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The 50's/ Word has it (reliable source) that I began matching tones as my Mom (reliable source) played the piano, before I ever spoke a word. With Mom being a high school vocal teacher, our house was always filled with the sounds of music! I just listened and soaked it in. I actually wept when she would play the blues. A few years later I sang my 1st solo (Jacobs Ladder) with the kiddie choir at our Church in Maquoketa, Iowa. During the rehearsal I forgot the words (arg!) the other kids laughed and Mrs. Frank (director) blasted 'em! Soon I started going to my Mom's High School Shows and concerts, and fell in Love for the first time w/ Janet Walker. She had a voice like a star and prettier than Annette Funicello! Problem was she was in high school and I was 6 or 7. As time went by I just kept listening and started buying 45's down at Cassidy's Sporting goods store (yea they sold records). We could listen to them before we bought 'em and I would stand and listen for hours! I recall Charlie Brown, The 4 Seasons, and the Ventures. The songs Venus, Moon River, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. So the 50's were a time of discovery and my love of music was born. And I was born into a home with a music teacher (Jan Farnum), coach (Gayl Farnum) and brother (Jamie - an original Rocker - who once beat the crap out of Grant Gold (twice Jamie's size) for hitting me in the face with a snowball!) An awesome family! I Thanks God!

In the 60's things got very creative! I noticed my brother bringing buddies over and making musical sounds with a guitar, melodica, a marching band drum and a hickey plucker (no joke). They sang folksy stuff and looked like they were havin a lot-a-fun too! I don't remember the groups name, but they would soon trade in the weird instruments, ELECTRIFY, and become The Shadows. "Hmmm, I think I want to start a band too! " About then I was blown away by the sounds of The Beach Boys, The Beatles (saw the Sullivan show) and told my folks on the way home from Grandma Luse's house that I wanted to start a group, and I did, The Sandells! I played drums and sang, John Wherry played great lead, Rod Reynolds played bass and Tom Leonard played rythmn. We bought some stuff, borrowed some stuff from the Shadows, and played our 1st gig at our Jr.High dance. We played Wipe Out, Perfidia and Money.........what a blast! We felt like the Rock stars we would almost become! That year we drove to Davenport and heard the Beach Boys. After the concert we met them at the Holiday Inn. We told the desk clerk I was a cousin to the Wilson boys and they let us stay in the lobby until they came down. I remember asking Carl how he could sing such high notes (falsetto, now I get it!). The Sandells was a fun band! We bought madris shirts, big leather boots, and even wore Paul Revere hats at the Wyoming county fair gig. Miss Iowa was on stage with us at that fair and we thought we had made it to the top! One time my brother had a date (I think?), and I got to fill in for him at the drums with the Shadows at the Youth Center cellar. That made me pretty hot stuff and I was scared _ _ itless, but it was so cool! I also remember our two bands combining to perform at the Wamac Vocal Festival and we rocked their socks off! Tom and John decided to go the Simon and Garfunkel accoustic route so The Sandells regrouped and became The Guys Who Came Up From Downstairs. We practiced downstairs at our house and debuted at the Variety Show at school. Mark Hanchar (Whip) took the lead, Rod kept the bass, Jack Goodenow on organ and I was at the drums. We started a wild journey that led us on a tour of Iowa, hotels and everything! Our fake manager (Bernie) would phone ahead to the hotel to report a band would be checking in and not to tell anyone. By the time we arrived they thought the Beatles were coming! We would sign autographs and once got a free suite in Des Moines. We said we were the Ohio Express (Yummy, Yummy Yummy!). About that time The Shadows had become The Grandmas Rockers to avoid any lawsuit for stealing the original Shadows name (what a hoot!). They also paved the way by recording an awesome album called Homemade Apple Pie and Yankee Ingenuity! If you can find a copy, they sell for around 1,200 bucks (more than the Beatles "White"). So we needed to make a record too and recorded a single called Growth, which goes for 50-75 bucks these days (if you want one, I have connections!) In 1969 we did that thing we did and got to appear on Paul Revere's Happening 69 TV show in Hollywood. We were part of the amatuer battle of the bands, but The Monkees, Credence Clearwater, and of course Paul Revere were on the same show! It was "groovy meeting Davey Jones! The announcer totally butchered our intro - The upstairs, down guys from Makwahkeetawhota Iowa or somewhere! On the recording I sang lead and on TV they put the camera on Dave Lange (our Davey - they thought he was singing lead - welcome to the world of lip sync). Oh ya, we talked Dave into joining our band when the Grandma's Rockers finished high school. Who woulda thunk that 38 years later I would be asked to join the Rockers and play with the band a second time! Sadly, it was with the loss of Dave Lange in an auto accident that I would try to fill in on the keyboards. I like to think that even in Dave hadn't left us the Rockers wouldv'e given a jingle anyway!


My 70's and 80's would bring a 2-year stay in Hollywood with songwriting dreams (I did get elected to ASCAP and would later earn 14 bucks royalties for a sports song in the 80's) and a short stint working the mailroom at ABC. I did get to meet Susan Dey (Partridge Family) at her house! I was in Love and wanted to write her a song, but alas I was a dork around famous beautiful girls and our short friendship faded (Damn you David Cassidy - just kiddin!). That 70's decade I returned to college and soon married a great gal (Colleen) and 5 years later we had a wonderful boy (Lucas). You should hear the pipes on that kid! He went on to the All-State Choir 3 years in a row and performed many concerts and musicals. Forever Plaid was my fave!

The second half of the 70's and early 80's Colleen and I spent in Minneapolis where I worked as a piano tuner for Scmitt Music and teamed up w/ brother Jamie to form The Piano Dock, our own company. Learning to tune a piano was the smartest decision I've ever made! Thanks Don Bing! (Teacher). I also decided to try college 1 last time (UNI) and finally got the degree in 1986 (36 yrs. old). That led to a 6-year journey as a radio DJ spinning the hits we all played and the hits we could've written! I figure that because I once entered the American Songfestival with a song Doctor My Lady. Barry Manilow the one and only was a judge in the contest and came out with a song a year later that started Doctor my woman (Cool!).

The 80's and 90's brought me back to choral music at UNI and the University of Iowa. While studying music theory (tough stuff) at Iowa I sang with a choral group called the Kantori Singers. We toured the then Soviet Union and also sang in numerous operas. What a thrill to sing the great compositions with fine orchestras like the Minnneapolis Orchestra and most recently the Phoenix Symphony!

In 1993 our lives changed foever when Dad passed over to his eternal paradise and left us to journey on without his steady hands and heart. I do try to do as he might have. I have experienced the same rewards and challenges he had as a coach here in Iowa City and also in Maquoketa. 8 years I wouldn't change for anything! Whenever I hear some kid yell "hey coach" thats like winning a Grammy Award!

And now as the new member of the legendary Grandma's Rockers, life is good! You see, the rockers aren't just a rock band, they're a spirit, a family, a hardy band of travelers that began about 40 years ago - and like Grandma's wisdom - rocks on today. We all grew up playing football, baseball, double dating together, and playing songs people seem to like to hear. I have a feeling the album that the boys made back in the 60's is going to pop up here and there for quite some time. And remember that 45 recording "The Guys" made? Somebody put it on an album with a song by "The Beave", Jerry Mathers. The same kid I grew up to know on TV's "Leave It To Beaver". That is an honor not many can claim! I just came up with a great idea guys, let's get Jerry to be guest artist on out next CD (No Joke)! Rocker Hug!

To Be Cont...................5 decades and counting......................Grandma will you pass the apple pie please?

PS: Brian Wilson, please give me call before I die. I want to collaborate on a piece called "Barnyard Suite" which I can't get done! (No joke!)

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Grandma's Rockers  •  Created 2004  •  Last Updated: January 22, 2005