Mogen’s Hero Worship

Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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When John Mogen called me about playing drums and singing in his band, Mogen’s Heroes, back in 1988, I hesitated…unsure of being up to the task.
I’d have to fill the shoes of Scott Klaverkamp who’d been Mogen’s Heroes’ first and only drummer and who could sing all the high notes.
I’d heard the group play many times and loved the sound..especially the  tight vocal harmonies produced by Scott, John and guitarist, Tom Steever. A sound that comes with years of working together and featured on nearly every song they played.
“I don’t know, John, I’ve smoked a lot of Marlboros over the years trying to develop  a low broadcaster’s voice. I can’t even “think” as high as Scott sings..much less hit the notes,” I said.
“Ah, you’ll do just fine. We’ll have you sing melody on the tunes that are too far out of reach or you’re not comfortable big deal,” John said.
John Mogen is the most easy going optimistic person I’ve ever met but it turns out he was right about my fitting in. I was one of his heroes for the next 13 years."Mogen’s Heroes" early 90’s I think. That’s radio personality and farm broadcaster Tom Steever on on drums and band founder, John Mogen who plays keyboard with his right hand and bass with his left.
In the beginning, John’s calendar was full nearly every weekend. We’d load up the equipment and ourselves into his 1976 Chevy van and head off to Parkston, Mitchell, Brookings or any one of a thousand places to play for a birthday party, anniversary or wedding dance.
Gradually, though, more couples opted for DJ’s rather than a live band to provide music for their wedding dances and we began to have nothing to do on Saturday nights.
When Tom Steever left the Heroes I figured well, that’ll be the end of it for sure but then John found Denny Gale..a terrific guitar player and singer.. to fill the void.
After my departure in 2001, Bill Hoffman came aboard. Not only is Bill an excellent drummer but his voice is amazing. He can sing bass when necessary or do a spot-on impersonation of Frankie Valli on songs like Sherry and Rag Doll..hitting notes high enough to shatter glass.
Although not as busy as the old days, today’s Mogen’s Heroes band sounds better than ever and continues to be in demand entertaining  at concerts, fairs and other events throughout the region.   Hawaiin shirts have replaced tuxes as Mogen’s Heroes continues to go strong after 30 years.Performing at the Day County fair are Denny Gale on guitar, Bill Hoffman on electronic drums and John Mogen still playing the same DX7 Yamaha keyboard.
As part of the band’s 30th anniversary, John invited me to sing with the Heroes for a few of their shows this summer including McKennan Park 100th anniversary concert, the Brookings Art Festival, Day County Fair, Turner County Fair and the Brown County fair in Aberdeen next Sunday.  
It has been great fun but I’ll be just fine when it’s time to step away from the microphone again.
John Mogen retired from the Sioux Falls school system this past spring after a long career teaching music. He’s now decided to try his hand at politics entering the race for a seat in the state legislature.
So if he wins will that finally be the end of Mogen’s Heroes after 30 years?
Not on your life.
He just won’t book any gigs during the month of January..unless they’re close to Pierre.

1 Comment

  1. Ron Moffitt says:

    Doug …
    How the dickesn can a guy contact John? Want to talk some music business with him but I can’t find a phone number for him … can you help?
    Ron Moffitt of the Great Pretenders

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