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Sir Raleigh’s

From a 4-piece rock band to a 8-piece horn band

Contents:

 

History

The Sir Raleigh’s

(and The Casualties and The Jagsmen)

 

February, 1964:  Three high school students in South Minneapolis get together and form a band called the Casualties.  The lineup is: Mike Comer on guitar and vocals; Mike’s cousin Johnny Elms on bass guitar and vocals and Mike Johnson on drums and vocals.  The group plays popular songs on the radio with a focus on songs by British Invasion bands: the Beatles; The Kinks; The Animals; and The Zombies.  The band plays private parties, church events; and high school dances.  Johnny and Mike Johnson are at South High School and Mike is at Roosevelt High School (Mike transfers to South High for his senior year, 1966/1967).

Early Summer, 1964:  The band discovers a newspaper ad announcing auditions to be held for bands to play at the State Fair in St. Paul.  The fair decides to open up a Teen Fair for the first time, an area within the fairgrounds designated for teenagers to congregate.  The group shows up at a warehouse on the fairgrounds and play for the audition.  The group is later informed they are one of the bands picked to play at the fair, in fact they will be the very first live band to play for the new Teen Fair, however, there is a condition with the offer… the band must have another guitar player on stage when they perform.  Mike enlists his younger brother Kenny to play guitar for the event, although his amp will not be turned on, as he is still learning how to play the instrument.

August, 1964:  The Casualties play at the new Teen Fair, opening up their set with “Hello Josephine” (Fats Domino).  The event is recorded for posterity on 8 millimeter color film (with no audio), filmed by the mother of Johnny Elms.   Kenny eventually joins the band on rhythm guitar.

Summer, 1965:  Johnny and Mike get together with drummer Dave Prall and start a new band called The Jagsmen.  The lineup is: Mike Comer on guitar and vocals; Johnny Elms on bass guitar and vocals; and Dave Prall on drums.  The band plays for local parties and  dances.

Fall, 1965:  Mike Comer and Johnny Elms join The Sir Raleigh’s, another South Minneapolis band with students from South High.  Both Mike and Johnny had watched the band at rehearsals, with the lineup: Mike Johnson (from The Casualties) on  lead vocals; Wayne Cafarella on guitar; Lenis Hedlin on rhythm guitar and vocals; Mike Shellkoff on bass guitar; and Jim Daniels on drums.  Mike, Wayne and Lenis had left the band, so the new lineup is: Mike Comer on guitar, keyboards and vocals; Johnny Elms on bass guitar and vocals; Wayne Cafarella on guitar; and Jim Daniels on drums.  The prior lineup had been working with Marsh Productions and the new lineup maintains the relationship with Marsh Edelstein.

Early, 1966:  The Sir Raleigh’s play a school dance at South High, wearing marching band uniforms.  The group plays a mini-set of four or five songs.

The band plays the local hot spots in town including the Marigold Ballroom, the Prom Ballroom, Marion Hall, Pudge’s; the Bloomington Roller Rink, Mister Lucky’s, Magoo’s, New City Opera House, the Burnsville Bowl, The Prison and Danceland. In addition the band plays for college dances at Coffman Union on the University of Minnesota campus. The group plays a variety of music styles from the Top-40 songs played on the local radio stations.

1966/1967:  The group becomes influenced by a number of show bands (and horn bands) that come through town including: Joey Dee and the Starliters (New Jersey); The Fabulous Flippers (Concordia, Kansas); The Mob (featuring “Big Al,” from Chicago, Illinois); The Magnificent Men (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); The Red Dogs (Lawrence, Kansas); and Wayne Cochran and The C.C. Riders (based out of Miami, Florida).  The band decides to  add three horn players to the group: Dick Burt on trombone; Tim Vick on trumpet; and Bob Mikkelson on saxophone.  Motown songs and James Brown songs are added to the group’s set.  The band takes on a new look with matching tuxedos.  In addition to playing guitar and keyboards, Mike Comer has picked up the bass guitar and also the trombone.  In addition to playing guitar, Wayne Cafarella has picked up bass guitar, trumpet and lead vocals.

The song list for the band includes the following songs:

“Feel a Whole Lot Better” (The Byrds)

“Mustang Sally” and “Midnight Hour” (Wilson Pickett)

“Peace of Mind” (The Magnificent Men)

“Summer Time” and “Secret Love” (Billy Stewart)

“Good Lovin” (Rascals)

“Show Me” (Joe Tex)

“The Harlem Shuffle” (Fabulous Flippers)

“But it’s Alright” (J. J. Jackson)

“Unchain My Heart” (Ray Charles)

“I Thank You”, “You Don’t Know Like I Know”, “I Take What I Want”, “When Something is Wrong With My Baby” (Sam and Dave)

“Heat Wave” (Martha and the Vandella’s)

1968:  Jim Daniels leaves the band is replaced by Del LaFave on drums.  Bob Mikkelson leaves the band and is replaced by Steve Junker on saxophone.

October 18, 1968:  The Sir Raleigh’s open up a concert  at the Met Center in Bloomington… on the bill are: Joe Tex; The Young Rascals; Tiny Tim; and Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.  The Young Rascals are the headlining act.

Late, 1968:  Mike Comer leaves the band to join The Marauders and is replaced by Chuck Dahle on guitar and vocals.  Johnny Elms gives up the bass guitar for lead vocals and Wayne Cafarella switches from guitar to bass guitar.

Summer, 1969:  The Sir Raleigh’s come to an end.  The final version is: Johnny Elms on vocals; Chuck Dahle on guitar and vocals; Wayne Cafarella on bass guitar; Del LaFave on drums; Dick Burt on trombone; Tim Vick on trumpet; and Steve Junker on saxophone.

 

Update:

June, 2011:  Mike Comer reports a memorable job with The Sir Raleigh’s…  playing with The Fabulous Flippers at The Prison in Burnsville.

June, 2011: Johnny Elms reports that the 8 millimeter film of  The Casualties has been preserved… transferred to VHS at some point in the past.

June, 2011: Mike and Johnny report  The Sir Raleigh’s never recorded any songs in the studio and no audio tapes of the band playing live are known to exist.

March, 2014: In a phone conversation with Mike Comer, Mike stated that he wrote an original song called “Never Leave Me” that he had hoped would be recorded by The Sir Raleigh’s, however the song was never recorded.  Mike also stated that he sang lead vocals on “Feel a Whole Lot Better” by The Byrds.

 

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

Recordings

None known.

 

Bandtree

Sir  Raleigh’s                                       BAND  TREE       

 

Sir  Raleigh’s  1966  to  1969

 ________________________________________________________

Johnny  Elms         Bass  Guitar  /  Vocals            1966  to  1969

Casualties

Jagsmen

Sir  Raleigh’s 

Suzie Q and The Originals

Copperhead

_______________________________________________________________

Mike  Comer       Lead  Guitar  /  Keyboards  /  Vocals         1966  to  1968

Jagsmen

Casualties

Sir  Raleigh’s

Marauders

Apricot  Brandy

American  Way

Moxie

Highway  35W

Royal

Sunrise

Grand  Avenue

Splash

Midnight  Flight

Beatles  Forever

Mendota  Life

_______________________________________________________________

Wayne  Cafarella         Guitar  /  Vocals          1966  to  1969

Sir  Raleigh’s

Copperhead

CCLC

 

 _________________________________________________________

Steve  Junker       Tenor  Saxophone            1968  to  1969

 

The  Shamrocks  Combo ‘62

Bob George Band ‘63

Bobby  Thomas  Orchestra ‘64

Eddie  Emerson  Band ‘65

Bob  Seth  Band ‘65

Jules  Herman  Orchestra ‘65

In  Mates ‘66

Sir  Raleighs ‘68

Swing  in  the  Sonshine ‘08

 _________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 _________________________________________________________

Where are they now?

 

Johnny Elms:  Living in Minnesota

Mike Comer:  Living in Tampa Bay, Florida and playing with Errol Wise and Friends

Wayne Cafarella:  Passed away, was living in Florida.

Lenis Hedlin:  Unknown

Mike Shellkoff:  Unknown

Jim Daniels:  Unknown

Steve  Junker:  Living in Minnesota, playing with Swing in the Sonshine.

______________________________________________________________

 

Interview

picture

Interview PART ONE

audio