The Original Sensational Showmen

The Original Sensational Showmen
National Guard Armory-Concordia - 1965

Monday, March 23, 2009

Washington County News-Washington, Ks. Week of 3/23/09

Former Clifton-Clyde band inducted into Kansas Music Hall of Fame

By Tom Parker
At the 2009 Kansas Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Concert, held March 7 at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, the Sensational Showmen officially took their rightful place beside other Kansas musical luminaries such as Pat Metheny, Chet Nichols, Martina McBride, Melissa Etheridge and Kansas.
Sharing the stage with the Sensational Showmen and the Sensational Showmen at the 2009 Kansas Musical Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Concert were, you guessed it, the Sensational Showmen. They, too, officially took their rightful place beside other Kansas musical luminaries.
In fact, at one point during the ceremony there were about 40 people on stage, all of them Sensational Showmen, all being honored for the music they produced in the 1960s and 1970s.
For the sake of clarity, it might be easiest to identify the three groups with their towns of origin, such as the Sensational Showmen Clifton/Clyde/Concordia, the Sensational Showmen Chanute/Fort Scott, and the Sensational Showmen Parsons/Pittsburg.
For even easier identification, the groups can be remembered as #1, #2 and #3.
“We were the first,” said Phil Pfister, formerly of Clifton and now president of an architectural glass construction company in South Carolina. “Our band was the original group.”
The Sensational Showmen went on to three incarnations, each from different parts of the state. Unknown to the original members, a clause in the contract allowed the manager to retain the name if the members quit.
SS #1 was formed in 1964, consisting of Pfister, lead guitar and vocals, Larry Jackson, bass guitar, trombone and vocals, and Ron Balderston, trumpet, organ and lead vocals. Pfister and Jackson hailed from Clifton, Balderston from Clyde. Other members were recruited from Concordia, including Robin Hood, drums, Paul Justyna, saxophone, Bob Burns, rhythm guitar, and Mike Srite, trumpet and organ.
“We were just a bunch of 15-16 year olds making music,” Pfister said. “We were in it for fun and to be popular with the girls.”
The band played many outdoor dances in Clifton and Clyde as well as performing at local schools, National Guard armories, community centers, fairs, carnivals, clubs and bars. Their repertoire consisted mainly of top 40 hits from the ‘60s, with those by Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, and James Brown being their favorites. “We enjoyed those kind of songs more than the Beatles,” Pfister said. “And we choreographed our moves—we didn’t just stand around playing our instruments.”
The band spent hundreds of hours practicing and learning songs by listening to 45 records and copying the sounds strictly by ear, Pfister said. They didn’t have sheet music but used their ears and then arranged the songs, not only for the guitars but for an entire horn section as well, which use a different key. “I don’t know how we had time for everything,” Pfister said. “We had a lot more energy in those days.”
As the group became more popular, their travels took them on the road, from Oklahoma to Minnesota, playing all summer long and every weekend.
“It was a very hectic schedule,” Pfister said.
That very hectic schedule lasted four years.
“We decided to call it quits somewhere in South Dakota in the summer of ’67,” Pfister said. “We were burned out.”
After coming home to Kansas, they split up and went their own ways. Jackson and Burns continued their musical careers for a while, others sought careers and Pfister joined the Air Force. In 1980, he moved to South Carolina with his wife, Patty.
Though Pfister had kept tabs of where former band members had wandered off to, he hadn’t seen them for 40 years, until a fateful e-mail popped into his inbox with news of the Kansas Musical Hall of Fame’s induction.
Prior to the notification, Pfister had never heard of the hall of fame. “I didn’t even know of the organization until I heard from a board member from Beloit who said we should try to get votes to be on the list,” Pfister said.
But because only hall of fame board members could vote, and because they were all from the eastern side of Kansas, the group felt it unreasonable to pursue the nomination. Only when the Parsons/Pittsburg group lobbied members to vote for them did the hall of fame decide to honor all three incarnations.
Bill Lee, president of the hall of fame, finally concurred.
After contacting several former members, Pfister traveled to Concordia where he reunited with Justyna, Burns and Hood. Gone were the fresh-faced youngsters in their velvet finery. “We’re getting so old now,” Pfister said.
Being nominated gave Pfister an urge to rush out and buy a new guitar, just like one of the many he’d used during the years he toured with the band. “If I would have kept all the guitars I played in those few years,” he said, “I could probably retire. They’re all very valuable now.”
He still owns a 12-string guitar and a 6-strong acoustic guitar that his son plays regularly.
At the induction ceremony, five of the original seven members were in attendance: Srite, Balderston, Burns, Justyna and Pfister. Hood was in California and couldn’t attend. Jackson passed away in 2002 but was represented by his family and his youngest son, Nick, who took the stage with the others to accept the award on behalf of his father.
Looking back on those years as the Sensational Showmen, Pfister said he thinks they were quite good. “The equipment was not as sophisticated as it is today,” he said. “You actually had to sound good back then. We had top notch equipment and were proud of how we sounded, and how we appeared on stage—clean cut and dressed to a T.”
Members of the Sensational Showmen #1 didn’t play at the ceremony. “I haven’t picked up a guitar in 30 years,” Pfister admitted.
However, members of the Sensational Showmen #3 did, and did well, Pfister said.
“They deserve credit for still being able to play,” he said ruefully. “They sounded good.”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Recognition of All 3 Sensational Showmen Band members

Parsons/Pittsburg band:> Tony Teebo> Bob Golay> Steve Hartman> Tom Broadhurst> Mike Fitzmorris> Jeff Crane> Chris Cruz> Jerry Cruz> Brian Cruz> Joe Horton>> Chanute/Ft Scott band:> Andy Oberg> Jon Sherman> Don Gould> Terry Blackburn> Bill Barker> Mike Brundage> Randy Jenkins> Bo Gutierrez> Doug Rike> Alan Stanley> Larry Brown> Ted Sears> Greg Hockett> Mike Birmingham> Larry Cunning> Jeff Leverenz> Dave Henry> Mike Flanagan> Jim Garrett (deceased)> Mike Golay (deceased)>> Concordia band:> Phil Pfister> Ron Balderston> Robin Hood> Paul Justyna> Mike Srite> Bob Burns> Larry Jackson (deceased)>

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Long Lost Sensational Showmen pictures

We were surprised when the photos of some of the band members surfaced this week. L to R-
Pic 1 - Mike Srite, trumpet, Paul Justyna, sax and Larry Jackson, bass guitar
Pic 2 - Very cool, "Snake" Justyna
Pic 3 - Robin Hood, drums, Mike Srite, trumpet and Larry Jackson, trombone

(click pictures to enlarge)

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Little Latin Lupe Lu - Righteous Brothers; Louie Louie - Kingsmen; Long Tall Texan - Kingsmen; Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying - Gerry and the Pacemakers; Mustang Sally- Wilson Pickett; House of the Rising Sun - Animals; Turn On Your LoveLight-Bobby Blue Bland; Papa's Got a Brand New Bag-James Brown; Treat Her Right- Roy Head; Land of a Thousand Dances- Wilson Pickett; These Boots are Made For Walking- Nancy Sinatra; Harlem Shuffle - Bob and Earl; Hold On I'm Coming-Sam and Dave; Green Onions-Booker T and the MGs; In the Midnight Hour -Wilson Pickett; Gimmie Some Lovin'-Spencer Davis Group; Bring it On Home To Me- Sam Cooke; I Can't Get No Satisfaction- Rolling Stones; Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye- Casinos; Knock on Wood- Eddie Floyd; My Girl- Temptations; 96 Tears - Question Mark and the Mysterians; Kicks- Paul Revere and the Raiders; Good Lovin'- Young Rascals; Hang on Sloopy- McCoys; Wooly Bully-Sam the Sham and the Pharohs; Wipe Out- The Safaris; Twist & Shout- Beatles; I Got You (I Feel Good)- James Brown; Gloria- THEM; Shop Around- Smoky Robinson & the Miracles; Mony Mony-Tommy James and the Shondells; When a Man Loves a Woman- Percy Sledge; All Day and All the Night- Kinks; You Really Got Me- Kinks; Tequila- The Champs; Summertime- Billy Stewart; Money (That is What I Want)- Kingsmen; Walking the Dog- Rufus Thomas; Kind of a Drag - Buckinghams; Time Won't Let Me - Outsiders; Shotgun- Jr. Walker and the Allstars; Monkey Time- Major Lance; Wild Thing- The Troggs; Hungry- Paul Revere and the Raiders; Do You Love Me- The Contours; Sweet Soul Music - Arthur Conley; I'm A Man - Spencer Davis Group; 634-5789 - Wilson Pickett; Jolly Green Giant - Kingsmen; Got My MoJo Working - The Kingsmen; It's Alright - J.J. Jackson; Hippy Hippy Shake - Swinging Blue Jeans; Roll Over Beethoven - Chuck Berry; Sock It To Me - Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels; California Sun - Rivieras; Too Many Fish in the Sea - Young Rascals; Shake - Sam Cooke; Been Lonely Too Long - Young Rascals; You Better Run - Young Rascals; Groovin - Young Rascals; She's About A Mover - Sir Douglas Quintet; SlowDown - Beatles; Out Of Sight - James Brown; Walking the Dog - Rufus Thomas, Taste of Honey - Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass; and probably many more that we can't remember. We will add to this list from time to time.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Liberty Hall

Location for the 2009 Kansas Music Hall of Fame ceremony. Back in the 60's the building housed the famous Red Dog Inn. The Sensational Showmen auditioned at the Red Dog Inn and played a gig also.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In The Beginning - The VETTES

The first band that Phil Pfister and Larry Jackson formed in Clifton, Kansas in 1963 with Rob Haden on drums and the Simoneau brothers, Jim and Gary, on guitars. In picture, l to r, Phil Pfister, Jim Simoneau, Rob Haden, Larry Jackson & Gary Simoneau. The picture was taken at the Clifton teen town called "The Pad" and was located in the old International Harvester building, later being the headquarters for Unified School District 224.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Our Traditional Last Song of the Evening

We featured our lead singer, Ron Balderston, doing a great rendition of this true love song, made popular by the Casinos. A beautiful ending to a Sensational Showmen dance.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Induction into Kansas Music Hall of Fame!

It's official, the Concordia based, ORIGINAL Showmen band is being inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame along with our counterparts from Parsons and Chanute. The ceremony is being held in Lawrence, Ks at the Liberty Hall (former Red Dog Inn) this Saturday, March 7, 2009. Although our picture was not placed on the KMHOF website, we are definitely included.

Check out our links at bottom of page

New listing at 60s Garage Bands - check it out