Many baby boomers now in their late 60s and early 70s recall the good old days in Otter Tail County during the 1960s when pop-rock bands came to this area to perform the top hit songs.
Among them was Paul Revere and the Raiders, who came to the Balmoral Pavilion on the southeast side of Otter Tail Lake.
Hit songs by the Raiders, with lead singer Mark Lindsay, included “Hungry” and “Him or Me, What’s It Gonna Be?”
Other performers at the Balmoral Pavilion included the Byrds who recorded “Mr. Tambourine Man” in 1965, the British rock group Herman’s Hermits who were famous for the songs “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am,” The Animals rock group that sang “House of the Rising Sun” and “We Gotta Get
Out of This Place,” and The Fabulous Flippers who sang “Harlem Shuffle” and “I Don’t Want to Cry.”
Pop-rock in the 1960s followed rock ‘n roll from the 1950s.
Two of the trailblazers in pop music came to the Leaf Lake Ballroom north of Henning in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They were Jerry Lee Lewis and Eddie Cochran.
Lewis, a Louisiana native, was a pioneer of rock ‘n roll. He was best known for his piano playing and for his hit songs, “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.”
Cochran, from Albert Lea, Minn., was best known for his hit tune, “Summertime Blues.” He played the guitar, piano, bass and drums.
Sadly, Cochran died in a traffic accident on April 17, 1960, after a singing engagement in England. He was only 21 at the time of his death.
Ed Darby, currently a resident of Colorado, remembers the days when the Leaf Lake Ballroom was among a mix of good area pavilions in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
“When evening rolled around, the activity moved from the beaches to the ballrooms. Leaf Lake, Balmoral, the Fergus Falls Armory and other venues in Otter Tail County provided dance menus that filled our souls with passion and a promise of life outside the protective influence of our hometowns,” he said.
Darby is a graduate of Fergus Falls High School.
Gary Puckett, rock star from the 1960s with ties to Pelican Rapids, was part of a rock group called the Union Gap. They garnered six consecutive gold records and top 10 Billboard hits such as “Lady Willpower,” “Young Girl” and “Woman Woman.”
Puckett’s late grandfather, L.A. (Lynnville) Puckett, worked as a police officer in Pelican Rapids. The singer, who spent a lot of time at his grandparents’ home in Pelican Rapids, grew up in the state of Washington.
In recent years Puckett performed with Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders fame on Happy Together Tours that performed in such places as the Bluestem Amphitheater in Moorhead and at the Minnesota State Fair.