All contents © 2005- 2013 - The Red Dogs Band
The origin of the band that eventually became The Red Dogs was a band called The
Limits (formerly The Earthquakes) from Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The founding
members of The Limits were Steve Elliott (lead guitar) and Doug Cunningham (sax),
who started the band while in high school. The Limits played for high school and
college dances, parties, and at clubs in Oklahoma in 1961 and 1962. The band
included Johnny McBride as the drummer. In the fall of 1963, The Limits added two
members from Coffeyville, Kansas – Butch Neese as vocalist and on bass, and Jack
Blackett on sax. The Limits continued playing while the members attended colleges in
both Oklahoma and Kansas.
On January 1, 1965, John Brown and Mike Murfin opened the Red Dog Inn in
Lawrence, KS. John also started Mid-Continent Entertainment, a booking agency that
eventually sent bands from Lawrence all over the Midwest and as far away as Japan.
In the spring of 1965, Brown auditioned The Limits and immediately hired them to
begin touring with Mid-Continent. They would also become the “house band” for the
Red Dog Inn and were renamed The Red Dogs. Later that year several other
musicians from Emporia, Manhattan, and Lawrence, Kansas, were added. They
included Kent Leopold on organ and sax, Don Lindley on drums, and Jerry Knaack on
rhythm guitar and vocals (who also became the band's primary song writer). In early
1966, Randall Grundy joined on keyboards and trumpet.
With horns, organ, guitar, and drums, plus well-choreographed routines, The Red
Dogs were a terrific and very popular show band. Although they had a Chicago-like
structure, they also liked to play music ranging from Lonnie Mack, Jimi Hendrix, and
Eric Clapton to a James Brown-like revue. They also wrote original material they later
recorded. Along the way they financed a lot of educations and entertained thousands.
Advertising from the 50,000 watt KOMA radio station based in Oklahoma City, their
ROARIN' RED DOGS ads reached an estimated three million listeners per night in
fourteen states from Texas to the Canadian border, and informed fans when and
where The Red Dogs would be appearing.
The Red Dogs played every weekend, holidays, and every day in the summers (usually
to packed houses) over the period from 1965 to 1969. During this period, several
new members joined the Red Dogs: Evan Johnson as drummer after Don Lindley left
for the military, Mike Hatfield as sax and horn player when Doug Cunningham joined
the Air Force, Steve Dahl as the front man, vocalist, and sometimes horn player, Rob
Barr on trumpet, and Bob Meyerhoeffer on horns and vocals.
In 1967 the Red Dogs released their first single "Open Up" b/w "We're Gonna Hate
Ourselves In the Morning" on Atlantic Records. The songs were recorded in Nashville
and released nationally - both songs made it onto the Billboard Charts. “Hate
Ourselves” reached Number One on the pop charts in Sioux Falls, SD. Interestingly,
The Red Dogs recording was ATCO's number 6497. It followed 6495 - Vanilla Fudge'
recording of You Keep Me Hangin' On, and 6496, King Curtis' Green Onions.
One of the highlights of the summer of 1967 was opening for the Buckinghams in a
rock show in Iowa. Also that year the Red Dogs received the National Ballroom
Operator's Association (NBOA) award as the best dance band of the year 1966. Some
music historians have referred to them as the best band that the mid-west produced
during the 1960’s.
The last of the original Red Dogs left in May, 1969 as members graduated from college
and took other jobs. This marked the end of the band members who created The Red
Dogs and established their reputation. A short time later, some of the band members
joined with several new members and continued touring as The Red Dogs into 1970.
The new members included Dave Jewell (guitar/vocals), Jim Davidson (bass), Roger
Lewis (trumpet), Rich Rade (organ), Roger Walls (trumpet), Jon Hischke (sax) and
Randy Shaw (drums). These musicians continued the Red Dog legacy and marked
the final chapter for the well known group. Later 70's bands used the Red Dog name
but it was never the same.
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On January 15 of 2005, The Red Dogs got back together to play in public for the first
time in over 35 years when they were selected to be one of the inaugural groups
inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame. On the 40th anniversary of the Red Dog
Inn (now Liberty Hall) in Lawrence, KS, The Red Dogs were inducted into the Hall of
Fame and played a set of their old material in front of a sold out house. They received
a warm standing ovation and felt deeply indebted to their fans. The Red Dogs were
again honored as they were inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame
on September 4, 2005. For more info, click on the links on the left.
Having re-united, The Red Dogs are playing several times per year. E.g. The band
played for the opening of the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson, KS, is June, 2005 and
the Country Stampede in Manhattan, KS, in June, 2006. There they were introduced by
Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of the State of Kansas, as the "House Band of the Great
State of Kansas". Click below for her introduction of the band.
In 2007 The Red Dogs were honored to play for Governor Sebelius (now Secretary of
Health and Human Services for the U.S.) at her Inaugural Ball. She and her husband
Gary, a Federal Magistrate Judge, have joined us at our last five Kansas
performances. They've both been extremely supportive and we consider them our
On April 24, 2010, The Red
Dogs were inducted into the
South Dakota Rock & Roll
Music Association Hall of
Fame where they played
before a sell out crowd
The band returned to Sioux Falls on
Feb. 4, 2011 for the Bash for Cash,
a fund raiser for fighting cancer.
Gary Sebelius, left,
introduces the band at
Governor Kathleen Sebelius