THE DRIVIN' DYNAMICS


L to R - Paul Asmus, Dave Margheim, Bobby Soto, Larry Soto, Randy Meisner, Steve Cassells

 

 

The Dynamics were formed in late 1961 when Larry Soto, new to the Gering-Scottbluff area of western Nebraska made contact with Richard Rohnke, John Ankeny and 15-year old bass player, Randy Meisner.  As was the case in many fledgling rock bands of that era, the nameless band worked up mostly instrumental covers of the day, delving into only a few vocal covers.  Meisner covered the popular "Kansas City" with Soto singing some Chuck Berry & Ritchie Valens covers.

Even at 15, Meisner had the best voice in the band, was fun to be with, had dedication and a burning desire to "be somebody".  The band played their first gig in October 1961 at a private birthday party & played their first public dance for Scottsbluff High School later in the month.

Terrytown was an incorporated area between Gering & Scottsbluff, NE owned by politician and businessman "Terrible" Terry Carpenter. There was a dance area located in Terrytown called Terry's Arena. A promoter by the name of Hap Ellis brought not only local acts to the Arena, but frequently featured major recording artists of the day, including the likes of The Champs ("Tequila"), Bobby Vee
("Rubber Ball") and The Ventures ("Walk, Don't Run").
Hap Ellis allowed the band to play live during a "Bobby
Vee break". A member of Vee's band, The Checkers provided a list of names for the band, and they chose "The Dynamics".  The Dynamics were officially formed on November 23, 1961.

The Dynamics first actual paying job was December 13,1961 at the legendary "Little Moon Lake" near Henry, Nebraska. Wyoma & Gene Hager, who operated the dance hall at Little Moon Lake had confidence in The Dynamics and booked them regularly through 1962, frequently performing for crowds of up to 800 persons.

They honed their talents and began performing as a group at Little Moon, and it also became obvious to other players in the band, that Randy Meisner was a pure showman & had a knack of feeding off the large crowds.  Being the first pure Rock-N-Roll band in the area brought in sold out crowds each weekend.

 




L to R - John Ankeny, Randy Meisner, Paul Asmus, Larry Soto
 

By late 1962, Rich Rohnke decides to enter the military, and The Dynamics hire Paul Asmus, who brought a new dimension to the band by adding a saxophone.  Due to their "driving sound" the band altered it's name by 1963 to "The Drivin' Dynamics".

During this time, the band released their first recording.  It was a 45-RPM EP featuring the self-penned instrumental "Sidewinder" as well as covers of Sam Cooke's "You Send Me", Booker T. & The MG's  "Green Onions" & The Ventures "Walk, Don't' Run".

Only 500 copies of the initial record were pressed, however the EP was reissued in 1991 and in 1996 on the bands 30th and 35th Anniversary.

They played their first New Years Eve party at Little Moon, increasing their per man fee to $40 each.  It was a great occasion, however a sad time as well, as John Ankeny decides to join the Navy.

Larry Soto's younger brother, Bobby Soto joined the band as
their new drummer in January 1963 through May 1966.  Around this time, the crowds at Little Moon were growing out of control and The Dynamics wanted to expand their playing territory.

They played their first major out of town job in 1963 at the
VFW in Ogallala, NE.  Playing "out of town jobs" for the first time expanded The Dynamics lifestyle to include trailer rental, staying overnight in motels, crusin' the main drag of the town they were performing and networking to pull in crowds.

By the spring of 1963 with their promotions expanding, the band was now playing such places as the KC Hall in North Platte, Sutherland, Crescent Ballroom in Grant, Big Springs, Ogallala, teen dances at the Klub Ko Kay in Scottsbluff, the Armory, Terry's Arena, Little Moon, Guernsey & Torrington, Wyoming.

The Crescent Ballroom in Grant, NE was a very popular rock ballroom in the early 60's.  Kids from 50-100 miles away would attend dances there on weekends, sometimes with over 1000 per night in attendance.  Teens from McCook, North Platte, & Oshkosh, NE could mix with visitors from as far away as Sterling, CO to attend dances in Grant.

Soon thereafter, The Dynamics expanded their base to play dances in Grand Island, Kearney, Imperial in Nebraska & Sterling & Julesberg in Colorado.

During the 1960's - KOMA Radio in Oklahoma City, OK beamed their 50,000 Watt signal north and late in the evening - you could pick up "KOMA in Oklahoma" on the top end of your radio dial from Illinois west to Wyoming and from Oklahoma north to Canada. After hearing an early dance advertisement from the great Kansas soul band, The Fabulous Flippers - the Dynamics decided to use the reasonably priced ads on KOMA to promote their dances.

By late 1963, ads were now running on KOMA & The Dynamics expanded their playing base to 250 miles around their hometown. They were only the 2nd band to advertise on KOMA, following The Fabulous Flippers.  Years later, literally hundreds of Midwest bands used KOMA to promote their dances, to great success. The promotion paid off at once, with the band grossing over $1200 with a $1.50 cover charge in Gothenberg, NE.

Crowds began to "average" over 500 per night as a result of the KOMA ads, and the bottom line increased substantially.

By early 1964, with Randy Meisner and Bobby Soto still in high school, they both now owned classic 1955 Chevy's.  Randy's was canary yellow & Bobby's was green.  With the "British Invasion" hitting the states by then, The Dynamics easily slipped into doing covers of various English bands, with Meisner frequently singing lead. They also took on "the English look" ala long hair, Beatle boots, etc. The band developed a following expandingtheir base of operations to Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.

With many Midwest bands taking on the "show band" look, the Dynamics expanded the band to 6-Pieces, adding Dave Margheim on lead guitar & Steve Cassells on piano, both the best at their instrument in the area.  They began to perform more Rhythm & Blues music influenced by The Flippers.

By August 1965, they signed a record deal with Sully Records out of Amarillo, Texas.  They recorded 3-songs.  Randy Meisner sang "One of These Days" & "So Fine" & Larry Soto sang "Hurt Me".  Legendary Midwest rocker, Ray Ruff, who was a personal friend of Buddy Holly, owned Sully Records. Ruff also performed with several KOMA bands, The Checkmates & The Executioners (along with hooded masks).  Ruff later produced an LP for Omaha's Bugsy Maugh (another 2000 inductee) after Maugh's stint with The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

"So Fine" & "Hurt Me" were released on Sully Records.  The record sold well regionally & had good sales in the southeastern USA, but did not chart nationally.

The band now frequently drew crowds in the 2500 to 3000 range in places like Rapid City, South Dakota - frequently out drawing "name performers".

The Dynamics entered a "Battle of The Bands" contest in Denver, CO in February 1966.  The contest was won by "The Soul Survivors" from Denver.  (This was not the same band that released "Expressway to Your Heart" but a great regional band never the less.).

Fortunately for Randy Meisner, but not for The Dynamics - he was asked to join The Soul Survivors (later changing their name to The Poor) and took off to sunny California to seek a record deal. Both Larry & Bobby Soto briefly left the band during parts of 1966 & 1967 shortly after Meisner's departure.

Much has been written about Randy Meisner's career after leaving The Dynamics.  After joining The Soul Survivors (later named The Poor), Meisner joined the newly formed country-rock band "Poco", only to leave the band upon the release of their first album.  He joined Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band for a great live album and subsequent releases, before joining a backup band for Linda Ronstadt.  That band eventually went out on their own to become The Eagles.  Randy performed on bass guitar and vocalist for The Eagles on most of their albums, including the classic "Hotel California" release.  The Eagles have become one of the best selling rock bands in the world.    Randy Meisner as a member of The Eagles was inducted into The National Rock
& Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH in 1999.

The Dynamics reformed in July 1967 - with Dave Margheim, Bobby Soto, Larry Soto and Don Ullstrom.  Ullstrom later performed on several of Randy Meisner's solo LP's after he left The Eagles.  From 1967 to present close to 30 musicians have played in The Dynamics. The Dynamics enjoy the distinction of being the longest running "Rock-N-Roll" band in Nebraska history - playing almost continuously from 1961 to 2000 - close to 40 years.

The only bands to come close are The Rumbles, Ltd. still performing in the Omaha, NE area, formed in 1962-63.  They continue to be very popular in Eastern Nebraska (However, there was a break in their band during the 1970's), and J. Harrison B., formed in Fremont in 1962 continues in several locations throughout the USA today (California & Wisconsin), however the original band broke up in 1968.

The Dynamics continue to play on a regular basis and are still one of the most popular bands in Western Nebraska.  They performed on the evening of their induction, August 19, 2000 at The Scotts Bluff County fair in Mitchell, NE following a performance of original member, Randy Meisner.  Randy is currently touring with The
Classic Rock All-Stars featuring members of Steppenwolf,
Toto, Foreigner, Spencer Davis Group, The Moody Blues and Wings.  The Nebraska Music Hall of Fame welcomes the legendary Dynamics to the Hall of Fame in 2000.

 

 



In Memory of Bobby Soto
The Drivin' Dynamics
(Band Roster)

Richard Rohnke        1961-62
John Ankeny             1961-62
Randy Meisner          1961-66
Larry Soto                 1961-00
Paul Asmus               1962-66
Bobby Soto               1963-00
Dave Margheim        1965-66
Steve Cassells           1965-66
Don Ullstrom            1966-90
Steve Rothenberger 1966-67
Ralph Gonzalez        1967-73
Gary Stevenson        1968-69
Brad Kath                 1968-69
Steve Spence            1968-69
Dana Vernon            1969-70
Stan Hilzer                1969-70
Steve Hilzer              1969-70
Lynn Dishman          1971-73
Vicki Ullstrom          1974-90
Marv Snell                1990-91
John Waters             1990-94
Toby Tyler               1990-00
Tammy Hughson     1994-95
Charlene Claflin      1994-00
Cherie Christman    1995-00
Kacey Miles            1995-95
Jim Vega                 1997-00
Steve Sanders         1999-00
John Carlson
James Soto
Jim Schmer
Bill Kunhofer
Marv Flowder

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