The Nebraska Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame was formed in 1995 to honor Nebraska
based Rock and Roll musicians that have
made a contribution and impact, through
recordings and personal appearances...as
their part of midwest, national and
international Rock and Roll history.
Early induction ceramonies and
concerts featuring members of the original
bands were and continue to be held in
Norfolk, Nebraska (USA). Norfolk, a town
of 22,000 population was the early "hot-bed"
of not only Nebraska Rock and Roll but the
entire midwest. As early as 1956, there
were several organized and active Rock
and Roll bands calling Norfolk their home
base. There was as much or more live rock
activity generated out of Norfolk and
Northeast Nebraska than found in
Nebraska's metro areas, Omaha and Lincoln,
located over 100 miles to the south.
Early bands included Don Sohl and
the Roadrunners, Ron Thompson and the
Broughams(with Dick Allison), Little Joe
and the Ramrods, The Classics, The
Strollersand The Drifters.
These Norfolk bands called the
legendary "Kings Ballroom" their home base
and played to sell-out crowds of over 1000
weekly at teen dances. Kings Ballroom
previously featured touring Big Bands like
Lawrence Welk (from nearby South Dakota
originally), Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Glen
Miller, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman and the
Thundering Herd, The Six Fat Dutchmen,
Frankie Yankovic and many others.
However, with the birth of Rock and
Roll in the mid-1950's and the decline of the
big bands...local and national rock groups
took over the ballroom circuit. In addition
to Kings Ballroom in Norfolk, other major
ballrooms in the area included Pla-Mor
(Lincoln),The Val-Aire (Des Moines), The Surf
(Clear Lake), and The Roof Garden (Lake Okoboji)
all in Iowa, The Oak Ballroom (Schuyler),
Howells Ballroom (Howells), The Starlite
(Wahoo) and the Arlington Ballroom (Arlington)
all in Nebraska.
In addition to the popular Norfolk bands,
Kings Ballroom and many others throughout the
midwest regularly featured national recording
groups such as Johnny & The Hurricanes, Buddy
Knox and the Rhythm Orchids, Bobby Vee and the
Shadows, Bill Blacks Combo, Del Shannon, Tommy
Roe, Rufus Thomas, Dickie Lee and many others.
About the same time...Omaha rock
bands were forming. Some of the early groups
and individual acts included The Rock-A-Bops,
Carl Cherry and the Cherry Flips, Lou and
Red Berry and the Bel-Raves, Vince Emmannuel
and the Premiers, Luther and the Night
Riders, Sparkle Moore ("a female Elvis"),
and Bobby Williams and the Royal Flairs.
In Norfolk, Don Sohl and the
Roadrunners, Ron Thompson and the Broughams,
and Little Joe and the Ramrods all released
now classic and hard to find 45's on the
Soma Record label and Studio City Record
lable both from Minnesota. Sohl and
Thompson also released singles on the Dreem
Record label from Norfolk and later from Omaha.
Dennis Volk, a "Jerry Lee Lewis
clone" released a fine rock-a-billy 45 on
Flame Records from New York. Flame was a
subsidiary of Fury Records best known for
Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City". Volk
was a flashy entertainer, proficient at both
vocals and keyboard..and played in both
the Roadrunners and Broughams.
The Flame 45 "Dennis Boogie/You
Are The One" is one of the finest early
rock records to come out of the midwest.
Lou Berry and the Bel-Raves released
their legendary "Hot Rod/What A Dolly"
initially on Dreem Records and later on
20th Century Fox.
Sparkle Moore, dressed in leathers,
short Presley-like greased back hair and all..
released several 45's, including "Skull
and Crossbones" on Fraturnity Records..
before leaving the rock scene to
become a housewife.
Sohl took his Roadrunners,
including Dennis Volk's still in high
school younger brother Roger Volk on drums,
to New York in the early 1960's. They
performed at the Metropol and Peppermint
Lounge on Broadway, trading sets with
Mitch Ryder (in his pre-Detroit Wheels
days) and jazz legend Gene Krupa.
In the mid 1960's, Norfolk
band, Little Joe and the Ramrods united
with The Strollers to form The Smoke
Ring. This brought together brothers
Little Joe Hupp, Nick "Red" Hupp, and
Bob "Tunda" Hupp...for the first time
in a band. This group evolved from
a pure guitar/bass/keys/drums format
to an 8-piece Rhythm and Blues Horn
Show Band...ala The Fabulous
Flippers and The Red Dogs from Kansas
to the south and The Magnificent Men
The Smoke Ring increased
their midwest following by hiring 60's
pop and blues stars and backing them
at the ballrooms in a 5-state area.
These included Dickie Lee and Rufus
Thomas (both from Memphis, TN and Sun
Records veterans), Bobby Vee, Tommy Roe,
The Everly Brothers and The Shangri-Las.
Their performances with Dickie
Lee took them to Memphis at Sam Phillips
Recording Studio (Sun Records) to record
"That Girl Was My Girl One Time" released
on MALA Records. The record sold well
regionally but failed to chart nationally.
Going back to Memphis in 1968,
The Smoke Ring recorded again with Dickie
Lee producing, assisted by Allen Reynolds,
Knox Phillips, and Sam Kesler. Dickie
Lee had charted on Smash Records with
"Patches" and "I Saw Linda Yesterday"
and knew his way around the studio along
with Knox Phillips. Knox's father, Sam
Phillips founded Sun Records in the
early 1950's, initially recording blues
and country music..but of course, is best
known for his discovery and recordings
of Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Carl
Perkins, Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich,
Billy Justice, and other founding
fathers of Rock and Roll.
Allen Reynolds (then a banker)
later perfomed with Lee as "The Jones
Boys", had several releases on RCA and
is now a well known producer in
Nashville, TN..presently handling the
recordings of Garth Brooks.
Sam Kesler was an early Sun
Records session player (steel guitar and
bass) who also wrote several early Sun
Records tunes for Elvis Presley. He
also discovered "Sam the Sham" of
"Wooley Bully" fame.
Playing on the Smoke Ring
sessions were Bobby Wood ("J. Frank
Wilson and the Cavaliers"), Grammy Award
winning song-writer Bob McDill and Stax
Horn players, Andrew Love and Wayne
The producers moved The Smoke
Ring away from their RB roots and
recorded an album of "Easy Listening"
covers and originals. The first single
release, a remake of an early 50's
Four Lads tune "No Not Much" was
released initially on Goldust Records,
and later leased to Buddah Records.
"No Not Much" climbed the charts and
eventually hit #1 in a number of
regional markets, and charted on
Billboard, Record World and Cash Box.
They appeared on Dick Clark's
American Bandstand in Los Angeles in 1969,
sharing the bill with Tommy Roe. Also
present at the taping were The Ventures,
Soloman Burke, Dee-Dee Warwick, Sajid
Khan, The Grassroots and The Guess Who.
A second Buddah release "Portrait
of My Love" sold reasonably well but did
The bands listed above have all
appeared at "Nebraska Rocks" shows in
Norfolk, NE annually for sold out
crowds since 1995.
The Nebraska Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame founder is Jim Casey from
Nashville, TN. Casey, originally from
Norfolk, Ne has played in midwest bands
such as The Classics, The Strollers,
Little Joe and the Ramrods and The Smoke
Ring. A proficient song writer, Casey
has penned tunes released by The Oak
Ridge Boys, Bluesman Albert Collins,
Bobby Bare and many others.
The "Nebraska Rocks" Shows were
expanded to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1997
featuring The Coachmen ("Professor
Morrison's Lollipop), The Chancellors and
The Smoke Ring..again to an over capacity
The Coachmen..possibly the most
popular pure rock band to come out of
Nebraska in the 1960's...along with The
Rumbles..were originally from Lincoln,
moving later to Omaha. They released "Mr
Moon" on both MMC Records and Bear
Records. They toured the country to sold
out crowds and shared the stage with
major rock artists. Later changing their
name to Professor Morrison's Lollipop,
they charted on White Whale Records with
"You Got the Love" and "Angela" in 1968-69.
The Chancellors were a premier
midwest soul band originally from David
City Nebraska later moving to the
University of Nebraska in Lincoln. One of
their lead singers, Max Carl Gronenthal
later played in the Fabulous Flippers, with
Sioux City, Iowa's Tommy Bolin in Colorado,
LA's Jack Mack and the Heart Attack and
38-Special. Gronenthal penned and sang
38-Specials only #1 Hit..."Second Chance".
Now known as Max Carl he performs with
his "Big Dance" out of Nashville. Max
Carl Gronenthal started his music career
playing with another Nebraska Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame Band, The New Breed
The Drifters, also from
Norfolk (and Hall of Fame inductees)
are best known for their on stage
antics and their scarce and highly
collectible 45 "40 Days/Let's Have
a Party" and it's two picture
sleeves showing the band.
The Nebraska Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame shows on July 17-18, 1998
were complete successes. Both sold out,
crowds of 600-700 fans rocked to the
sounds of Don Sohl and the
Roadrunners, The Smoke Ring,
The Dynamic Drifters, The Strollers,
New Hall of Fame inductees, The Classics,
and special guest, Jerry Phillips, son
of legendary founder of Sun Records, Sam
Phillips. From Memphis Tennessee, Phillips
will perform in Nebraska for the first time,
performing his hit record, "Cadillac Man"
("The Jesters" - Sun Records #400 - 1966)
and other rockers.
The second series of "Nebraska Rocks"
shows for 1998 will be held on August 28,
1998 at Ak-Sar-Ben in Omaha, Ne, and on
August 29, 1998 at the Royal Grove in
Appearing at both the Lincoln and
Omaha shows will be The Smoke Ring, Preston
Love and his band (Omaha only), The Chevrons, and the Modds.
Also to be honored by induction into the Hall
of Fame will be the late Wynonie Harris,
the late Ron Tuccitto, Sandy Jackson (KOIL
Radio), Sandy's Escape Teen Club, Roger
W. Morgan (KOIL Radio) and The Royal Grove
Seating is limited for all shows.
Advance tickets or early arrival is strongly
recommended. All shows begin at 7:00 PM.
For advance tickets or further
information, contact Bob or Judy Letheby
at (402)-435-7345, or write, "Nebraska
Rocks" - 817 W. Burt Drive, Lincoln, Ne
68521. Or contact the E-mail Addresses
at the bottom of this page.
As the Nebraska Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame Shows ("Nebraska Rocks")
moves ahead...future inductees and
possible performers may include:
The Rumbles, Ltd (Capital/Mercury
Records), Zager & Evans (RCA), Steve
Farris (Mr. Mister, Eddie Money, Rod
Stewart, Edgar Winter Group,
Whitesnake), Buddy Miles (Phillies
Records Sessions, Jimi Hendrix Band
of Gypsies, Santana and The Electric
Flag), Preston Love (Count Basie,
Johnny Otis, Motown Sessions), Sparkle
Moore, Red Berry of the Bel-Raves,
Randy Meisner (The Poor, Rick Nelson
Stone Canyon Band, Poco and The
Eagles), Rocke Grace (Joe Walsh), Max
Carl Gronenthal (38-Special and Big
Dance), Chip Davis ("Mannheim
Steamroller"), Herbie Rich-Stemsie
Hunter and Buddy Miles from The
Electric Flag, Neil Hefti ("Batman"),
Paul Williams (singer, writer, actor),
"Bugsy" Maugh (Paul Butterfield Blues
Band), Carl Cherry ("The Itch"),
Bobby Lowell ("Um Baby Baby"),
and many many others.
Current Nebraska rockers on
the charts include "311" and Matthew
Sweet who certainly will deserve a
place in the Nebraska Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame in the future.
Visit our bands currently in
the Hall of Fame for group picures
and some sound clips.
For more information on
"Nebraska Rocks" and "The Nebraska Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame" contact the
EMail addresses below.
Mike "Pinky" Semrad
Nebraska Rock and Roll Hall of Fame