Longest Running Band in Nebraska since September 1961
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History

In Memory of Bobby Soto

The Dynamics were formed in late 1961 when Larry Soto, new to the Scottsbluff-Gering area of western Nebraska, made contact with Richard Rohnke, John Ankony, and 15-year old bass player Randy Meisner. As was the case in many fledgling rock bands of that era, the nameless band worked up mostly instrumental covers of the day, delving into only a few vocal covers. Meisner covered the popular “Kansas City” with Soto singing some Chuck Berry & Ritchie Valens covers.

Even at 15, Randy Meisner had the best voice in the band, was fun to be with, had dedication and a burning desire to “be somebody”. The band played their first gig in October of 1961 at a private birthday party and played their first public dance at Scottsbluff High School later in the month.

Terrytown was an incorporated area between Scottsbluff and Gering owned by politician and businessman “Terrible” Terry Carpenter. There was a dance area located in Terrytown called Terry’s Arena. A promoter by the name of Hap Ellis brought not only local acts to the Arena, but frequently featured major recording artists of the day, including the likes of The Champs (“Tequila”), Bobby Vee (“Rubber Ball”) and The Ventures (“Walk, Don’t Run”). Hap Ellis allowed the band to play live during a Bobby Vee break. A member of Vee’s band, The Checkers provided a list of names for the band, and they chose “The Dynamics”. The Dynamics were officially formed on November 23, 1961.

The Dynamics’ first actual paying job was December 13, 1961 at the legendary Little Moon Lake near Henry, Nebraska. Wyoma & Gene Hager, who operated the dance hall at Little Moon Lake, had confidence in The Dynamics and booked them regularly through 1962, frequently performing for crowds of up to 800 persons.

The Dynamics honed their talents and began to perform as a group at Little Moon. It became obvious to the other players in the band that Randy Meisner was a pure showman, and had a knack of feeding off the large crowds. The Dynamics were considered the first “pure” Rock-N-Roll band in the area and brought in sell-out crowds each weekend.

By late 1962, Rich Rohnke decided to enter the military, and The Dynamics hired Paul Asmus, who brought a new dimension to the band by adding saxophone. Due to their “driving sound” the band altered it’s name by 1963 to “The Drivin’ Dynamics”.

During this time, the band released their first recording. It was a 45 rpm EP featuring the self-penned instrumental “Sidewinder” as well as covers of Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me”, Booker T. & The MG’s “Green Onions” and The Ventures “Walk, Don’t Run”.

Only 500 copies of the initial record were pressed; however, the EP was reissued in 1991 and in 1996 to commemorate the bands’ 30th and 35th anniversaries.

The Dynamics played their first New Years Eve party at Little Moon, increasing their per man fee to $40 each. It was a great occasion and a sad time as well, since John Ankony had decided to join the Navy.

Larry Soto’s younger brother, Bobby Soto joined the band as their new drummer in January 1963, continuing through May 1966. Around this time, the crowds at Little Moon were growing out of control and The Dynamics wanted to expand their playing territory.

The band played their first “major” out of town job in 1963 at the VFW in Ogallala, NE. Playing “out of town jobs” for the first time expanded The Dynamics lifestyle to include trailer rental, staying overnight in motels, cruisin’ the main drag of town they were performing in and networking to pull in crowds.

By the spring of 1963, with their promotions expanding, the band was now playing such venues as the KC Hall in North Platte, Sutherland, Crescent Ballroom in Grant, Big Springs, Ogallala, ten dances at the Klub Ko Kay in Scottsbluff, the Armory, Terry’s Arena, Little Moon, Guernsey & Torrington, Wyoming.

The Crescent Ballroom in Grant, NE was a very popular rock ballroom in the early 60’s. Kids from 50-100 miles away would attend dances on weekends, sometimes with over 1000 per night in attendance. Teens from McCook, North Platte, & Oshkosh, NE could mix with visitors from as far away as Sterling, CO.

Soon thereafter, The Dynamics expanded their base to play dances in Grand Island, Kearney, Imperial in Nebraska and Sterling and Julesberg in Colorado.

During the 1960’s, KOMA Radio in Oklahoma City, OK beamed their 50,000 watt signal north: late in the evening, you could pick up “KOMA in Oklahoma” on the top end of your radio dial from Illinois westward to Wyoming and from Oklahoma northward to Canada. After hearing an early dance advertisement from the great Kansas soul band, The Fabulous Flippers, the Dynamics decided to use the reasonably priced ads on KOMA to promote their dances.

By late 1963, ads were now running on KOMA and The Dynamics expanded their playing base to 250 miles around their hometown. They were only the second band to advertise on KOMA, following The Fabulous Flippers. Years later, literally hundreds of Midwest bands used KOMA to promote their dances, to great success. The promotion paid off at once, with the band grossing over $1200 with a $1.50 cover charge in Gothenberg, NE.

Crowds began to average over 500 per night as a result of the KOMA ads, and the bottom line increased substantially.

By early 1964, with Randy Meisner and Bobby Soto still in high school, they both now owned classic 1955 Chevy’s. Randy’s was canary yellow and Bobby’s was green. With the “British Invasion” hitting the states, The Dynamics easily slipped into doing covers of various English bands, with Randy Meisner frequently singing lead. They also took on “the English look” ala long hair, Beatle boots, etc. The band developed a following expanding their base of operations to Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.

With many Midwest bands taking on the “show band” look, the Dynamics expanded the band to 6 pieces, adding Dave Margheim on lead guitar & Steve Cassels on piano, both the best at their instrument in the area. They began to perform more rhythm and blues music influenced by The Flippers.

In August 1965, The Dynamics signed a record deal with Sully Records out of Amarillo, Texas. They recorded 3 songs: Randy Meisner sang “One Of These Days” and “So Fine”, while Larry Soto sang “Hurt Me”. Legendary midwest rocker Ray Ruff, who was a personal friend of Buddy Holly, owned Sully Records. Ruff also performed with several KOMA bands, including The Checkmates and The Executioners (who performed in hooded masks). Ruff later produced an LP for Omaha’s Bugsy Maugh after Maugh’s sting with The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

“So Fine” & “Hurt Me” were soon released on Sully Records. The record sold well regionally and had good sales in the southeastern USA, but did not chart nationally.

The band now frequently drew crowds in the 2500 to 3000 range in places like Rapid City, South Dakota, frequently out-drawing “name performers”.

The Dynamics entered a “Battle of the Bands” contest in Denver, CO in February, 1966. The contest was won by “The Soul Survivors” from Denver. (This was not the same band that released “Expressway to Your Heart” but a great regional band never the less).

Fortunately for Randy Meisner, but not for The Dynamics, he was asked to join The Soul Survivors (later changing their name to The Poor) and took off to sunny California to seek a record deal. Both Larry and Bobby Soto briefly left the band during parts of 1966 & 1967 shortly after Meisner’s departure.

Much has been written about Randy Meisner’s career after leaving The Dynamics. After joining The Soul Survivors, Meisner joined the newly formed country-rock band “Poco”, only to leave the band upon the release of their first album. He joined Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band for a great live album and subsequent releases, before joining a backup band for Linda Ronstadt. That band eventually went out on their own to become The Eagles. Randy performed on bass guitar and vocalist for The Eagles on most of their albums, including the classic “Hotel California” release. The Eagles have become one of the best selling rock bands in the world. Randy Meisner as a member of The Eagles was inducted into The National Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH in 1999.

The Dynamics reformed in July 1967 – with Dave Margheim, Bobby Soto, Larry Soto and Don Ullstrom. Ullstrom later performed on several of Randy Meisner’s solo LP’s after he left The Eagles. From 1967 to the present, close to 40 musicians have played in The Dynamics. The Dynamics enjoy the distinction of being the longest running rock band in Nebraska history, playing almost continuously from 1961 to 2001: 40 years of Rock-N-Roll.

The only band to come close are The Rumbles, Ltd. still performing in the Omaha area, formed in 1962-63. They continue to be very popular in eastern Nebraska (however, there was a break in their band during the 1970’s), and J. Harrison B., formed in Fremont in 1962 continues in several locations throughout the USA today (California & Wisconsin), however the original band broke up in 1968.

The Dynamics continue to play on a regular basis and are still one of the most popular bands in western Nebraska. They performed on the evening of their induction, August 19, 2000 at the Scottsbluff County fair grounds in Mitchell, NE following a performance of original member, Randy Meisner. Randy is currently touring with The Classic Rock All-Stars, featuring former members of Steppenwolf, Toto, Foreigner, Spencer Davis Group, The Moody Blues and Wings. The Nebraska Music Hall of Fame welcomed the legendary Dynamics to the Hall of Fame in 2000.

The Drivin’ Dynamics
(Band Roster)

Richard Rohnke
John Ankeny
Randy Meisner
Larry Soto
Paul Asmus
Bobby Soto
Dave Margheim
Steve Cassells
Don Ullstrom
Steve Rothenberger
Ralph Gonzalez
Gary Stevenson
Brad Kath
Steve Spence
Dana Vernon
Stan Hilzer
Steve Hilzer

1961-62
1961-62
1961-66
1961-Present
1962-66
1963-00
1965-66
1965-66
1966-90
1966-67
1967-73
1968-69
1968-69
1968-69
1969-70
1969-70
1969-70

Lynn Dishman
Vicki Ullstrom
Marv Snell
John Waters
Toby Tyler
Tammy Hughson
Charlene Claflin
Cherie Christman
Kacey Miles
James Vega
Steeve Sanders
Mike Carlson
Joel Kuxhausen
Brett Kidd
Brent Robb
Christian Parra

1971-73
1974-90
1990-91
1990-94
1990-00
1994-95
1994-02
1995
1995
1997-2006
1999-2002
Jan-Sept 2001
Sept. 2001-2002
2006-2008
2008-2010
2010