Robbinsdale High School teens form a band,
(and The Lyncx)
1965 – 1970
March, 1965: Four junior high school students in the West Minneapolis suburb of Robbinsdale put together a band called The Lyncx. The lineup is: John Lopac on guitar and vocals; his younger brother Gary Lopac on bass guitar and vocals; Randy Johnson on guitar and vocals; and Tom Lang on drums. Randy Johnson had been playing in a surf band called The Gremlins and taught John how to play guitar. It was John who suggested that Gary play bass guitar. The band rehearses in the basement of the Lopac residence in Robbinsdale.
March – Late August, 1965: The Lyncx learn songs by the Ventures, the Everly Brothers and the Byrds, in addition to songs by British Invasion bands including: The Beatles; The Kinks; the Dave Clark Five; and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas. The band takes on the challenge of learning songs with complex chord changes and three part harmonies. The band plays for private parties and play one “official” job at the Robbinsdale Youth Center located on the top floor of the local police station.
In the late summer, the group decides to participate in the band contests held at The Teen Fair at the Minnesota State Fair. The Teen Fair had numerous tents set up with stages manned by workers from various local music stores. The bands just had to show up and ask to play, using the store’s equipment. Winning bands (determined by the store workers) were asked to return to the Teen Fair on the last day of the State Fair for the main band contest. The band goes to the B-Sharp Music tent where they meet Ron Butwin. Ron likes the band and they are invited to the final contest. On the last day of the State Fair, The Lyncx perform, but the winner of the band contest turns out to be Suzie Q and the Originals, a seasoned local band from St. Paul, featuring Suzie Q (who could play a guitar behind her back).
In addition to working at B-Sharp music store, Ron Butwin played drums and had a band called the Escapades. The first version of the band had ended after the departure of singer Enrico Rosenbaum who had joined The Underbeats. After seeing the Lyncx perform, Ron decides to offer John Lopac a job in a new version of The Escapades. John accepts the offer.
Fall, 1965: With John Lopac now practicing with The Escapades, The Lyncx come to an end.
Fall, 1966: Randy Johnson meets Keith Follese, a student at Robbinsdale Junior High, a singer and songwriter who plays guitar, piano and Hammond organ. Keith had played in a local band called The Inchanters (which evolved out of a group called The Wailing Phantoms). Randy decides to take Gary Lopac and Tom Lang over to meet Keith. Keith performs “The House of the Rising Son” (The Animals) on the Hammond organ and the guys are very impressed. Keith had already heard about Randy and Gary and their love of The Beatles, which is Keith’s favorite band. Keith is eager to play in a band that covers Beatles songs and features vocal harmonies and a new band starts to rehearse, with no name. The lineup is (version 1): Keith Follese on keyboards, guitar and vocals; Randy Johnson on guitar and vocals; GaryLopac on bass guitar and vocals; and Tom Lang on drums. Randy is 16 years old and in 10th grade; Keith and Tom are both 15 years old and in the 9th grade; and Gary is 14 years old and in 8th grade. The band starts out playing covers of Beatles songs and original songs written by Keith. Vocals and vocal harmonies become the trademark feature of the group. Practice sessions alternate between the Lopac residence and the Follese residence.
Early, 1967: The band plays an audition for Marsh Edelstein of Marsh Productions, one of the largest booking agencies in town. The band passes the audition (held at The Purple Barn) and is signed to the company and given a name by Marsh, based on the age of the band members… The Youngsters. Marsh informs the band they need to dress in suits on stage so the guys purchase matching brown suits. Marsh also tells the band they need to expand their song list to include popular songs that people can dance to. The band learns songs by The Young Rascals; The Temptations; The Four Tops; and Wilson Pickett. In addition to covers of Beatles songs, the band also learns songs by other groups that feature vocals and vocal harmonies including: The Hollies; The Moody Blues; The Byrds; Buffalo Springfield; and Jefferson Airplane.
April, 1967: Marsh Productions begins booking the band at high schools, colleges, universities, teen clubs, ballrooms, state fairs, hotels, KC Halls, VFW’s, YMCA’s, armories, various clubs and other venues around the twin cities and out of town. The band’s first job (April 1) is a fraternity party at the University of Minnesota. Marsh Productions will keep the band busy playing live for the next three years and three months.
In town the band plays at: Ryan’s Ballroom; Bel Ray Ballroom; The Prom Center; Bobby’s; Magoo’s; New City Opera House; the Purple Barn; the Purple Cigar; The City; Aldrich Arena; Cabaret; Locates; Hullabaloo; Casino Royale; Someplace Else; The Prison; Pudges; Lemington Hotel; Commodore Hotel; and the Minneapolis Athletic Club. The band even plays at a bar in downtown Minneapolis… the Scotch Mist.
Out of town the band plays at: Lakeside Ballroom (Glenwood); The Blazer (Nisswa); Owatonna Teen Club; The Tower (Austin); St. Cloud Fairgrounds; Club Irving Wildman (St. Cloud); Austin County Fair; Rochester Armory; and the Waseca Teen Club.
Colleges and Universities include: Coffmann Union at the University of Minnesota; Saint Thomas in Saint Paul; Saint Olaf College in Northfield; Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter; Makato State College; and Brainerd State Junior College.
In Wisconsin, the band plays at The London Inn (Eau Claire); Mount Telemark; and Proache’s Popular Ballroom (Ellsworth).
Late Spring, 1967: The band enters Dove Recording Studio in Bloomington and records two original songs, both written by Keith Follese. A 45 (with no label listed) is released with “(You’ve Been) Tellin Lies” and “You Said Good-by.” Keith plays keyboards and guitar and sings lead vocals; Randy Johnson plays guitar and sings harmony vocals; Gary Lopac plays bass guitar and sings harmony vocals; and Tom Lang plays drums. The record is engineered by Pete Steinberg.
June, 1967: Tom Lang leaves the band and Tom Hoth joins the band on drums and vocals. Tom Hoth was the last drummer for The Gremlins, with Randy Johnson. Tom Hoth had also played drums with a popular local band, Dave Brady and the Stars. In addition to playing drums and singing, Tom was a graduate of Brown Institute and worked as a DJ for KTCR (the first stereo country station in the country), WJSW (a polka station) and was the only white DJ on KUXL (a gospel and soul station). With his background in radio, Tom became the onstage “emcee” for the band and brought a unique assortment of soul songs to the band. The new lineup (version 2) is: Keith Follese on keyboards, guitar and vocals; Randy Johnson on guitar and vocals; GaryLopac on bass guitar and vocals; and Tom Hoth on drums and vocals.
September, 1967: Charlie Allen joins the band as a lead singer, bringing the number of singers in the band up to five. The new lineup (version 3) is: Charlie Allen on vocals; Keith Follese on keyboards, guitar and vocals; Randy Johnson on guitar and vocals; GaryLopac on bass guitar and vocals; and Tom Hoth on drums and vocals. The first job with Charlie in the band is on September 30, at Someplace Else in Robbinsdale.
December, 1968: Six months after graduating from High School, Randy leaves the band in order to join the Army.
January, 1969: Jeff Hill joins the band on lead guitar. In addition to playing guitar, Jeff is a cofounder of local music store Knut Koupeee. No jobs are missed during the transition from Randy leaving the band and Jeff joining the band. The new lineup (version 4) is: Charlie Allen on vocals; Keith Follese on keyboards, guitar and vocals; Jeff Hill on guitar and vocals; GaryLopac on bass guitar and vocals; and Tom Hoth on drums and vocals. With the addition of Jeff Hill, the band began to cover songs by Led Zeppelin, Joe Cocker and Leon Russell. The band still covers news songs by The Beatles, the Hollies, the Rascals and others.
January 17, 1969: The band is booked at Club Irving Wildman in St. Cloud, Minnesota. A partial song list is as follows:
1. “More Love” (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles)
2. “You Better Run” (Rascals)
3. “How Can I Be Sure” (Rascals)
4. “Licking Stick” (James Brown)
5. “I Got a Line on You” (Spirit)
6. “Higher and Higher” (Jackie Wilson)
7. “A Girl Like You” (Rascals)
8. “People Got to be Free” (Rascals)
9. “Funky Broadway” (Wilson Pickett)
10. “Proud Mary” (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
11. “It’s a Beautiful Morning” (Rascals)
12. “You Got to Feel It” (Wilson Pickett)
13: “Show Me” (Joe Tex)
14. “Whispers” (Jackie Wilson)
15. “Lonely Too Long” (Rascals)
16. “Groovin'” (Rascals)
17. “I’m So Happy Now” (Rascals)
18. “Shake” (Otis Redding)
19. “Honey Don’t” (Carl Perkins/Beatles)
20. “Malaguena” (Spanish Folk Song/Dick Dale)
21. “She’s the One” (unknown)
22. “409” (Beach Boys)
23. “I Feel Good” (James Brown)
24. “Fire” (Jimi Hendrix)
25. “All Shook Up” (Elvis)
February, 1969: Tom Hoth leaves the band and Tom Lang rejoins the band on drums. The new lineup (version 5) is: Charlie Allen on vocals; Keith Follese on keyboards, guitar and vocals; Jeff Hill on guitar and vocals; GaryLopac on bass guitar and vocals; and Tom Lang on drums.
The band enters Universal Audio (Room 2, the small room) and record a song written by Keith Follese called “Candyapple” which is arranged and produced by David Sandler. Playing on the song are: Keith Follese on lead vocals (chorus); Gary Lopac on lead vocals (verses) and bass guitar (low part); Charlie Allen on harmony vocals; Paul Flom on bass guitar; Jimmy Stillman on drums (Bobby Vee’s drummer); David Timm on baritone saxophone; and David Sandler on celeste. The song is in the bubblegum style.
For the flipside, David Sandler books studio time at Audio Tek Recording Studio and another Keith Follese song is recorded called “I Don’t Stand a Chance.” The musicians on this track are unknown, although, it s known that the string players were students at Hopkins High. Charlie Allen sings lead vocals on the song. The flipside is in a much different style compared to the A side, a traditional ballad. The 45 is released on the band’s Blueberry Sunshine label.
After the single comes out on the Blueberry Sunshine label, the same two songs are released on Jubilee Records (through a lease arrangement) after being remixed by Brooks Arthur.
“Candyapple” gets some airplay in the twin cities area.
July 31, 1970: The band plays their final job at White Bear Lake, outdoors by the lake, for a civic event. The Youngsters come to an end after a successful run of three years and three months. With a check for $300.00 for the White Bear Lake job, the band finishes up in the black, with the band check book showing a final balance of $124.00 (Gary’s dad wrote down all of the band’s income and expenses).
On September 6, 2008, The Youngsters reunited to play a job for the Robbinsdale Class of 1968 40th Reunion. The lineup was: Gary Lopac; Tom Lang; Randy Johnson; Charlie Allen; and Jeff Hill. The event was held at the BayView Event Center in Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka. 40 years earlier (1968), The Youngsters played for the Robbinsdale High homecoming dance.
In July, 2012, Gary Lopac reported the band recorded an original song called “Rain” that was never finished. The song, written by Keith Follese, was recorded at Sound 80 in Edina (in the Empire Photosound building). Playing on the song are Keith Follese on keyboards; Jeff Hill on guitar; GaryLopac on bass guitar; and Tom Lang on drums. The instrumental tracks were completed however, no vocal tracks were recorded. David Sandler was the producer of the song.
On August 17, 2013, The Youngsters played a reunion concert called “Minnesota Legends” (part of the Made in Minnesota Festival) held in St. Louis Park. Original band members who performed were: Charlie Allen (vocals); Randy Johnson (guitar and vocals); Gary Lopac (bass guitar and vocals); and Tom Lang (drums). Joining the original members were Mark Seeger (guitar) and Tom Lang’s daughter, Kayla Lang (flute).
Photos (Click a photo to see it full-screen, then click the arrows to see the next one.)
The Youngsters – Photo Gallery
(You’ve Been ) Tellin’ Lies – Sample
You Said Good-Bye – Sample
(You’ve Been ) Tellin’ Lies – Sample
You Said Good-By – Sample
Candyapple – Sample
I Don’t Stand a Chance – Sample
Candyapple – Sample
I Don’t Stand a Chance – Sample
|main band in red
instruments in current band
No longer active in music, name
Still active, jobbing with various bands
Interview PART ONE