They may have been just five young high school boys, but the Sensational Sleepers made a name for themselves during the latter part of the 1960s.
The Tracy and Marshall-based band was recently inducted into the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame, along with The Rembrandts, Sounds of Blackness, Lamont Cranston and other notable acts.
During its 4-year run, the band mainly consisted of Tracy and Marshall High School students -Gary Rue, Steve Thielges and Dennis Morgan of Tracy and the late Mike Burt and Randy Drager from Marshall.
"It's interesting because this small band was making just a few waves in the '60s," Rue said.
It all started more than 45 years ago. Rue said he was in algebra class when he heard someone hammering on the desk behind him. He turned to the person behind him, Thielges, and asked if he wanted to start a band.
Burt joined the group on bass and then after a few attempts, Morgan entered the band.
"We went through a lot of different players," Rue said.
But they still needed one more instrument, Rue said.
"We were encouraged to get a keyboard player," Rue said. Drager filled in that spot, he said.
"I played with the band for three years," Drager said, adding that he had an excellent experience performing with the Sensational Sleepers.
There they were, two farm kids and three city kidscoming together to make music, Drager said. Once the group got established, it got a manager, Don Madison of Mankato, Rue said. Then the Sleepers started getting gigs.
"We traveled to over five states," Drager said.
Some of the venues included ones in Bemidji, Marshalltown, Iowa, LaCrosse, Wis. and the Air Force base in Grand Forks, N.D. Drager said their parents took turns driving them to performances.
"It was sort of a family affair, we were pretty young," Drager said. "Their weekends were taken up as much as ours were."
Rue said the Sleepers performed the ballroom circuit.
"Then we started playing clubs, we didn't like clubs very much," Rue said.
Rue said the band liked to sing songs from what was called "race records," such as ones by The Flippers or The Rising Suns.
"The Sleepers, we were a bit of a different kind of band," Rue said. "We played songs by black artists...Muscle Shoals."
"We played a lot of soul music," Drager said, citing Sam and Dave and the Temptations.
Drager said it was unusual for Marshall and Tracy kids to collaborate on anything, including music, especially when the two towns were considered rivals in sports.
"We heard about that from our circle of friends on both sides," Drager said.
But the members of the Sleepers got along well, learning the music and even throwing in a little choreography and dance steps to their routine.
"We didn't even argue, we just had fun," Drager said.
And they'd have that fun, practicing songs in Rue's garage and Morgan's or Drager's basement.
"I would give Gary the credit for dissecting the music," Drager said. The band would choose the songs and Rue would pick out the different parts, Drager said.
Rue said the Sensational Sleepers developed a certain look because of their manager's encouragement.
"We bought these wigs," Rue said. He said Madison also had them light cigarettes onstage
The Sleepers also had the same outfits and similar-looking equipment, Rue said.
"Everything we owned matched," Rue said.
Drager said the band got into as many "Battle of the Bands' competitions as it could. He remembered one in Rochester with more than 40 bands participating. The Sleepers took second overall.
The band had a near-regional hit "Hey Girl"?in 1967, but eventually the band parted ways.
"We broke up in the spring or fall of 1968," Rue said. "We grew up. The band was an awfully good band."
Each member went their own way. Morgan became an award-winning songwriter in Nashville. Rue continued to work with music in the Twin Cities and Thielges still performs with Tilly and the Time Bombs.
As he got ready for the induction ceremony, Rue said it was fun to look back at the band's history. He and Thielges, along with a couple of other musicians performed four of the Sleepers' songs at the event.
"It's a very interesting thing to do, to dig up things from the past," Rue said.