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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Basic Biittner: Another area Hall of Famer

Monday, June 12, 2006

I wrote an article recently about Cherokee native Paul Sleezer, who will be inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this September as a member of two different groups - The Dodge Boys and the Scavengers. As it turns out, unbeknownst to me, a member of yet another Hall of Fame group lives and works in Marcus.

Steve Smith was a good friend and neighbor of Randy Hoyt when they were growing up in Marcus. Hoyt and his family moved to Remsen, but he didn't forget his old buddy. Hoyt and seven friends in the Remsen and LeMars area had formed the band ,The Cellophane Spectacle, when they were in high school, and when they needed a saxophone player, Hoyt called Smith and asked him if he'd like to join the group. He did, and he continued to play with the band, now re-christened The Spectacle, for the next two years. The ten-piece band played all over the Midwest at ballrooms, colleges, county fairs, and night clubs, from 1968 - 1973, with Smith joining in 1970 or 1971.

Smith, now a well-known area insurance agent, remained as a band member for a couple of years. Prior to his joining the band, they had recorded two 45s (remember 45s?) , which received considerable airplay on local radio stations and sold well at local music shops and department stores. In the early 70s, they served as the house band at George's in the Park in Minneapolis, playing one floor show and three dance sets six nights a week. Following the expiration of their contract with George's, the group disbanded, with members going off to college, marriage, or pursuing other endeavors.

In the year 2000, the Spectacle reunited for the first time in more than 25 years, and packed Remsen's Avalon Ballroom to beyond capacity. The state police actually started turning people away at the gate for safety reasons. A second reunion in 2001 enjoyed similar success, and then, in 2002, the Spectacle was inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the Roof Garden Ballroom in Arnold's Park. They played a show there after the induction ceremonies, as inductees often do.

Smith says that several of the original band members, including Hoyt, have continued to perform through the years, and that this has helped the group as a whole to present a good, professional performance when they do reunite.

But don't just take our word for it. On Saturday July 8, 2006, the Spectacle, now called The Spectacle Rhythm and Blues Soul Revue, will present what will very likely be their final appearance at the Avalon Ballroom in Remsen. Original group members Hoyt, Mark Moeller, Bart Ross, Jim Weiler, Loren Paulson, Fred Juhl, Smith, Joe Blaha, Tom Renfro, Al Schrank will be there, as will the new additions since 2000- Tom Hunting, Phil Carlin, Maryann Creswell-Hirsch and EvaDean Schrank. A 14-piece band , including a smokin' horn section, which plans to present a show featuring the best of the Spectacle, and feature lots of rhythm and blues, played in "true Spectacle style."

The group was often referred to as "The Party Band" in their heyday, and they would like to invite everyone to come party with them one more time on July 8.

For more about the Spectacle's history, check the group's web site at www.spectacle.topcities.com,

By the way, with Smith's band, Dave Schossow's band (The Senders), the two Sleezer bands, and The Magnificent Board of Directors, featuring Aurelia native Joan Will Pithan's son, Merle, all in the Hall at Okoboji, it just may be that the only old rock and roll bands from the area which are not members of the Hall are the Cult, the Charades, the (Ubangi) Stompers, and the Rudabaga Bunch. It's not too late to nominate any or all of these deserving groups for induction! Just go to the web site www. iowarocknroll.com.