The Original Sensational Showmen
Friday, January 13, 2023
The Fabulous Flippers leader, founder & lead guitarist, Terry Wierman of Hays, Kansas passes at age 79
Terry Wierman, the leader and founding member of The Fabulous Flippers has passed away. The Flippers were the envy of all fledgling bands in the midwest in the 60's We all looked up to them as our idols. Terry was a cool cat. Always professional and a talented guitar player. He will be missed by the midwestern musical world.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Saturday, January 16, 2016
Music was one of Bob's passions. He was a talented and respected musician for most of his life, singing and playing piano, clarinet, saxophone and bass, having taught himself to play by ear. He played in numerous bands and with many musicians. Bob co-founded the Sensational Showmen of Chanute in the late 1960s, which earned him induction into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame in 2009. In 1970, Bob founded the successful regional band Fatty Lumpkin, performing all over the southeast Kansas area and beyond, including the area's infamous "Cornstalk" Music Festival. Bob played with The Heaters throughout the 1980s and 90s, and in 1999, he co-founded the popular local band Area 51. He continued to play with them until his death.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
Our dear talented lead singer, trumpet and keyboard player passed away January 7, 2015 at his home in Eagle, Idaho at the age of 67, after a long battle with cancer. Ron was born and raised in Clyde, Kansas and was one of the founding members of the original Sensational Showmen band from Concordia, Kanas. The band started playing in 1964 and disbanded in 1967. 2 other versions of the Sensational Showmen continued the tradition. Those groups were from Chanute and Pittsburg, Kansas. Ron was a very talented musician and vocalist. His vocals were the driving force of the band. Harmonizing with the late Larry Jackson on the top 40 songs of the 60's was a joy to hear. He will be sorely missed by his family and all his band mates. He joins Larry Jackson, our bass player and vocalist in Heaven. God speed, Ron. We all love you and will see you again one of these days.
Friday, February 27, 2015
KOMA was born on Christmas Eve 1922 in Oklahoma City. The southwestern giant was only 15 watts of power under the original call letters KFJF. The station’s original purpose was to rebroadcast the programming of larger eastern stations. In 1932 the call letters were changed to the now internationally known KOMA. The studios were moved at this time, filling the 24th floor of the Oklahoma City Biltmore Hotel; an area they would occupy for over 30 years. KOMA then took on its familiar frequency when the FCC moved all AM radios stations 40 kilocycles up the dial. KOMA-1480 became KOMA-1520 and was operating at 50,000 watts. During the 50’s, television was forcing radio into a period of change. The old radio shows were quickly fading into the past. Something called “Top 40” with “Rock ‘N Roll” music was the latest trend in radio. KOMA became a true ‘rock’ radio station in 1958 when it was purchased by the legendary Storz Broadcasting Co. Storz, owned by Todd Storz and Gordon McClendon, developed the “Top 40” concept of radio and the format system employed by most successful radio stations in the country. The Storz chain of stations also include WDGY-Minneapolis as well as stations in Kansas City, New Orleans, St. Louis and Miami. Throughout the 60s and 70s, KOMA was the favorite of teens all across the western U.S. With the big signal and relatively few rocknroll radio stations across The Plains, it was the main station for the hits. KOMA could be heard on car radios, in homes and everywhere a kid could tune in.Often teens in New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa as well as other western states would eager await sunset when the mighty 1520 would come booming through with the newest hits of the day. They would sit in their cars on hilltops, turn it up at parties or fall asleep with the radio next to their beds as they listened to Chuck Berry, the Supremes, Paul Revere & the Raiders, and the Beatles. Soldiers in Viet Nam even reported tuning in KOMA to give them a little feeling of being back home. Led through the 60s by program directors Dean Johnson, Dale Wehba and Perry Murphy, some of the best-remembered deejays spun the hits each day and night. Charlie Tuna, Dale Wehba, Don McGregor, Paul Miller, John David, Chuck Dann, J. Michael Wilson, Johnny Dark, Buddy Scott, John Ravencroft and many others were among those who played the hits from the studios in Moore, Okla. Everyone remembers “Yours Truly KOMA” and the “kissing tone.” This was an era where radio was fun. It was more than just the music. It was a magical blend of personality, jungles, contests and fun mixed with the greatest music that defined the era. These were considered by many to be the best years of radio. And for baby boomers across the Midwest and Western US, KOMA was king. On Sept. 22, 1988, after a few years airing country and big band formats, KOMA returned to the Oldies format under the direction of Program Director Kent Jones. Through the 90s, KOMA hosted the Rock and Roll Reunion events that brought many local bands of the 60s back together for live concerts in front of thousands of fans. In 2004 the station hosted the “KOMA Fan Jam.” Many former deejays returned for the event and the weekend programming was full of memorable recordings from the 60s, serving as a tribute to the KOMA staff and listeners who made the AM station such a legend. The Fan Jam drew a capacity crowd of over 1000 fans to the Westin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. In recent years KOMA has twice been a finalist for the prestigious Marconi Radio Award for Oldies Station of the Year and Medium Market Station of the Year. Today KOMA continues to draw a loyal audience as listeners tune in for fun and memories of those great years when the station was an integral part of their lives while growing up.
Laura and Willard Lawrence, along with her brother Jake Figi formed a partnership in December of 1928 to operate a bathhouse and store on the shores of Storm Lake. There wasn’t much for the young people of the area to do in those days so the little store soon became the favorite gathering place for young couples. It was this situation that prompted the partners to build the first Cobblestone Inn. On New Year’s Eve of 1929 the first dance was held in the small hall that accommodated 50 couples. From those humble beginnings the famous Cobblestone Ballroom was born. It could hold upwards of 1500 people for dining and dancing. After Willard’s untimely death in 1936, Laura continued the partnership with Jake. A fire in 1945 completely destroyed everything but the main ballroom. The partners built a new main dining room with several private banquet rooms and a modern kitchen able to handle banquets of 1000 or more. Two years later, Laura’s three sons bought out Figi’s half of the business and joined their mother in operating what became one of the finest dining and dancing spots in the Midwest. They employed 39 people plus extras for special events. During the “Big Band Era” many nationally known bands appeared at the Cobblestone such as: Duke Ellington, Lawrence Welk, Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey, Jan Garber and Big Tiny Little. Laura Lawrence retired from active participation in the business in 1957, turning it over fully to Orville (Shorty) and Willard Junior (J.R. or “Junior”). They became the proprietors just in time for the rock and roll era to arrive. For the Cobblestone, that happened on Sept. 21, 1958 with CYO dances that started with records and turned into regular Sunday night Teen Hops with regional and national bands. That continued until the early 1980s. The ballroom’s datebooks reflect appearances by Myron Lee & the Caddies, Johnny & the Hurricanes, Bobby Vee, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, the Rhythm Aces, the Charades, the Fabulous Flippers, Spider and the Crabs, Dee Jay & the Runaways, The Senders, Red Dogs, Baby and the Rumbles among countless others. J.R. passed away in 1976 and his wife Geraldine (Jerry) took over his duties in the family business. Shorty died on 1987. The Cobblestone closed in November of 1986. The structure still stands and the city of Storm Lake has discussed preserving and possibly restoring the landmark.
The Surf has a fabulous music history from the big bands of the 30's and 40's, to big name rock artists of the 50's through the 90's, the Surf has had them all. The original Surf was built as a wooden frame structure and prospered as one of the most popular ballrooms in the Upper Midwest until an untimely fire caused her demise in 1947. The community of Clear Lake and dancers throughout the Midwest got behind the ownership of the Surf and it was rebuilt at its current location in 1948. In the 30's and 40's in order for a big band to make it's reputation nationally, it had to play the Surf. The likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, The Dorsey's all made regular stops at the Surf. The 1950's saw the dawning of rock and roll and then manager Carrol Anderson was quick to book into the Surf the hottest names in the business. This was the case on February 2, 1959 when Anderson brought in the famed Winter Dance Party featuring Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, and Dion. There isn't anyone who doesn't know the rest of the story as the fateful plane crash after the show took the lives of Holly, The Bopper and Valens. During the 50's and 60's the name rock acts kept playing the Surf. Artists such as Link Wray, Sam the Sham, Dion, The Everly Brothers, Jan and Dean, and Conway Twitty all took the stage at the Surf. In the early 70's, the Surf brougt in the likes of Santana, REO Speedwagon and Kansas, quite an impressive line-up. In 1975 the management of the ballroom was taken over by the colorful Darrel Hein, then later by Bruce Christensen. During the 90's the ballroom has undergone significant renovation by it's new owners, the Snyder family of Clear Lake.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Just to clarify any confusion of the versions of The Sensational Showmen bands, there were 3 versions. The original group, hosts of this blog, were from Concordia, Clifton & Clyde, Kansas. The other two versions came about after the disbanding of the original group in 1967. The other two versions of the band hailed from Chanute, Parsons and Pittsburg. All the groups were affiliated with Mid-Continent Entertainment, John Brown, out of Lawrence, Kansas.
< Michael T. “Mike” Fitzmorris, 61, of Parsons, passed away at 6:39 p.m., Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at his home where he had resided his entire life. He was born March 4, 1953 in Neodesha, Kansas to Dennis and Rosemary (Patchin) Fitzmorris. He grew up in Parsons where he attended school and was a 1971 graduate of St. Patrick’s High School. He then attended Pittsburg State University where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in music education and vocal performance. Music was his passion. He worked as a professional musician, gave guitar lessons, taught music at Labette Community College, and entertained during the evening hours at the Parsons Country Club by playing the piano. He also had worked at the M-K-T Railroad, the Parsons State Hospital and Training Center, and Class LTD where he was founder and director of the Class LTD choir. In earlier years, he toured with several bands including The Gang Band, The Sensational Showmen, The Fitz Band, and Trouble Maker. In 2008, he and The Sensational Showmen were honored by being inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame. His hobbies included photography, astronomy, and metal detecting. He especially enjoyed spending time with his family and jamming with his friends who fondly called him “Fitz”. In 1990, he and Gretchen Wheelan were married at the Calvary Baptist Church in Joplin. They later divorced. Survivors include two sons, Erin Fitzmorris and Eric Fitzmorris and his wife, Jill, all of Lawrence, KS; three grandchildren, Lily Ann Kaiser, Brenya Rose Fitzmorris, and Ridley Michael Fitzmorris, and one granddaughter, Cambria Kay Fitzmorris, “on the way”; two brothers, Larry Fitzmorris, McPherson, KS, and Dennis Fitzmorris, Owasso, OK; and lifelong friend, Marvin Foreman, Parsons, KS. He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, Norman Fitzmorris; and one sister, Lynda Hedgepath. Memorial services will be held at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, November 1, 2014 at the Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home in Parsons. The family will receive friends from 6-8:00 p.m., Friday, at the funeral home. Memorials are suggested to the Michael Fitzmorris Memorial Fund. These may be left at or mailed to Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home, P.O. Box 374, Parsons, KS 67357.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
KANSAS MUSIC HALL OF FAME 2014 INDUCTION CEREMONY Saturday, March 1st, 2014 All Ages // 6:00pm Doors // 6:30 Ceremony Start // 7:00pm Show FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE TICKETS: All Tickets Are General Admission $30.00* General Admission All seating is available first come, first served For more information, contact email@example.com or ksmusichalloffame.org. 2014 Kansas Music Hall of Fame Inductees Beast Bon Ton Soul Accordion Band Clif Major Glow Jimmy Dee & Fabulous Destinations Junior Brown Sanctuary Wichita Linemen Ed Down (Audio House) Director's Award Donnie and Diane Bob Hapgood Award
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
These were the very early stages of our musical venture of playing in public. No recollection of what we sounded like but I am sure it was very simple and amateurish, but at least it was a start. Making handmade posters using Magic Markers and colored construction paper. As you can see, we were not very artistic but were creative. After making the posters, then we had to hand deliver them to places that would gladly display them in their store windows or bulletin boards. After all the expense, we probably made nothing at the gig! Those were the days!!! Phil Pfister and Larry Jackson left the Vette's to launch The Sensational Showmen
Monday, January 6, 2014
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
The voting is over and the results are confirmed. Next March 1 the following will be inducted: Beast, Bon Ton Soul Accordion Band, Junior Brown, Jimmy Dee & Fabulous Destinations, Glow, Clif Major, Sanctuary and the Wichita Linemen. The Directors Award inductee will be Ed Down of Audio House, and the Bob Hapgood Award winner will be Donnie & Diane.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Thursday, October 3, 2013
A great location for kids to gather, eat pizza and listen and dance to the many bands that played the venue. Too bad it has been shuttered for years. Even though it is empty now, it contains a lot of memories of teenagers from north central Kansas.