The Andy Doll Band started in May 1952, and grew to top success through the years. Two years after their Fan Club was formed, their hit record “Wild Desire” (click here to listen) came out and climbed to the top of many charts. In the last year the NBOA (National Ballroom Operators Assn) held their annual poll in Downbeat magazine, the boys received this national rating on an award that Andy kept in his office:
- Best Western Dance Band in U.S.: Number 1 – Hank Thompson; Number 2 – Andy Doll Band.
- The Best Small Variety Band In U.S. : Number 1 – Dukes Of Dixieland, Number 2 – Clyde McCoy, Number 3 – The Andy Doll Band.
The “official” name of the band was Andy Doll and the Ridge Riders, but most people just shortened it to the Andy Doll Band. The Andy Doll Band played 6 nights a week in the ballrooms of the four surrounding states of their hometown in Oelwein from 1952 – 1966. In addition to releasing multiple albums and 45’s they appeared in concert with stars that included Ray Price, Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two, Roy Clark, The Everly Brothers, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jim Reeves, Brenda Lee, Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Faron Young, Jeannie C. Riley, Ferlin Husky, Stonewall Jackson, Dave Dudley and many others.
Editor’s note: The article below was created from a series of telephone conversations with Bill Reints which took place from January to May 2016. Therefore the article is in “Bill’s Own Words”
Touring with Andy Doll
When I came on in 1960 as a new player, Andy guaranteed 4 nights off a month. So sometimes we would do 14 one nighters in a row. And since we were playing nearly every night of the week, you had to be sort of a chameleon. We played some spots where Andy pulled out the “old time” book along with the regular Iowa “Two Beat Chuck Book’ and we played as Andy’s old time band. The Two Beat Chuck Book (sometimes called Boom Chick or two beat music) were songs that were characterized by the sound of the drummer’s bass drum and snare. The drummer’s sound would go “Boom-Chick, Boom-Chick, Boom-Chick, etc. Those country songs (bluegrass, hoe downs, etc.) were easier for the people to dance to than the normal 4 beats to the measure music.
When we played Rochester MN, you would not recognize us because we would play different music there than other places. In order to play steady you had to play many styles. As a matter of fact, I followed that same formula for my Blue Flames trio. We might play a wedding dance and play a lot of ‘50’s, and then we would play a supper club the next night and it would be all “easy-listening”. We would try to fit in and play the style they were looking for.
Our jobs were mostly one-nighters all across Iowa, probably a third of our jobs were in Wisconsin, some in northern Illinois, some in Minnesota. We just went back and forth. One night we would play Fort Dodge, the next night we would be in in a Wisconsin ballroom, and the next night we would be in Spencer. We did a lot of miles, but we never got very far!
We had little cards printed up with all of our future dates that we used to place on every table in the ballrooms we played. This was great advertising because the audience would stick it in their pockets and take it with them. So it became a part of our setup every night to put those cards on the tables.
Because we were playing so often and throughout the Midwest, the rest of the band and I were dedicated “full time” musicians and not able to work a regular day job. For example, when you had to travel 200 miles to do a dance job, you had to leave by at least by 3 or 4 in the afternoon to get there by 8 and be setup and ready to play at 9.
We would take turns driving the bus in 100 mile shifts and that was sometimes difficult. We would get into our bus after finishing a job and someone would take their turn driving. If I was not this first person driving, I would just be falling asleep or already asleep when I would be woken up at 3 in the morning and told it was my time to drive whether I was tired or not. Might be raining, might be fog, might be a snow storm or whatever. Doing all that traveling is what made the job difficult. We took driving turns by age, and you did not want to pass because everyone else was just as tired as you were.
As far as staying overnight, we would stay over places a couple three times a month. For example, we would play Sunday night at the Bohemian Hall in Fort Dodge. The hall was built by a bunch of Bohemian farmers. As a matter of fact I just heard that the Bohemian Hall burned down several years ago. It is interesting that so many of the places that the band played later burned down. We played one Sunday a month at the Bohemian for years and then stayed overnight in Fort Dodge and play a large sized hall in Spencer on a Monday Night (old time music only). Andy would call a large chunk of his music “Old Time.” But music that would not fit into that category our crowd would jokingly call “New Time.” The dancers who loved polkas and waltzes called everything else “New Time”. When we played Spencer, we had a paper taped to the piano with the program for the entire night. Example: Start out with waltzes then polkas and then have a “new” time set which would be stuff like fox trots before intermission. Then have an additional “new time” set after intermission.
We also used to stay in Beloit and then go all the way over to Appleton Wisconsin to play an old time job. By the time we would get home the sun would be up.
I also liked playing the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. It was a big place and very nice and it had a lot of history. I kind of felt like we were really “up town” when we played there.
We played the Coliseum a lot but it was not really our home base. We used to play at the Coliseum at least twice a month – one Thursday and one Saturday. We also played special events such as Fireman’s dances, weddings and the twice a month regular gigs for at least 5 years when I was in the band. So that means that we easily played there over 100 times. We also played Matter’s Ballroom in Decorah quite a bit. For example, I have a list of all the bands that played Matters that included big names like the Beach Boys and many others. The AD band was also on that list. But the Beach Boys maybe played there only once, while AD probably played maybe a hundred times.
Even though some places we played had their own sound system, the AD band traveled with their own PA. It actually was a pretty good PA for that time period. We used to use those Shure big box mics, the kind that Elvis used in the 50’s in those old clips of his performances. Later on Andy wanted to update so we bought a pair of cheap columns and some ice cream cone mics. I didn’t think his new PA sounded as good as the old one. I always thought those old mics sounded better. The PA was only for the vocals, we did not mic any instruments. Chet did have a little amp for his piano and sometimes we put a microphone on it so that his parts would get out there.
Making a living
I was not getting rich, but it was paying my bills. I recently read the life story of Willie Nelson and we were making as much up here in the early 60’s as Willie was making….we actually made a little more. When I came on, there was a guarantee of at least $100 a week but our salary was actually 10% of the gross. So we were playing every night and every 3 months you got a bonus check of the difference between our weekly pay and the 10% of the gross. So for 1960 getting $100 a week plus bonuses every three months, that was pretty good money. Of course since we were playing every night it was kind of hard to spend it all. But I was able to buy a new car because I had money coming out of my ears.
Members of the Andy Doll Band
Andy Doll – He was from Wauzeka Ridge Wisconsin. He could play bass, guitar, fiddles, and clarinet. He was the front man so he had to play a lot of stuff. He also had the double neck guitar that was built for him. He did have his picture taken with it but he rarely used it live. Andy was never featured as the lead singer. Andy’s band philosophy was that he wanted to play tunes that were easy to dance to. Even though his bands had the talent and instrumentation to play some “fancier” tunes, he wanted the solid down beat that the dancers could follow and he would not allow any improvising by his band members during performances because he wanted his music “as written.”
Andy had several members in his band throughout the years and he always picked “nice” guys. When you spent so much time in the bus together you had to get along.
Andy eventually bought the Coliseum but the timing was such that the ballroom era was kind of slowing down and the crowds were not what they had been. Since the AD band played there before Andy bought it, we continued to play there with Andy being the owner.
Clarence ‘PeeWee’ Cherrier
Clarence ‘PeeWee’ Cherrier – He played a lot of instruments. He and Andy were primarily guitar players but PeeWee, for example, played banjo on the song Banjo Waltz and many others. He played a 4 string banjo instead of a 5 string. His banjo playing was more chord based strumming with a pick as opposed to bluegrass style finger picking. PeeWee would also break out his tenor sax and play the main parts in the song “Caravan” with myself.
He and Andy hand wrote all of the arrangements for the Andy Doll Band. Example – harmonies for 3 horns and harmonized guitars & fiddles. But sometimes the two guitar players would just figure out their own instead of using charts. Good musicians can fake a lot of stuff.
I remember what PeeWee used to say about writing arrangements, “Well, I got two problems. I have to write a fancy enough arrangement to impress our crowd and band, but not fancy enough that Andy will reject it because it is too busy”. For example, PeeWee might want to put a bunch of triplet horn runs in his arrangements but had resist to make sure that Andy thought it was simple enough for the dancers to follow.
Bobby Hankins – Bobby Hankins was the country singer and very popular with the audience and a fun guy to be in a band with. He was quite the showman; he strutted around the stage and just looked good up there with his big smile. When Bobby would sing one of his songs that was on a recording, people would gather around the stage like he was a county star. When Bobby left to start his new band they featured all strings instead of the horns like most of the other bands were doing. After Bobby left, Andy got a new singer (Carlos Freymiller) from Wisconsin who did an excellent job with the band.
Chet ‘Daddy-O’ Bradley
Chet “Daddy-O” Bradley – (he was nicknamed “Daddy-O” because had a large family and a bunch of kids), played piano and also accordion on the old time waltzes. Very likeable guy. While playing live, he would be waving at everybody and he seemed knew everyone that came into the dances. In fact, he kept a book. He would write down descriptions of the people he met. Example, “weird horn rimmed glasses and loud ties” and he would list their names. And when we would come around once a month or every couple of months, they would dance by and he would know their names. That meant a lot to the people that Daddy-O remembered who they were.
Billy Reints – When I started playing horns with Andy, a lot of the arrangements had me switching instruments in the same song. For example I would start the song on trumpet, switch to alto and other saxes and then go back to trumpet. I would also add some vocal “oohs” and “ahhs” throughout all the instrument changes. Later years in the band we threw out some of the arrangements because our personnel changed so it go a little less busy on me switching so many instruments. I also sang lead on several songs. PeeWee also taught me how to play chords on a banjo and I played that on some square dance style tunes. Andy wanted all of us to be super versatile. So people would come dancing by and say, “Look, now he is playing banjo.” I also used to even go back to the drums on a couple tunes and play some simple boom-chick parts. And people would dance by and say, “Look, now he’s playing drums”.
Ike Thurn – I never met Ike until years later. Ike and his wife ran a beauty shop. Ike was a beautician. The beauty shop was in the east corner on the ground floor of the Temple hotel. Ike played trumpet, clarinet, and fiddle.
Carlos Freymiller – When Bobby Hankins left we lost the country singer that was such a big selling point of the band. We had some tryouts and gave the lead vocalist job to Carlos from Fennimore, Wisconsin. He had his own kind of family band. He came on and sat in, and Andy hired him as a vocalist and bass player and he worked with the band for several years.
Dean Niehaus (drummer) – he is from my hometown area (Clarksville) and suggested that I join Andy’s band. He then recommended me to Andy. If it was not for Dean I never would have even had a tryout. After I left the band for a while to go back to college, him and I played with the Mike Smith Orchestra out of Hampton. That band was more of modern band not really an orchestra. They had 3 saxes, piano, bass, drums, and trumpet. We played the old standards and stuff from the 40’s. We played for about a year with Mike Smith. Once again it was Dean Niehaus that got me into that band also.
Harvey Frederick –He was the drummer when I came on. He was a very good drummer from Dubuque. I was roommates with Harv for a while when I first moved to Oelwein. He and two other railroad guys were renting a house and they had an extra room so I moved in. We each paid 25% of the rent. I was making $100 a week with the band and the house rent was $60 a month. My share of the rent was $15 a month.
Gary Hinderberger – He was one of the last drummers with Andy. He left in 1967. Gary was also the Blue Flames original drummer when the AD Band folded and we started our trio. Gary’s dad was the Lockmaster (in charge of the site) at Lynxsville Wisconsin Lock at Dam #9. The Lockmaster lives in a house right on the dam on the Mississippi and was the headman of taking care of that. Eventually, Gary had an opportunity to work on the dam at Guttenberg. It was a government job and it paid well. So he played with the trio for a while and then he left for Guttenberg.
Special note from Gary Hinderberger, February 2017:
“Andy was one of the nicest people I have ever met and I am proud to have been a member of his band. I used to attend his dances in Prairie du Chien, WI when I was in high school and got Pee Wee King’s autograph at one of those dances, in the late 1950s I believe.”
“In my opinion, Wild Desire is Andy’s greatest song, and the next surely was Have I Lived. It has a great moral and a very good tune, easy to sing with feeling.
Bobby Hankins did a great job with it also.”
“I am now busy here in Harlingen, Texas playing jams and in a bar band once a week. Gotta keep going with it until I can’t anymore.”
Chub was from Lone Tree, Iowa and he played trumpet, clarinet and sax. He was the one that I replaced because he went into the service. Not sure if he was drafted or volunteered. He came on after Ike.
He was into pedal steel before there was pedal steel. As soon as he heard about the concept of pedals steels, he and PeeWee were designing pedals that would pull a half step, or whatever, to build a pedal steel of his own. When Fender was experimenting with the ShoBud pedal steel in Nashville, he was up here experimenting putting petals on and making them do the different things that he wanted them to do. He was very knowledgeable about chords and so on. He was a very good player.
When we played the Armar in Marion or the Surf in Clear Lake for example, the union bylaws stated you had to have a seven men minimum. That policy started in the big band era when you had 15 piece bands. So Lefty was our “seventh man” for these and similar jobs. if Lefty was not available, Andy would also occasionally hire Dale Thomas (steel) and/or his sister Sue Ellen (vocalist) who had a TV show in Cedar Rapids at the time. We also used Dale or Lefty for other big jobs such as fairs.
Andy Doll with National Acts
Well back then things were simple. You could walk in and Wanda Jackson, Dave Dudley or some other star was there and we would back them. For example, the bill would be split as a part dance and then, for example, featuring The Dave Dudley Show. Dave would come in, like at the Laramar at Fort Dodge, and bring his lead guitar man with him. A lot of stars would do that. The star’s lead man could kick it off, do all the fill licks, put the correct ending on it, and have the background high harmonies that gave the song its special sound. So even though the star had never played with our band, the lead guy could make it sound like the record and our band would follow him and fill in the rest of it. Dudley’s guitar player originated the shotgun style (also called “chicken pickin’) of guitar which was kind of unique at the time. What he did was to kind of snap on the string instead of strumming over it with his pick. Several of Dave Dudley’s recordings, especially his hit Six Days on the Road, had that shotgun style of guitar playing. So when Dave brought his guitar player who played on the recording it really made the song sound like the original.
List of stars that AD played with…
• Ray Price
• Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two
• Wanda Jackson
• Roy Clark
• PeeWee King
• Little Jimmy Dickens
• Jim Reeves
• Bobby Lord
• Norma Jean
• Brenda Lee
• Roy Acuff
• Minnie Pearl
• Faron Young
• Marvin Rainwater
• Jeannie C. Riley
• Ferlin Husky
• Kitty Wells
• Johnnie and Jack
• LeRoy Van Dyke
• Stonewall Jackson
• Hank Thompson
• Justin Tubb (Ernie Tubb’s son)
• Everly Brothers
• Dave Dudley
• The Willburn Brothers
The Music of the AD Band
These are the albums made by the Andy Doll Band through the years. They were recorded in Nashville, Des Moines and Sauk City, Wisconsin. Left to right: ‘Hot Chicken‘ has all old time tunes. ‘Andy Doll & Band‘ contains 6 newer Nashville type tunes and 6 older Folk tunes. ‘On Stage‘ contains 12 variety tunes, 6 of which were done by Guest Stars that the band has worked with. ‘Country Capers‘ contains 12 tunes that was released in Europe and England.
Andy’s sound varied over the course of time. They started out sounding like the country swing that the Bob Wills Band made famous. Andy wanted to be Bob Wills. If you listen to his early records with all the fiddles and guitars, his band sounded just like the Wills band, actually Andy’s Band was cleaner than the Wills band. But when I came on in 1960, the Bob Wills sound was kind of going out. In later years, Andy went with a rockabilly sound on his guitar since rock and roll was getting popular and he wanted to record a hit or something that would sell.
Andy had all hand written arrangements. When you would setup, you had to unpack a big pile of music, especially when you had an old time library, and other types of musical libraries. We had to read all the stuff because we had so many tunes. So essentially, Andy would yell out the tunes and you would have to dig and find them. But, most times he would yell out groups of three. During the breaks between the three song sets, he would tell us the next three and we would get them ready to go. Some places we would do one style of music and other places we might do a totally different list of songs.
An interesting thing with the AD band is that there were very few, if any, improvised solos for the band members. Andy had it pretty well scripted because he wanted it simple and danceable. I do remember one time during the tune “In the Mood”, I took a trumpet ride just for the heck of it and some friends said “What was that that you were playing? That was not part of “In the Mood!” They did not even recognize that it was a trumpet ride.
One of the biggest things that sold the AD Band was that they had records. In 1960, if you had albums and records for sale, that really boosted the band’s prestige. We used to sell a lot of records off the stage.
Andy and Nashville Tennessee
Andy occasionally would go to Nashville and use studio musicians to record his songs. What would happen is that Andy would travel down, book a session, bring back the recording, and tell the band, “Here is a song I recorded, can we do this live?” Quite often we had a hard time trying to cover the parts as smoothly as those Nashville cats put down. But since we were doing the song live, it didn’t really make much difference. I think that if you look at his entire catalog of about 45 recordings, there were probably about 10 or so that were recorded in Nashville, and 8 of those 10 songs were on the “On Stage” album. Back in the 50’s and early 60’s nearly all the records he recorded were 45’s. The 45’s were considered the record of the day back then. About one session a year we recorded 45’s in places other than Nashville and used our own band instead of Nashville studio musicians.
Andy would book the studio and record the song, all without any label owning the rights. Since he owned the rights to the song he would arrange for the song to be pressed somewhere in Nashville or maybe even around here to vinyl and he released it on Andy Doll Records (AD Records). I have one album here at home that says “Audio Deluxe” records. So maybe he interchanged the name of AD Records between Andy Doll Records and Audio Deluxe Records. Before he started using AD Records, I have some of his early 45’s that were released by different companies such as “CUCA Records”, “StarDay Records” and “Jay Jay Records”. I think you could get a label and register it for about $100 back then.
Wild Desire was Andy’s biggest national hit but he recorded that with all Nashville guys, not his own band. That song actually made it on the Nashville charts, not sure how high. Actually, even though Andy wrote that, he did not sing it and only played bass on the recording. He was not very prominent in that recording at all. Of course Andy never considered himself as a lead singer. He would sing some harmonies, especially the “stinker” harmonies that were kind of hard to find. PeeWee was also good at singing those tricky harmonies. The melodic harmonies were easy to cover, but trying to fill out the vocals with those odd harmonies was something that PeeWee and Andy did quite well. Bobby was the featured singer in the band, not Andy. But we all would do a little singing.
Some of the Nashville tunes that we would always try to play live were Wait, Yankee Rouser and Wild Desire. Andy wrote Yankee Rouser in the same style of “Rebel Rouser”. Andy said that since we were “Northerners” he decided it should be called Yankee Rouser. When Wild Desire first came out and was popular, we would play it every night. Carlos would sing it and PeeWee did the harmony. But when Carlos left the band and went back to Wisconsin, we went to 5 piece and stopped playing it anymore. Being a five piece, both Andy and PeeWee could play bass so they would switch it around throughout the night. But eventually that got to be a mess.
The “On-Stage” recording
This album was different because it featured many cuts recorded in Nashville by studio musicians. The songs that were recorded by the AD Band were Train to Nowhere, Banjo Waltz, Caravan and Hot Chicken Polka. All the rest were Nashville guys and I thought that the album was kind of a mismatch. I was never really thrilled with that album because so many of the songs did not have us playing. Most of the stuff that the AD band recorded had little if any overdubbing, but I assume that the stuff he recorded in Nashville did. Also most of the stuff we recorded were captured in just a couple of takes. But like any recording session, everybody is kind of holding their breath that nobody screws up and forces the song be done again.
Train to Nowhere (Larry Smith wrote that and sang it.)
Wait Andy picks on guitar.. This was recorded in Nashville and the album notes say that it was our theme song. Some of the band members used to joke around that our band theme song was Goofus! But, I guess that Wait was our theme song. I always liked Wait. It was a nice tune.)
Banjo Waltz (We recorded that in Des Moines and it featured PeeWee playing his 4 string banjo)
Wild Desire (Our biggest hit)
Caravan (Instrumental – PeeWee and I playing saxes)
Boogie Walk (An instrumental by Andy with a new “Twist”).
Hot Chicken Polka Three clarinets featured on this song: Lead clarinet Bob Hersom from Cedar Rapids with PeeWee and Andy on the other two clarinets. The guy doing all the chicken stuff was Hersom. He played the slap tongued clarinet. The way he got that sound is that you slap your tongue against the sharp edge of the reed in the mouthpiece. After we played that through a number of times in the studio Bob’s tongue was bleeding. He really hung in there and he did a heck of a job on that cut.)
Birdie in the Treetop (Redd Stewart with an Andy Doll tune)
Tellin’ You Johnny (Mary Bee of Nashville sings Andy Doll)
North to Alaska (Comedy Tune:Red Blanchard with Andy Doll Band)
Have I Lived (an Andy Doll tune sung by Gene Jay from Louisville, Ky)
Stockade Blues (Pig Robbins & Harmon sit in on a RCA session in Nashville)
Review of the “On-Stage” album by Pee Wee King:
This album is truly the versatile Andy Doll Band “On Stage”, with their 7 men and 17 instruments, playing a variety of music and sounds that makes them famous coast to coast. This is probably the reason the National Ballroom Operators Assoc. (NBOA), this past year, voted them as the nation’s best Western Dance Band in the company of favorites like Pee Wee King Band, and Hank Thompson; plus voting them in the top “three” of the nation’s best small dance band attraction (8 piece or less) in the company of famous names like Dukes of Dixieland and Clyde McCoy. This happened on the last Downbeat magazine poll of NBOA members. They also have Midwest’s most active Fan Club with Pres. Vera Burkhalter of 509 South Freemont Rd, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
They play 6 nights a week in the ballrooms of four surrounding states to their home in Oelwein, Iowa, enabling them to get back nightly (daily) to their families. You will hear the ballroom sound “On Stage”, in many of their tunes.
Side one features such long time members of the band as Chet “Daddy-O” Bradley playing piano & accordion; Pee Wee Cherrier on banjo-guitar; Andy on guitar, fiddle, clarinet; Lefty Schrage on steel; Larry Smith on Vocals & trumpet; plus other members who recorded “On Stage” with the band; Carlos Freymiller, Ike Thurn, Bobby Hankins, Bill Reints and Harv Frederick. In many cases the boys swap instruments to get the desired sound. Most arrangements are done for the band by Andy Doll & Pee Wee Cherrier.
Side two features guests that have appeared with the Andy Doll Band “On Stage” as follows : Miss Mary Bee of Nashville singing an Andy Doll Tune (Donald) Red Blanchard, winner of many comedian awards and emcee of WGN National T-V Barn Dance in Chicago; Pee Wee King, who helped to produce part of the Nashville sessions, plus Redd Stewart, co-writer with Pee Wee of tunes like “Tennessee Waltz” etc; Gene Jay of Louisville who sings fine on an Andy Doll tune; Bob Hersom who leads the 3-clarinet section of the Andy Doll band in an “On Stage” specialty; plus Steel Guitarist Buddy Emmons, drummer Buddy Harmon & pianist “Pig” Robbins, who sat in with the Andy Doll Band on a session performance at RCA studio in Nashville. Andy wrote most of the tunes in these performances.
The sincerity of Andy Doll projects in all his musical efforts, and this is one of Andy’s greatest assets. I might close now with an old saying, “A band is no better that it’s leader”, which in this case reflects the ability, versatility and accomplishments by Andy Doll.
Andy Doll & Band – Pop Nashville Sounds and Folk Favorites
I think that the album “Andy Doll & Band – Pop Nashville Sounds and Folk Favorites” was more the way our band sounded than the “On Stage Album.” This was recorded during my time with the band and featured Andy’s band on every song except for “First Date Anniversary” and “Have I Lived.”
We recorded songs 1, 2, 3 and 6 on side one at Sauk City, Wisconsin. Songs 4 and 5 were recorded in Nashville.
Songs 1, 3, 5 and 6 on Side Two were recorded in Sauk City. Songs 2 and 4 were recorded in Des Moines.
Players included our regular band (Andy, Bill, PeeWee, Gary, Carlos) with Lefty adding his parts. Harv Frederick played drums on the Des Moines sessions.
Gary Hinderberger played drums for the Sauk City session where most of his playing on that was the off-beat of the snare drum on the polkas and country cuts. I believe Lefty Schrage was also along on that trip and played steel on that session, also. Or else he overdubbed the steel guitar parts.
We did no overdubbing and the tunes were done in one take.
Song 1 – Dallas – Bill Reints on lead vocal. When Andy wrote this song he had me sing it in the bus one night, I said, “I don’t understand the story you are telling.” So he rewrote some of the lyrics, but I still don’t understand it. I guess it is about a guy who comes home from the army and his wife had died and the only one waiting for him is his little girl. It is kind of a “downer”. Lefty Schrage is playing the guitar parts.
Song 2 – Hot Canary – Andy Doll playing the guitar parts.
Song 3 – Good Bye Mary Ann – Bill Reints on lead vocal, Lefty on Steel. This was originally wrote by Andy as a waltz and I mentioned one time that it might also sound good as a walking four beat fox trot. So when we got to the session, Andy suggested that we try it like that. But it ended up kind of a half rock song and not how I pictured it all.
Song 4 – First Date Anniversary – Recorded in Nashville. It was not Daddio on piano….I think it was Hargus Robbins, nickname “Pig Robbins”, playing the piano parts.
Song 5 – Have I Lived – Recorded in Nashville, but also was on a 45 rpm released on AD records. but Bobby sang it live.
Song 6 – Gotta Have You – Carlos Freymiller on lead vocal. PeeWee and I on saxes, Lefty on Steel.
Song 1 – Little Jessie – Instrumental polka. Andy on clarinet doubling with me on trumpet. PeeWee chording on the banjo with Daddio on piano. When we did this live we switched instruments several times during the song. Any would write in an extra two bars here and there to give us time to switch. Andy would play guitar for a while and switch back to clarinet and at other times I would go to clarinet from trumpet.
Song 2 – Wooden Heart – PeeWee on the lead vocal.
Song 3 – Peanuts Polka – Instrumental. Andy and I doubling on trumpet and clarinet. This is an example of how PeeWee and Andy would write arrangements that would add key changes several times in the same song.
Song 4 – The Butterfly Dance – Instrumental. Andy and PeeWee on twin guitars.This song incorporated time changes and key changes where the dancers would have different dance moves for different parts. This was a song that would fill the floor at live dances. This song was kind of similar to how “Chicken Dance” is played nowadays at wedding dances
Song 5 – The Lannings Mixer – Andy and I doubling on trumpet and clarinet. Daddio playing honkey tonk piano. PeeWee playing the guitar parts.
Song 6 – The Petite Waltz – Daddio on accordion with Andy on clarinet. Andy and PeeWee on the twin cascading guitar parts. Lefty on steel.
No recording available but here is the song list:
1 –The Andy Doll Band – Hot Chicken
2 –The Andy Doll Band – Slap Tongue
3 –The Andy Doll Band – Clairene Waltz
4 –The Andy Doll Band – Ping Pong
5 –The Andy Doll Band – Milwaukee Waltz
6 –Li’l Wally* – Dominique
1 –Li’l Wally* – Springtime
2 –Li’l Wally* – Wedding Waltz
3 –Li’l Wally* – Moonlight & Roses
4 –Eddie Blatnik – I Stopped For A Beer
5 –Eddie Blatnik – I Can’t Stop Doing The Polka
6 –Li’l Wally* – He’ll Have To Go
Recording Andy Doll albums
The album with Caravan (On Stage) was recorded in Des Moines. A lot of tracks from the other album were recorded in Sauk City Wisconsin.
So even though Andy Doll owned the label of Andy Doll Records he did not own a recording studio. He had his label copyrighted and patented. He did research to make sure there was not anyone else who had that name and then he was able to put out records on that label. He then found any presser that would put it to vinyl for you.
Tunes from YouTube
Did the Andy Doll Band do any traditional Big Band music like Glenn Miller or others?
We played several traditional Big Band tunes like “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller, but it was quite difficult to perform music originally done by a 15 piece band when we were only a 6 piece band. So when we did those couple of songs we could not really do it like the original. Overall, Big Band music was a small part of the band. It was usually Bobby singing country and in the years before I came on the band they were mostly western swing. The band varied over the years and they became more of a horn band after I came on. Towards the later years of the band we were doing stuff like “Tijuana Taxi” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. We also did the Hawaiian War Chant that the dancers would form a snake line and go all over the dance floor.
One time we played over in Wisconsin above a tavern for an anniversary dance. So we had to carry all of our stuff up the stairs and setup on the second floor. We happened to come down to the first floor tavern below after we were setup and the owner was putting up pole jacks to support his ceiling. He said, “Whatever you do, DO NOT DO THE BUNNY HOP!” So that had us wondering if the whole ceiling was going to cave in. He said, Don’t have them all jumping at the same time so that these support poles can keep the ceiling from falling!”
Andy Doll on the Radio
Andy had a Saturday radio show on KOEL AM. I joined the band in 1960 and we always played the KOEL show during my time and I am not sure, but I think his radio show started at least in the mid ‘50’s. His daily show was mainly playing records, but he would do the live show on Saturdays. We would pull all of our equipment up the back fire escape, slipping and sliding on the ice and snow at the KOEL studios when they were located upstairs across from the Mealey. We would do a live show every Saturday. Once we got all of our equipment up in the studio we would play about a 15 -20 minute set and then leave but Andy would stay in the studio and continue his show playing records. I have one recording of us from the KOEL sessions. The session was recorded off the radio at home, so the quality is not too good. But it is still kind of fun to listen to. There are only about 4-5 songs. Not sure on all the members who played the live radio job, but I know that later on the band recorded some tracks at the Coliseum to play on the KOEL show. Gary Hinderberger was the drummer for the Coliseum tracks during 1965-66.
The Andy Doll Fan Club
The band had one of the Midwest’s most active Fan Clubs that was maintained by President Vera Burkhalter of 509 South Freemont Rd, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. They put out quarterly publications (newsletters) that included interviews with the band members and pictures of the band.
The End of the Band
After we reduced the band to 5 piece when Carlos left, it was becoming harder and harder to keep that big professional sound that AD was famous for. Since we did not have Carlos as our lead singer, PeeWee and I would alternate between the lead vocals and harmony parts. Also, Chet only wanted to play occasional weekends and not go on the road anymore. So around 1965 we slowed down our bookings and as a result we did not make as much money. The way Andy ran the books was that he would take 50% of the gross for booking the job, providing the bus and paying for hotels when we needed them and then the rest of the band would split the other 50% percent with each member getting 10% each. Leo Greco did kind of the same thing. So with the money and our sound not being as good as it was, we eventually decided to call it quits. Also since me, PeeWee and Gary had already started playing some trio jobs on the side, we decided to go with that and see how it worked out. That is when The Blue Flames became a full time band.
Here is what the other AD band members did after the band:
- Carlos Freymiller went back to Wisconsin and I don’t think he immediately started another band. Perhaps he started playing later though.
- Bobby Hankins started another local band, The Bobby Hankins Show and then went to Michigan and ran a music store and also started a band up there. Bobby’s daughter Dixie has been a professional drummer for years in Weatherford, Texas, West of Ft Worth.
- Andy Doll concentrated on running the Coliseum. I think he also worked at Speedys on some custodial crew I think. Andy and his wife Marjorie also spent some after the the band ended in Powers Lake, North Dakota where he had a job.
- Chet Bradley worked on the custodial crew at the school
- Gary Hinderberger moved to the Blue Flames with PeeWee and myself and later went to work on the lock and dam at Guttenburg. He currently has a winter home in Harlingen, Texas, and returns to Guttenberg, Iowa for April – October. He is still playing “Boom-Chick.”
Who is still around from the AD days?
I think that there is only Lefty Schrage, Ike Thurn, Gary Hinderberger, Harvey Frederick, Carlos Freymiller and myself. I haven’t seen Carlos for many years but I hear he is living in Wisconsin.
A couple of years ago I played one of Andy’s live tapes and our last song of the night was Auld Lang Syne and another song that was similar in thought to Auld Lang. We had those as a kind of medley for a final tune. It made me so sad, I don’t think I will play it again. Because it got me thinking of all the good times I had with PeeWee, Chet, Andy and all the rest of the band. Now 2/3 of them have passed away. By the way, I just turned 76.
I saved a couple obits and have them in a scrapbook. Chet died in 1991, PeeWee was 78 when he died, Andy died in 1984. Not sure when Norm Peterson passed away.
The AD Reunion: August 25, 1991
Bob and Marian Halliday from Webster City organized the Andy Doll Reunion and handled all the advertising. Members of the band were concerned that since they had been out of the business for so long that nobody would want to come to the event. But we had people from many states come to hear us at the KC’s that night. The reunion really turned out well and we all had a great time. At one time I had a video tape of that night, but the last time I tried to watch, the tape no longer worked.
Andy Doll Obituary
Death: Oct. 3, 1984
Andy was born to Albert and Evelyn ‘Degnan’ Doll. He was raised on Wauzeka ridge, Crawford County Wis., with siblings; Paul, Lawrence, Marie, Dorothy and Irene.
Survivors are his wife , daughters, a son, grandson, brothers and sisters.
Funeral services were Saturday in Sacred Heart Catholic church in Oelwein. Burial was in Woodlawn cemetery.
To some Midwestern music lovers growing up in the late 1950’s, Andy Doll was a familiar name.
Doll, his 7 man band, and 17 instruments traveled throughout the Midwest, playing in hundreds of ballrooms. Andy was known for his musical hits that included “Wild Desire”, ‘Goodbye Mary Anne’, ‘Highway to Heaven’, ‘The Banjo Waltz’ and ‘The Hot Chicken Polka’.
Dolls band ranked second in a national western dance band poll conducted by the National Ballroom Operators Assoc. in 1959. His band finished second to Hank Thompson.
He led his band through 1969, then worked as a disc jockey at Oelwein radio station KOEL, where he owned the Coliseum Ballroom.
Vera Burkhalter of Prairie du Chien, Wis served as the president of the Andy Doll Fan Club, formed in 1957. She recalls that club members sent out records and promoted the band until 1965.
According to Prairie du Chien Postmaster Clement ‘Clem’ Wachuta, Andy grew up in Crawford County, Wis on a farm on Wauzeka Ridge. Wachuta, a trumpet player, played with the first Doll band, assembled after WW II.
With Wachuta on trumpet and Doll on guitar and sometimes clarinet, Doll’s Swingtet made the rounds, playing often in the Prairie du Chien area.
They often played at dances in Wauzeka, Boscobel and Gays Mills, Wis. It was during this time that Doll also taught school in Crawford County. He moved to Oelwein in 1952 and formed another band.
One of Doll’s albums, called ‘On Stage’ lists the members of his band and various guests who played on it. Band members were Chet ‘Daddyo’ Bradley, Clarence ‘Chuck’ Cherrier, Lefty Schrage and Larry Smith. Other members were Carlos Freymiller, Ike Thurn, Bobby Hankins, Bill Reints, and Harv Frederick.
One side of the album featured guest performers: Mark Bee of Nashville singing an Andy Doll tune, “Tellin’ You Johnny”; Donald ‘Red’ Blanchard, winner of many awards for his comedy and emcee of WGN’s National TV Barn Dance in Chicago; Pewee King, who helped produce part of the Nashville sessions; Redd Stewart, co-writer with King on tunes such as ‘Tennessee Waltz’; Gen Jay of Louisville, who sang another Doll tune, ‘Have I Lived’; and Bob Herson, who led the three-clarinet section of the band.
From family records.
Albert Magnus Doll (1879 – 1956)
Evelyn Cecelia Degnan Doll (1889 – 1956)
Marjorie Mae Wagner Doll (1927 – 2015)*
Paul Doll (1911 – 1990)*
Lawrence G. Doll (1915 – 1996)*
Andrew Doll (1919 – 1984)