The Story of "The Wild Cherries" From Beginning To End
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|1968 - Plastic Mushroom Band|
In late 1968 into 1969 three Des Moines, Iowa
musicians, Rick Nelson (drums), Paul Stover (guitar and bass), and
Verlin Jay (guitar and bass) formed a 3 piece combo and called it
"The Plastic Mushroom". Rick was a long time drummer, Paul was
a songwriter/singer, and Verlin was an accomplished Elvis
impersonator. The band played a variety of Top 40, Rock and
Roll, Elvis songs, and country music. The band usually wore
"mod" type clothes on stage. The band played in Iowa,
North Dakota, Chicago (and around Illinois), Indiana, and Michigan.
When Verlin Jay left the band to pursue a solo career as an Elvis
impersonator, he was replaced by Dick Senecaut. Paul Stover
was asked by Tommy Tucker to join his band "Tommy Tucker and the
Federal Reserve" and he did it. Dick Senecaut was also offered
to join a different group and he did which the left Rick Nelson to
reorganize and start over with new members.
Below are pictures from the 1969 version of The Plastic Mushroom Band, click on the thumbnail to see a larger version.
1969 - Plastic Mushroom / Wild Cherries Band
| In the fall
of 1969 Rick called his longtime friend, Dennis Dyer, who played the
organ and guitar in high school garage bands and had been involved in
the earlier Plastic Mushroom band running the soundboard on occasion.
Rick's thought in mind was to form a larger band with more than the
usual 3 members to broaden the musical scope of the band. Rick
contacted Pat Rouse, a rhythm guitar player and singer, along with his
longtime friend and neighbor Greg Boggs, who played bass guitar and also
sang. Pat and Greg knew a lead guitar player named Steve Archer
and these 5 became the core band members of the new "Plastic Mushroom".
These 5 members worked up their song list as a cover band and in their
very first appearance was asked to play in the "Battle of the Bands" at
Veteran's Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa. This was a "by
invitation only" battle of the bands and the judging was close as the
Plastic Mushroom placed 5th, just 10 points behind 1st place. The
band considered this a very respectable showing as the band had only
been together a very short time.
In 1970 David Ross was working at Sears in the Merle Hay Mall as a dish washer in the employees cafeteria. He had recorded some of his songs he wrote and had brought a reel to reel tape recorder to work so he could play the songs for the girls he worked with. Rick Nelson was working that summer at Sears also and was going through the cafeteria line and heard the music. He asked David who was singing and David told him it was him and he was singing his own compositions. Rick informed David that he was in a band and they were looking for a lead singer and wondered if David would like to try out. David said yes and in a few days Rick took David over to Pat's house (where the rehearsals were) to try out for the band. David was accepted and then there were 6 members, giving strong instrumentation and vocals. Shortly after this, Sherry Taylor was added to give the band a female voice on certain songs, and the ability to bring in songs with a female lead vocal. Sherry eventually went on to pursue other personal interests and the band went back to 6. David left the band in later 1971 after the Kapp recording contact ran out.
The band popularity was rising rapidly and needed an agent to handle bookings and public relations. Bookings were coming in from Rick Geisler of Big "G" Enterprises and band acquired shows. A manager/agent named Gene Varian, owner of R-Jay Enterprises, heard the Plastic Mushroom and signed the band as an exclusive agent. R-Jay Enterprises represented most of the top-rated bands in the state and was well respected as a manager. The band was breaking out of being just a cover band as Pat Rouse and Dave Ross were both songwriters and the band had worked up a song from each of them by now. Gene Varian liked what he heard and arranged for the band to go to Ames, Iowa to record those 2 songs at Steve Monroe's Studio on a 45 rpm record. These 2 songs, A side "Baby I See", which Dave Ross wrote and B side "Whistle Stop Review", which Pat Rouse wrote were recorded on "ssExx Records" label.
In early 1970 the Plastic Mushroom was in a "Battle of the Best Iowa Band" contest at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Over 50 bands competed as the top few were then asked to play at "Teentown" during the Iowa State Fair in August, 1970. The Plastic Mushroom placed in the top 5 and played at Teentown during the state fair on August 24th, which was a very coveted place to perform at that time.
The manager, Gene Varian, gave Dave Sandler, a music producer, a copy of the 45 record the band just recorded. Sandler heard the sound he was looking for to produce a project he had in mind. Dave Sandler then signed the band to a national record label, "Kapp Records" and proceeded to repackage the band. He changed the look and changed the name of the band to "The Wild Cherries" and submitted 2 songs to the band to work up.
In Feb of 1971 the Wild Cherries traveled to Sound 80, inc., a newly finished, state-of-the-art recording studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota to record the 2 songs that Dave Sandler submitted to the band months earlier and he produced personally. The song "You Know What Cha Want" was recorded as the A side and the old previous recording of "Baby I See" was used on the B side and mastered to Kapp Records label #K-2113. The other song was "Wigwaum", (which was a more bubble-gummy sound, the new sound coming into popularity) as the A side and the previous old recording of "Whistle Stop Review" was put on the B side and mastered to the Kapp Records label #K-2137. The obvious problem with combining the old recordings with the new ones was because of newer instruments and better quality of recordings they sounded dramatically different.
"You Know What Cha Want" was released nationally and picked by Cash Box Magazine (a international music-record weekly) as a "newcomer pick". It was played by DJs across the country which got the song on the Billboard Top 40. In central Iowa, the record was played on KIOA radio and sold out at local record stores. The song was played on American Bandstand in the "rate-a-record" segment.
By now the Wild Cherries had made quite a place for themselves as a "teen" band playing at numerous proms, and graduations of both high school and colleges. They were the regular band to play at the "National Custom Auto Shows" for these years and had the privilege of performing in the famous "Surf Ballroom" in Clear Lake, Iowa. The guitar amplifiers and P.A. system were all matching Traynor equipment subsidized by Victors House Of Music, in Des Moines, Iowa, the drums were Slingerland, the bass guitar was a Fender Jazz Bass, and the organ was a Doric 61TT with a homemade (by Dennis) rotating speaker system then later a 147 Leslie.
As the popularity
increased, quite a following developed so a "Wild Cherries Fan Club" was
started by two girls, Sue Evans and Dori Sutton. Along with Rick
Nelson as the band liaison, these girls did a great job with writing and
distributing newsletters. These newsletters can be seen
In the fall of 1971, Dennis Dyer, the band's organist, and on some songs the bass guitar or rhythm guitar player, (and we can't forget- the cowbell) was drafted into the US Army by means of the televised lottery system. Dennis played The National Custom Auto Show on November 12, 13, and 14th in 1971 and reported for duty at 6 am the next morning. It was the last time "The Wild Cherries" performed, at this time the name of the band was changed to "Whistle Stop" and the band was taken to a new direction. Dennis was replaced by a young organist named Joe Denton. In 1972, Whistle Stop recorded 2 new songs on a new label "Spunk Records" trademarked by the band. The A side was "Honky Tonk Downstairs" written by Dallas Frazier, and the B side was "Boogie Music" written by Pat Rouse, the rhythm guitar player in the band. Both sides were produced by Gene Varian, the band's booking agent and manager. The record got some airplay but not near as much as "You Know What Cha Want".
This band played on until 1974 when it disbanded, and in 1975 Rick Nelson revived the "Plastic Mushroom" named and started once again with all new members and "The New Plastic Mushroom Band" played for a short while and disbanded.
No story of The Wild Cherries would be complete without mention of the most important member of the band, Sam Rouse, Pat's dad. We rehearsed in his basement, and it was Sam who would see to loading the equipment, drive the bus, keep the bus running, keep us safe, and kick our butts when we needed it. R.I.P. Sam and thanks.
Where Are They Now???
Pat Rouse lives in the Phoenix, Arizona area and has a duo band with his wife called "Guilty Pleasures". The website for his band is HERE
Greg Boggs is still in the Des Moines, Iowa area playing bass guitar in his son's (Jason) band, "Resurrection Mary". The Facebook page for the band is HERE
Joe Denton is in the Des Moines, Iowa area and owns "TKO Productions", a sound and light production company.
Dennis Dyer is the FOH engineer for TKO Productions and the poor schmuck who got stuck making this website.
|If you have any info or pics of the Wild Cherries you would like to submit to go on this site email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org|