The Nebraska Music Hall of Fame presents The Ron Tuccitto Award at least annually, to Nebraska musicians that have shown a lifetime passion for music. Both Ron Tuccitto and those honored have shown the drive to continue to entertain or be involved in the music industry, long after many others have made a decision to pursue other goals and interests.
The Nebraska Music Hall of Fame initiated the Ron Tuccitto Award a year after Hall of Fame Inductee; Ron Tuccitto was killed in a vehicle accident in February 1998. Tuccitto, who had played “Rock & Roll” almost continuously from 1958 to 1998 – lost his life on the way to a performance as co-leader in The Mob – a classic rock band. More details on Tuccitto’s career can be found on his individual inductee page on this site.
After leaving Omaha South High School after his Junior Year in 1959, Tuccitto toured with Carl Cherry, Gene Vincent, Buddy Knox, Jimmy Bowen and Eddie Cochran – before returning to finish his Senior Year. Although he continued to work his way up into Senior Management with Union Pacific Railroad – he played music almost continuously. Never losing his passion for entertaining and “laughing with the guys in the band” – he always found time for another dance job, another band, another practice and working up just one more song.
When others made a decision to quit packing up tons of equipment out of a smoky bar at 2:00 AM – and then driving 2 hours home on ice covered Nebraska 2-lane highways for $50 – Tuccitto continued. He didn’t need the money. He just had the passion to continue. Therefore, the award is given at least annually to Nebraska musicians that have that same passion and drive to “keep pickin”. They are few and far between, and The Nebraska Music Hall of Fame honors them for their dedication, drive and passion for MUSIC.
Biographical information coming soon!
Although some of the Country bands in Fremont, NE threw in some of the Rock favorites of the day into their repertoire, Ken McMahon was one of the first guitar players in Fremont to play “Rock” exclusively. Learning early guitar licks, lie many others, from local picker, Dick Ayers in 1962, he played his first public gig in early 1963 (following the footsteps of Fremont’s first rock band – The Nomads aka J. Harrison B. & the Bumbles).
More than likely Fremont’s 2d Rock Band to perform in public, The Sneakers recorded what could be the first Rock & Roll Record from Fremont, Nebraska. Released in limited numbers, The Sneakers cut a 45 “Let’s Go Surfin’ and “Stomp It” in 1963. (The Nomads cut an acetate 3-song EP at ROTO Records in Lincoln, NE about the same time).
Changing their name to The Ascots – they performed through 1965. By this time The Nomads had relocated to Lincoln, NE to attend The University of Nebraska. The Ascots, The Fugitives, The 7-Legends and shortly thereafter, The Brakmen ruled the local and regional scene.
In late 1965, Ken joined The Intruders in Fremont, which lasted until June 1966. Ken then joined the Military. In 1970, Ken played in a duo with Carmen Proyia in Utica, New York. The group lasted 15 months until 1971. Returning to Fremont, NE, he joined a 3-Piece band called “Wizard” covering the early 70’s hits of the day. Toward the late 70’s Ken played in “Stillwater”. In 1978, Ken formed one of the longest running and popular bands in Fremont, NE history – “Haywood-Wakefield Band”. Named by glancing at a label on the bottom of a blond coffee table (Haywood-Wakefield Furniture Company) – Key played with this group for over 13-years.
The 2d version of the band included McMahon on lead guitar and vocals, Dave Halverson on drums, Mike Semrad (J. Harrison B. – The Smoke Ring) on guitar and Greg “Jeep” Bloom (a 2001 Inductee) on bass and vocals. They opened for Leon Everette on a WOW Radio show in Iowa. A later version of Haywood-Wakefield opened for songwriter Larry Boone, “Grey Ghost” and The Bellemy Brothers.
Originally a rock band, performing regularly at the infamous “Nothin’ But Country” (mostly a rock bar) in Fremont, NE – the band was interviewed for a performance on the “REAL PEOPLE” TV show along with “Nothin’ But Country” owner/manager “Scarlet O’Hara” (Ruby Gianetti). Negotiations broke down, but Ruby’s story and “her band” would have made a very interesting TV show, to say the least.
The group continues to this day as a Country-Rock band and is very popular at regional lounges, private parties and street dances, making it the 2d longest-term band originally from Fremont, NE. (J. Harrison B. & The Bumbles, previously the Nomads, has sustained in various forms and now in 3 versions throughout the country since 1962).
Ken has continued to play lead guitar and sing lead vocals in many local bands since leaving Haywood-Wakefield Band, including “The Blues Gurus” and “Mr. Bluster”. In 1997, Ken joined a group consisting of members of other pioneer Fremont Rock bands (The 7-Legends and The Six Wild Brakmen). The band, called “Heart Break Fatty” has performed Classic Rock and RB favorites since 1997. (Ken’s uncanny resemblance to Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and lead guitarist Bob Dawdy is purely coincidental).
At Ken’s presentation of The 2001 Ron Tuccitto Award, he will (as a member of The Sneakers-Ascots) join Fremont’s other pioneer bands, J. Harrison B. & The Bumbles (The Nomads), The 7-Legends and The Six Wild Brakmen all on stage for the first time.
Jim Akin (left) and Doug Campbell (right)
Along with other Nebraska Music Hall of Fame Inductees from Lincoln, Nebraska (Bobby Lowell, Jim Akin, Greg “Jeep Bloom, and Jim Cidlik), Doug Campbell’s name comes up constantly when conversation turns to the early days of Rock & Roll in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Campbell, adept at both lead guitar and steel guitar, played with all the early Lincoln, Nebraska rockers mentioned above. With Rock & Roll being the “baby” of both Country-Western Music and black Rhythm & Blues – many early rockers and their performances leaned heavily on their Country Music influences, before “Rock” and “RB” entered their lives around 1955.
After leaving Lincoln, Campbell established himself as one of the most sought after studio and road musicians in the country. He played for years with Charley Pride on the road, and toured and recorded with many of the top names in Country Music.
He returned to Lincoln to get “off the road” several years ago. Unaware of his return to Nebraska, the Hall of Fame received a call from friend and former bandmate Jim Akin informing the Board that Doug was quite ill. An emergency meeting of the Hall of Fame Advisors was held and it was agreed to present Doug with The 2d Annual Ron Tuccitto Award at it’s show at Pla-Mor Ballroom in Lincoln, Nebraska where Campbell had performed so many times, before he left for the road.
Akin wanted to surprise Doug with the award and the Hall of Fame provided them with comp tickets. During the last set, Trustee Bob Letheby introduced Jim Akin to play a few tunes for the crowd before the legendary Fireballs took the stage.
Akin was unable to perform live when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame the year before, and the time was right for him to play some magic for the fans.
Akin then called Doug to the stage and asked him to perform a few tunes with him. With Akin on keys, Campbell on guitar and backed by some of Nebraska’s finest on drums and bass, they proceeded to thrill the crowd with rockin’ versions of “Suzie-Q” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On”. Despite being quite ill at the time, Campbell never looked better on stage and put on a guitar show for the “kids in the crowd” and showed them just why he is one of Nebraska’s finest musicians.
Akin and Campbell drew a standing ovation from the crowd. Campbell was then presented “The Ron Tuccitto Award” for his lifetime devotion to music.
Just a few months after the show, Doug Campbell passed away. Nebraska has lost one of it’s finest and one of the pioneers of both “Rock & Roll” as well as a very well known and respected steel guitar player. “Rest Easy”
“Little Joe” Hupp is one of Northeast Nebraska’s Rock & Roll Pioneers, having started on of the most influential rock bands in Nebraska “Little Joe & The Ramrods in 1960. Following in the footsteps of great Norfolk, Nebraska bands like don Sohl & The Roadrunners and Ron Thompson & The Broughams (with Dick Allison) – Hupp’s bands not only were local favorites, but also played throughout the Midwest into Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri and Kansas.
By the mid-60’s, The Ramrods had combined with his younger brother’s band (The Strollers) – and the band then contained 3 Hupp brothers (Little Joe on guitar and later Farfisa organ, Nick Hupp on bass guitar, and Bob “Tunda” Hupp on guitar and vocals. Prior to the “other” Hupp brothers joining the band, The Ramrods released a cult 45 on Minnesota’s SOMA Records “Yogi Twist & B.B. Limbo” capitalizing on the dances of the day.
Shortly after the Hupp brothers, they released another 2 more singles (as Little Joe & the Ramrods, both on Studio City Records, again out of Minnesota.). They did covers of “We Belong Together” – “Somebody Touched Me” – “Hurtin’ Inside” and “Ooh Pooh Pa Doo”. These “Little Joe & The Ramrods” records are quite collectable and difficult to find in good condition.
The band had an innovative idea to hire national talent on a contract basis, back them and take them on Midwest tours. These tours included Dickie Lee (from Memphis and known for “Patches”- “I Saw Linda Yesterday” – “The Girl from Peyton Place” and several Sun Record releases). Lee convinced the band to come to Memphis to record (at Sam Phillips Recording Studio also known as the 2nd Sun Record site).
Realizing another band “The Ramrods” had just released a regional hit (an instrumental rock version of “Ghost Riders in The Sky”) – the band name was changed to The Smoke Ring. The rest was history. (See “The Smoke Ring” under Inductees on this site). Hupp remained in the band as both Manager/Agent and keyboard player until early 1969 – when he relinquished his keyboard position to Greg “Bosco” Goodman, to concentrate on management of the band. The band continued until 1972 with Hupp at the helm. By that time, Keith Goins led the band (see Chancellors and Echoes on this site). The last version of The Smoke Ring included a young guitar and vocal wizard from Alabama named Tommy Shaw. Shortly after Shaw joined the band, the name was changed to M.S. Funk. Of course, Shaw later gained fame as lead guitarist and vocalist with STYX and DAMN YANKEES.
By that time, Hupp had expanded his booking agency stable, and eventually jointed The Jim Halsey Agency in Tulsa, Oklahoma – the #1 Country Western Booking Agency in the country. Over time, Hupp exclusively handed the booking of The Oak Ridge Boys, Roy Clark, The Judds, Leon Russell, Carl Perkins, David Allen Coe and many other top names.
He relocated to Nashville, TN for a while in the early 1990’s but has returned to the Tulsa, Oklahoma area – still booking bands and playing with his beloved “Smoke Ring” when they reunite 4-5 times a year in Nebraska. He owns and operates a private 3-hole golf course on his “ranch”, continues to look for his legendary “Mother Hubbard” Beatle boots that he has promised to donate the Hall of Fame and further promises to someday dig through his garage to look for the great lost Smoke Ring unreleased album tapes. He has devoted his life to music, and is one of Nebraska’s most important Rock & Roll Pioneers as well as continuing to devote his life to MUSIC.