2018 Inductees

SPLIT LIP RAYFIELD

TOGETHER

BIRTH

SUBMYTION

THE ELDERS

JIM REARDON

MICHAEL WAGGONER

WHITTEN PELL

CHRIS FRITZ

 

SPLIT LIP RAYFIELD- Lawrence/Wichita, KS
SPLIT LIP RAYFIELD

Split Lip Rayfield – Lawrence/Wichita, KS
Acoustic power-trio Split Lip Rayfield (SLR) is a force to be reckoned with after 22 years of national touring and recording. The group is credited with helping to shape a new genre by blending elements of bluegrass, punk rock, hard rock, and country music into a unique and powerful sound. The band’s iconic homemade gas tank bass, respectfully referred to as “The Stitchgiver”, is crafted from an automotive gas tank and fitted with a single weed eater line for the string. The band was formed after the Wichita and Lawrence musicians met in the Pecan Grove campground at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS. SLR consists of Jeff Eaton (gas tank bass), Wayne Gottstine (mandolin, guitar), and Eric Mardis (banjo, guitar). They lost their charismatic guitarist and co-founder Kirk Rundstrom to cancer in 2007. The seemingly sparse combo is capable of producing a massive amount of sound. Audiences are amazed by the instrumental prowess and strong vocal harmonies on display at an SLR performance – their shows appeal to a diverse crowd, from blue-haired grandmas to blue-haired punk rock kids. While the band is known for its aggressive and speedy acoustic stylings, their performances are always a thoughtful mix of moods, tempos, and textures. Over years, SLR has shared stages and festivals with such greats as Reverend Horton Heat, Del McCoury, Primus, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams III, Roy Clark, and many, many more. The band has been through many trials and tribulations over the past 20+ years, but has always risen to rock the next crowd, leaving jaws agape, and bringin’ the party!

TOGETHER – Lawrence, KS

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Together – Lawrence, KS
The band lineup was John O’Reagan – drums, Rod Mikinski – bass, Tom Rejba – vocals, percussion, Bill Lynch – vocals, guitar, keyboards, Bob Garrett – vocals, keyboards, and Terry Gerkovich – vocals, guitar, keyboards, and arranger. Together originated as a cover band in the mid 60’s known as The Renegades. Literally practicing in basements and garages, they honed their sound and built their audiences playing clubs and parties in Kansas and Missouri. Starting with R&B and Surf music, through the Beatles and Rolling Stones, they became a popular attraction, developing a solid, loyal following. It was a golden era for music, but a tough time for bands, with few gigs available if you didn’t do the right cover songs. In the late 60’s after adding Bill Lynch and John O’Reagan, they changed their name to Together. They also changed their sound. With the addition of Bill and John, the band grew artistically, developing a unique identity that included original music. Together soon developed into a very powerful live band. They were savvy in finding crowd pleasing offerings, while also exploring lesser known material and bringing their audience along with them. It all happened during a musical era rich in variety and experimentation. Opening for Vanilla Fudge at Memorial Hall in KC, KS Together was quickly off to the races. Being part of the bill at Municipal Auditorium in June of ‘69 with the Steve Miller Band and Strawberry Alarm Clock was another major step forward for the new band. Coming back to Memorial Hall in late ’69 to open for Johnny Winter topped off an amazing first year. Throughout the early 70’s, Together continued playing major gigs at venues in Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Wichita, Tulsa, and Omaha. Opening act spots with Canned Heat and The Tokens were highlights, plus playing for 8,000 people at an anti-war rally in front of Allen Field house in 1970, and for 5,000 people at Veishea Day in Ames, Iowa. Memorable shows at colleges, clubs, schools and concerts over a five-state area proved their commitment to a mission of quality live performance.

BIRTH – Dodge City, KS

BIRTH
Birth – Dodge City, KS
Birth was formed in 1967. A name suggesting the creation of something was decided on in the midst of the psychedelic era by four friends who had grown up together almost from the cradle in Dodge City KS, and have continued to play together for over 50 years. Once they’d seen The Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan Show” they were never the same. Putting a band together was the next step and with time, determination and help from parents and friends, they began playing school dances, VFW, Elks Clubs, Church dances, proms, parties, picnics, school lyceums, and later on in local clubs as well as hosting their own dances by renting local venues. In Fifth grade, their early teens, when they started performing together, the same four friends, now, have all reached their sixties and still continue playing for their fans, friends and family. They are: Bill Warshaw, Dodge City KS, Drums and Percussion, Chris Cave, Dallas TX, Keyboards, Harmonica & Vocals, Jonathan Jambor, Colorado Springs, CO, Fender Bass & Vocals, and Lewis Mock, Colorado Springs CO, Lead Guitar & Vocals. Playing together for a lifetime, this little garage band from Dodge City still brings people together for great times and great memories.

SUBMYTION – Hays, KS

SUBMYTION
Submytion – Hays, KS
Formed in Dorrance, KS when they were still in high school, Submytion relocated to Hays KS, where they studied at Ft. Hays State University. Submytion was known for high energy 80’s covers, with powerful vocals, electrifying musicianship, catchy originals, and a riveting stage presence. Developing a large fan base over their 15 years together, they played shows as far west as Coronado Island CA, and as far east as Pisa, Italy. Submytion appeared with bands such as Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Kansas, Night Ranger, The Romantics, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Extreme, LA Guns, and Dream Theater, plus many more. They were honored to be selected by the Department of Defense to perform for American troops stationed in Germany and Italy in 1989. Their first original 10 song CD “Finally” was released in 1992, when the band relocated to Kansas City. Rodell Records stated: “The tunes are hook-laden, full of infectious riffs, and the band never seems to run out of concentrated grooves”. The second CD “Heart of Darkness” followed in 1993, which included the song “Circles”, also featured on a nationally released compilation CD “Raw Cuts Encore”.

BILL LEE AWARD

THE ELDERS – Kansas City, KS

The Elders
The Elders – Kansas City, MO (Bill Lee Award)
This year’s Bill Lee Award goes to The Elders. A Celtic Rock band, The Elders were formed by bass player Norm Dahlor and fiddler Brent Hoad after moving back to Kansas City from Los Angeles. Both had played with many other bands, but decided they wanted to play their own version of original Irish music. The band formed in 1998, but ramped up touring all over the country and Europe after lead singer Ian Byrne joined the band in 2002. Byrne, who is from Ireland, initiated taking hundreds of fans on tour to his homeland every year for the last 16 years. Norm Dahlor, Brent Hoad, and guitarist Steve Phillips have been with the band from the start. Kian Byrne on drums, guitar, bass and mandolin joined next, followed by fiddler Diana Ladio. (Kian Byrne is Ian’s son, and was also born in Ireland). The band prides itself on original, from-the-heart, foot-stomping Celtic Rock songs. The band believes their eighth and latest CD “True” is one of their best.

BOB HAPGOOD AWARD

Jim Reardon – Topeka

JIM REARDON
Jim Reardon – Topeka, KS (Bob Hapgood Award)
In 1964, Jim became the first of several business associates linked with KMHoF inductee John Brown’s Mid-Continent Entertainment. Others include Mike Murfin, Gary “Igor” Crawford, and Steve Dahl (as a member of the Red Dogs) all KMHoF inductees. As college students, Brown booked the Fabulous Flippers and Reardon booked the Bluethings under the Mid-Continent Entertainment banner from their nearby home towns of Downs and Beloit, as well as from their school venues in Lawrence (KU) and Manhattan (KSU). The Mid-Continent bands benefited from Brown’s promotional genius, flooding the nighttime airwaves with appearance schedules over KOMA, a 50,000-watt radio station in Oklahoma City. For a time, KOMA was the ONLY nighttime rock station available to a vast portion of Middle America. Mid-Continent’s summer tours kept bands appearing nightly throughout KOMA’s 13 state listening area and the stable of Mid-Continent bands grew. In 1965, Brown, with assistance from Reardon, began booking some of the best known regional bands from the Red Dog Inn in Lawrence, including The Blue Things, The Fabulous Flippers, The Roaring Red Dogs, Spider, and the Crabs; The Rising Suns and The Young Raiders. Reardon moved to Hays in December of 1965, and soon opened The Dark Horse Inn, a renovated plumbing shop located near Ft. Hays State College. The Dark Horse drew some of the best regional bands of the era. In 1967, Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine called it “one of the Top 50 entertainment venues in America.” Some of the more memorable appearances at the Dark Horse included the Shangri-Las, Doug Clark & The Hot Nuts, and Mike Finnigan & The Serfs. From the Dark Horse, Jim and his booking partner, Dick Doll, launched a new agency: James N. Reardon and Associates. Soon a new series of KOMA advertised bands were touring the Mid-West: The Jerms, King Midas and the Muflers, The Fabulous Apostles, The Playmate Blues Band, The Showmen, and The Soul Express. All have all been inducted into the KMHoF. The Dark Horse Inn was sold in 1968. For a year, Reardon and Doll opened a second office in Denver where they represented a wider array of bands. They promoted a series of concerts and tours which included The Shangri-Las, The Turtles, Steppenwolf, The Cowsills, Sugarloaf, and Vanilla Fudge among others. While at Washburn University Law School from 1970-73, Jim continued to dabble in concert promotions with Denver promoter Joel Brandeis. Those included The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Vogues, Steely Dan, The Pot County Pork and Bean Band, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, and Flash Cadillac. His last promotion was the 1974 closed-circuit telecast of Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon Jump at Century Two in Wichita. Reardon went on to a career in law, politics, and investments. He’s served on the KMHoF board, and is currently senior investment advisor at Legacy Financial Strategies LLC, a registered investment advisory firm in Topeka.

2018 DIRECTORS’ AWARD

Michael Waggoner
Kansas City, MO

Whitten Pel
Kansas City, MO

Chris Fritz
Kansas City, MO

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Michael Waggoner – Kansas City, MO (Directors’ Award)
Michael moved to Kansas City from Minneapolis, MN in 1963. As a musician, he quickly established himself locally, playing in such notable bands as The Galaxies, The Outcasts, The Chontels, 19th Century Sound Affair, London Wood & Morningstar. During this time, he also worked in retail music for Jenkins, Corinth Baldwin Music, and Music World. In 1968, he formed the booking agency New Sound Projections. Still playing with Morningstar, they released a single on Lion Records in 1969 which reached the top 40 charts on stations in Kansas City and Columbia. Morningstar became the first band from KC invited to perform at Fillmore East, New York City in January of 1970. Michael produced his first concert November 7, 1969, with Led Zeppelin at Memorial Hall, selling out two shows. Other historic shows Michael produced at Memorial Hall during that time include the Joe Cocker, Jethro Tull and Fleetwood Mac concert in December of 1969, Delaney & Bonnie w/ Eric Clapton in February of 1970, and Black Sabbath in the spring of 1970. Michael went to work at Good Karma Productions in 1972, taking over management and booking for the legendary Cowtown Ballroom that fall, producing hundreds of shows there until the facility closed in 1974. After that, he continued producing concerts at Memorial Hall, the Midland Theatre, Municipal Auditorium, and Kemper Arena. From 1973 thru 1977, Michael produced major concerts at Arrowhead Stadium, starting with Elton John in 1973 and ending with Peter Frampton in 1977. These concerts featured the likes of Black Oak Arkansas, Foghat, Kansas, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Rufus, Todd Rundgren, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Doobie Brothers, The Beach Boys, Chicago, ZZ Top, Jeff Beck, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Firefall, Jethro Tull, Styx, Rick Derringer, Steve Miller, Robin Trower, Rory Gallagher, and many more. In 1977, Michael left the concert business to concentrate on managing Morningstar, who had just signed with Columbia Records, putting out two albums. When Columbia didn’t resign them, Michael decided to leave the music business and start a career in radio, beginning in 1980 at KY-102, and then KKCI in 1983. Moving to Maine in the fall of 1985, Michael continued working in the radio business as an advertising salesperson, sales manager, and general manager and ended up in ownership of two stations in Maine. When those stations were sold in 2007, he moved to Vermont, continuing in the radio business through 2016. While being in radio station ownership in Maine, they released 3 CD’s of local original music with the proceeds going to a different charity each year. These were titled ‘Homegrown’ #1, #2 and #3. Michael continued this practice in Vermont with two CD’s titled the Best of Area Code 802, the proceeds going to help an organization called Prevent Child Abuse Vermont. Michael continued playing music when he moved to New England in 1985. He still owns and plays a 1974 Mossman acoustic guitar, made and purchased in the state of Kansas. Note: Michael received an award certificate from Lamar Hunt, owner of the Chiefs, for Superstar Sunday in 1977 that drew 57,547 people, which he understands is the still record for the largest concert crowd ever at Arrowhead, and probably in the KC area.

WHITTEN PELL
Whitten Pell – Kansas City, MO (Directors’ Award)
In 1969, Whitten started out his career promoting the single “Circles”, which was the first record by 2005 KMHoF inductee Chesmann Square. The 45, with its iconic picture sleeve, is now an international collector’s item. Chesmann Square then backed him in opening a talent agency, North Country Fair, which also included as clients KMHoF inductees Stone Wall and Beth Scalet, plus The Factory. About that time, Whit was left with 9½ digits, something fellow inductee Chris Fritz can expand upon. In 1976, Whit sold NCF to fellow agents Dave Maygers and Tim Nass. Whit recalls the sale price was something like $100 and lunch! That same year, Whit managed the band Hotfoot, led by KMHoF inductee Steve Werner, and helped transform a closed movie theater into a major concert venue upon becoming chief talent booker and entertainment director for The Uptown. Notable shows included Muddy Waters, Firesign Theater, Roberta Flack and Bill Withers, Herbie Mann, Peter Gabriel during his first solo tour, Iggy Pop, who recorded much of his live album at the theater, George Benson, and in a co-promoted date with fellow KMHoF inductee Michael Waggoner, a stop on The Farewell Loggins and Messina Tour (ask Mike about the visit that night from the KC fire marshal!). One of the last shows he produced at The Uptown was during the Joe’s Garage Tour for Frank Zappa. Somehow, Whitten convinced Zappa to do a cabaret-style show, surely for the first and last time! By 1979, he’d joined Chris Fritz Presents as special projects coordinator, and later when the company became New West – Contemporary Productions, he handled media and some bookings from the New West office. By the mid-80’s, Whitten had moved to the St. Louis Contemporary Productions office, helping form their marketing business, Contemporary Marketing and helped developed and oversaw the sales of “Ticket to Rock” a groundbreaking international radio promotion before moving on to NY to help found MEGA, where he helped oversee and develop “Transylvania Mania” another groundbreaking international radio promotion. He was involved in continuing the Schlitz Rocks America concert tours, starting with The Who, and then with ZZ Top and Night Ranger. Further, MEGA represented Rod Stewart, Duran Duran, The Doobie Brothers, Thompson Twins, Tony Bennett, and MTV Networks for sponsorship and promotions. A particular highlight for Whit before leaving MEGA was overseeing the assignment to market and promote the in-store merchandising line and radio promotions for The Rolling Stones “Steel Wheels” tour of North America. By the late 80’s, he’d moved to Los Angeles to become west coast VP for Spectacor Management Group (now Global Spectrum), at the time the largest owner/operator of arenas, convention facilities and ballparks in the US. After short stints at Billboard Magazine in a newly formed promotional unit and Premiere Radio Networks, he’d moved to Dallas and opened Wink at The Media LLC, taking on clients ranging from The Great Race, Linda Ronstadt, The Dallas Symphony, SC Johnson Wax, Kellogg, The San Jose Mariachi Festival, The Doobie Brothers for song licensing, and producing the annual BR Cohn Winery Fall charity concerts. In 2006 Whit married and came home to KC, briefly taking a left turn in the restaurant business (losing a ton of his pal’s money in the process) before moving back to what he does best. Whit negotiated sponsorship for the N. American portion of Tina Turner’s Worldwide Farewell Tour which, as a result, kicked off in Kansas City. Currently, he manages The Ronstadt Brothers, represents and consults Oscar and Grammy-winning songwriter Paul Williams for live performance, and handles major sponsorship for New West Presentations and The Providence Medical Center Amphitheater, operated by fellow inductee Chris Fritz. Additionally, he continues working on special projects for Linda Ronstadt.
Chris Fritz
Chris Fritz – Kansas City, MO (Directors’ Award)
The name Chris Fritz is truly legendary in the Kansas City and Midwestern entertainment industry. Since the 1970’s, if you’ve seen a major concert in this area, chances are Chris Fritz was involved in its production. Chris’ promotional career started in Chicago and has evolved over the past several decades from music, club and record label owner and manager to concert and sports promoter. His promotions have attracted millions of music and sports fans nationally and internationally. In 1968, Chris moved from Chicago to L.A. to expand his promotional career. Highlights of his time in L.A. include his involvement with Company of Artists (who managed the Smothers Brothers and the Everly Brothers) and producing shows at Hollywood Palladium, the Wiltern Theatre and the Fox Theatre in Long Beach. In 1972, Chris moved to Kansas City and formed Enigma Productions, then later Chris Fritz and Company, and lastly New West Presentations, which is still in operation today. Chris produced numerous shows throughout the 1970s at Municipal Auditorium, Memorial Hall, Arrowhead Stadium and Royals Stadium. In 1974, Chris produced Ozark Music Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, the largest three-day festival in the Midwest, attracting over 400,000 people. Throughout this time, Chris was involved with artist management as well, representing L.A.’s “Starbuck”, Kansas City’s “Missouri”, “Granmax”, “Racy Grace” and Austin’s “Meridian West”. Chris formed a label named Pacific Records (which later became Panama Records) that produced and released two Missouri and two Granmax albums. In 1983, Chris began producing shows at Starlight Theatre and five years later, in 1988, at Sandstone Amphitheater. In 1991, Chris joined long-time partner Contemporary Productions to take over operations of Sandstone Amphitheater, which included a major renovation and expansion of the property. In 1998, Live Nation took over management of Sandstone Amphitheater. Chris’ involvement remained, as he was under contract as a consultant from 1998-2007. In 2008, Chris took over management of the amphitheater (now known as Providence Medical Center Amphitheater) and made significant improvements to the facility in early 2016. As of 2018, Chris Fritz continues his stellar career in entertainment promotion and production with no signs of stopping.