Rock-n-Record Shop exhibit opens in PipestonePIPESTONE — In the wise words of the megaband AC/DC, “Rock and roll ain’t noise pollution; rock and roll ain’t gonna die.”
PIPESTONE — In the wise words of the megaband AC/DC, “Rock and roll ain’t noise pollution; rock and roll ain’t gonna die.”
And the Pipestone County Museum has an exhibit ready to prove it.
Focused on local bands inducted into the Minnesota, South Dakota or Iowa rock ’n’ roll halls of fame, the new “Rock-n-Record” Shop exhibit opens Saturday and will be on display for the next year.
Three bands — The Pilgrims, Clutch and the Shifters, and Steve Ellis and the Starfires — and Pipestone’s rock and roll station KLOH are featured in the exhibit, along with other musical groups and some area dance halls. Museum director Susan Hoskins was initially contacted by Pipestone native Tony Texley, who offered his personal collection of items for an exhibit.
“He called me up and asked what I would think about a rock and roll exhibit,” Hoskins said. “We don’t have objects like this, and we were thrilled that he would bring us his collection.”
Other objects from other collectors were added. Signed posters, 45 rpm records, band photos and paraphernalia share the exhibit room with old equipment from KLOH Radio.
“They were the voice of rock and roll for this region,” Hoskins explained.
According to the KLOH website, the station went on the air in Pipestone in 1955 with 1,000 watts of power. In the early 1960s the station experimented with rock and roll, featuring a Saturday afternoon request show. That led to rock being broadcast every weekday afternoon, with local teenagers making up the majority of the listeners.
“Although located in Pipestone, KLOH was a favorite station for many listeners in South Dakota,” the site states. “If you wanted to know where bands were playing, KLOH advertised for all the area ballrooms and dance halls.”
“Pipestone was the hotbed of the music scene in the area in the 1960s,” Hoskins stated.
The reason, she believes, is because of the large number of ballrooms and dancehalls in the area at the time — the Hollyhock Ballroom, Jasper Hall and Valhalla, to name a few.
Inside those ballrooms and dance halls, people were listening to the sounds of bands such as the Pilgrims, the Rebels, the Henchmen, the Bengals and the Fabulous Flippers. The Continental Co-Ets, an all-girl band from Fulda, formed in 1965 and reportedly had a measure of success touring in Canada. The Gemini 6 climbed aboard the music scene in the early 1970s with an astronaut theme, even appearing on stage in orange astronaut-style jumpsuits.
Clutch and the Shifters formed at Southwest State University in 1973, originally getting together to play in a talent show. Front man Joe Keyes of Pipestone was Clutch. The band incorporated 1950s music in their act, added a serving of Sha-Na-Na-type choreography and sound, and landed in the Mid America Music Hall of Fame.
Another local group formed in 1962, Steve Ellis and the Starfires, was on the way to the top when front man Ellis was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1967 at age 22. Members of the band at one point included Luverne’s Butch Hatting and Jim Brandenburg. After Ellis’ death, others tried to keep the band together. In their time, Steve Ellis and the Starfires played with Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers and other well-known music groups.
The exhibit features photos and posters of music groups and members from Pipestone, Luverne, Montevideo, Canby, Fulda, Marshall, Tracy, Flandreau, S.D., Sioux Falls, S.D. and other area communities. There is also a soundboard with music from the featured bands and commercial cuts from KLOH.
In bringing the exhibit together, Hoskins hopes to appeal to all age groups.
Texley, who now lives in Willmar, will speak Saturday at the annual meeting of the Pipestone County Museum. Lunch is at 12:30 p.m. at the Calumet Inn, with Texley’s remarks to follow. The exhibit will open at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“We really want to bring this story to the people,” Hoskins stated. We’re happy to provide a place to tell that story.”