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Everybody’s Heard about the Bird

The True Story of 1960s Rock ’n’ Roll in Minnesota

2015
Author:

Rick Shefchik

Everybody’s Heard about the Bird

The first comprehensive history to trace the evolution of Minnesota 1960s rock and roll

This behind-the-scenes, up-close-and-personal account relates how a handful of Minnesota rock bands erupted out of a small Midwest market and made it big. From Augie Garcia and Bobby Vee to The Trashmen and the Castaways, Everybody’s Heard about the Bird reveals how this monumental era of Minnesota rock music in the 1960s evolved.

Engrossing and exhaustive, Everybody’s Heard about the Bird is an invaluable pop history document that chronicles the nascent Minneapolis recording and music industry and early rock-and-roll stew. All in all, a labor of love that feels both fresh and long overdue.

Jim Walsh, journalist, songwriter, and author of The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History

If you didn’t experience rock and roll in Minnesota in the 1960s, this book will make you wish you had. This behind-the-scenes, up-close-and-personal account relates how a handful of Minnesota rock bands erupted out of a small Midwest market and made it big. It was a brief, heady moment for the musicians who found themselves on a national stage, enjoying a level of success most bands only dream of.

In Everybody’s Heard about the Bird, Rick Shefchik writes of that time in vivid detail. Interviews with many of the key musicians, combined with extensive research and a phenomenal cache of rare photographs, reveal how this monumental era of Minnesota rock music evolved. The chronicle begins with musicians from the 1950s and early 1960s, including Augie Garcia, Bobby Vee, the Fendermen, and Mike Waggoner and the Bops. Shefchik looks at how a local recording studio and record label, along with Minnesota radio stations, helped make their achievements possible and prepared the way for later bands to break out nationally.

Shefchik delves deeply into The Trashmen’s emblematic rise to fame. A Minneapolis band that recorded a fluke novelty hit called “Surfin’ Bird” at Kay Bank Studios, The Trashmen signed with Soma Records, topped the local charts in late 1963, and were poised to top the national charts in early 1964. Hundreds of Minnesota bands took inspiration from The Trashmen’s success, teen dances with live bands flourished in clubs, ballrooms, gyms, and halls across the Upper Midwest. Here are the stories of bands like the Gestures, the Castaways, and the Underbeats, and the triumphs—and tragedies—of the most prominent Minnesota-spawned bands of the late 1960s, including Gypsy, Crow, and the Litter.

For the baby boomers who remember it and everyone else who has felt its influence, the 1960s rock-and-roll scene in Minnesota was an extraordinary period both in musical history and popular culture, and now it’s captured fully in print for the first time. Everybody’s Heard about the Bird celebrates how these bands found their singular sound and played for their elated audiences from the golden era to today.

Awards

Association for Recorded Sound Collections – Best Historical Research in Recorded Rock Music. Certificate of Merit.

Everybody’s Heard about the Bird

Rick Shefchik spent almost thirty years in daily journalism, mostly as a critic, reporter, and columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He is the author of From Fields to Fairways: Classic Golf Clubs of Minnesota (Minnesota, 2012). He’s a novelist and author of three works of nonfiction and has been in several working bands as a guitarist and singer.

Everybody’s Heard about the Bird

Engrossing and exhaustive, Everybody’s Heard about the Bird is an invaluable pop history document that chronicles the nascent Minneapolis recording and music industry and early rock-and-roll stew. All in all, a labor of love that feels both fresh and long overdue.

Jim Walsh, journalist, songwriter, and author of The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History

Shefchik offers a brisk, light, and lively overview of the arrival of rock in the Upper Midwest and the local bands that brought it to life. Incredibly researched. Totally cool! Awesome!

Bill Diehl, Rajah of the Records, WDGY

A meticulously researched and thoughtfully told celebration of the successes Minnesota musicians achieved in the ‘60s.

Pioneer Press

A deep, exhilarating, educational and inspiring rabbit hole that leads to aural artifacts from a time when ballroom dance floors looked like sizzling pans of human flesh, so wild and freely were they filled with dancing kids.

MinnPost.com

If you didn’t experience rock and roll in Minnesota in the 1960s, this book will make you wish you had.

Fox 9 News

Relive the years of Augie Garcia and Bobby Vee, the Castaways and the Trashmen, whose hit “Surfin’ Bird” inspired hundreds of bands in the Upper Midwest. Word is that this fun read. . . is selling out all over town.

Pioneer Press

Just like ‘Surfin’ Bird’ and the other songs of that era, the best word that could be used to describe Shefchik’s book is simply ‘fun.’

Star Tribune

Rick Shefchik...has meticulously re-created the scene whose biggest names included the Castaways, the Underbeats, the Avanties, and the Gestures.

Minnesota History

Everybody’s Heard about the Bird

Contents

Prologue
1. Suzie Baby
2. The Rajah of the Records
3. Battle of the Bands
4. Trashman’s Blues
5. The Bird is the Word
6. The British Arrive
7. On the Move
8. The Big Three
9. The Great Deception
10. Run, Run, Run
11. Liar, Liar
12. We Gotta Get Out of This Place
13. Dream if You Can
Epilogue: Bringing It All Back Home
Acknowledgments
Index