St. Paul band adds horn players and hit the ballroom circuit
(and Order of the Elephant and The Top)
(1964 – 1968)
Fall, 1964: Jim Reid decides to put together a new band with fellow students from Highland Park High School and Cretin High School. The original lineup is: Tom Suess on rhythm guitar and lead vocals; Dan Hartnett on lead guitar and backup vocals; Bob Mathews on bass guitar; and Jim Reid on drums. The band practices either at the Reid residence in South St. Paul or at the Suess residence in the Highland Park area of St. Paul.
For several months the group tries out various band names including: The Ambassadors; The Coachmen; and The Chaotics… but finally settle on the name The In-Mates.
1965: The bands very first public job is for a high school dance at St. Joseph’s in Rosemount. The group picks up twenty-eight dollars for the gig. The band plays popular songs that are on the radio including covers by The Rolling Stones and “The Jolly Green Giant” by The Kingsmen.
Early, 1966: The In-Mates become inmates for real and spend the night behind bars in Sawyer County, Wisconsin, after a night of adventures which included the “unauthorized relocation” of a stuffed and mounted bear cub from a display case in front of the Angler’s Tavern in Hayward.
Late, 1966: With the popularity of the Fabulous Flippers and other horn bands, the group expands their line-up and add popular R & B songs to their set list. Rich Sharpe joins on organ, trumpet, trombone. mellophone, and occasional guitar and bass guitar, followed by Paul Lehmann on trumpet, followed by Steve Junker on tenor and baritone saxophone. Steve introduces dance steps to the live performances. Dick Shapiro from Central Booking Agency books the band. The band now practices at the Sharpe residence in Roseville.
The band plays one-nighters every weekend in the Twin Cities, across southern and central Minnesota, northern Iowa, western Wisconsin and eastern South Dakota. The group plays all the top ballrooms in addition to campus dances, recreation centers, community centers, and other venues. In town the group plays at the Prom Center (one show with Danny’s Reasons); The Prison; The Purple Barn; New City Opera House; and the Saint Paul YMCA. Out of town, the band develops a strong fan base at the Interlaken Ballroom in Fairmount and also at the Recreation Center in Albert Lea. Both venues are packed whenever the band performs there. The weekend shows will keep the band booked on a steady basis for the next two years.
Spring, 1967: The band plays live at the Schweigert Little Band Contest held in Loring Park near downtown Minneapolis. The band goes over well and winds up with an honorable mention.
1967: The band records a number of live songs on demo discs at the KTCA-TV (Channel 2) television studio. The songs include “Jabo” (James Brown); “6345789” (Wilson Pickett); “Money” (Barrett Strong); and “Lonely Bull” (Tijuana Brass).
Playing on the live recordings are: Tom Suess on rhythm guitar and lead vocals; Dan Hartnett on lead guitar and backup vocals; Rich Sharpe on organ and trumpet; Greg LeClaire on bass guitar and backup vocals; Paul Lehmann on trumpet; Steve Junker on tenor and baritone saxophone; and Scott Sansby on drums.
The band is making from $300 to $600 for most jobs and up to $1,000 for jobs at the larger ballrooms including the Prom Center in St. Paul. On some nights the band is able to play two jobs at two locations.
In 1967, the band plays their highest paying job ($5,500) for a high school dance held at a community center in Yanktown, South Dakota.
Early, 1968: After a meeting with Bill Diehl, the band signs a contract with the local production and management company, Candy Floss Productions. Pete Steinberg at Candy Floss decides the band needs a new name (Order of The Elephant) and a new look: black velvet coats with white satin sashes and white pants. The group stays with the new band name and the new look for about six months and then decide to break off from Candy Floss and rename the band The Top for their remaining jobs.
The song list for the band now includes the following:
“The Harlem Shuffle” (Fabulous Flippers)
“Hold on I’m Coming” and “You Don’t Know Like I Know” and “Soul Man” (Sam and Dave)
“I Feel Good” and “Jabo” and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” (James Brown)
“Money” (Barrett Strong)
“Going Back to Miami” (Wayne Cochran)
“I’ll be There” and “I Can’t Help Myself” (Four Tops)
“Mickey’s Monkey” and “Tracks of my Tears” (Smokey Robinson and the Mriacles)
“Mustang Sally” and “Midnight Hour” and “Land of a 1,000 Dances” (Wilson Pickett)
“The Grind” (Gregory Dee and the Avanties)
“Louie Louie” (Kingsmen)
“Shotgun” (Junior Walker and the All Stars)
“Gimme Some Lovin'” (Spencer Davis Group)
“My Girl” and “(I Know) I’m Losing You” and “Get Ready” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” (Temptations)
“Green Onions” and “Mo Onions” (Booker T and the MG’s)
“Fingertips” (Little Stevie Wonder)
“Respect” (Aretha Franklin)
“Summertime Blues” (Eddie Cochran)
“Who’s Afraid of Virigina Wolf” and “Summertime” (Jimmy Smith, used for break songs)
August, 1968: The band performs their final job on the main stage at the Teen Fair section of the Minnesota State Fair. The band members go their separate ways.
In December, 2011, former band members came up with a list of the following musicians who played in the group:
Rhythm guitar and lead vocals: Tom Suess.
Lead guitar and backup vocals: Dan Hartnett.
Organ, trumpet, trombone, mellophone, occasional guitar and bass guitar: Rich Sharpe.
Bass Guitar: Bob Mathews and Greg LeClaire (Greg also sang some lead vocals).
Trumpet: Paul Lehmann and Dick Larson.
Tenor and baritone saxophone (and inspired dance moves): Steve Junker.
Drums: Jim Reid; Scott Sansby; and Chuck Engaseth.
In December, 2011 Steve Junker reported the band recorded some of their songs live at Dove Recording Studio, but they never obtained a copy of the recording.
In October, 2012 Rich Sharpe reported that he purchased the Leslie Amp that was formerly owned by Gregory Dee of the Avanties and had it totally redone and customized to use with his own Hammond B3 organ.
Money – 1965 Unreleased Recording
Jabo – 1965 Unreleased Recording
In Mates BAND TREE
In Mates 1964 to 1968
Jim Reid Drums 1964 to 1967
Tom Suess Rhythn Guitar / Lead Vocals 1964 to 1968
Dan Hartnett Lead Guitar / Vocals 1964 to 1967
Bobby Thomas Orchestra
The Fabulous Niles
Salt, Pepper and Spice
Bob Mathews Bass Guitar 1964 to 1967
Rich Sharpe Organ / Horns 1966 to 1968
Paul Lehmann Trumpet 1966 to 1968
Steve Junker Tenor Saxophone 1966 to 1968
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
Greg LeClaire Bass Guitar / Vocals 1967 to 1968
Scott Sansby Drums 1967 to 1968
Jim Reid: Unknown.
Tom Suess: Living in Minnesota, playing in an Irish Band as Tom Dahill.
Dan Hartnett: Living in Minnesota, playing with Misspent Youth.
Bob Mathews: Unknown.
Rich Sharpe: Living in Chicago, no longer active in music.
Paul Lehmann: Unknown.
Steve Junker: Living in Minnesota, playing with Swing in the Sonshine.
Greg LeClaire: Passed away in 1999.
Scott Sansby: Living in Minnesota, jobbing in bands.
Interview PART ONE