October 10, 2015

The bands

The scoop on local acts

The bands The bands

The shows

Recall your favorite

The shows The shows

The places

The scene of the scene

The places The places

The radio stations

Surveys and DJ's

The radio stations The radio stations

The people

They made it happen

The people The people

Latest News

Finley was reviled by KC baseball fans but loved by its Beatle fans.

50th anniversary of KC Beatles concert coming up

Sir Paul McCartney returns to Kansas City for a concert this Wednesday, July 16, at the Sprint Center as part of his “Out There” tour. It will be the first time I have seen him perform, but it’s the rock icon’s fifth visit to our town. The first, of course, was when the Beatles played [...]

Britain's Ace Records has reissued the seminal "K.C. Loving" in this set.

The man who sang “Kansas City” first

While the song “Kansas City” is officially credited to rock ’n’ roll demigods Lieber and Stoller, the first man to record it, then-20-year-old Little Willie Littlefield, often claimed in the ensuing years to have written it himself. It’s not hard to believe Littlefield had at least a hand in writing the song. After all, it [...]

Greg Whitfield, (from left) Ken Mairs and Allen Blasco of Stone Wall at the Fun Fair, Municipal Auditorium, June 1969.

The heavy sounds of Stone Wall

If the Classmen (clean-cut brothers, managed by their father) were Kansas City’s equivalent to the Beach Boys and the Chesmann its Beatles, Stone Wall could be likened to Kansas City’s Cream or Led Zeppelin. A power trio with roots in the blues, Stone Wall was led by singer-guitarist Allen Blasco in combination with three different [...]

Guitar battle poster

Starlight memories

The nostalgic triple bill coming up at Starlight Theatre on Friday, May 10 — Styx, REO Speedwagon and Ted Nugent — made me wonder just how many times those three acts have collectively played Kansas City. The poster at left shows that promoter Chris Fritz presented two of the three groups – along with Joe [...]

Cavern studio letterhead

Need to unearth Cavern photos

Tom Sorrells, a great friend of the Kansas City Rock History Project, has a request. He needs photos of the former Cavern Studios in Independence, Mo., for a project he is undertaking with Chicago’s esteemed Numero Group. Cavern was active at least from the 1960s to 1980s. As evidenced by these 2 photos at (Jim) [...]

Cowtown Ballroom mirror ball.

‘Science of Rock’ premiere includes KC focus

“The Science of Rock,” an interactive exhibit that made its world premiere in October and which runs through May at Union Station, is something of a misnomer. But it’s fun and informative, and it contains a good deal of KC-specific rock history in its anteroom. Kudos to the staff of Union Station, many of whom [...]

Fabulous Cinners_66 web

Fabulous Cinners@Boom Boom Room

Fred Burke from St. Petersburg, Fla., reached out to me recently and sent me this snap of his band, the Fabulous Cinners, playing in 1966 at a place for which I’ve seen ads but never before photos – the Boom Boom Room, 3736 Main St. Fred says the Cinners also played such clubs as King [...]

Billie Organ, at far right, and the Roulettes

Billie Organ, the backbeat of early KC rock

Drummer Billie Organ, a.k.a. “Billie O,” is a local legend, a rock ’n’ roll pioneer and a master of many musical styles.

Roger Calkins (center) and the Fabulous Silver Tones at the original Soc Hop.

The Soc Hop(s) rocked

If it was not the Kansas City area’s earliest and most consequential rock club, The Soc Hop was certainly one of them. Created in 1960 in an old cattle barn near the northwest corner of 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue, The Soc Hop was part of the transformation of Johnson County, Kan., from rural to [...]

Ray Hildebrand, 2012.

Paul and Paula and Ray

If Kansas Citians know him at all, they likely know Ray Hildebrand from his 14 years as an executive of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the evangelistic enterprise whose headquarters looms over the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium. But Hildebrand will take the stage Friday, March 2, at the Midland Theater as part of the [...]

Ron Klaus (left) and John Nichols of the Embarrassment at the Music Box, 1981. (Photo by Jo Stone)

A punk progenitor

The birthplace of punk rock in Kansas City is coming down. Well, maybe not the birthplace, but the site of one of the earliest clubs to feature punk and new wave music, mainly by local bands, in a big way has an imminent date with the wrecking ball. According to a story at kshb.com, the [...]

Epitaph co-owners Jeff Gladhart and Rachel Burch Williams.

An epitaph for Epitaph

Epitaph, 11 E. 31st St., was the apotheosis of punk in Kansas City. Shabby-chic, tragically hip and infused with art-student sensibilities, the bar was a stone’s throw from VFW Post #18 but miles from that scene’s hardcore aesthetic. Black lights made the blue martinis served by bartender Rubber Robbin glow even more devilishly. No doubt, [...]

A Katz ad from 1964

Go, Katz, Go!

Kansas City Star Books has published a winner with its new “The Kings of Cut-Rate: The Very American Story of Isaac and Michael Katz,” by Brian Burnes and Steve Katz. The authors had great material to work with, starting with the rags-to-riches story of the Katz brothers and including dozens of vivid images of their [...]

Vintage postcard showing the WPA-era building.

Municipal Auditorium turns 75

The magnificent Art Deco Municipal Auditorium, which will host a 75th birthday party Thursday, Oct. 13, has been the site of much Kansas City Rock History. Elvis Presley played three concerts there – May 24, 1956; Nov. 15, 1971; and June 29, 1974. Other notable shows include the Jimi Hendrix Experience Nov. 1, 1968, and [...]

Len Barry's huge hit, "1-2-3," came out a few days after this show.

Carney Rock

Kansas City amusement parks were often the site of rock concerts in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. The tradition of “School’s Out” concerts at Fairyland sponsored by Top 40 radio station WHB goes back farther than I realized in my earlier “World’s Happiest Broadcasters” post. Those events took place in the early 1970s. I have [...]

Larry Emmett and the Sliders, probably at Barry's Barn in Olathe, Kan.

KC’s first homegrown rocker

According to several sources, the Kansas City area’s first homegrown rock band of note was Larry Emmett and the Sliders. While African-Americans were playing and listening to rhythm and blues in local clubs at least since the early 1950s, the flowering of white rock bands did not occur until after the Elvis Presley explosion of [...]

Poster courtesy Gary Mallen, ex-Intruders bassist

Site of early clubs rocks again

Rod Peal is a rock musician-turned-entrepreneur who opened Halcyon Diversified Trading in December 2009 at 4706 Mission Road, Roeland Park, Kan. Peal buys and sells a variety of hip goods, from used vinyl records to musical instruments to furniture. On the second Friday of each month, he hosts an art opening with live music. Peal [...]

Stan Plesser on a trip to London in the 1970s, while representing the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

The passion of Stan Plesser

Stan Plesser, who died Sept. 1 at age 79, arguably did more to foster the pop music scene in Kansas City than any other single person. From 1963 to 1971, his Vanguard Coffeehouse, 4305 Main St., brought the stars and semi-stars of the folk movement to midtown. His subsequent (1971-74) Cowtown Ballroom, 3101 Gillham Plaza, [...]

Jimi posed backstage with morning DJ "Humble" Harry Miller from concert sponsor KUDL-AM.

Calling all shutterbugs!

Among the holy grails of the Kansas City Rock History Project, in terms of photos, is the Jimi Hendrix Experience concert Nov. 1, 1968, at Municipal Auditorium. If anyone out there has photos of Jimi, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell on stage in Kansas City, please be in touch with me. And anyone who attended, [...]

Secrets* get their own LP side in the new four-LP boxed set.

Own a piece of KC Rock History

Those Chicago-based musical archaeologists at the Numero Group are offering up a chance to own a slab of Kansas City Rock History. Three years ago they released a brilliant 2-CD set titled “Titan: It’s All Pop!” It is 40 tracks of locally recorded, 1970s-vintage power-pop from the Titan label, which was headed by Tom Sorrells [...]

The KC STar and Times' coverage of the OMF was sometimes positive, sometimes sneering.

The Day of the Locusts

Thirty-seven years before KanRockSas, Chris Fritz put on another mega-outdoor concert in the Kansas City area. But who remembers the Ozark Music Festival today?

Freedom Palace farewell

Need info on Freedom Palace, 1970-72

Among the places about which I am sorely lacking information – photos, ticket stubs, etc. – is Freedom Palace, the former Pla-Mor Ballroom at 3140 Main St. As noted in this item (at left) from The Westport Trucker, during its 1970-72 lifespan, Freedom Palace played host to such acts as The Who, Sly & the [...]

This handbill is from 1970. Similar events were held in 1971 and '72 at Fairyland.

World’s Happiest Broadcasters

  I got a chance to talk to a boyhood idol this past weekend: Phil Jay, formerly the #2 on-air personality on WHB-AM, Kansas City’s dominant #1 radio station during rock’s golden era of the 1960s.   As Phil and many other reference works tell it, WHB owner and Omaha, Neb., native Todd Storz was [...]

This poster is circa 1980, same as the photos in the previous post about the Music Box.

Punk/new wave posters

Here are some posters I saved from the early 1980s punk/new wave scene. My faves, the Embarrassment, are represented with a poster from the same general time frame as the photos in the post below. Some of the other key punk venues are here, too: the VFW Hall, Louis Craig Post #18, 3027 Walnut St.; [...]

Ron Klaus (bass) and John Nichols (vocals).

The Music Box

This little club at the southeast corner of 47th and Troost was the home of the punk movement in KC. Here are a series of photographs of Wichita’s great The Embarrassment playing there. Click on pix to embiggen. If you have memories of the Music Box, or its neighbor to the south a few doors, [...]

Classmen meet the NewBeats

Classmen meet the NewBeats

Drew and Doug Dimmell were in high school when they formed the Classmen. The NewBeats had the nation’s #1 record, “Bread and Butter,” when they came to town in 1962, looking for a group to back them in two concerts.

Guitarist Roach of Groovie Ghoulies at El Torreon

Welcome to KC Rock History

This website is designed to become the home for rock history in the Kansas City area; a place to share memories and memorabilia. In 2010, I began researching the topic with an eye toward publishing a book. I need lots of help, though, so please share your memories here in the comments section — no [...]

The Fabulous Flippers

The Fabulous Flippers, led by amazing white soul singer Danny Hein, were one of the bands that orbited around the Red Dog Inn in Lawrence, Kan., in the mid-1960s. They were managed by John Brown, who owned the club, and promoted heavily on KOMA-AM out of Oklahoma City. They tore up dance halls up and [...]


This site is for demo purposes only. Acknowledgements detailed below.

Entertainment & Culture

Sir Elton John cancels Wembley Concert. Leona Lewis suspect “not fit for court”. Madonna Opens Malawi children’s school. Singing Soldiers in chart topping battle. Lily Allen leads charge at the Q awards. Miss Frank voted out of X Factor by public.

World Affairs

Afghan rivals row over poll chief veracity. German citizen on trial for muslim murder. Berlusconi faces an even earlier taxation trial. Zimbabwe talks end without substantive deal. Norwegian customs finds reptile horde. Australian eco-friendly car racing.

Science & Environment

Particle beams injected into the LHC. New Nasa rocket set for exploratory flight Paint to thwart chemical attack threats. Darwinian teaching divides opinion. Climate map shows global human impact. Freezer plan bid to save the world corals.

Even More News

Particle beams injected into the LHC. New Nasa rocket set for exploratory flight Paint to thwart chemical attack threats. Darwinian teaching divides opinion. Climate map shows global human impact. Freezer plan bid to save the world corals.


The bands

The scoop on local acts

Jimi Hendrix concert ad

The shows

Kansas City has seen some legendary rock concerts, including the Beatles’ appearance in 1964 at Municipal Stadium, the Who at Shawnee Mission South High School in 1967 and the Jacksons’ Victory Tour kickoff at Arrowhead Stadium in 1986. Who out there was at these shows? What do you remember? Please comment below. Do you have [...]

Stan Plesser's Vanguard was at 43rd and Main.

The places

The KC Rock History Project is documenting the places where local rock history was made — the clubs and concert halls. Some of the names — like Cowtown Ballroom and the Grand Emporium — are still well known. Others, less so. What memories do you have of Coya’s Castle, the Soc Hop, the Downliner and [...]

KUDL survey 67

The radio stations

Was WHB an oasis where black and white pop music came together joyously, or a soul-less desert, where major domo Johnny Dolan turned up his nose at local groups and even the Beatles? Remember the 40 Star Survey? Or did you prefer the KUDL Boss 30?

London Wood, feat. Mike Waggoner

The people

A scene doesn’t just happen. People make it happen, and some of the most happening people were the promoters and club owners of Kansas City’s rock ‘n’ roll scene. Many of their stories have multiple chapters — like Stan Plesser with his Vanguard coffee house and Cowtown Ballroom plus Good Karma Productions, or Mike Waggoner, [...]

Toon Shop record bar

The record stores

You remember them: brick-and-mortar buildings, staffed by knowledgeable music lovers, where you bought black plastic slabs in big picture sleeves. You might even catch a recording artist performing in store or just browsing the shelves next to you. Several veterans of Caper’s Corner and Penny Lane have appeared on local radio recently, reminiscing about those [...]