Gregory Dee & The Avanties
Gregory Dee and the Avanties(and The Tempest Trio), (1961 – 1966)
1961: Greg Maland and Dave Maetzold are students at Washburn High School in Minneapolis and meet in the school male chorus due to the chairs being assigned by the alphabetical letters of each members last name. After chorus practice, Greg plays around on a piano and Dave plays bass guitar. The school asks the senior class for volunteers to perform for the senior class, so Greg and Dave put some songs together for the event, with Greg on guitar, playing all instrumentals. Greg goes back and forth between keyboards and guitar, but decides to stick with keyboards and rents a Wurlitzer piano. A drummer is added, Richard Luke, also from Washburn and the band, called The Tempest Trio, play their first job for a homecoming party at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. The group plays around town for private parties including fraternity parties at the University of Minnesota. Scott Klabunde also plays drums with the band and various other musicians play with the group, if they have booked a job and need band members. The group plays mainly instrumentals including covers of songs by The Ventures and some songs with vocals, including songs by The Kingsmen.
1962: Doug “Froggy” Nelson joins the group on drums and Bob Odee joins on guitar. The band takes notice of an ad in a local newspaper regarding a “Battle of the Bands” to be held at the Silver Skate Roller Rink in North St. Paul. The band comes up with a new name, Gregory Dee and The Avanties, and enter the contest. Playing among 15 to 20 bands (limited to amateur bands), Gregory Dee and The Avanties win the contest. The grand prize is a steady job playing at the roller rink (the owners had built a stage in one corner of the rink). The roller rink also hosted national acts and The Avanites got jobs opening up for Conway Twitty and The Ronettes. At the roller rink is a M-1 Hammond Organ and Gregory Dee is very impressed with the sound of the organ and switches from the electric piano to the organ. The “discovery” of the Hammond organ has a dramatic impact on the sound of the band. Greg trades in the Wurlitzer electric piano for a M-1 Hammond Organ. With few, if any, local bands using a Hammond organ in the early 1960’s, the group evolves with a new, unique and distinctive sound. Bruce Madison joins the band on guitar. The band plays Silver Skate once or twice a week.
1964; Inspired by the national success of The Trashmen, the group records three songs at Doug’s house: “La-Do-DaDa” (Dale Hawkins); “Olds Mo William” (Paul Peek); and “Ain’t Got No Home” (Clarence “Frogman” Henry). The band decides to give a tape of the latter two songs to record owner and producer George Garrett, as they are aware of Garrett’s association with The Trashmen. Garrett likes the songs and agrees to have the band re-record the songs at Kay Bank Studio and put them out as a 45 on his Garrett label with “Olds Mo Williams” on the A-side. The record receives airplay in town.
Summer, 1964: The band records an original instrumental song written by Greg called “The Grind” which is released on Garrett’s Bangar label, with “Love You” on the flipside, written by Greg and Doug. “The Grind” becomes a big local hit and the band gains popularity and now plays at all the popular local teen clubs (including Mr. Lucky’s and Danceland) and local and regional ballrooms, with Bruce booking the band, working with different agents including Marsh Productions, Central Booking Agency and Rich Nadler and Rick Margolis. The “wavering” sound of the organ (running through a Leslie amp) was discovered by the band after a long drive to a job up North in the winter during below zero weather that froze the motor in the Leslie amp, making it work off and on (until the motor warmed up) which created a sound that Greg learned to reproduce by using the on/off switch for the amp.
The band releases their third 45, “I Want to Be With You” backed with “Straight Jacket”. Both songs are written by Greg. The 45 is released on the Bangar label.
The band releases their fourth 45, “The Slide” (Greg Maland) backed with “When Will I Be Loved” (The Everly Brothers), on the Bangar label. “The Slide”, another local hit for the group, is inspired by The Fabulous Flippers from Kansas, who did “sliding” dance steps to the left and right, which local teens began to imitate on the dance floor.
1965: Dave Maetzold leaves the band in order to finish college and is replaced by Frank Prout on bass guitar who is picked by the band after holding auditions. With numerous out of town jobs, the band purchases a van, Bruce does the driving and vehicle maintenance.
August 21, 1965: Gregory Dee and The Avanties (along with The Underbeats and The Accents) play in the walkways at The Met Stadium in Bloomington, prior to The Beatles concert.
Fall, 1965: Doug Nelson leaves the band and is replaced by Mike Valentine on drums.
1965: The band releases two 45’s on another Garrett label, Twin Town. The first is “Love or Magic” (The Righteous Brothers) backed with “Say Boss Man” (Bo Diddley) and “Because of You” backed with “Keep Me”, both written by Greg.
1966: The band goes into Dove Recording Studios and record two songs that are produced by Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon: “Watusi Once More” backed with “1972”. The record is produced by Peter May and only promo copies for radio stations are pressed up, on the Fox label, one of Peter May’s record labels
August, 1966: A new version of the band comes about with the following lineup: Gregory Dee on organ and lead vocals; Bruce Madison on guitar; Terry Bellows on bass guitar and backing vocals; Dave (last name unkown) on drums.
September 23 and 24, 1966: Dave leaves the band and John Zibley joins on drums and lead vocals. This version of the band only lasts for two jobs, as Gregory Dee leaves the band after the job on September 24.
September 30, 1966: Bill Miller joins the band on keyboards and vocals. The band is now called The Avanties with the following lineup: Bruce Madison on guitar and vocals; Bill Miller on keyboards and vocals; Terry Bellows on bass guitar and vocals; and John Zibley on drums and lead vocals.
March 15, 1967: Terry Bellows plays his final job with The Avanties. The band goes on with a new bass player.
1967: The Avanties come to an end.
In the summer of 1981, Gregory Dee and The Avanties played their first reunion concert, held at The Lemington Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. The show was sponsored and promoted by WWTC radio. The AM station had an “oldies” format at the time that included many of the local 1960’s bands. “Ugly” Del Roberts and B.J. Crocker, both DJ’s from the station were the emcees for the concert. The members performing were: Gregory Dee on lead vocals and organ; Dave Maetzold on bass guitar and vocals; Doug “Froggy” Nelson on drums and Roy Hensley (from The Castaways) on guitar and vocals, taking over the position for the late Bruce Madison.
In 1981, a 45 was released by Gregory Dee on the Wide Angle label (produced by Doug DeMille) with two songs: “The Re-Grind” and “You Keep Coming Back.” It is not known who played on the 45. It is known that the recording took place in the lower level of a home on Lake Minnetonka.
In 2006, Gregory Dee and The Avanties were inducted into the Minnesota Rock Country Hall at the Medina Ballroom. Band members at the show were: Gregory Dee; Dave Maetzold; Doug Nelson; Frank Prout; and Mike Valentine. Charles Schoen (The Del-Counts) filled in on keyboards. Gregory Dee performed the final three songs with the band, the last song was “The Grind.”
At the Hall of Fame show
Olds-Mo-William – 45 Record – A Side
Ain’t Got No Home – 45 Record – B Side
The Grind – 45 Record – A Side
Love You – 45 Record – B Side
I Want To Be With You – 45 Record – A Side
Straight Jacket – 45 Record – B Side
The Slide – 45 Record – A Side
When Will I Be Loved – 45 Record – B Side
Love or Magic – 45 Record – A Side
Say Boss Man – 45 Record – B Side
Because of You – 45 Record – A Side
Keep Me – 45 Record – B Side
Watusi Once More – 45 Record – A Side
1972 – 45 Record – B Side
Ain’t Got No Home – Top Teen LP Vol. One
Buzz, Buzz, Buzz – Top Teen LP Vol. One
Olds-Mo-William – Top Teen LP Vol. Three
Nervous Breakdown – Top Teen LP Vol. Three
Give Me Love – Candy Floss CD
The Out Crowd – Candy Floss CD
Interview PART ONE = Time 19:34
Interview PART TWO = Time 18:56