Ivymen – Buttons
(and The Buttons)
(1962 – 1968)
Late 1950’s/Early 1960’s: Daryl Johnson (accordion and vocals) and his brother Keith Johnson (guitar and vocals) play weddings and private parties around the Coon Rapids and Anoka area.
1962: Daryl and Keith decide to put a band together while in Coon Rapids Junior High School and find two schoolmates to form The Ivymen. The original lineup is Daryl Johnson on rhythm guitar (with keyboards added later on) and vocals; Keith Johnson on lead guitar and vocals; Steve Swenson on bass guitar and vocals; and Mark Magers on drums and vocals. The band plays cover songs by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley, Buddy Knox and some country/rockabilly artists including Don Gibson. The band plays weddings, school dances, Bill’s Roller Rink in Anoka and they also book their own dances at The Carpenter’s Hall in Anoka, the Anoka Armory and the Fridley Armory.
1963/1964: The band is now being booked through David Anthony Productions (following an audition) and play some of the regional Minnesota ballrooms including Medina, Northfield, New Ulm, Munich and Moundsview. The band also plays some ballrooms in Wisconsin including Ellsworth, Rice Lake, New Richmond, Amery, Turtle Lake, Bloomer and Hayward and in Iowa at Fort Dodge, Ames and Osage.
1964: The band is influenced by the British Invasion bands and begin adding songs by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to their songlist.
1965: The band decides to record a single and book a session at Dove Recording Studio in Bloomington. The band records two songs, at their own expense: “Bo Diddley” (Bo Diddley) and “La Do Da Da” (Dale Hawkins). Local musician Rod Eaton is the recording engineer, running the four-track machine and doing the final mix. Daryl sings lead vocals, with Keith, Steve and Mark doing the background vocals. The band takes the master tape to George Garrett who releases the two songs on a 45 on the Twin Town label, one of his numerous record labels. “Bo Diddley” is the A side of the disc. The record is sold at Nic-O-Lake Records (located at Nicollet Avenue and Lake Street) which is owned by Garrett. The B-side “La Do Da Da” turns out to be the song that gets played on the local radio stations. Bill Diehl plays the song on WDGY and Del Roberts plays the song on KDWB.
Summer, 1965: Mark Magers leaves the band and is replaced by Mark “Chico” Perez on drums. The band decides to change names and become The Buttons. The band members change their appearance with longer hair and imported British clothes purchased at J.W. Stephens in downtown Minneapolis. The band adds The Dave Clark Five and The Hollies to the list of British bands they cover.
Summer, 1967: The Buttons open up for Buffalo Springfield at a concert held in a tent near the train station in Hayward, Wisconsin. Members of The Monkees (Mickey Dolenz, Davey Jones and Peter Tork) and a large group of their friends pay a surprise visit to the concert, after playing a job in Chicago the same day (Peter Tork was friends with Stephen Stills). The Monkees arrive at the concert via a chartered plane from Chicago to Duluth, followed by a chartered bus from Duluth to Hayward. After the concert, The Buttons are allowed access to the train cars being used by Buffalo Springfield, to socialize with the band and The Monkees. Returning to Steve’s garage in Minnesota after the concert in Hayward, the band learns a number of songs by Buffalo Springfield.
The Buttons, inspired by The Underbeats, among other influences, change musical directions and cover Motown and rhythm and blues songs. The band plays frequently at Magoo’s on Lake Street in Minneapolis.
Summer, 1968: Daryl graduates from Coon Rapids High School (the final band member to graduate) and The Buttons come to an end, as the band members go in different directions.
In the early 1980’s, local DJ Del Roberts (known as “Ugly Del” on the air) added “La Do Da Da” by The Ivymen to his playlist at WWTC radio. It was Del Roberts who first played the song on KDWB in 1965. The record shown in the photo on this website is the actual record owned by Del Roberts, who sold a number of his records in later years.
Throughout the 1980’s, record collectors generated renewed interest in local bands from the 1960’s and The Ivymen 45 became a highly sought after record and remains so to this day. The exact number of records that were pressed remains unknown.
In a 1982 interview, Daryl Johnson reported that on The Ivymen 45 he played a semi-acoustic Epiphone with an F hole and Keith played a Fender Stratocaster.
As of February, 2011, there are no known reissues of The Ivymen 45 in any format.
Bo Diddley – From The 45 Single
La Do Dada – From The 45 Single
(image of Bandtree)