The 7-Legends were among the 2nd wave of excellent rock bands to come out of Fremont, NE. Following the Nomads, who left Fremont in 1963 to attend The University of Nebraska. Fremont produced a number of very popular rock bands during the mid-1960’s including The Ascots, The Intruders, The Klansmen, The Fugitives, The Six Wild Brakmen, and The 7-Legends.
Although they performed a number of “basement gigs” in 1964, The Legends played their first public dance in November 1965 at The Platte Township Hall west of Fremont, NE. The original lineup included Dan Stoeber (drums), Lowell Riethmuller (keys), Eric Stark (bass), Lee Echtenkamp (guitar) and Kirk Lundstrom (guitar). They originally played pure Rock & Roll covers of the day and were immediately popular at regional sites such as The Fremont Armory and City Auditorium. They also played The Roller Rink at 16th & Bell St in Fremont, Arlington Ballroom and The Scribner Roller Rink at the Dodge County Fairgrounds.
Stoeber had come from The Klansmen, Riethmuller from The Six Wild Brakmen, and Lundstrom & Stark from The Intruders. Shortly thereafter, they picked up Steve Westphal and Paul Rutledge on vocals and horns. Many of the band members had been members of The Fremont Junior High School Band under the direction of Bob Olsen (2001 Inductee) and The Fremont Senior High School Band under the direction of his father, Walter R. Olsen. Many of these musicians were multi-talented and in addition to “Rock & Roll” instruments, played “horns”.
Around this time, rock music around the country had been segmented into various distinct styles. These included “The British Sound” (Beatles, Rolling Stones), Surf Music (Beach Boys, Dick Dale, Jan & Dean), Frat Rock (Kingsmen, Shadows of Knight), early Psychedelic Rock and newly discovered by many white musicians around the country – Rhythm & Blues. (The Nomads stated they played “Rhythm & Blues” on their 1963 poster, but probably had no idea what that meant till later).
Jumping on the national bandwagon by picking up on the popular sounds of Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, The Temptations and many others, The Legends ,like many other Midwest Bands, chose to move toward a Rhythm & Blues Sound, adding horns and performing “blue eyed soul” music.
Like many other Nebraska bands, The Legends were highly influenced by Kansas bands booked out of Mid-Continent Entertainment in Lawrence, Kansas and advertised nightly out of the highly influential KOMA Radio in Oklahoma City, OK. These included The Fabulous Flippers, Spyder & The Crabs and The Roaring Red Dogs. They added “horns” to their lineup and changed their name to “the 7-Legends” (frequently playing with 8 members).
Bus Driver Dick Harrison made an appearance on stage one evening when only 6 Legends appeared at a performance. Since the contract called for 7-Legends and the ballroom owner insisted on 7 musicians or no pay – Harrison happily tore up the stage with a flailing tambourine all evening.
To enhance their RB Sound, various members picked up horns and the band hired Dave Brown on trumpet. Brown is considered one of the finest trumpet players ever to come out of Nebraska. With his addition, the sound of the band soared. (See a separate bio on Dave Brown on his individual induction into The Hall of Fame also in 2001).
Also, around this time, Stark left the band and they added multi-instrumentalist Rick (Ryder) Rose. Rose had played professionally with his father, Mizen G. Rose, since he was a pre-teen and had briefly performed with The Nomads in the summer of 1963 (on drums). (This author is sure if we mention “Ricky Rose sat on a tack-Ricky Rose” – he will insist on it’s removal from this article).
Playing bass most of the time, Rose, who came from a very musical family, could also play trombone, drums, vibes, and guitar and sang well. The 7-Legends’ classic lineup was now set and they began to expand their playing territory into Iowa, South Dakota, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas with the assistance of their manager “Gabby” George. Regionally they played the very popular Sandy’s Escape Teen Club in Omaha, The Green Onion in Oakland, The Syracuse Ballroom (The Elms) & The Oak Ballroom in Schuyler, NE.
One of the band's highlights came in 1967, when The 7-Legends came in 2nd in the KOIL Radio Fun Fair. The winners, The Chancellors, are considered by many to be one of the finest show bands ever to come out of Nebraska (including an incredible horn section and excellent lead singers Bert Marshall and later Max Carl Gronenthal). Over 100 regional bands entered the competition.
KOIL DJ’s Sandy Jackson and Roger W. Morgan and Murray Wilson (father and manager of The Beach Boys’ Carl, Dennis and Brian Wilson) judged the contest. Wilson, who was associated with Capital Records, bought dinner for The Legends after the performance and said he voted them #1.
A promised audition for Wilson in California never materialized and The 7-Legends taste of national recognition was short lived. Unfortunately, the band never released a record during their 7-year existence.
Stoeber left the band in 1967 to join the military and was replaced on drums by T.J. Larocca. Lowell Riethmuller left the band in 1970 and was replaced by Doug Ohm, a Midland College student from Elkhorn, NE. Lundstrom, Westphal and Rose played in the band for most of its 7 years.
The horn section in later years included the very talented Keith Krueger on trumpet, Larry Marik on sax (The Red Dogs, Johnny Ray Gomez & The Smoke Ring), Tom Rogers, Jim Peterson and Kevin Mains. Dick Harrison remained as SoundMan, Bus Driver and keeper of “The Gauche Acts” through the years. This publication is a listing of many “gauche acts” by the band over the years and has since disappeared. It is rumored that Lowell Riethmuller may still be in possession of this document. The Hall of Fame has posted a reward for its return and/or a certified copy for The Hall of Fame Archives. To one of the great “Rock” bands in Nebraska history – Welcome to The Nebraska Music Hall of Fame.