-62, M. Swaetz, prop.
On the subject of records, in the January 18, 1961 Echo, Park High reporter Linda Weiner wrote "LPs Offer Wide Variety of Subjects, Albums Range from Bernstein to Buddy." She meant Buddy Hackett, not Holly. In fact she mentioned no rock 'n' roll at all.
Folk music was all the rage, and St. Louis Park High had a group called the Statesmen, consisting of Dave Kushner, Jeff Liebo, Chuck Enestvedt, and Steve Hobart.
In February 1962, Ray Colihan booked the Beach Boys at Big Reggie’s Danceland for $400, before anyone had ever heard of them. Between the time they were booked and the time they arrived, however, they had a big record out that was #1 on WDGY. Thousands of kids showed up, and Colihan was afraid they would tear down the roller coaster.
The Kingston Trio appeared in town on February 22.
The Chad Mitchell Trio also performed in February, at Macalester College.
WDGY sponsored a 17 lap (50 mile) run around Lake Harriet on February 17, 1962. The run was inspired by JFK's famous phrase, "with vigah!"
Jerry Lee Lewis, possibly touring with Fabian, Bobby Vee, and Faron Young, was in Minneapolis on April 22, 1962, the day that his three-year-old son Steve Allen Lewis (named for the entertainer) accidentally drowned in the family pool at his home in Memphis. It was Easter Sunday.
Acts at the State Fair Grandstand included Dennis Day, Jane Russell (did she sing?), and Jimmie Dean.
Brothers Jerry and Irv Trestman opened Trestman Music Center in South Minneapolis in 1962. It later moved to St. Louis Park, at 5600 Excelsior Blvd. Irv died in 1985 and Jerry sold the business in 2007.
From 1962 to 1964, Dayton's Department Store in downtown Minneapolis sponsored a teen dance in their 8th Floor auditorium. T.J. Skinner attended every Saturday, and said it was extremely popular because it featured live bands instead of records. Billboard Magazine announced that the 1964 shows would be simulcast on WDGY starting on April 4.
Bobby Darin was in town in October 1962.
On October 21, 1962, Twin Cities folk group the Yeomen recorded an LP called "Session One: The Yeomen." The four 17-year-olds from Edina had been friends since third grade: Bob Finkenauer, Jack Otterness, Keith Critchlow, and Don Bennett. The record was a Minneapolis Junior Achievement project, and the recording engineer was David Hersk.
In December 1962, look in the sky for KDWB's Santa Copter!
If you believe the Echo, ukuleles were popular in late 1962.
Dickey Lee played the Marigold Ballroom on December 26, 1962.
In a feature about where to hear folk singers around the country, Life Magazine's December 14, 1962 issue reported that the Chad Mitchell Trio would be performing at Freddie's Downtown from December 31, 1962 to January 12, 1963. It also recommended the Padded Cell (near beer) and Le Zoo (sing alongs).