Underbeats

The top local dance band with vocal harmonies like no other! One of the most successful 1960s Minnesota groups.

History

1962 – 1969

1962:  The band gets together with menbers from North Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center.  The lineup is:  Jim Johnson on guitar, Russ Hagen on guitar and lead vocals, Doni Larson on bass guitar and Bob “Duke” Duane on drums.  The band practices in Doni Larson’s basement in Brooklyn Center and they learn to play Chuck Berry songs and also more obscure Blues and R & B songs.

1963: Russ Hagen leaves the band to enter the military service and Ray Berg joins on guitar, with Jim taking over the lead vocals.  The band plays their first job at Chisago City Civic Center, with Russ who is home on leave.     Bob also leaves the band for military service after the first job and Rod Eaton becomes the new drummer.   This version of the band plays their first job at Bill’s Roller Rink in Anoka.  The band starts playing the local teen clubs, ballrooms and roller rinks (including the Bloomington Rink) and quickly build a strong fan base.

1964: The band meets George Garrett, who records numerous 45’s with the band for his labels, Garrett, Bangar and Twin Town.   The bands first 45, “Foot Stompin’” becomes a big hit on the local radio stations.

1964 – 1966: The Underbeats become one of the top local dance bands and have numerous songs on the local radio stations.

1966: Ray Berg leaves the band to get married and is replaced by Enrico Rosenbaum, from The Escapades, recruited by Jim Johnson.  Tommy Nystrom, from The Accents, replaces Rod Eaton on drums and also does vocals.

1966: Jim Johnson is drafted and serves in Vietnam.  Prior to leaving for the army, Johnson hires Wally Walstead (from Wilmar) to play guitar and James Walsh (from The Hot Half Dozen) for vocals.  Walsh also plays keyboards.  The line-up now is Doni Larson, Enrico Rosenbaum, Tom Nystrom, James Walsh and Wally Walstead.  The band continues to gain popularity.   This version of the band is together until Jim Johnson returns from the service in September, 1968.

1967: Jim Johnson comes home on leave and the band records another 45: “Footsteps” written by Jim Johnson and “Find This Woman” written by Pete Steinberg.  The record is produced by Pete Steinberg and released on the Stature label.  For this recording the band is called Calvin James and The Haymarket Riot.

The group records a 45 for the local Metrobeat label: “It’s Gonna Rain Today”, written by Enrico Rosenbaum, with James Walsh on lead vocals.  The B side is a cover version of “The Sweetest Girl in the World.”  Jim Johnson is not on this 45.

1968: Jim Johnson rejoins the band and Wally Walstead leaves.  Now the band has four of the top lead singers in town and become known for their vocal harmonies.  The band is considered by many to be the top local dance band in the twin cities area.

The band’s final 45 is released: Darkness and You’re Losing Me, both songs written by Jim Johnson and Enrico Rosenbaum.   This 45 is on the local Pip label, run by Ira Heilicher.

November, 1968: The band decides to relocate to Los Angeles, California.  With Steve Freeman (a friend of Enricos from high school) as manager, the band gets a steady job at Gezzarris, a popular dance club on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.  The band is given an official new name by the club owners and local fans, The Groovy People.

1969: Tommy Nystrom leaves the band to return to Minnesota and is replaced by Jay Epstein, a drummer from Winona.   The Underbeats change their name and become Gyspy.  Doni Larson is credited with the name change, based on the bands lifestyle (“look at us, we are living like gypsies”).  After much success over the bands eight years, The Underbeats era comes to an end and the Gypsy era begins.

Update:

A number of unreleased songs by the band, including live performances surface over the years.  Four songs were released as part of a compilation album that features local bands that recorded at Dove Recording Studio: “Love to You”; “Don’t You Lie to Me”; “Wishes Don’t Come True” and “Fate of a Fool”.

In 2004 The Underbeats were inducted into the Rock Country Hall of Fame at the Medina Ballroom.

Photos  (Click a photo to see it full-screen, then click the arrows to see the next one.)

Recordings

 

Big Hits of Mid-America Volume 1

 

Best of Metrobeat

Free Flight

Top Teen Bands Volumes 1, 2, 3

The SOMA Story

Footstompin’ / Route 66

Foot Stompin’- From the All the Singles CD

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Route 66 - From the All the Singles CD

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Annie Do The Dog / Sweet Words of Love

Annie Do The Dog - From the All the Singles CD

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Sweet Words of Love - From the All the Singles CD

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Little Romance / Broken Arrow

Little  Romance - From the All the Singles CD

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Broken  Arrow - From the All the Singles CD

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Our Love / Jo Jo Gunne

Our  Love- From the All the Singles CD

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Jo Jo Gunne- From the All the Singles CD

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Book of Love / Darling Lorraine

Book  of  Love - From the All the Singles CD

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Darling  Lorraine - From the All the Singles CD

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I Can’t Stand It / Shake It For Me

I  Can’t  Stand  It - From the All the Singles CD

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Shake  It  For  Me - From the All the Singles CD

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It’s Gonna Rain Today / Sweetest  Girl  in  The  World

It’s  Gonna  Rain  Today- From the All the Singles CD

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Sweetest  Girl  in  The  World - From the All the Singles CD

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Footsteps / Find This Woman

Footsteps - From the All the Singles CD

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Find  This  Woman - From the All the Singles CD

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You’re Losing Me / Darkness

You’re  Losing  Me - From the All the Singles CD

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Darkness - From the All the Singles CD

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Bobby’s Volume One Buy this album

My Girl - From Bobby’s Vol. One

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Gypsy Woman - From Bobby’s Vol. One

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Hello Stranger - From Bobby’s Vol. One  

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I’ll Be There - From Bobby’s Vol. One  

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Bobby’s Volume Two Buy this album

It’s Not Unusual - From Bobby’s Vol. Two  

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Sweet Soul Music - From Bobby’s Vol. Two  

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Beauty’s Only Skin Deep - From Bobby’s Vol. Two  

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Lonely Too Long - From Bobby’s Vol. Two  

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Collectables Buy this album

Tonights The Night - From Collectables  

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All The Singles Buy this album

Footstompin’ – From  All  The  Singles  

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Sweet Words of Love - From  All  The  Singles  

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It’s Gonna Rain Today - From  All  The  Singles 

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Bandtree

Jim Johnson
Lead  Guitar  /  Vocals
(1962-1969)
The Underbeats
Gypsy
The Steamers
Calvin James
Russ Hagen
Rhythm Guitar / Vocals
(1962-1963)
The Underbeats
Dave Brady & The Stars
Willie (Murphy) & The Bees
Doni Larson
Bass Guitar / Vocals
(1963-1969)
The Underbeats
Gypsy
DJ Rogers
Dancer
Blue Gil’s
Calvin James
Bob “Duke” Duane
Drums
(1962-1963)
The Underbeats
Ray Berg
Rhythm Guitar / Vocals
(1963-1965)
The Del Gardo’s
The Underbeats
Rod Eaton
Drums / Vocals
(1963-1965)
The Young Lords Jazz Group
The Underbeats
The Lancers
TC Atlantic
Choir Crystal
Dave Mark Syndicate
M.G. Ruppert
Rock Club Trio
Tom Nystrom
Drums / Vocals
(1965-1969)
The Accents
The Underbeats
Jumbo
Triva
F Troop
The Hi Tops
Stagebrush
Ringer
Alfalpha Males
Enrico “Rico” Rosenbaum
Rhythm Guitar / Vocals
(1965-1969)
The Escapades
The Underbeats
Gypsy
Loren “Wally” Walstad
Lead Guitar
(1966-1968)
The Defiant’s
The Underbeats
The Chicagoans
John Stafford & The Entertainers
Jumbo
Los Tres Bossmen
Five O Nine Zoo
Allison Bristow
Norm Stratton (‘Stormin’ Norman)
Ron Lee and The Expressions
Fever
Dom and the Domino’s
James Walsh
Keyboards / Vocals
(1966-1969)
The Hot Half Dozen
The Underbeats
Gypsy
Free and Easy
James Walsh Gypsy Band
Jumpstreet
Killer Hayseeds

 

Where are they now?

  • Jim Johnson
    Lead  Guitar  /  Vocals in The  Calvin  James  Band
  • Russ Hagen
    No longer active in music, Russ lives in Florida
  • Doni Larson
    Still active, jobbing with various bands
  • Bob Duane
    No longer active in music, otherwise unknown
  • Ray Berg
    No longer active in music, Ray lives in Minnesota
  • Rod Eaton
    No longer active in music, Rod lives in Minnesota
  • Tom Nystrom
    Tom passed away in 2004
  • Enrico “Rico” Rosenbaum
    Rico passed away in 1979
  • Loren “Wally” Walstad
    Passed away at age 67 on September 3, 2014
  • James Walsh
    Keyboards / Vocals with Gypsy & Killer Hayseeds

Interview

Listen PART ONE

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Listen  PART TWO

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Listen  PART THREE

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