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8-Track: Musical Memories of the 1960s

Ever wonder what Badger flower children of the 60s listened to during their time on campus?

July 22, 2015

What do JJ Watt, the UW Marching Band, and Pink Floyd have in common? They’ve all been met with resounding applause on the field at Camp Randall Stadium. That’s right: Camp Randall used to play host to rock concerts. Bands such as The Grateful Dead, U2, and Public Enemy tore up the field (figuratively and, perhaps, literally) from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. We believe that Madison has one of the greatest music scenes in the country, and your responses to our call for musical memories affirmed that belief loudly and clearly.

In this update, Badger grads of the ’60s share their musical memories of campus.

Rich Vitkus ‘61

Chicago

Sometime in the late 50's a few of the guys went to the local movie theatre for an early rock concert. I think it was $2.50 or so and one of the guys may have brought in a beer or two. An amazing show — wish I had had the notion and technology to have recorded it. Performers included "Mickey and Silvia" (Love is Strange) and most amazingly Chuck Berry. When Berry was introducing by the MC, he began twanging off stage and then came on stage in his classic duck walk, but fell over. No problem. Never missed a beat and played the entire song laying down on the stage. At this time I was the social chairman of one of the fraternities and having grown up in Chicago and raised on blues and early rock, I was a bit disappointed with the jazz and Dixieland music, which tended to predominate. So I went around Madison to the bars looking for a rock group I could hire for a beer supper. I found and hired "Black Jack Golfino and his Hound Dogs". As you know, the world changed.

Angelo La Barro ’62, MA’72

Sarasota, FL

As a grad student at the UW from 1967-1974, I was fortunate to have been part of the folk music scene in Madison. Heck… a few other music folks and I probably started the whole thing! In 1968, I began playing at Johnny Laugen’s Bar and Grill down on Regent Street. In 1970, I moved to the Brat an’ Brau, a German-style restaurant and bar near Camp Randall and the Field House. My normal performance routine was three 45-minute sets from 9:00pm to 12:45am, with a 15-minute break. Between Laugen’s and the B&B in the late 1960s, a number of fine folk singers emerged, such as Mike Doran, Tony McGhee, and Fritz Ballsley. My last paid gig in Madison was on Langdon Street at a private fraternity party in March 1974. The best news is that, after 41 years away from my hometown, I am coming back to Madison in May.

Suzanne Redenius ‘63

Grinnell, IA

One of my four years at UW I sang in a chorus — not the premier one — and sang The Messiah for the first time. I have sung it several times since in different groups, and shudder to think of how many notes I missed the first time. Even so, it was a great experience for me.

Lynn Jindra Gadzinski ‘63

Jefferson, WI

There were just 17 of us at Andersen House and we counted ourselves lucky to share a family kind of feel, each others' clothes and a housemate who could play the piano! Most nights before the supper gong rang, a few of us would gather around the old upright piano just off the living room and unwind with song...mostly in tune, always with great gusto. I don't think there was a song that Kay didn't know.

Judith Emmons Topitzes ‘63

Madison

I remember being on the Music Committee of the Wisconsin Union and chairing the Isaac Stern concert in about 1962. I got to sit next to Isaac Stern after his concert at a dinner in the Wisconsin Room. Fannie Taylor was the longstanding Director of the Union Theater and, I'm sure, obtained Stern and orchestrated my being seated next to him.

Judy Siebecker ‘64

McCall, ID

Graduated from UW Madison 1964 my favorite concert was Harry Belafonte... later got to see him again in concert with Miriam Makeba in Los Angeles... they each have long, wonderful careers and I still love listening to them. However, nothing can beat hearing the Wisconsin Band at a football game!

Joan Lappin ‘64

New York

Johnny Mathis at the Union, probably 1963.

Ruth Zemke ‘65

Fullerton, CA

Summer school 1963 — Balmy summer evenings with sing-alongs on the Union Terrace. Anything by the Kingston Trio or Joan Baez. Lots of Kumbaya before everything exploded in the next few years!

Nancy Maki Berndt ‘65

Reno, NV

What could possibly have surpassed the thrill of hearing the band play those first three notes announcing it's time to sing "Varsity", and then launching into this beloved song, sacred to devoted Badgers, arm waving in salute ? A forever tradition, to this day.

Jim Weiss '65

Westlake, OH

Many of the jazz greats of the 60's stopped by the Madison campus, and we had our own greats like Ben Sidran and Boz Scaggs, but my favorite musical moment was a performance in which I was involved. I played varsity hockey at the UW, but another love of mine was jazz drumming. I stumbled upon a duet of Klesie Kelly (vocals) and Bob Goldberg (piano) playing at Chadbourne Hall (when it was a women's dorm), and asked them if they could use a drummer. They liked the idea, and we found a bass player to complete the group. It quickly became a really swinging group, and we successfully tried out as a Humorology 1965 entr'acte at the Union Theater. Klesie in her formal gown, and we in our rented tuxes, performed "Getting To Know You" each night. The crowd loved us. So, the second night, we had the audacity to do an encore. As soon as we left the stage, though, we were told in no uncertain terms that this was a fraternity and sorority show, and to NEVER pull that again. Too late!

Dean Kaul ‘65

Park City, UT

I may be the last person to publically serenade a girl on campus, or maybe anywhere else. In the fall of 1961 I was asked to serenade the girl friend of a friend, at Liz Waters Hall, playing John Alden to his Myles Standish. Regrettably, I do not remember their names; perhaps someone reading this will remember. I stood below her window and sang a number of pieces, including love songs from "The Student Prince." I received applause; I believe some of it was from her, however, I do not know the outcome of the romance! Subsequently, I joined the "Jim Langdon Trio," a folk group on campus named for the late real estate professor, Jim Graascamp, and One Langdon Street, where he lived with those who assisted him, as he was a quadriplegic. The trio sang together, with me as a member, from 1962 to 1965, appearing at many fraternities and private dorms, and went on a short tour of Midwest clubs in 1964.

Gene Rankin ‘66

Madison

Folk Arts Society became a respite from the books, and was where I met and played with folks who later went on to fame. They included Danny Kalb (I drove him to his first Madison audition; he founded the Blues Project), Paul Prestopino (backed the Chad Mitchell Trio), Johnny Herald (Greenbriar Boys), Tracy Nelson (Mother Earth), Eric Weissberg (Greenbriar Boys, Tarriers, played the banjo part in the film "Deliverance"), Marshall Brickman (the Tarriers). I see many who are still alive at the annual Washington Square reunions of New York folkies.

Mary Foltz ‘66

Benton, WI

Seeing the Kingston Trio live in the mid-sixties was a short and affordable walk down State Street from my dorm.

Joel Zizmor ‘66

San Jose, CA

As a member of former Phi Sigma Delta fraternity at 10 Langdon, we often hired Steve Miller and the Ardelles featuring Boz Skaggs and drummer Tim Davis. We paid either $90 or 120/night plus all the beer they could drink. Who would have known two major stars were in our midst?

Nicholas Topitzes ‘66

Madison

I had recently graduated and coming home from training at Amarillo AFB, I attended the Homecoming concert at the Field House. The entertainer was Tony Bennett.

Among his many songs was “I left my heart in San Francsico,” and I thought about all the men in my unit who were going to be going to Vietnam and SE Asia. I meanwhile was going to be in Wisconsin with the Reserves. It was a difficult moment.

Wayne ’68 and Carolyn ‘69 Landsverk

Portland, OR

Two stand out, Tony Bennett at Homecoming and Peter, Paul and Mary at the 1969 anti-war moratorium concert on the Capitol steps.

James Waters PhD’69

Nashville, TN

UW had an active opera workshop under Karlos Moser in my day (‘60s). He put on a concert version of Act III of Wagner’s Die Walküre, for which there was so much enthusiasm from the female music students that he had to double the 8 Valkyries. Sixteen, count them, sixteen, ladies, in ball gowns, singing some of the most beautiful music ever written, on the stage of Music Hall. Karlos introduced the performance by remarking, “Wagner called his Festspielhaus a ‘mystic abyss.’ Music Hall has been likened to many things, but never to a mystic abyss.” I hate to say I’ve forgotten who sang the leads

David O’Donnel ‘69

Saint George, UT

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