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John Lamb, Published May 01 2012

Lamb: Hall of Fame show to go on without Vee

This week’s news that singer Bobby Vee has Alzheimer’s disease and would be retiring from public life shocked the first generation of Fargo-Moorhead’s rock community.

Vee, born Robert Velline, was scheduled to be the top inductee in the inaugural class of the North Dakota Rock Country Music Hall of Fame Friday night at the Holiday Inn.

The show will go on and Vee’s absence (he is in North Carolina with his wife Karen waiting for her lung transplant) will be marked. His award will be accepted on his behalf by family and a giant sign will be available for fans and contemporaries to sign.

His band, The Shadows, also will be inducted that night. Other honorees include The Treasures, Wayne Luchau, Mike & The Monsters, Paulette Carlson, Davey Bee & The Sonics, The Pawnbrokers, Rick Johnsgard, Jeff Mooridian, Russ Peterson, The Newz, and post-mortem honors for Peggy Lee and Lawrence Welk.

(Fargo-raised Blenders couldn’t make it this week and will be inducted next year.)

While Vee’s absence is a cloud on that aging rock crowd, other inducted musicians are looking forward to seeing old friend and playing old songs.

“These are the guys I listened to as a kid,” says Jon “Stan” Nyborg. The guitarist’s band The Newz is also inducted and performs a set Friday night. He’s particularly looking forward to seeing the R&B band Mike & the Monsters.

The Newz was a new wave rock band that made a big splash in 1983 with the album “Spicy Stories.”

The ’70s and early ’80s were the heyday for the Fargo music scene, inductees say.

“Fargo was a music mecca. There were so many bars that ran bands every night of the week,” Nyborg says. “It was crazy around this area.”

“Those were kind of magic years,” recalls Rick Johnsgard. “You could park your car downtown on a Tuesday night, walk to five different clubs and see an excellent band in every one. And each one was packed. It was so entertaining and easy to be inspired in those days.”

Those clubs are just a distant memory now. He recalls the Gaslight (on the south-east corner of Second Ave. N. and Roberts St., Fargo), the Lamplight (in the old Holiday Mall, Eighth Street and I-94 in Moorhead), the Las Vegas-inspired Monte Carlo Club (what became Outback Steakhouse in Fargo), The Eastgate Lounge, (most recently Gio’s Grill and Bar/Eastgate Event Center in Moorhead) and The 4-10 (Now the Northern Gentlemen’s Club in Fargo).

Johnsgard is being inducted alone, though he was a member of Overland Stage, one of the first Fargo rock bands to record for a national label. The 1972 Epic album produced two singles, “Beginning to Feel It” and “To the Park.”

Johnsgard said there was talk about the rest of the band being inducted this year, but they couldn’t all reunite for the ceremony.

He was also in The Little People, Phoenix, which merged with the Uglies (the first of Johnsgard’s three stints with the Lakes-area group), Chalise, Oz, Ice Breaker and for the last 23 years, Triple Play.

Which is more bands than Paulette Carlson can remember playing with.

When asked which local groups fans may remember her from before she broke big with the Nashville, Tenn.-based Highway 101, she responded: “If they can remember them I wish they’d tell me because I hardly remember all the names, they changed.”

She does recall playing in Fogenbachie Revival and Skunk Hollow with Prairie Public Radio personality, Merrill Piepkorn.

“I never paid attention to the names of the bands,” Carlson says. “What mattered to me was that we were working and I was singing. I just knew I had a gig.”

Her next gig is Friday night at the Hall of Fame show.

If you go

What: North Dakota Music Hall of Fame Induction Show

When: Doors open at 6 p.m., Friday. Social hour and autograph session at 6:30, programming at 7:30

Where: Holiday Inn, 3803 13th Ave., S., Fargo

Info: Tickets are $23, $35 for a reserved table. (218) 536-0589

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533