Hail Hail Rock & Roll

Posted: Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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“Hey Doug, you’re the trivia master,” our friend Alona said when she called this week, “Who sang the song Be my baby?”
(She’s right, Hemmingsen and I used to be pretty darn good Trivial Pursuit players. In fact, when the board game first came out in the 80’s; our Keloland team usually scored high at Trivial Pursuit contests.)
“Diana Ross and the Supremes,” I blurted out with the confidence of a true useless knowledge champion.
“You sure it wasn’t the Ronettes?” she said”
“Positive.”
Alona wanted to know because her granddaughter, Sydnee, is in an upcoming ice skating competition in New Ulm, Minnesota in which she’ll be wearing a bee costume. She’d wants to skate to the music of a song that has the word “be” in it a lot. “Do you know of any others that might work?” she asked.
“How about Be Bop A Lula by the Everly Brothers?” I suggested.
When Alona called back a few hours later she said, “You’re slippin’ Lund..it WAS the Ronettes  that sang Be My Baby.”  She had looked it up on Google.  “Are you sure the Everly Brothers did that other one?”
“Of course I’m sure. We used to sing it in our band all the time.”
After we hung up, I’m the one who checked the computer this time and…oops, wrong again. Well, sort of wrong. The Everly Brothers did do a version of Be Bop A Lula on one of their albums (where I heard it) but the old rockabilly song was first recorded by Gene Vincent in the mid fifties.
That puts me oh for two.
Strange then, that rock and roll historian, Don Fritz of Sioux Falls would ask me to be on the board of directors for  the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that he’s trying to get started. 
Don Fritz. THE authority on early history of S.D. Rock and RollAlthough not a musician himself, the soft-spoken Fritz has always loved rock and roll..especially the early stuff.  He can tell you a little something about nearly every band that played around here in the 50’s and 60’s, the songs they recorded and every ballroom and nightclub where they performed.
The basement of his modest home off Marion Road is filled with neatly filed vinyl records (thousands of them) several vintage juke boxes as well as all kinds of rock and roll memorabilia.
Most impressive though, to me anyway, are the hundreds of band posters with a South Dakota connection that he’s somehow managed to find and frame over the years. Many are from well-known groups like Myron Lee and the Caddies but what’s amazing is the number of posters he has from obscure garage bands that popped up in every town large or small back then and, after a year or so, disappreared.
 I did a Lund at Large feature on Fritz’s collection a few years ago and nearly tripped down the stairway when I spotted a poster hanging on his wall from the band I was in way back when; “The Couriers.”  I thought my cousin and I had the only Couriers posters left. I think Don said hegot this one at a yard sale. I wonder how much he paid for it.
In 2006, the Center for Western Studies invited Fritz to show off his collection at the Augustana College campus gallery. It was a big hit and made him more determined than ever to not only find a permanent home for his stuff but to create a South Dakota Hall of Fame where those who contributed to the history of rock and roll in our state can be honored and have their musical instruments or other memorabilia put on display too.So far, we’ve had no luck finding such a place but we’re hoping to rent the Mosque for a night and have a ceremony naming the first inductees by next spring.
If you have any thoughts, memories or ideas on Don’s dream, he’d love to hear from you. Just click here.
I’m sure he would know a lot of other songs with the word “be” in them and I’ll bet he’d get the artist right too. Next time I’ll have Alona call him.

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