The TRASHMEN: Nerd Is The Word

Robbinsdale, MN.

Robbinsdale, MN.

“Nerd Is The Word”

“BUZZ Newspaper Article
Sep- Oct 2014 (#42-tM) By: RLSchwinden aKa: MrZer0

It’s sad to me that something as great as the local Minneapolis legends ‘The Trashmen’ has to be remembered from something as inane as ‘The Family Guy’ TV cartoon…

> Discovering The Bird: 1972 <
How I found out about “The Bird” was I was looking through my Dad’s record collection, in our Band/ Music room in our basement, in Sioux City, Iowa, the summer 1972, my Dad had just returned to playing drums in the Sioux City, Iowa based band ‘The Boyz (from Sioux City)’ which evolved into ‘Bonesteel’ not long after that. My Dad had not played drums since 1967, when his left arm was shattered by Vietnamese bullet on his 2nd tour of Nam. I was looking through my Dad’s records & found the 1st Trashmen vinyl record with Steve Wahrer’s face scribbled out & my Dad’s name signed over Steve’s head with an arrow pointing to his (Steve’s) body. I asked my Dad “Why did you do this” My Dad responded “Because, once that was me … ”

I asked “How was that ?” he replied “Well I went to Brooklyn Center & those guys went to the next school over, the band I was in used to open for them at the local Sock-Hops when I was a teenybopper, then one day their drummer (Steve) hurt his hand or something like that, so they asked me to play the drums while he would come out & sing “Surfin Bird” & some other songs like that, so I played the drums for them” I then asked “Are you on this album” he replied “No, not that one , but I am on some live shows, someone recorded for them (Trashmen) at the time, well, that’s what they told me anyway, I don’t know if that stuff ever got released or not, as I was shipped to Viet Nam not long after that, & lost track of that kind of thing” Unfortunately when my Dad & Mom split one time in 1974, my Dad sold his drums & guitar & threw out much of his stuff he owned from before he was married, including His ‘Trashmen’ record.

When I moved to Phoenix in 1981, to follow my musical dream, I moved in with my Dad’s brother Mike Schwinden (3 years younger than Billy). My Uncle Mike, suggested “You might consider getting a real job in the meantime, while you’re waiting for your music career to take off” I asked “Why” he said ”Well look at your Dad he was in the real deal, playing in bands with the big leagues like The Trashmen, back when they were big & he chose to pursue the Psychotherapy field, because so few actually make in the music business” So my Uncle Mike verified what my Dad had said several years earlier.

> Cyclone: 1957 <
Anthony ‘Tony’ Andreason (b.1943 a Henry High School student) from Minneapolis, on Guitar & Vocals, meets Steven ‘Steve’ Wahrer (1942: Iowa- 23 Jan 1989) from Robbinsdale on Drums & Vocals @ the Crystal Coliseum sometime around 1957 then the duo join ‘Jim Thaxter & The Travelers’ in 1961 this band contained the members Jim Thaxter: Vocals & Bass, Tom Diehl: Piano with Andreason & Wahrer, with Dallas “Dal” Winslow from Robbinsdale on Guitar. The band is based out of Brooklyn Center, playing venues such as Bill’s Roller Rink in Anoka & Theodore Wirth Golf Course in Golden Valley bringing in about $8.oo per performance in 1960. This band records a 45 Single on Arill Records #73065, “Cyclone b/w Sally Jo” about 200 copies are pressed.

> Trashmen Blues: 1962 <
The trio of Wahrer, Andreason & Winslow branch off in early 1962 due to differences in musical direction with Thaxter. They get Don Woody on Bass, rehearsing in Winslow’s garage. The local artist; Tony Kyray had a 45 single out at the time “Trashmen Blues” while practicing in Winslow’s garage one time Wahrer offers “This is what we should call ourselves” Then at the next gig in Mar ’62 @ Brooklyn Center High, Wahrer shows up with ‘The Trashmen’ painted on his kick-drum head, & ‘The Trashmen’ are born, later in ’62 Woody decides to leave to join his brother’s band ‘The Startones’ An audition is held in late ’62, Bob Reed from Oaks, North Dakota shows up & is hired to play Bass. In the summer of ’63 the band take a trip to So. Cal. & get hooked on “Surf Music”

> Funniest Sound I Ever Heard: 1963 <
The band’s Drummer/ Vocalist Wahrer combined 2 songs He had heard ‘The Sorensen Brothers’ a California band, play at a gig they both performed in Amery,WI. @ Woodley’s Country Dam, the songs being “The Bird’s The Word” & “Pa Pa Ooh Mow Mow” by the California doo-wop group ‘The Rivingtons’, who in 1962 released an album on Liberty Records called “Doin’ The Bird” which was a type of dance at the time, although the song “Bird Is The Word b/w I’m Losing My Grip” is not on this LP but was a 45 single released sometime after the LP was released.

Andreason: “We were backstage at a ballroom called ‘Chub’s’ in Maple Grove, Steve used to do these funny voices & had come up with this song, he kind of taught it to us on the spot, we didn’t really rehearse the song much more than that, on stage he would nod to us for the chord changes, we played live that very night 3 maybe 4 times, once in each set”.

A local DJ from WDGY Radio “Wizard Of Wax” Bill Diehl was the Emcee at a show where he heard The Trashmen perform Wahrer’s new song, Diehl was positive this would be a hit & convinced the band the record a demo of the song with George Garrett (who was the engineer on most SOMA recordings) in his recording studio in the basement of his recordshop “Nic’o’lake Records”, a 2nd shorter version was recorded @ Kay Bank Studios on 2541 Nicollet Ave MPLS. Wahrer once said “I could not drum fast enough in the studio for that song, so we recorded it, speed it up, & then I sang over that”, & then 50 one sided promo copies were pressed & sent out to local radio stations, in addition too, Diehl entered the song into local “The Battle of the Bands” & The Trashmen won!

> Susie Baby: 1963 <
The band signed with SOMA Records, a local Record Label started by: Amos Heilicher (1921- Aug 2011) & his brother Danny in 1954, by 1959 the label had Bobby Vee, & later many other local artists like: “The Fendermen” “The Castaways” “The Gestures” “The Del Counts” “Dave Dudley” & “The Underbeats” (who evolved into GYPSY) Amos eventually sold/closed SOMA in 1967 to focus on his “Musicland” chain of recordstores, a friend of mine worked with Amos he had this to say “He was a shrewd businessman & sometimes not a very nice guy”

The band’s 1st Single 45 was “Surfin Bird b/w King Of The Surf” the “B-Side” written by Larry LaPole who worked for the ‘Star Tribune’ the local newspaper & had written a number of country songs & is now the new Co-Writer for the band. “Surfin Bird” spent 13 weeks on the chart, then it hit #4 on 25 Jan 1964, this Single 45 sold 38,000 copies in the 1st week alone! There is a rare version on ‘Lana Records’ #137. “Surfin Bird” was later bumped by “She Loves You” from those newcomers ‘The Beatles’.

> Tube City: 1964 <

The band’s 1st & only Vinyl LP “The Trashmen” #GA-200 was released on13 Nov 1963 on Garrett Records Dist. By SOMA & retailing for $2.88, back then 45 singles were .98 cents. This LP contains 12 tracks while the CD version contains 16 tracks @ 30:39 min. The back cover of the LP shows the band playing ‘Mr. Lucky’s’ in MPLS. Tony: “Back then we were paid .03 cents per album sold, but we didn’t always get that payment, that’s the music biz, for you”

When I asked Dal Winslow about My Dad Billy Schwinden: from St. Cloud (30 Oct 1944- 30 Apr 2003), but went to Brooklyn Center High School, who said he played with The TRASHMEN back in 1961- 62, before My Dad went to Viet Nam in ’64, Dal said “Well it’s possible, we went through so many people back then when Steve & I went to Robbinsdale High, so if he (My Dad) says he did,well then he probably did, what is his name again? What was the opening band he played with back then?”

As “Surfin Bird” was in the Top 10 on the charts, the TV Show ‘American Bandstand’ wanted them on the their show, odd thing is the show would only pay for 1 plane ticket to Philadelphia where the TV show was filmed, since Wahrer sang lead on the hit, even though he was the drummer, he was chosen to go. Steve was the only 1 to appear on the TV show on 4 Jan 1964 performing the “Bird Dance” & singing to a Toucan prop with lighted flashing eyes, followed by a 2 minute interview with Dick Clark at the end of the performance. The Rivingtons’ managers informed them of the Top 10 song that seemed to be written from 2 of their own songs, after a successful lawsuit, later pressings changed the writer credit from Wahrer to “Al Frazier, Carl White, Sonny Harris, and Turner Wilson Jr.”

> A-Bone: 1964-65 <

The band’s 2nd 45 single to be released, which Steve refers to on ‘American Band Stand’ is “Bird Dance Beat b/w A-Bone” GA-4003 the “B” side again written by LaPole, this 45 spent 7 weeks on the charts reaching #30 in 7 Mar 1964. This 45 was released on ‘Stateside Records’ overseas. Bob Reed: “I believe our 2nd single went to #30 on the national charts”. Followed by their 3rd single “Bad News b/w On The Move” GA-4005, which reached #124 on the charts in the Summer of 1964. Followed by these also released in 1964: “Peppermint Man b/w New Generation” GA-4010 & “Whoa Dad b/w Walking My Baby” GA- 4012 & “Dancing With Santa b/w Real Live Doll” GA-4013, released with a Picture Sleeve & the last 45 on the Garrett Record Label. Winslow: “I kept the booking records; we did 292 one-nighters in 1964 & almost as many in 1965 at 270 shows”

Things begin to slow down for The Trashmen in 1965 the 7th 45 Single to be released by the band is now on ‘Tribe Records’ #8315 “Hanging On Me b/w Same Lines” followed by the 8th single now ‘Bear Records’
by Lieberman Ent. out of Bloomington, MN “Keep Your Hands Off My Baby b/w Lost Angel” Bear #1966. Their 9th 45 single is on yet a different label than before “Bird ’65 b/w Ubangi Stomp” Argo Records #5516. A “Hard Rock Casino” opened in Sioux City, Iowa in Aug 2014, in the entry way, there is a giant concert poster for The Trashmen on Sat 29 May 1965 admission $1.50, when I told Dal about this he was very excited to see a photo of it, so I sent him one, later the next day.

In 2002 Sundazed released “Teen Trot” This CD contains 25 tracks @ 1hr & 13min recorded live on Sun 22 Aug 1965 in Ellsworth, WI @ Proch’s Popular Ballroom with about 700 people in attendance paying a ticket price of $1.50, to see 3 sets of 40min each

> Lost Angel: 1966- 67 <

As The Beatles continue to forever change the music scene of the 60’s, there is not as much demand for Pre-Beatles “Surf Music” The Trashman release no records the year of 1966, as well as their live performances drop 24% to 200 shows this year, still considered quite successful for a regional surf band from the Twin Cities, it’s just not the same as their “heyday” just 2 years earlier. They did manage to record several live shows for a possible “Live” LP, but these recordings remained in the can for over 2 decades.

“Live Bird ’65- ’67” 1990 Sundazed this CD contains 17 tracks @45:59 min
Recorded from several shows; those being
8 Aug 1965 in Ellsworth,WI, @ Proaches Popular Ballroom,
17 Sep 1966 in Sauk Centre, MN, @ The Home School For Girls,
20 & 26 Sep 1966 in St. Paul, MN @ the Whiskey A Go-Go
1 Jan 1967 in Marshfield, WI @ Airway Bar

A concert program from the time reads: “Here come The Exciting Trashmen Presenting Sensational Sounds of Past & Present” 3848 2nd Street N.E. Minneapolis 21 Minn. Phone: 788-2040

My friend Larry S. saw The Trashmen in concert the summer of ’66 “I used to drive a 50 Suzuki motorbike, I wore a Sonny & Cher type hat & vest, with Beatle boots, man, we thought we were something back then, The Trashmen played the Paradise Ballroom in Wiconia, MN. it was a really nice day, there was a really big crowd there to see them , there was so many people there you couldn’t really walk around, they were really good, as I recall, the band wore collarless suits like the Beatles had wore a couple years earlier, I remember being surprised the drummer sang most of the hits, although he seemed to pause to catch his breath, during the big hit, someone told me that’s the way the song goes, also the drummer was blond, the other 3 up front weren’t”

In 1967 the band release their 10th & final 45 Single “Green, Green Backs Back Home b/w Address Enclosed” now on the Metrobeat Label #7927, their 5th record label in just 2 years. On Fri 28 April 1967 they play in Renville @ Palms Ballroom for $1.50 per ticket. The band finish up the year playing several weekend shows @ The Gables on Lyndale & Franklin in MPLS. Finally 1967 sees the end of The Trashmen, as they disband to pursue other interests, as “Sgt. Pepper” is released in June ’67 & forever changes the music business.

> The Sleeper: 1982 <

In 1982 the band reform & start to play selected local shows, including some recording up to 1988, unfortunately Wahrer dies in 1989, Tony’s brother Mark takes over on Drums followed by Reed’s son Robin to take over for Mark.

At some point this album is released “Trashmen 20 Biggest Hits” Garrett #300 on blue vinyl LP, more than likely in the mid 90s. Andreason: “We were lucky enough to own our own Master Tapes so in 1990 we made a deal with Sundazed to put out our recordings on CD” These 2 CDs are released “Great Lost Trashmen Album” 1990 Sundazed with 16 tracks @ 35:55min followed by: “Tube City: The Best Of The Trashmen” 1992 Sundazed contains 20 tracks @ 46:46 min. In 1994 on NPR Records “Comicbook Collector” is released, this album is recorded from 1988, this being the last recordings with Wahrer through 1993 with Andreason’s brother on drums, this CD contains 11 tracks @ 37:55min: featuring the title song along with “Love’s Made A Fool Of You” & “Keep Your Hands Off My Baby” as well as several other re-recordings of mid 60s standards.

Sundazed continues to release CD & Vinyl for the band, “Bird Call” a 4 CD Boxset in 1998 contains 80 tracks total recorded from May 1961 to Jan 1967. A vinyl release, (highly unusual for the time period) “Bird Dance Beat” 1999 LPGA- 300 contains 14 tracks that could have been the band’s 2nd LP release

> Whoa Dad: 1999 <

When I moved to St. Paul in 1999 I saw The Trashmen were out playing again, so I called my Dad & asked him about his days as a drummer back in the early 60s in the Twin Cities, he said “Ah yes, the music of my youth, what a fun time that was growing up during the origins of Rock N Roll, I have a lot of fond memories from that time”

However he never spoke of this subject much beyond that. Perplexed I asked my Mom “Why is it Dad would not speak of anything specific from when he played drums in bands in his youth” My Mom answered “Your Dad graduated from High School early to enlist in the Marines to go and fight for his country in the Viet Nam war, he was wounded 4 times during his 2 tours of fighting over there, & saw many atrocities, he does not care to remember, or to even think back to anything past what he is doing today, which is working on his Doctorate”

However as I mentioned back in 1972 my Dad did play drums for ‘The Boyz (from Sioux City)’ Then in1977 my Dad played drums with the Jackson, Mississippi based ‘Baker’s Dozen’ who had a 45 single out at the time. The last time my Dad showed any interest in music was in 1980 he started learning guitar & lastly in 1981 he played percussion a couple times with his co-worker, Tim a Bass player.

My Dad passed away in ’03. In 2013 The Trashmen release this Vinyl EP “I’m A Trashman b/w Torture”/”Bop A Lena”/”Brewski” in Jun 2013 the band play the “Back To The 50’s” Show near my shop. This year they release their 1st new album in years “Bringing Back The Trash” By: Deke Dickerson & The Trashmen 2014 Major Label has 16 tracks of new & covers songs on this CD & LP. I finally was able to see (setlist below) & meet The Trashmen in person on:

Wed 27 Aug 2014
St. Paul, MN @ State Fair on Schell’s Stage

Tube City
Bad News
Do The Bird
It’s So Easy
Lotta Lovin
Bird Dance Beat
Think Link
Flippin The Bird
Bird Bath
A- Bone
White Lighnin
Red 55
Good News
My Woodie
Be Bop A Lena
Goofy Foot
Slow Down
Ubangi Stomp
Surfin Bird
High School Confidential
Bucket T

They were a great band to see & hear perform live, they were great guys in person too, before & after the show, & they signed several items for me & my Shop ‘Mr. Zero’s’ in Roseville, & took the time to pose for photos. Back in 2011 a Customer came into our shop wearing a T-Shirt that read “Nerd Is The Word” we adopted that as our tag line right there & then. In closing if you’re into Twin Cities Local Music, Dick Dale, Beach Boys, Ventures, Jan & Dean, Link Wray etc. check out The Trashmen.

Here’s the link to another Article I wrote on Local MPLS Music:

By: RLSchwinden
c/o Mr. Zero’s Inc.
Est. 2009
1744 Lexington Ave. N. & Larpenteur
Roseville- St. Paul, MN. 55113
651. 489. 0207

Posted in Articles
3 comments on “The TRASHMEN: Nerd Is The Word
  1. pat says:

    Wow ! I will have to re read all this info later. If I recall the “the bird” was like, byrd byrd byrd, every herd about the byrd….
    The writer from mpls. I met his son.

  2. Jim Reynolds says:

    Hi RL Schwinden
    I really enjoyed your article about your dad and the Trashmen.I am the engineer that recorded their new album in my studio(Custom Recording Studios) in Golden Valley.I have always been a real fan of the Trashmen (graduated in 1964). I felt so very honored when they picked my studio to record in.We recorded over 17 songs all live in less then 2 days time.Everything was tracked at the same time except vocals.I was at the State Fair on the 27th for there awesome concert.

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