LEAD — A musical group of brothers who have become famous throughout the Lead-Deadwood and Northern Black Hills area, and a band that got its start performing in Spearfish in the 1960s, will be inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame in 2013.
On April 13 the music association will recognize Lead’s Roselles Brothers, and Burch Ray & The Walkers, for their significant contributions to music in South Dakota during their hall of fame induction ceremony in Sioux Falls.
They don’t all play together very often, but when three or more of the Roselles Brothers get together they rock the house harder than almost any other band in Lead has for almost 50 years. For the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame induction, Les, Gary, Stacey and Mark Roselles will display their talents on multiple instruments, while brother Steve shows his support.
The brothers, who have played with almost every Northern Hills musician, and several around the country, in different band combinations for the last 50 years, are a well-known household name among Lead-Deadwood natives. From the days of watching their father, George, play in the early 1950s, music has been the Roselles family legacy.
“We play the guitar, bass, drums, piano, mandolin, and the horn,” said Gary. “We’re pretty much interchangeable. Some are better than others on some instruments.”
“If we take a job in a bar or whatever the case may be we have done it so that songs that we’re better doing, we switch instruments when the set ends and do those songs that we are better at,” Stacey said.
The band that can play rock and roll, country, and 50s and 60s rock got its start in different ways, as each brother has a story about how he started playing music. Gary started playing with his father at the Eagles Club, while Les learned how to play the guitar at the request of his Spanish teacher, so he could do a performance that would help raise his faltering grade. Stacey learned how to play by watching his brother, Gary. Steve remembers the days when the family couldn’t afford to buy a bass guitar, so he tuned down a six-string to play the bass line in the band.
For many years the brothers formed different combinations of bands that played post prom events, school dances, charity fundraisers, and more. And when one of the bands needed an extra hand in the music, another Roselles brother stepped in to help.
“Really, the Roselles Brothers have played with so many people here that could be added to the Roselles Brothers,” Les said. “It’s one of those things that we have spent 40-plus years playing.”
Gary said the brothers’ notoriety was obvious recently at his 50th high school reunion.
“The night of the dance we had people coming from Custer, Spearfish, Deadwood, and Rapid thinking that the Roselles Brothers were playing because we had played consistently for class reunions and that night we weren’t,” Gary said. “They were a little perturbed. We played the music they liked.”
In addition to playing the Northern Black Hills area, the Roselles Brothers have also played with different band combinations from Montana to Arizona, in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico. And, Stacey jokingly added, he’s also played in Kadoka.
The Roselles Brothers said they are all looking forward to being honored at the S.D. Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, April 13.
“This is a big deal,” Gary said. “And it’s an honor to be recognized.”
Burch Ray and
The band that had humble beginnings based on a tiny ranch between Ekalaka, Mont., and Belle Fourche, got its start playing at the Spearfish Pavilion from 1961-1966. Heavily influenced by Chan Romero, who sang the “Hippy Hippy Shake,” and Eddy Cochran, the band played 50s and 60s rock and roll. When they perform at the induction ceremony, Burch Ray and some of the original Walkers will resurrect their famous sound and play the same genre.
Original Walkers included Gary Askin, Joe Konkright, and Ed Harris. Later, Dennis Steiner, Gary Lunden, Doug Boyle, and Wayne Kurtz joined the band. The Walkers gleaned their name from a Duane Eddy record, “The Walker,” and also from the frequent times of walking alongside the highway after Konkright’s ’56 Chevy broke down.
Burch Palmer, whose stage name is Burch Ray, said his reaction to being inducted into the Hall of Fame was questioning whether he was worthy.
“Then it was a feeling of pride and surprise,” he said. “I am so grateful to the guys that they still remember and appreciate the old music that we played back then. After it was all said and done my favorite music to play is still the old rock and roll.”
The band counts opening up for Chubby Checker in Hot Springs, and playing for the locals in Spearfish, as some of their most memorable South Dakota moments. Other highlights for the band included touring with The Angels, and doing shows with the Everly Brothers and the Beach Boys.
The band, which continued to play through the 1970s, toured internationally. In 1970 the group played 10 weeks in Vietnam, one week in the Phillipines, and two weeks in Thailand. Some of the group’s records include “Waiting Alone,” 1962; “Time Traveler,” 1962; “Amarillo Texas,” 1964; “Love Questions b/w Love Was Made for Two,” 1965.
At the induction ceremony, Palmer said he will play with band members he hasn’t seen in 50 years, something he said he is looking forward to. Additionally, Palmer said his son will play with him, on the bass guitar.
Currently, Palmer, who is a songwriter, said he stays busy in Reno, Nev., where he plays in a bagpipe band and records his own music.
For more information about Burch Ray and The Walkers visit http://www.burchray.com. For information about the S.D. Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame, visit http://www.southdakotarockandrollmusicassociation.com.