Blue Horizon

From the left: Tom Kammer, Terry Wheeler, Kelly Murphy, Mike Vargason, Rob Tatro, Chuck Hallberg (Photo from 1978)

Blue Horizon is proud to announce that they have been nominated for induction to the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame. The decision to officially induct Blue Horizon will come from the Rock and Roll Association Board of Directors in January  2018.
Click on the link to the left to sign a petition in support of Blue Horizon being in the Hall of Fame. 

Blue Horizon Quick Facts

The core of Blue Horizon started in 1972 when Mike Vargason and Kelly Murphy were in 8th grade at Sacred Heart School in Oelwein, Iowa. Those two played a school variety show and later added a bass player and started playing live at local venues. That band ended when the bass player’s family moved out of town.

Within a year, Vargason called Murphy and said he had teamed up with some neighbors of his to play country music and needed a lead guitar player. Murphy joined bassist Rob Tatro, guitarist John Chapman and drummer Mike Vargason and they started playing throughout northeast Iowa.

They soon switched to rock music and changed their name to Blue Horizon. They added veteran drummer Tom Kammer who had played in bands since the age of seven. Chapman decided to leave the band and was replaced by Terry Wheeler from Independence. This was the lineup that made its mark on the Northeast Iowa rock music scene. However, during the later years, Blue Horizon added multi-percussionist Charlie Hallberg of Oelwein.

From 1974 to 1978 Blue Horizon performed nearly every Friday and Saturday night at hundreds of dances, showcases and concerts in ballrooms, county fairs, and high schools throughout the Midwest. A significant number of their gigs were for High School proms and homecoming dances, holiday parties, wedding dances, community celebrations and class reunions.

During the spring of 1977, Blue Horizon played 18 high school proms. Due to the band’s popularity, schools needed to book Blue Horizon as their prom band a year ahead and many schools changed their prom date to accommodate the band’s availability. They played songs that people could dance to and sing along with and had a wide range of music types for all ages to enjoy. As teenagers, they spent countless hours learning the music that their fans wanted to hear on a Saturday night. Their music selection and stage presence made them one of the most versatile and sought after bands in Iowa.

The band featured strong vocal harmonies, two lead guitar players, and an electric violin that allowed them to play both original music and all the current hits of the day. Blue Horizon also distinguished themselves by performing deep album tracks by Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Elvin Bishop, Steely Dan, The Beatles, Charlie Daniels Band, George Benson and Stevie Wonder. Blue Horizon was also one of the first regional bands that featured a talkbox when covering Peter Frampton music and the band also featured violin for 2 beat county fiddle tunes. and in songs by Kansas and Charlie Daniels.

Blue Horizon appeared in concert with multiple Midwest bands including the Minnesota band Judd and future IRRHOF bands Headstone and Dahcotah.

After Blue Horizon disbanded in 1978, the musical careers of each individual member continued in new bands based out of Iowa, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and Indiana.

Blue Horizon got back together for three standing-room-only reunion concerts in 1991, 2001 and 2015.

The Beginning of Blue Horizon

Blue Horizon started out playing country music. Even though it was not “cool” music and the crowd they were playing to were at least double their age, they learned much. They learned how to play at a volume level that would not blow out the room. They also learned basic song structure such as verse\verse\chorus\verse\bridge\lead\chorus\out. They also learned how to sing vocal harmonies as close as possible to the original recording. But more than all that, they played a lot, made decent money, and learned how to please a crowd.

The band gains a drummer and loses a guitar player

Around this time, Vargason and Murphy had transferred to Oelwein public school because of Sacred Heart closing it’s doors after their eighth grade year. This meant moving to a school that had four times as many kids in their grade. It was about this time that they began to realize that it would be nice to hire a full time drummer so that Vargason could leave the drums and come out front and sing.  Along with those all those new kids they met at Oelwein Junior High, was a drummer who was the same age as them and currently playing in a country band.

The drummer’s name was Tom Kammer. He was known to Vargason and Murphy by them seeing him play at Berger’s tap in the band Johnny Clendennen and the Impalas. Berger’s was a bar in Oelwein that had the stage in the front window. You could stand on the street and see the back of the band and the dance floor. You could not really hear the band very well, but everytime the door opened you could then hear the details. Vargason and Murphy watched many bands at Bergers via the front window. The memorable thing about the Impalas was that, in Vargason’s and Murphy’s view, they had a little kid (actually their age) as a drummer.

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Here is an early poster which includes John Chapman and the first shot of the new drummer, Tom Kammer.

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Here is a poster from the same time period advertising a gig in Maynard

It soon became clear to the band, that they had more fun playing rock music than country music. Instead of playing songs that appealed to an age group of their parents, they wanted to play current music heard on the radio. Additionally, if a band was playing current popular music, it brought in an age group much closer to their own. Of course, an age group of their peers also included girls their own age.

The idea of moving from country to rock music was a little turbulent. All the band’s existing and repeating jobs wanted the band to play the country music they had been known for. Because of this, their regular venues that featured all country music, had a hard time when the band changed to rock. The band would compromise by mixing in a little rock now and then. But eventually, the band had to switch their focus away from the clubs they had been playing and book clubs that were rock and roll clubs.

We are not exactly sure on the facts surrounding the leaving of John Chapman. He did an excellent job playing rhythm guitar and playing some lead parts in the standard country music the band was originally doing, but when the band started moving more toward rock, he did not exactly embrace that direction.  Another factor was that he just got married and got a full time job, so he did not have as much time for the band as in the past. He now owns a bowling alley in Manchester, Iowa.

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One of the first photo sessions after Chapman left the band. This was taken at Winter Photography in Oelwein.Here are the total set of proofs from the session to the right.

The band was becoming more and more popular in northeast Iowa. One of their strengths was that they could work at country bars, rock and roll clubs, wedding dances and high school dances. They also were good players and sounded and looked good on stage. The band eventually caught the attention of a guy from West Union who was close friends with a band called B.B. Soul and Manhasset. This guy’s name was Allen Enyart and he was persuaded by his buddy, B.B. Soul, that the real money in the local music business was in booking bands. Enyart started a booking agency (called The Agency)  and Blue Horizon was one of the first bands he signed.  After the band established themselves by getting good reviews from his booked jobs, they were one of his most popular bands. The Agency put them on the front cover of their advertising brochure. This brochure was sent out to nearly a thousand high schools, colleges and other entertainment buyers.  See the entire brochure for the year 1975-76 here.

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Polaroid of Blue Horizon on stage at The Eagles

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Due to the band’s versatility and also due to the fact that Vargason and Murphy were students at Sacred Heart, the band was booked to do a Youth Mass. Most of the music was from Jesus Christ Superstar, with a couple of tunes from Godspell. Click on the article to the left to see details.

Around this time Murphy took an accounting class at school and learned how to use double-entry accounting to create ledgers for businesses. Using this newly learned skill, he kept the books for Blue Horizon for two entire years. Every gig they played and every penny they spent was recorded in this ledger. It is quite interesting to see how much (how little) they made and what things cost back in 1975 and 1976. 

Here is a copy of the Blue Horizon ledger from 1975-1976

Contained in the ledger above are payments for their new PA. This PA was a Kustom brand complete with an amped mixing board and two speakers. The main volume knob on the board was probably 5 inches wide. Not high tech by today’s standards, but to the band at this time, they now had a professional quality PA.

The band picks up an additional guitar player

Blue Horizon happened to be playing a dance at Independence High School in 1975 and a person from the audience mentioned that he knew a friend who was an excellent guitar player. He said his friend had never played in a band, but knew a lot of songs. They were not really looking for another guitar player, but knew that they were limited in the types of songs they could play live with only one guitar player. They got the name of the guitar player and invited him to come up to Oelwein to attend a band practice at Tom Kammer’s house. He brought with him an electric guitar (a restrung right handed guitar since he was a lefty)  and a speaker hooked up to a small home stereo amp. When we say he brought a speaker, we mean a high-frequency horn like the type used at football fields for announcements. He had this bare-wired to his stereo. Not a  real guitar amp, but the band could hear him.

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The band practicing at Kammer’s basement in 1975. The first shot of Wheels in Blue Horizon.



The band discussed a couple of tunes to see if he knew any of the tunes they did. They agreed on China Grove by the Doobie Brothers. He seemed to know his parts. There is a middle part of the tune where the two guitars play in harmony. The first time it came up, Murphy and him played the same part. When it came up again later in the song, this new guitar player switched to the harmony part to Murphy’s part. It was at this point, the band knew he was good. His name was Terry Wheeler and after a quick band vote, he was now a member of Blue Horizon.

The band soon got a new picture taken at Montgomery Wards. They had this shoot at 8:00 AM on a Saturday morning after a gig on Friday night that resulted in just a couple of hours sleep before the shoot. Check out the glam-rock outfits. They had these clothes hand-made.

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The picture to the left is the one they chose for their official picture. To the right is the color version from the Montgomery Ward shoot that they did not decided not to use.  Apparently, there were not enough smiles.. probably due to the lack of sleep the night before. You can see the color of the clothes better in this shot.



BHpromoLetter.jpg (184827 bytes)Although the band had taken several promotional photographs at this time, they needed a short description of the band. To the right is one of their first attempts. Interesting that they felt the need to brag about how much they spent on their gear. Also note that the band mentions a list of places they have performed. One of the places mentioned is Mr. B’s Club in Ames, Iowa. This was a “Gentlemen’s Club” that featured exotic dancers. The band would do 40 minute sets and then the dancer would do 20 minutes and this would repeat throughout the night. One other important note: the band and the dancers shared the same dressing room. The age of the band at this time was approximately 17 years old and the Mr. B’s jobs were a VERY memorable gig for these guys.

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ln addition to using The Agency for booking jobs the band also used several other booking agents. One of them was Performer’s Agency out of Waterloo. For a young band like Blue Horizon, Performer’s Agency was really big time. To the left is a copy of the poster that advertised “Rockin Into Summer” at Sacred Heart. It was a huge gig for Blue Horizon to be on the same bill as JuddHeadstoneDahcotah and Shatter.  Another big gig for the Performers Agency is to the right at the Gayla Ballroom in Independence and featured the Headstone Band and Circus.

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Another multiband concert was held at Matter’s Ballroom in Decorah


The Band played several multiband concerts sponsored by The Agency. This is the Showcase of Rock at Lakeside Ballroom in Gutenberg 1975














In 1977 the band played a “Kegger” at a farm in northeast Iowa. Interesting that 100 kegs got top billing over three bands.

Here is a copy of an info sheet that the band sent out to an booking agency in Colorado. Not sure if any jobs resulted from this, but the information contained gives a good snapshot of the band at this time.

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In addition to Vargason’s musical talents, he was also an excellent artist who specialized in drawing, sketching and painting. Here is an example of his artwork that he created for the band and was used as a poster

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Blue Horizon at Wildwood

Murphy (playing his cherry sunburst Les Paul) and Vargason on stage at the Wildwood


One of the bands favorite gigs was a ballroom in Oelwein called the Wildwood. They used to pack the place. Cars would fill the parking lot, the entrance drive, and park on the sides of  Highway 150. For about a year, the band had an agreement with the owner, Bob McNamara, to use his ballroom as a rehearsal space. So the band would be setup all week for rehearsals and then either play the Wildwood on the weekend or pack up their stuff and travel to their other gigs.  Click on the picture on the right to see more pictures of Blue Horizon live on stage at the Wildwood in 1976

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Couple of informal band shots from 1977. Picture to the right includes percussionist Chuck Hallberg and the band’s soundman, Robby Russell



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Informal shot of the band from 1978 at the Sportsmen Club in Oelwein

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Blue Horizon at Bill’s 218 club in Waterloo (1978). This was one of the band’s first 5-nighters at a rock and roll bar.


Click on this photo for more polaroids from their Austin trip

In 1978  the band traveled to Austin Minnesota. They had met a band from Austin that invited them to come stay at their farm in Austin and play a gig there with them. Blue Horizon later had the band come to Oelwein, stay at their farm and play a gig with them here. See a selection of polaroids from the Austin trip by clicking on the photo of Wheels and Murphy hamming it up.

Other big gigs for the band was The Eagles was in downtown Oelwein.


Gayla Ballroom doubled as a roller rink in Independence. The ad above featured another Oelwein band, Shatter, along with Blue Horizon

Blue Horizon played the Military Ball and the town’s Sweetheart dance several years in a row.

Kammer’s dad owned Speedy Manufacturing in Oelwein and Blue Horizon played their Christmas party several years in a row.


The homecoming dance for Oelwein High School mentions the band on their handout at the football game.




Newspaper ad for the Valentine’s Ball in Oelwein in 1976. A highlight of this gig was that the band did an hour version of “Color My World” (Chicago) while the 64 area beauties were introduced.
An additional highlight of this gig was that the winner of the Valentine’s Ball Beauty Contest was Candy Hoeger, Mike Vargason’s girlfriend!


What kind of music did the band play?

Below is a very rare set of handwritten set lists and song lists. The dates of these lists span mostly the later years of the band, but there are some early lists. These song and and set lists show the depth and breath of their musical influences. Artists they covered included Eagles, Lynyrd Skynryd, Allman Brothers, Bad Company, Charlie Daniels Band,  Peter Frampton, ZZ Top, Led Zepplin, REO Speedwagon, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Black Oak Arkansas, Beatles,  Steely Dan, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, Elvin Bishop, Kansas, Gentle Giant, Aerosmith, and many others. 

Blue Horizon had established themselves as an excellent cover band. They took pride in playing songs as close as possible to the original. Many bands were trying to do original music and were marginally successful.  Blue Horizon was a band that people could depend on hearing popular songs performed accurately. A couple of the unique aspects of the band, is that Vargason would bring out his fiddle and play “Boil That Cabbage” and Murphy would play his “Talkbox” on Peter Frampton songs. Additionally, with both Wheeler and Murphy playing lead guitar, they were able to perform harmonized guitar leads in songs by Allman Brothers and Steely Dan. 

They packed bars, ballrooms, colleges and high schools by playing songs that people recognized and loved.   Click here to see these handwritten set and song lists rarities. (Note: some of these are barely legible and were used as draft lists while building other lists. But if you look closely, you can see through the scribbles and see the songs underneath)

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Here are a couple of ballrooms that Blue Horizon in played in 1976 with their friends, the Shatter Band.






Sometime during this time period, the band rented out a rehearsal place in the basement of a downtown business called Malloy’s Piano Factory. This business was owned by the choir teacher from Oelwein High School, Dan Malloy and his brother Mike. The band spent numerous hours practicing there and hauling their equipment up and down narrow stairs at the back of the store.

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A memorable gig during the this time period was playing in Pocahantas,  Iowa. Due to a mistake in in the bands calendar and a general lack of attention to details, the band traveled all the way across Iowa (4 hour drive)  to play a gig on a Friday night but discovered the gig was actually on a Saturday night. After arriving at the gig and discovering the mistake, the band could not stay the night because of a Saturday afternoon wedding dance scheduled back in Oelwein. So they had to travel back home on Friday night and play the afternoon gig on Saturday and then drive back to Pocahantas to play the Saturday night gig. Also during this weekend, their truck broke down because of the lug nuts snapped off the back wheel and they had to be towed back home by Kammer’s father


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One place where the band played over 30 times, was Luigi’s restaurant in Oelwein. To the left is a newspaper ad for a New Year’s Eve gig.


Blue Horizon at Luigis in 1975.Click on picture to see additional shot of the band at Luigis of the band taken at Luigi’s.

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Another promo shot taken around 1976


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In 1976, Blue Horizon played at Matter’s Ballroom in Decorah Iowa. The backstage dressing room had various band graffiti written on the walls. Vargason took this opportunity to display his artistic talents. Interesting note: this graffiti was all but forgotten until 10 years later when Murphy played Matters with his new band.  The picture he took of the 10 year old artwork is to the right:



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A mainstay in the band’s later career was playing at the Paddock Lounge in downtown Oelwein. Click on the above picture to see a couple more shots of the band on stage at the Paddock


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In 1976 the band rented a farm house on the east side of Oelwein. Several members lived there and the band used it as a rehearsal place. To the left is a band shot from 1976 taken at the farm house that later became the band’s promo picture. . The band at that time included Chuck Hallberg on congas and percussion.See other pictures taken at the farmhouse here

At some time in 1977, the band moved from the Oelwein farm house to a house on the southwest side of Fairbank. Once again this served as a home for several members (and hanger-ons) and a rehearsal place.

Robby Russell, Sound and Lightman in 1978


Kevin Lamphier

Some of the band’s stage crew at this time were Kevin Lamphier, Mickey BradyRobby Russell (RoastBeef), and Kevin Roberts.  Other close friends of the band around this time period included Bill Wolfgram, Darrell Mathews, Fay Luck, Tim Lemkuhle and Richard Minee (Mange)

And the band cannot forget Steve Zummak. He served as special escort for Kelly Murphy during Murphy’s high school basketball and football career. Zummak would pick up Murphy after his game and speed him across Iowa to get him to his gig.


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Blue Horizon Logo created by Vargason.

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Immediate left is the last official promo-shot of the band. To the right is the promo card insert from this same time period.

Here is another brochure produced by The Agency. Once again, Blue Horizon was featured as the first band listed. 

See entire brochure here

The end of the band

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The local paper carried a short article after the band’s final gig.

The last years of the band resulted in some members wanting to increase the gigs performed and other members were wanting to slow down the gigs because of looking at college, getting married or working at full-time jobs outside of music.

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The final decision was that the band would break up and a final performance was scheduled.

After the band broke up in 1978, for the most part, the band members went their separate ways.

Vargason moved to Denver Colorado and played in a band called Stickman. He also has established his own graphics arts company called Vargavisions. Vargason also has a couple of pages on MySpace:MySpace One. and MySpace Two. See a more complete history of Vargason here.

Murphy stayed in Oelwein for about a year and sold advertising at the Oelwein Daily Register. While there, he played weekends with the Butch Gage Band. He later moved to Waterloo to attend University of Northern Iowa and played with Waterloo “Super-Group” Tennyson and “Hip Pocket” featuring Iowa R&R Hall of Fame Member Mike Cuttsforth. He later moved to Indianapolis and eventually moved to Bloomington, Indiana to attend Graduate School at Indiana University.  The past 30 years were spent in Indiana playing in bands and working in the technology industry. He presently lives south of Chicago in Crown Point, Indiana.  See a more complete history of Murphy here.

Kammer took some time off and eventually returned to music by playing with Shatter. See a more complete history of Kammer here.

Tatro ended up playing with Kammer again in the band called Shatter but later had a varied musical career. See a more complete history of Tatro here.

Wheeler played in a band from Independence called Rewired. He eventually moved to Austin Texas and later to Phoenix Arizona. For the last 30 years he has always been in a band or playing solo gigs wherever he lived. His current band is called “Poor Kids Without Cable” This band was recently featured on a local Arizona TV station. See their performance here.  See a more complete history of Wheeler here.

The first reunion in 1991:

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Eventually, in 1991, the band got back together for a reunion gig. Wheeler was not able to make it, but rest of the band played two nights in Oelwein. Friday night at the Eagles Club and Saturday at the Knights of Columbus Hall. To the left is a poster for the event. To the right is the set list for the two nights.



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Blue Horizon on stage at the Eagles Club for the reunion of 1991


The second reunion in 2001:


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The band had another reunion gig in 2001 marking their 25th anniversary of playing. This time Wheeler was able to join the rest of the band and they played the Class of 1976 reunion on Saturday at the K.C Hall and they played a public dance at the Sportsmen Club on Friday.

In order to be able to play a reunion gig when the original members were spread across the country, each member had to review their parts by themselves and then have a quick practice as the band the day before the reunion.  Wheels sent Murphy the songs he was playing as a solo act in Austin. Using Wheels’ songs and the old Blue Horizon set lists, a tentative list of songs were generated to play for the weekend. Below are the inside band notes of copies of possible songs that were distributed to band members prior to the gig. Once the songs were narrowed down, Murphy put together several cassette tapes for the band to rehearse for the gig and sent them (via US Mail..before email was common) to each member.  Also included are the rehearsal notes from the day before the gig. Click here to see these inside band notes. The band arrived in Oelwein on Thursday before the gig and rehearsed for a couple of hours and then performed two one-nighters as if they had never took a break.


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Poster for Blue Horizon Reunion 2001. This was created by Vargason and displayed in business windows throughout northeast Iowa

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Here is the set list used for the reunion weekend



Here are a selection of polaroids taken at the 2001 reunion gig.






Blue Horizon Reunion 2015

Blue Horizon at Kammerstock 2015. Left to right – Terry Wheeler, Kelly Murphy, Tom Kammer, Rob Tatro

Blue Horizon was an unannounced band that appeared at the Tom Kammer benefit, KAMMERSTOCK, in Oelwein on December 12, 2015.    Four members of Blue Horizon (Terry Wheeler, Tom Kammer, Rob Tatro and Kelly Murphy) played a short, unplugged and unrehearsed, 3 song set after Terry’s acoustic set and immediately before BlueShatter.

Blue Horizon Music


BLUE HORIZON 1975: Left to right: Kelly Murphy – Lead Guitar and vocals, Mike Vargason – Lead vocals and Percussion, Terry Wheeler – Lead Guitar and Lead Vocals, Tom Kammer – Drums and Vocals, Rob Tatro – Bass Guitar and Vocals

BLUE HORIZON 1976: Left to right: Kelly Murphy – Lead Guitar and vocals, Mike Vargason – Lead vocals and Percussion, Terry Wheeler – Lead Guitar and Lead Vocals, Tom Kammer – Drums and Vocals, Rob Tatro – Bass Guitar and Vocals

lost basement tapes from mid-seventies found

In 1976, there were three 16-17 year-old Seniors from Oelwein High School (Varg, Tom, and Murph) , one from Independence High School (Wheels) and a recent graduate of OCHS (Tate), that played in a band called Blue Horizon

Below are some “distinctive” songs from a live performance of that band playing for a wedding dance at the local Knights of Columbus. Wedding dance bands required playing a wide variety of musical styles that included country songs and fifties music. In addition to the typical wedding music, the band would still try throw in some of their signature songs and recently learned tunes.

DISCLAIMER: Tapes of live performances are unique, but the quality is much different than a formal recording session.  Although the audio mix on the songs below is not studio quality, you can hear that the band was well rehearsed.  You can listen to each song by clicking on the title. To see visuals along with the song, click on the “Version with pictures” link. The “pictures” version requires a fast internet connection.

  • I’ve Had Enough –   Version with pictures
    • Varg on lead vocals with Tom siinging a stellar harmony part at the 1:30 minute mark.
    • Wheels and Murph blend together on lead guitar harmonies in the middle section.
    • Originally recorded by Paul McCartney and Wings
  • Look Away Version with pictures
    • BH would frequently jam out the intro of a song before the actual tune would start.  Sometimes this free jam would be short and other times it may be extended.  This intro has Wheels laying down the rhythm while Murph improvises with slide guitar and leads. Be sure to notice Tate’s bass harmonics in the intro.
    • Varg on lead vocals.
    • Murph’s solos throughout throughout the song include slide parts.  
    • Four part vocal harmony break at the 2:45 mark.
    • Originally recorded by Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  • Traveling Shoes Version with pictures
    • Varg on lead vocals with everyone joining in on harmonies.
    • Maracas and tambourine by Varg alternate throughout the song.
    • Rhythm section of Tate and Tom is skin tight and enhanced with Murph’s chicken picking guitar rhythms and Varg’s percussion. Rhythm section controls the dynamics by decreasing volume on soft parts of the song and going all out on other sections. 
    • Wheels and Murph on lead guitar harmonies throughout the song. 
    • Slide guitar by Murph. 
    • Four part harmony on the vocal break at 4:30. 
    • Tiny section of talkbox at the 5:30 mark.
    • Originally recorded by Elvin Bishop.
  • Struttin’ My Stuff – Version with pictures
    • Varg on lead vocals with Wheels and Tom harmonizing
    • Murph and Wheels on harmony guitar parts
    • Varg on percussion
    • The “Version with pictures” features the hand drawn poster by Varg
    • Originally recorded by Elvin Bishop
  • Whatcha Gonna Do? – Version with pictures
    • Varg and Wheels singing two-part harmony in choruses. Trade off on lead vocals during verses.  
    • Wheels doing all the guitar leads.
    • The original recording of this song has a lot of piano, so Murph is playing the piano parts on guitar but does play a couple of guitar harmonies with Wheels.
    • Originally recorded by Pablo Cruise
  • Wouldn’t Want to Be like You Version with pictures
    • Wheels on lead vocals.
    • Wheels on lead guitar
    • Murph playing piano parts on guitar
    • Originally recorded by The Alan Parsons Project.
  • Ain’t No Half Steppin’ Version with pictures
    • Blue Horizon was a popular band because they played the current hits. However, they sometimes played a song just for themselves.  These last two songs are examples of tunes that the audience probably did not recognize, but the band learned them as a project.   
    • Ain’t No Half Steppin’ has lead vocals by Wheels.
    • Varg on percussion
    • Murph plays some talkbox in the middle and at the end.
    • Originally recorded by Heat Wave.
  • Who Do You Think You Are? – Version with pictures
    • This is one of the most unusual songs the band ever attempted. Definitely not a dance tune. This song would clear a dance floor faster than someone yelling “Fire!” Blue Horizon probably played it live only 2-3 times before it left their set list.
    • Varg on vocals
    • Wheels and Murph on harmony guitar parts
    • Originally recorded by Gentle Giant

Extra Recordings:

Apparently, since you have gotten to the bottom of this page, you are interested in Blue Horizon.  Below are some tunes that came from a long lost vault of a couple of live performances by the band. The quality of these tracks very greatly. They were copied from low quality cassette tape (that was copied from a copy from a live microphone in the audience). So even though they are not “studio quality” and did not come from the mixing board, you can get a sense of some of their music. Remember, these were 16-18 year old kids that were making a living by playing live music.  Songs below were transferred from cassettes that had some serious technical issues. Many of the tracks are distorted but you are welcome to listen….

9 comments on “Blue Horizon
  1. Tim R says:

    You guys played that Gentle Giant song for “all you Gentle Giant fans out there” which at the Sadie Hawkins dance……there was only one :) Vargy knew I was there of course……

  2. Debbie (Albert) Vargason says:

    Thanks Kelly for the memories. The band rocked.

  3. Tim says:

    Lots of new stuff, glad my Mom told me to go read it :). Gently weeps gave me the chills. Wheeler sing the lead? Damn good whoever…. all helped pass a slow workday today. Thx Murph for the flashbacks!

  4. indianakelly says:


    Thank you for the great turnout on the “Support Blue Horizon for the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” online petition. We received over 340 signatures so far. Below are some of the comments our fans left:

    1. Great band!
    2. I have great memories of Blue Horizon — they played at my prom @ Independence Iowa.
    3. They were really great!
    4. They deserve it!
    5. Great band and great times!
    6. GREAT band, always loved to watch them play and dance to their awesome selection of songs. This is by far the best choice for the Hall of Fame!
    7. Yay Tom Kammer!
    8. Spent many nights with this talented group. And was fortunate to play in high school with two of the members. Imagine one of the first high school jazz bands with an electric guitar in 1975. Murph was amazing plus add Tom Kammer on drums. What an unbelievable rhythm section we had. All of you deserve being in the Hall of Fame.
    9. The Blue Horizon Band was a progressively fearless group of musicians who tackled Kansas, The Eagles, Heart and other typically unheard artists or tunes. A lot of the artists or songs they covered were normally never played by bands in NE Iowa. It was a real pleasure playing with all of these guys!
    10. The best Saturday nights spent at Wildwood.
    11. I never had the privilege to have heard the band Blue Horizon but got to know Tatro and Wheeler when they were in the Proof. The husband speaks very fondly of Blue Horizon and his friendships with the folks. Good luck guys, hope they make room for you in the hall of fame!
    12. They were awesome and played for our prom!! Great bunch of guys!!!
    13. These guys rocked my home state of Iowa, back in the day.
    14. They deserve it
    15. Awesome band.
    16. These guys really deserve this honor and should have been there by now.
    17. I am a huge fan of Terry Wheeler, top notch musician and friend.
    18. Saw them many times at the Gayla ballroom in independence
    19. I remember them well — attended many dances during high school in Oelwein.
    20. Great group of guys!
    21. I loved going to the Gayla Ballroom in Independence Iowa on Friday Nights!!!
    22. Great times!
    23. I enjoyed their music many times while in my teens.
    24. Hometown band, saw them quite a few times. Good times.
    25. Great band and great musicians!
    26. One of the great Iowa band stories
    27. One of the best feel good Groove bands locally that I heard “back in the day” proud to have played in an area with such great bands!
    28. So cool!
    29. Best band of my teenage years loved them
    30. Such great memories!
    31. They played at my wedding dance at the Gayla Ballroom in Independence 6/7/75 and were simply fabulous!
    32. Congrats to all of the members of Blue Horizon.
    33. Gayla Ballroom…
    34. Very proud of these boys’ accomplishments
    35. Listened to them quite often at Wildwood in Oelwein.
    36. They were an awesome band!!
    37. AWESOME BAND!!!
    38. Had great times with those guys.
    39. BLUE HORIZON is very deserving! True talent.
    40. Great band for that time
    41. Great band!
    42. They were a good band
    43. So many good memories with this band! Loved to follow them!
    44. Too many great memories to post when I think of all the times I enjoyed this band.
    45. Come on everybody, let’s sign this! I can still remember “Wheels” jamming at the Gayla when they hit the big time! Oh, what memories! Rock On!
    46. Good luck Blue Horizon you deserve it
    47. Remember them playing at one of our Proms!
    48. Great band
    49. They were like big brothers to me. Only cooler!
    50. They deserve the award the band was so good.
    51. Loved this band from the day they were conceived. They brought such wonderful music and life to so many people in N. E. Iowa
    52. Wonderful memories of dancing to this band…they greatly deserve this honor!
    53. Terry was a great childhood friend
    54. Had a crush on several of u guys! Great times!
    55. My mentors and favorite local band!!
    56. Hey Oelwein family! Cast your vote for hometown band!
    57. Great band.
    59. Blue Horizon
    60. Great bunch of musicians and overall good guys! Listened to these guys for years! They deserve this!
    61. Tom Kammer – one of the best drummers to come out of Iowa!! Very influential. Please add them to Iowa rock of fame!
    62. A fantastic group of musicians and even better people. Blue Horizon was my first experience seeing “live music” and it changed my life. I’ve been supporting live music ever since!
    63. Living Legends!!
    64. My first dancing experience that didn’t take place in my bedroom. Blue Horizon at the Gala Ballroom. They are very deserving.
    65. In my opinion a great live band, extremely talented musicians and classic rock music is Blue Horizon’s well deserved ticket for induction to the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
    66. Quality band and quality people
    67. Great band that deserves to be in the Iowa HOF
    68. As good as it got back then
    69. SO inspired by these guys!
    70. Would go watch then tonight if they were playing!!
    71. Heard many many stories about this band from my father and his friends. Know a few of the guys pictured here and would have to say some cool cats to hang out and jam with.
    72. The band was awesome!
    73. Awesome band! Inspiring for so many young aspiring musicians.
    74. Great group of guy’s
    75. Awesome band and 2 family members in it to beat
    76. Let’s see a reunion in Iowa
    77. These guys rocked and deserved to be recognized
    78. Love rock and roll
    79. This would be a huge honor for my dad and his buddies. I have known these guys my whole life. No one is more deserving.
    80. Great band.
    81. Class of ’76
    82. Great band!
    83. I highly recommend this group to become members in the Iowa rock’n’roll hall of fame…they quite rightly deserve it….there music lives on….
    84. Tate is Great!
    85. Best band ever!
    86. Great Band. They are more than deserving.
    87. Need to be in. Great band
    88. God Bless!
    89. Great band, great vibe, great times
    90. Awesome band!
    91. If I remember I had the group for my wedding party/dance.
    92. Great bands are formed in Oelwein Iowa. I’m proud to add my vote.
    93. Such great memories!
    94. Awesome Band from my 70’s high school days!!!
    95. Great memories.
    96. GO KELLY!!!
    97. Good Job!
    98. Need this band in the HOF
    99. They are good!
    100. Love the memories of this band!
    101. My husband’s uncle is a part of this band. They definitely deserve it!
    102. Enduring entertainment!
    103. Many good memories with this band
    104. Wildwood dances….. Blue Horizon Band was the BEST!
    105. Many happy memories with Blue Horizon as part of them.
    106. I support the nomination for Blue Horizon into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
    107. One of the best band of my pre-adult years
    108. Another great Oelwein area band
    109. I remember the band well!
    110. Loved Blue Horizon!
    110. In the early 60’s I was a member of the rock group “Escorts” later renamed “The Do’s and the Don’ts” . They became members of the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame several years ago. The Blue Horizon was twice the band they were. In their defense the music in the early 60’s was much simpler than in the 70’s; mostly one, four, five chords.
    111. Good Luck!
    112. Great band, I was lucky enough to be able to introduce them the last time they played. Changed my life seeing such great musicians!
    113. Hope they make it in!
    114. These guys are what music is all about. Not American Idol – but garage bands – and getting your first gig at somebody’s party – and the referrals…
    115. They were not only great musicians, but they always looked like they were having fun when they played. That made it fun for the audience as well.
    116. Awesome band!
    117. Loved Blue Horizon, they were so good!
    118. Followed all the bands from mid 60’s to mid 70’s. Was a “roadie for several of Tom Miller’s bands. Blue Horizon was right up there with the best.
    119. Rock & Roll!

  5. Terry Kirkendall says:

    To the Blue Horizon Boyz,
    When my buddies and I first discovered Blue Horizon at the Gayla Ballroom we were in 8th grade. You played music we liked and played it well with incredible energy. At that same time we were forming our own band and oh man we wanted to be just like you. You were larger than life to us and yet you recognized us and took the time to stop and talk to us about our own adventure. You not only gave us punk kids the time but you let us attend your practices and even arranged to let us open for you a couple times. It was EPIC for us kids to get to hang around you. Seriously. Most would have turned us away sending us back to momma. I mean who wants a bunch of kids hanging out getting in the way? Obviously you did. My MP3 player has nearly every song you guys played mixed into the “nothing but my favorites” list. When one begins, the flashback is immediate and the pictures clear. Elvin Bishop, Jeff Beck, Zappa, Doobies, Earth, Wind and Fire, Heart, Eagles, Steely Dan and on and on. There have been many musical influences on me over the years since but none of them have had a bigger impact as what you guys did for us kids. Your sharing, caring, patience and mentoring set the stage for a long journey of gigs, solidified the love for music for all of us and will always remind me of how important that it is for all of us to stop and give the time to those that approach us. For that I say with all the greatest of sincerity and love… Thank you guys!

    • indianakelly says:

      Thank you Terry for your comments. Even though you say that BH let you hang with “you kids”, we were only a couple years older than you! We were all “just kids” back then but were bitten by the live music bug that never left us.

  6. Greg Garceau says:

    I just spent two hours on your site and will definitely be revisiting soon. Very interesting stuff and very comprehensive. Those were some good times.

    • indianakelly says:

      Thank you Greg for your nice comments. I agree that those were fun times for both the musicians and the fans. Hopefully these pages have brought back some memories that otherwise might have been forgotten.

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