Escapades

St. Paul group becomes popular in a unique way

Contents:

History

The Escapades   

1964 – 1967

Summer, 1964:  After The Uniques come to an end, drummer Ron Butwin and guitar player Tom “Zippy” Caplan play with a local band called The Continentals. While playing in The Continentals, Ron and Zippy start putting plans together to start up a new band that will capitalize on the Beatlemania that grips the country and the British Invasion which floods the airwaves with rock bands from the United Kingdom.  The two musicians decide that rather than be just another local band that plays songs by The Beatles and other British bands they will go all out and imitate the British musicians in appearance (hair and clothes), speech, songs, and even musical equipment.

Fall, 1964:  Auditions are held in the basement of the Butwin residence on Mount Curve in the Highland Park area of St. Paul.  Terry Bellows is hired to play bass guitar.  Terry had been playing in a four-piece neighborhood band called The Key Tones, which played mainly instrumental songs.  Ron and Zippy had been out to see a basement band in Highland Park at one of their rehearsals and took an interest in their rhythm guitar player and singer, Enrico Rosenbaum.  After an audition with the new band, Enrico is hired.  The original band lineup is: Enrico Rosenbaum on rhythm guitar and lead vocals; Tom “Zippy” Caplan on lead guitar; Terry Bellows on bass guitar; and Ron Butwin on drums. The name of the band, The Escapades, comes from Ron and Zippy who had visited a club on University Avenue at some point in the past and watched a show band from Texas called the Escapades.  Both Ron and Zippy had “sat in” with the band from Texas on their St. Paul job and decided they liked the name of the band well enough to use it for their own new band. The band focuses on getting their sound down.  Enrico teaches the other three band members how to sing harmony vocals which is a vital key to the sound of The Beatles as well as other popular British bands.  As the song list and the sound comes together with every practice, the band heads to Keiffer’s in Minneapolis to get the latest British inspired clothing including: black Beatle boots; tight dress slacks; turtle necks; and velvet sweaters or sport coats. The guy’s hair presents a bit of a challenge as they have been wearing it cut short and do not have enough time to let it grow out.  They check out wigs but are advised that the cheap plastic wigs sold at the drug stores will not do the trick and are informed they need to buy the expensive human hair wigs and then have them custom styled for each band member.  The four band members set up a Sunday appointment at a salon in downtown St. Paul and get the wigs fitted and styled, complete with glued on side burns and bangs and clips to hold the wigs in place.  A snug, tight fit turns out to very important as young female fans will soon be trying to separate the wigs from the band members. Frank Vinapole, manager of Musicland in downtown St. Paul is a friend of Ron Butwin.  Frank asks Ron if his new band would be interested in opening up for Chuck Berry at a show scheduled for the last day of the year in St. Paul.  Ron books The Escapades for their first job.

December 31, 1964:  The Escapades play their first job, opening up a concert for Chuck Berry at the St. Paul Armory.  The venue is filled up thanks to extensive promotion.  The Escapades are introduced as a British band and only Ron talks between songs, speaking in a heavy British accent.  The group stays in their dressing room before and after their set, limiting their exposure to the public.  The gimmick works and The Escapades are treated like British rock stars including the screaming girls.  At the show are two local booking agents, Marsh Edelstein and Dick Shapiro, who immediately want to book the band.  The successful debut of the band creates a buzz about the band and after one job the new band from St. Paul finds they are suddenly in high demand.  The band turns down all offers to be exclusively booked by one agency and accepts jobs by all of the local booking agents.  The popularity of the group adds another job for the band boys: bodyguards, who are needed to keep the female fans from grabbing the wigs and clothes of the band members.  In addition, they stand guard at the dressing room door to shield the group from the public.

Terry Bellows becomes the second band member to speak between songs, also using a British accent. Edelstein and Shapiro find out the “secret” behind the band and are happy to “play along” with the gimmick. At the Marigold Ballroom it is announced that The Escapades have just arrived from England and need to leave the venue immediately after playing in order to catch a plane back home and will have a police escort to the airport. On the “Date with Dino” television show, the host Dino Day pretends to conduct an interview with the band live from England. Enrico and Zippy write a number of original songs for the band.  The songs are recorded live during the day at a bar on Lake Street.

March, 1965:  While playing in The Escapades, Ron Butwin is also working at B-Sharp Music Store in Minneapolis, a popular hang out for local musicians.  Some of the local musicians have started to figure out that Ron is the drummer for The Escapades, as they recognize his drum set.  Word spreads among the musicians that The Escapades are actually a St. Paul band and the British look, wigs, and accents are a gimmick.  Eventually, the wigs come off as they are no longer needed… the guys own hair has grown longer over time.

The band is heavily booked over the first seven months of 1975 playing mainly in the twin cities area and also in some out state venues, plus a few jobs across the border in Wisconsin.  On several occasions the band plays at two venues on the same day, one job in the afternoon and the other in the evening.  Although the gimmick of the British band impersonation ends after about three months, the band continues to play the popular hits by the British bands and maintain their popularity.

July 12 and 13, 1965:  Terry Bellows is sidelined due to a health issue and Bill Strandlof fills in on bass guitar for the final two jobs for the first version of The Escapades.  Enrico leaves the band to join The Underbeats.  Zippy leaves the band to join Froggy and his Friends.

The Escapades (Version 1) Job List:

December 31, 1964: St. Paul Armory (with Chuck Berry)

January 22, 1965: Marigold Ballroom, Minneapolis (with Chancellors)

January 29, 1965: Marigold Ballroom, Minneapolis (with Castaways)

February 12, 1965: Marigold Ballroom, Minneapolis (with Avanties)

February 13, 1965: Jewish Community Center, St. Paul

February 19, 1965: Stillwater Armory

February 26, 1965: Boulevard Theater and Marigold Ballroom, Minneapolis

February 27, 1965: Arcana on Central Avenue (Frat Party), Minneapolis

March 6, 1965: Hopkins Roller Rink

March 12, 1965: Stillwater Armory

March 13, 1965: Dayton’s Southdale (Fashion Show), Edina

March 20, 1965: Mr. Lucky’s, Minneapolis

March 26, 1965: Fredrick Rec Hall, Wisconsin

March 27, 1965: Edina Morningside High School

April 2, 1965: Wakota Arena, South St. Paul

April 3, 1965: Teen Town, Jordan

April 10, 1965: Safari Club, Mendota Heights

April 14, 1965: Mr. Lucky’s, Minneapolis

April 18, 1965: Mr. Lucky’s, Minneapolis

April 23, 1965: Mr. Lucky’s, Minneapolis

April 24, 1965: Har Mar Mall, Roseville

April 25, 1965: Pla-Mor Ballroom, Glencoe

April 30, 1965: Safari Club, Mendota Heights

May 1, 1965: Jordan

May 7, 1965: Mr. Lucky’s, Minneapolis

May 9, 1965: Mr. Lucky’s, Minneapolis

May 14, 1965: Marian Ballroom, Bloomington

May 15, 1965: Edina Morningside High School

May 21, 1965: Fredrick, Wisconsin

May 22, 1965: Dayton’s Auditorium (afternoon) and Safari Club (evening)

May 25, 1965: Bel Rea Ballroom (with Avanties), Moundsview

May 26, 1965: Mr. Lucky’s, Minneapolis

May 28, 1965: Hopkins Roller Rink

May 29, 1965: Mr. Lucky’s, Minneapolis

May 30, 1965: Hopkins Roller Rink

June 4, 1965: Mr. Lucky’s, Minneapolis

June 6, 1965: Schlief’s Little City, Mendota Heights

June 10, 1965: Pla-Mor Ballroom, Rochester

June 11, 1965: Henry’s Drive Inn, Rochester and Danceland, Exclesior

June 12, 1965: Surfside, Lake Minnetonka

June 14, 1965: Hopkins Roller Rink

June 16, 1965: Paradise Ballroom, Waconia

June 17, 1965: Pla-More Ballroom (with TC Atlantic), Glencoe

June 18, 1965: Roller Rink, London Road, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

June 19, 1965: Teen Town, Jordan

June 21, 1965:  Marigold Ballroom (with Chancellors), Minneapolis

June 23, 1965: Mr. Lucky’s, Minneapolis

June 24, 1965: Bel Rae Ballroom, Moundsview

June 25, 1965: Danceland, Excelsior

June 26, 1965: George’s Ballroom, New Ulm

June 29, 1965: Jewish Community Center, St. Paul

June 30, 1965: Roller Rink, Harmony

July 1, 1965: American Legion, Wayzata

July 2, 1965: Wakota Arena, South St. Paul

July 3, 1965: Danceland, Excelsior

July 4, 1965: Schief’s Little City, Mendota Heights

July 5, 1965: Rainbow Gardens, Rice Lake, Wisconsin

July 6, 1965: Pla-Mor Ballroom, Rochester

July 9, 1965: Safari Club, Mendota Heights

July 10, 1965: Jordan

July 12, 1965: Marigold Ballroom, Minneapolis

July 13, 1965: Danceland, Excelsior

Late August/Early September, 1965:  Following the departure of Enrico and Zippy from the band, Ron and Terry decide to put a new version of The Escapades together and hold auditions to find the right musicians. Ron is working at the B-Sharp Music Store Booth at the Teen Center (part of the Minnesota State Fair).  The Teen Center is in its second year and offers a band contest for local bands to compete in.  One of the bands in the competition is The Lynx from Robbinsdale.  The band has two singers: John Lopac and his younger brother Gary.  Ron hears the band doing a Beatles song and is very impressed with the group and in particular the vocals.  The Lynx play a number of times during the State Fair and win the contest for the best band.

Ron invites John Lopac over to practice with the new version of the band and John signs on as a new member. Version 2 of The Escapades come together with the following line-up: John Lopac on rhythm guitar and vocals; Mark Layton on lead guitar; Mark Skok on vocals, keyboards, and trumpet; Terry Bellows on vocals and bass guitar; and Ron Butwin on drums.  The new group does not try to duplicate the original version of the band although they still focus on playing the popular British hit songs of the era.  Ron decides to book the first jobs (around 10 to 12) out of town so the band can be in top shape when they start playing in the twin cities. The first job for the band is booked in Wisconsin.

October, 1965:  The second version of The Escapades play their first job at a country club in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  The band goes over well, although the group discovers they need to practice some more and they also need to learn more songs in order to have enough material to play for a full night.

December 18, 1965:  Ron decides to check out a local band playing at the Marigold Ballroom and invites Terry and John to join him. Terry can’t make the show, but John goes along.  After the show, Ron is giving John a ride back to his home in Robbinsdale in his VW Beetle.  Minneapolis is in the middle of a winter storm with high winds.  Ron is driving West on Highway 55 and comes to a stop sign and slows down and stops.  In his rear view mirror he spots the headlights of a car approaching him from behind at a high rate of speed.  Ron has no time to react to the situation.  The speeding vehicle hits Ron’s car from behind and propels the VW Beetle through the air into a nearby tree.  John Lopac dies in the accident.  Ron is unconscious for three days and when he regains consciousness in North Memorial Hospital (very near the accident site) he discovers he has multiple serious injuries and is told by one doctor he will never play the drums again.

Spring, 1966:  Ron’s recovery from the car accident is slow and painful.  Ron is advised he may want to try joining a health club as a way to deal with his pain and rebuild his strength.  Ron gives it a try and it seems to work. In April or May, Ron gets a call from booking agent Dick Shaipro and finds out that The Chancellors will be losing their drummer and the band members would like Ron to join them.  Ron joins The Chancellors and plays drums for the band for three or four months.

With his improved health Ron is able to get back to work at his job at B-Sharp Music Store where he gets to know Dale Menten from the Gestures.  Dale, originally from Mankato, is now living in the twin cities.  Ron and Dale talk about the idea of putting a new band together.  Dale tells Ron, “Let’s just do it” and they decide to use The Escapades for the band name, once again.

Fall, 1966:  A third version of The Escapades comes together with: Dale Menten on lead guitar and vocals; Mike O’Gara on rhythm guitar and vocals; Bruce Edwards on keyboards and vocals; Mike Flaherty on bass guitar and vocals; and Ron Butwin on drums.  This version of the band features a wide variety of popular music, with Dale Menten doing special arrangements to make their cover versions unique.  The wide key range covered between the vocalists opens up the door to many songs that other local bands were unable to cover.  The Motown groups including The Temptations, The Righteous Brothers, and Jay and the Americans are among the groups that the band covers.  The band plays at Mr. Lucky’s, The Barn, and Bimbo’s. In addition to band jobs, this version of the band gets advertising work, including doing promo spots for radio stations, including: “KDWB… Channel 63.”  The band is also hired to play for corporate events.

Fall, 1967:  Ron decides he is no longer up for the day to day grind of being in a band and wants to explore other opportunities in the music business.  Ron leaves the band and the group gets a new drummer (Dave Steinick) and become Seraphic Street Sounds.  The third (and final) version of The Escapades comes to end.

Written by Tom Campbell

Version 1: June 23, 2014

Version 2: February 3, 2016

Copyright by Thomas R. Campbell, 2016

 

Photos

Photo Shoot Group ONEChuck Berry Show -1

Escapades Version TWOFan Telegram

Pla - Mor PosterCentral Booking - 1

Mr. Lucky's -1Paradise Ballroom Poster

Bimbo's 2Bobby's Schedule - 1

Teen Calender 1965B Sharp ad's

B Sharp - 2Barn ad and More

Bimbo's and Henry's adTeen's Tune In

State Tournament DanceSong List

Bimbo'sDanceland Schedule -1

 

U of M DanceProm Center Ad's

MaGoo's and DancelandHopkin's Schedule

Connie Awards1967Happening's ad's

 

Recordings

NONE

Bandtree

The Escapades_____________BAND  TREE       

 

The  Escapades

1964  to  1967

 ____________________________________________________________

Tom  “Zippy”  Caplan             Lead  Guitar  /   Vocals          1964  to  1965

Uniques

Continentals

The  Escapades

Litter

Lightning/White Lightning

Dancer

Surf Dawgs

___________________________________________________________________

Enrico Rosenbaum    Rhythm  Guitar  /  Lead Vocals        1964  to  1965

The  Escapades

Underbeats

Gypsy

 ___________________________________________________________

Terry Bellows            Bass Guitar   /  Vocals            1964  to  1966

Key Notes

The  Escapades

Frenchmen

Tabs

Avanties

Phoenix

Horse Feathers

___________________________________________________________________

Ron Butwin              Drums  /  Vocals        1964  to  1967

Uniques

Continentals

The  Escapades

 ___________________________________________________________

John Lopac              Rhythm  Guitar  /   Vocals        1965

Lynx

The  Escapades

_________________________________________________________________

Mark Layton              Lead Guitar  /  1965

The  Escapades

 ___________________________________________________________

Mark Skok               Keyboards  /  Vocals  /  Trumpet     1965

The  Escapades

 ___________________________________________________________

Dale Menten              Lead Guitar  /  Vocals        1966  –  1967

Gestures

The  Escapades

Seraphic Street Sounds

Blackwood Apology

___________________________________________________________

Mike O’Gara              Rhythm Guitar  /  Vocals        1966  – 1967

Frenchmen

Bad Omens

The  Escapades

Seraphic Street Sounds

Stillroven

__________________________________________________________________

Bruce Edwards              Keyboards  /  Vocals        1966  –  1967

Bad Omens

The  Escapades

__________________________________________________________________

Mike Flaherty              Bass Guitar  /  Vocals        1966  – 1967

Bad Omens

The  Escapades

Seraphic Street Sounds

Stillroven

Zarathustra

__________________________________________________________________

 

 

Where are they now?

The  Escapades        Where  Are  They  Now  ?  

 

Escapades  1964  to  1967

________________________________________________________

Tom “Zippy” Caplan        Lead  Guitar

Active  in  Music           Yes

Doing  What  ?………..  Living in Minnesota,  playing with The Surf Dawgs 

_______________________________________________________

Enrico Rosenbaum        Rhythm Guitar  /  Vocals

Active  in  Music            No

Doing  What  ?…………   Passed  away  at age 35 on September 10, 1979

_________________________________________________________

Terry Bellows        Bass  Guitar  /  Vocals

Active  in  Music            No

Doing  What ?……………. Living in Minnesota

________________________________________________________

Ron Butiwn          Drums  /  Vocals

Active  in  Music           Yes

Doing  What  ?………..   Living in Minnesota, Jobbing 

_________________________________________________________

John Lopac        Rhythm  Guitar  /  Vocals

Active  in  Music            No

Doing  What ?……………. Passed away at age 15 on December 18, 1965

_______________________________________________________

Mark Layton        Lead  Guitar

Active  in  Music           Unknown

Doing  What  ?………..   Unknown

________________________________________________________

Mark Skok        Keyboards  /  Vocals  /  Trumpet

Active  in  Music            Unknown

Doing  What  ?…………   Unknown

_________________________________________________________

Dale Menten        Rhythm  Guitar  /  Lead Vocals

Active  in  Music            Yes

Doing  What ?……………. Living in Minnesota, playing reunion shows, solo projects

__________________________________________________________

Mike O’Gara        Rhythm Guitar  /  Vocals

Active  in  Music           No

Doing  What  ?………..   Passed away at age 69 in December, 2015

__________________________________________________________

Bruce Edwards        Keyboards  /  Vocals

Active  in  Music            Yes

Doing  What  ?…………   Living in Minnesota, playing in a worship band

__________________________________________________________

Mike Flaherty        Bass Guitar  /  Vocals

Active  in  Music            Yes

Doing  What ?……………. Living in California, playing with Mike and the Meteorites

____________________________________________________________

 

Interview

Interview Cover - 1

Interview Part  ONE    Time  =  31:40

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Interview Cover - 2

Interview Part  TWO    Time  =  16:48

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Interview Part - 3

Interview Part  THREE    Time  =  31:56

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