1962 – 1985
Early 1960’s: Danny (Class of 62) and his brother Michael “Mickey” Stevens (Class of 63) put a band together at West High in Minneapolis. The band is called Danny and the Diamonds and they play for school dances and teen parties. The brothers had been out to see some of the early rock’n’roll bands in town, including The Augie Garcia Quintet and Roscoe and the Greenmen. Danny had also seen Peter, Paul and Mary perform at The Padded Cell in town. The original band lineup, outside of Danny and Mickey is unknown.
1963: The band changes names to Danny and the Night Sounds and play for the West High graduation in the summer. At the State Fair in August, the band wins a talent contest at the Teen Fair, run by John Konodel of Capitol Records. Also at the fair, the band performs live on WCCO television, hosted by Bill Carlson. The new lineup is: Danny Stevens on keyboards and vocals; Mickey Stevens on tambourine, conga and morracas; Frank Marino on guitar; and Bob Gonyea on bass guitar and Ceedy Van Dusen on drums.
Late1963/Early 1964: Danny decides to pursue a unique direction with the band, playing private parties for local business and community leaders, known as “The Society” at the time. Danny’s idea is to get media exposure for the band and make connections with established business people that could prove useful down the road. The band performs on one of the very first local television shows that feature local bands playing live, A Date with Dino, featuring Dino Day and Nancy Nelson. The weekly show is filmed at the Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis and broadcast on Channel 9 on Saturdays. Danny makes connections with the management of Daytons department store and the band plays at the downtown Minneapolis store on “College Nights” that feature fashion shows and local bands playing live in the store. Eventually Dayton’s holds concerts every Saturday at the 8th floor auditorium, most with local bands and some with British Invasion bands. In addition to playing the Daytons jobs, the band plays local teen clubs including Mr. Lucky’s on Lake Street and The Vincent Van Go Go in downtown Minneapolis.
1964/1965: The British Invasion has a big impact on Danny’s Reasons, with Danny and Mickey being highly influenced by The Rolling Stones. The band begins to perform a number of Stones songs, as well as songs by The Animals and The Zombies. The members begin to dress like the Stones as well. Mickey decides to reinvent his stage persona, based on the flamboyant Brian Jones and begins to light his tambourine on fire and use a harness to suspend himself from the ceiling over the stage (sometimes, just being held up over a balcony by a roadie). He becomes known as The Gimmick (and also The Red Baron’s Mechanic) and wears a World War 1 pilot jumpsuit with cap and goggles and high leather boots with fringe along the tops, in addition to other various military style gear (with extra padding to absorb the tambourine hits). While playing live on the WCCO television show “This Must be the Place” (with Bill Carlson), Mickey accidentally sets the stage on fire… the band is instructed to keep playing.
1965/1966: The band is sponsored by the Gibson guitar company and travel to out of town jobs, including The London Fog clothing store in Los Angeles.
1966: The band releases their first 45: “Little Diane” and “Believe Me” on the INC label, recorded in Chicago.
1967: The band records their second 45: “Under My Thumb” and “Triangles” on the Carnaby label. The 45 is recorded at Kay Bank in Minneapolis. “Under My Thumb” is a Stones song and “Triangles” is an original song written by Skip Dahlin (bass player and singer with The Accents), Frank Marino and Danny Stevens. Carnaby is a reference to the fashion district in London located on Carnaby Street. Dayton’s opened a Carnaby Street fashion store that featured “Mod” clothing that was very popular throughout the entire British Invasion period.
The 45 gets local airplay on WDGY and gets the band on the Michael Douglas Show in New York City and the band plays a number of New York clubs. On the 494 Strip in Bloomington (south of 494 at Chicago Avenue), the band becomes one of the regular groups to play The Alps, a chalet-styled building with three levels, the bands playing on the middle level. Due to the close proximity to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the club is very popular with flight attendants, pilots and other airline employees. The band also plays More Downstairs and The Rusty Nail in downtown Minneapolis, The Purple Barn in Eden Prairie, The Prison in Burnsville, the local ballrooms including The Prom, The Bel-Rae and Ryans, and numerous arenas including Aldrich Arena in St. Paul, site of many Battle of the Bands. At The Prison, the band plays with Joe Cocker and the Grease Band and Lee Michaels.
The band plays with other local bands and national acts at The Winter Carnival in St. Paul. The theme for the event is “Sno-A-Go-Go”.
The band puts out their third 45: “One Eye Closed” backed with “Thinking of You” on the Hand label. Both sides are original songs. At this time the lineup is: Danny Stevens on vocals and keyboards; Mick Stevens on percussion; Carl Bradley on keyboards and vocals; Jimmy Lawrence on congas and vocals; Chuck Edwards on guitar; Ross Ingram on bass guitar and Steve Mauer on drums.
1968: Danny Stevens decides to enter the local nightclub business and leases a building in downtown Minneapolis, the former Diamond Lil’s and opens up Times Square on New Years Eve. The club features local and national acts and has a drinking area and an all ages area, the idea originating from the Whisky A-Go-Go in Los Angeles. Bands are booked on Friday, Saturday and Monday nights. Some national acts stop by the club to play after hours, including Janis Joplin. The club also books popular comedy acts from the era.
1970: After two years the Times Square building is sold and Danny moves on to another club venture and the abandoned Greyhound Bus Depot on First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis is transformed into a new club called The Depot. In April, the club opens with Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishman tour. The act sells out numerous concerts over three days. The Depot becomes a popular twin cities nightclub with both local and national acts. National acts find the club a good place to play as they cross the country on tour. The club has a drinking area on the main level and an all ages area on the upper level. (This building was later renamed First Avenue and continues to the present day as one of the leading rock venues in the Twin Cities.)
September 13, 1970: An album called “Gathering at the Depot” is recorded live at The Depot. The album features all local bands and “One Eye Closed” by Danny’s Reasons is included on the record. The album is produced by Alpha Productions, recorded by Tom Jung with Sound 80 and released on the Beta label.
1972: The band releases their fourth 45: “Young Emotions” backed with “Hard Old Times” on the Uncle Sam label, recorded at Dial Studio in Northeast Minneapolis and produced by Timothy D. Kehr and arranged by Dick Wiegand. The musicians on the 45 are studio musicians. The band’s version of the Ricky Nelson classic “Young Emotion” gets local, regional and national airplay, with Carl Bradley on lead vocals.
1975: The band releases their fifth and final 45: “Time” (Lionel Richie) backed with “Vision of Love” (written by Danny, Carl and Timothy). The horn group on the 45 is from the Tower of Power and also includes Bill Chase from the band Chase.
During this time period, Danny rents out the English Pub in the lower level of his home on Mount Curve Road for record release parties and other private parties and promotional events. His 65 foot Trojan yacht (“Lemon Twist”) is also put to use on Lake Minnetonka for various private parties.
1980’s: Danny keeps the band going through numerous personnel changes and musical changes up through the mid 1980’s.
Musicians who played in the band with Danny throughout the years are as follows: Carl Bradley; Jimmy Lawrence; Chuck Edwards; Mickey Stevens; Ceedy Van Dusen; Bob Gonyea; Frank Marino; Terry Johnson; Steve Mauer; Jeff Boucher; Paul Flum; Terry Ferguson; Joel Geris; Jim Granger; Jeff Hill; Louis Trejo Junior; Keith Hanratti; Howie Bursch; Steve Landry; Billy Franzee; Rocky Robbins; Wally Lockhart; Ed Brown; Steve Cherewan; Gary Dupre; Steve Fischer; Jimmy Hill; Rory Lee; John Northrup; Ross Ingram; Andy Howe; Rich Fobes; Neil Judkins; Edgar Murphy; Doug Johnson; Don Hastings; and Dan Morgan.
In 1999, Timothy D. Kehr released a CD of Danny’s Reasons.
In March, 2007, Danny’s Reasons were inducted into the Rock Country Hall of Fame at the Medina Entertainment Center. The stage was filled with dozens of local musicians who had played with the band over the years. Following the bands induction into the hall of fame the group reformed for a time and played at Santorini’s dinner club in Minnetonka, up through 2009 when the club closed.
Little Diane – 1st 45 Record – Side A
Believe Me – 1st 45 Record – Side B
Under My Thumb – 2nd 45 Record – Side A
Triangles – 2nd 45 Record – Side B
With One Eye Closed – 3rd 45 Record – Side A
Thinking Of You– 3rd 45 Record – Side B
Young Emotions – 4th 45 Record – Side A
Hard Old Times – 4th 45 Record – Side B
Time – 5th 45 Record – Side A
Vision of Love – 5th 45 Record – Side B
(image of Bandtree)
Interview PART ONE
Interview PART TWO
Interview PART THREE
Interview PART FOUR
Interview PART FIVE