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MIKE "PINKY" SEMRAD




PHOTOS from the J. HARRISON B. BAND REUNION, featuring Rockabilly Hall of Fame Inductee Mike Semrad. The event was held in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin Saturday, July 3rd, 1999. A rockin' good time. Pictured here are Mike, his wife Judy and the band's co-founder Stan.








Mike "Pinky" Semrad Bio:

December 10, 2000

I grew up in a musical family. Born in Fremont, NE in 1945 - my great grandmother was an opera star performing throughout the Midwest during the turn of the century. My grandparents performed in "The Semrad Family Band" playing polka's and dance music in eastern Nebraska and my parents are both musical. My father plays tuba and vibes and my mother is a piano teacher and church organist.

Like many my age - my first jump into "rock & roll" came by seeing Elvis Presley perform on the Tommy Dorsey show on TV. The first record I purchased was "Hound Dog". I became hooked on what I later found out was "rock-a-billy" - inventing my own basement radio station. I was the DJ and my early Top-10 included Jim Lowe's "Green Door", Guy Mitchell's "Singing the Blues", and Dorsey Burnette's "Tall Oak Tree". I took piano lessons early, but switched to trumpet in 4th grade. In early high school, although I had won many state music contests on the trumpet and was "1st Chair" in the high school band - playing the guitar seemed the cool thing to do. Several classmates at Fremont High School purchased instruments - mine being a double pickup orange Supro guitar - and formed Fremont, Nebraska's first rock band in 1962 - The Nomads.

We played a variety of rock-a-billy tunes and especially liked the sounds of "The Wailers" as we had both sax and keys. It didn't take long, however, for all of us to pick up on the RB sounds of Ike & Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, Little Richard Penneman, The Coasters, The Drifters, Jimmy Reed, Bill Doggett, Freddy King, and Omaha' Gene McDaniels. Upon graduation from high school in 1963, we all ventured to The University of Nebraska in Lincoln. We recorded a 3-song EP at the legendary ROTO Records Studio in Lincoln. About 8 acetates were pressed - however singles were never pressed or released. (This was the same label as Bobby Lowell's first Nebraska Rock & Roll Record - "Umm Baby-Baby" - circa 1956). Gradually, the band changed it's name to "J. Harrison B. & The Bumbles". We evolved into an 8-piece rhythm & blues band by the time we graduated in 1968. Our sound had changed from pure rock to 100% RB. Our song list included most Motown tunes, tunes by the Memphis Stax-Volt musicians, Parliament ("Testify"), James Brown, and the entire "Electric Flag" album - including musicians from Omaha (Buddy Miles, Stemsie Hunter, Herbie Rich, Andre Lewis, etc).

We performed throughout the Midwest and spent every summer playing at 3.2% Bars in Colorado. We played Estes Park, Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs and played several private parties in Aspen for movie producer Otto Preminger and the cast of TV's "The Desert Fox". We recorded several fine originals at Marvin Rainwater's Brave

Records Studio in Harvey, Illinois in 1967 - however they were never released. We still have the masters, however.

After graduation, another "Bumble" (Ron McClure) and I joined The Smoke Ring from Norfolk, NE. This band was formed through a marriage of Little Joe & The Ramrods and The Strollers, two fine early northeast Nebraska bands. The Smoke Ring had previously backed Dickie Lee ("Patches") - and Dickie took us to Sam Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis, TN to record. Using Sam's son, Knox Phillips - Dickie Lee - and Alan Reynolds (Garth Brooks' producer) as engineers - we released a single on Mala Records in 1967 ("That Girl Was My Girl One Time"). It sold well regionally but did not chart nationally.

Ron McClure and I joined The Smoke Ring in 1968 just in time to be part several other sessions both at Sam Phillips Recording Studio and Sounds of Memphis Studio (now The House of Blues Studio on Camilla St in Memphis). These sessions produced a remake of The Four Lads 50's hit "No Not Much" - which after release on Goldust Records, was then leased to Buddah Records from New York. "No Not Much" - which fit in both rock and easy listening categories - charted as high as #17 on The Billboard Easy Listening Charts and climbed to the middle of the national charts on Billboard, Cash Box and Record World Magazines. It hit #1 in several major cities, including WHBQ in Memphis, TN. Due to the easy listening nature of "No Not Much" it sold well for many months especially in the adult markets and according to Buddah sold close to 800,000 copies.

We recorded a 2d single on Buddah "Portrait of My Love" - which again sold well regionally but did not chart nationally. "No Not Much" was also featured on a Compilation LP ("Buddah 360 Dial-A-Hit") along with The Lovin' Spoonful, Melanie and other Buddah artists. This was released in 1969.p We appeared on a number of regional TV Dance shows in major markets, including Los Angeles, Boston, Memphis and Cleveland and appeared on Dick Clark's American Bandstand with Tommy Roe in 1969. The band backed and appeared with Rufus Thomas, Dickie Lee, Tommy Roe, The Everly Brothers, Bobby Wood (of J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers), The Shangri-La's, The Fabulous Flippers, Max Carl Gronenthal of 38-Special and The Little River Band.

After serving time in the Army as a 1st Lieutenant - I returned to Fremont, NE and became a banker. I am now a Vice-President of Anerican National Bank. However, I have continued to play a variety of music continually on weekends.

In the late 70's I toured with Dick Allison who performed on The Grand Ole Opry (billed as The Next Elvis) and recorded with Dick on "Dig A Little Deeper" on Rene Records.

I played in "The Mob" with one of Omaha's first rockers, Ron Tuccitto for 12 years. Tuccitto played bass on Carl Cherry's Tene release "The Itch" at age 15 - and he toured with Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Jimmy Bowen and Buddy Knox. (The Smoke Ring's Bob Hupp at age 15 toured briefly with Buddy Knox on bass). During the 60's Tuccitto played in Kansas City's "Dani & The Roulette's that included Omaha's Herbie Rich. Ron passed away in a vehicle accident in 1998.

The Mob recorded a cassette of cover tunes and The Smoke Ring released a "Greatest Hits Cassette" in 1996 with 4 newly recorded tunes, mixed in Nashville, TN.

In 1995, Smoke Ring member Jim Casey, now a singer-songwriter in Nashville, TN, put a series of "Nebraska Rocks" concerts together. Casey runs Power Diamond Music in partnership with Knox and Jerry Phillips (son's of the legendary Sam Phillips of Sun Records). Jerry Phillips continues to perform at our "Nebraska Rocks" concerts. Jerry's group "The Jesters" cut one of the last original Sun Record releases "Cadillac Man" about 1966. These concerts led to the formation of The Nebraska Music Hall of Fame Foundation, of which I am historian and and currently Trustree. A series of inductions have been held in recent years and these can be viewed on our Web Page www.nebrocks.org.

The concerts have or will include live performances by: The Smoke Ring, Don Sohl & The Roadrunners, The Strollers, The Dynamic Drifters, The New Breed, The Classics, The Teen Rogues, The Coachmen, The Chevrons, The Chancellors, Preston Love, Ron Thompson & The Broughams, Bobby Lowell, Steve Hanson, J. Harrison B., Jack Davis, Sean Benjamin, Dave Robel, The Echoes, Charlie Burton & Max Carl Gronenthal (from .38 Special/Jack Mack & The Heart Attack & Grand Funk Railroad), The Divin' Dynamics & The Eagle's Randy Meisner

During 1998, I had the honor to record several vinyl 45's with Nebraska's first rocker - Bobby Lowell. (See Bobby's Web Page under inductees on www.rockabillyhall.com.

These were released on Mac Records 140 from Belgium in the summer of 1999 and another released later in 1999 on The Rockabilly Hall of Fame label.

In May 1999 - I was asked to produce and play guitar on a Rockabilly Hall of Fame project. A single to be released on 45-RPM Vinyl on "The Rockabilly Hall of Fame 2000" Label will be a "Tribute to Marshall Lytle and Haley's Comets". We reorganized "The Rock-A-Boogie Boys" again and cut two kickin' versions of Bill Haley's "Shake Rattle & Roll" and "Rip It Up". Nebraska rock legends Jim Cidlik (Bobby Lowell's first drummer in the mid-50's at age 13) and Bobby Lowell ("Nebraska's First Rock-N-Roll singer") traded lead vocals on "Shake Rattle & Roll". Cidlik handled all the vocals on "Rip It Up". The single was released in 1 999 with a classic picture sleeve honoring "Marshall Lytle and Haley's Comets" - still rockin' today.

In 2000, I appeared on several compilation CD's released by The Rockabilly Hall of Fame - Volume # 3 & # 4. These included lead vocals on "Swing Sister Swing" with The Rockabilly Hall of Fame Studio Band, playing lead on Bobby Lowell's "I'm Movin' On", bass on Bobby Lowell's "Just Because" and bass on Toni Baustian's "Rockabilly Blue".

I have performed with The Fabulous Flippers, The Original Muddy Waters Band, Magic Slim & The Teardrops, Little Jimmy Valentine & The Heartmurmers, The Tablerockers, Max Carl Gronenthal of .38 Special & Grand Funk Railroad, and Bugsy Maugh and Danny Draher from The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Kathy Mattea, Nick Holt, Ann Heche, Garry Morris, Ernest Tubb, Rufus Thomas and Michael B. Smith.

In March 2000 - I played bass on and co-produced (with Sean Benjamin) a blues album by Michael B. Smith. Michael B. is from Greenville, South Carolina. He is a writer and musician. His articles and music reviews frequently appear in Goldmine Magazine and his recent book "Carolina Dreams" is an excellent account of the music scene in South Carolina. His web site is www.gritz.net. The CD was released nationally on "The Rockabilly Hall of Fame Blues" label (Nashville, TN) in December 2000. ("Midwest Carolina Blues" by Michael Buffalo Smith & The Rockabilly Hall of Fame Blues Band).

I was inducted into The Nebraska Music Hall of Fame (as a member of The Smoke Ring) in 1995 and as a founding member of J. Harrison B. & The Bumbles (The Nomads) in 2000. I was inducted into Internet's Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1998.

Mike "Pinky" Semrad

www.midwestmusicmasters.com
mjsemrad@neb.rr.com






Discography:

1963 -- The Fabulous Nomads ROTO Records (Acetate) - Lincoln, NE
     "The Big Orange"
     "Pasadena Suede"
     "Mistah Mosbey" - (3-Song EP - Not released)

1967 -- J. Harrison B. & The Bumbles - Brave Records (Harvey, Illinois)
     "The Good Doctor"
     "The Journey"
     "Lily's Home"
     ("The Oldstresstress") (Unreleased Studio Tapes)

1968 -- The Smoke Ring - Goldust Records - Memphis, TN
Recorded at Sam Phillips Recording Studio, Sun Records, Memphis, TN
     "No Not Much" b/w "When Marty Throws A Party" - 45-RPM

1968 -- The Smoke Ring - Buddah Records (# 77) - New York
     "No Not Much" b/w
     "How'd You Get To Be So Wonderful" - 45-RPM

1968 -- The Smoke Ring - Buddah Records (# 77) - Canadian Release
     "No Not Much" b/w
     "How'd You Get To Be So Wonderful" - 45-RPM

1969 -- The Smoke Ring - Buddah Records (# 112) - New York
Recorded at Sounds of Memphis Studio, Memphis, TN
     "Looking For Love To Come My Way" b/w
     "Portrait of My Love" - 45-RPM

1969 -- The Smoke Ring - Buddah Records (LP - Comp) - New York
     "Buddah's 360 Degree Dial-A-Hit"
     "No Not Much" ... 33 1/3 RPM LP Compilation Album

1975 -- Dick Allison - Rene Records - David City, NE
     "Dig A Little Deeper" b/w "Journey to Nowhere" - 45-RPM

1990 -- The MOB - Boogie Records - Omaha, NE
     "Promo Rock Covers" - Cassette Tape (only)

1996 -- The Smoke Ring - Ace Brothers Records - Omaha/Nashville
     (Compilation Cassette of all released and unreleased recordings
     + 4 new cuts recorded in 1996) - Cassette only

1996 -- The Complete Buddah Chart Singles: Volume 2
     (CDs and Cassette)
     The Smoke Ring - "No Not Much" - BMG-RCA Records

1999 -- Bobby Lowell & The Rock-A-Boogie Boys - MAC Records - Lanaken, Belgium
     "I Miss You"
     "Cadillac Man" - 45-RPM

1999 -- Bobby Lowell & The Rock-A-Boogie Boys - Rock-A-Billy 2000 Records
     Tribute to Marshall Lytle & Haley's Comets" (bass and guitar)
     (Bobby Lowell & Jim Cidlik - vocals)
     "Shake-Rattle & Roll"
     "Rip It Up" - 45-RPM

2000 -- Rockabilly Hall of Fame CD Compilation # 3
     Toni Baustian - "Rock-A-Billy Blue" - (bass)
     Bobby Lowell - "I'm Movin" On" - (lead guitar)

2000 -- Rockabilly Hall of Fame CD Compilation # 4
     Rockabilly HOF Studio Band - "Swing Sister Swing" - (lead vocals)
     Bobby Lowell - "Just Because" - (bass)

2000 -- Bobby Lowell - "Bootleg" CD - Palace Records - Lincoln, NE

2000 -- Michael Buffalo Smith - Spartanburg, SC - Blues CD (12-5-00)
     "Midwest Carolina Blues" - Rockabilly Hall of Fame
     Blues - "Michael Buffalo Smith & The Rockabilly Hall
     0f Fame Blues Band"
     Bass & Co-Producer w/ Sean Benjamin
2002 -- Iowa Music Hall of Fame (CD and Cassette)
Performing with the The Bands of Gold (Smash Recording Artists)
     "Slippin' & Slidin'"
     "Boney Moronie"
     "Ooh - Baby Baby"
     "Land of 1000 Dances"

2007 -- Smoke Ring Live - Iowa Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame
(2007 Inductees CD) - "No Not Much" and "Uptight"
(www.iowarocknroll.com)





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