Holding On To History: Northland rockers of the 60′s call themselves the “original home-grown”

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 10:08 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - Most Northland musicians of the 60′s credit their rock and roll epiphany moment to Elvis, the Beatles, Bob Dylan and even the Ventures. Dick Winkler of Trinity Freak says it was local band The Dynamics that did it for him by raising a ruckus at a wedding reception.

“I asked my dad what was that and he said let’s go see and it was John Murray and the Dynamics setting up and I got to see the show and it blew my mind.” said Winkler at a recent gathering of vintage local bands.

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These guys call themselves the original homegrown. They were in local bands 50 to 60 years ago but still get together to reminisce about young lives spent on stage and in the studio. They may not have become nationally or internationally famous like Bob Dylan and Gary Puckett of Hibbing but some got close. John Murray and the Dynamics were the local backing band for visits from several big-time artists like Diana Ross and the Supremes.

“They were remarkable and just down to earth, wow, baby love my baby love, they were just beautiful people!” said Murray.

Dave Slattery and the band Yes It Is may not have gotten as big as the Rolling Stones from whom they took their name but they still got a taste of the rock star life at a big armory gig in North Dakota.

“Oh, we signed autographs and did the rock and roll thing!” said Slattery.

According to David Lindemann of Chet Orr and the Rumbles, the late Rick Colborn’s band was king of the region.

“Our rivals were the Titans, the Titans and had more records, we only had one.” said Lindemann.

Getting a record out, even on a small label, was the dream of every group even though quality was sometimes sketchy as Tom Anderson of the Accidentals found out.

“When we got the first records, they were pressed off center plus the balance was terrible, you couldn’t hear any of the vocals.” said Anderson.

Most of those records were made in quantities of only 500 so they have some collector value today.

“The major four or five I can name include Dirty Old Man by the Electras from Ely, Growing Pains by the Vaqueros from Hibbing/Chisholm and Surfer’s Lullaby by the Titans.” said record collector Tom Johnson, co-founder of the Vinyl Cave in Superior.

Many of the hometown rock bands of the 60′s and 70′s had short lives as real life lured the musicians towards other jobs.

“We graduated from college and all went on our way whether it was teaching or so forth but in those four years, we just had a great time.” said Don Anderson of the Dynamics.

Some, though, still play today like Michael Scott of Trinity Freak who has learned genres other than hard rock over the years.

“I play jazz, blues, funk guitar, some classical, even country and western, I can play country and western and stuff.” said Scott.

Local bands made quite a scene in the 60's
Local bands made quite a scene in the 60's(kbjr)

The small-town sounds of the old days still flow over the airways when musicologist Minnesota Mike Chase plays them as part of Talk of the Town on KDAL radio.

“We get to play a little bit of the music and we get the back story of how they came together and famous events during their play day.” said Chase.

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