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Grand Rapids' Grandest Garage Band
The Kingtones History
With Pete Mervenne: 1957-1968
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The early '60s was a great time for the band. They were booked at a large nightclub in the northern resort town of Traverse City, Michigan. Lee Lyons, the promoter of the nightclub, arranged to have the band ride in the Cherry Festival Parade. Bruce was dressed as Tarzan, but wore a long wig and frogman fins on his feet.

The rest of the band was on a float that he pretended to pull with a vine rope that kept breaking. After walking a mile with the frogman fins on his feet, he was in a lot of pain. His feet were bloody and sore, but the publicity stunt worked, the streets were lined with throngs of people who had seen "Tarzan' pulling the float.





That night they performed at the club before a huge crowd. The band did the routines that Doc Jorne had taught them. Their favorite routines were Tarzan, Mr. Custer, Elvis, and the Werewolf: the latter complete with bloody fangs.


Along with their great music, they entertained the crowds with corny beer jokes. This was not just another Top 40 band. This was a great show band and the crowd loved them. They had learned their lessons very well, thanks to Doc.

Buzz Clifford

Larry Verne

The Kingtones also opened, backed, and performed with a score of rock stars from the late '50s and early '60s. Among them were Buzz Clifford, who appeared at the Civic Auditorium in Grand Rapids, and Larry Verne of "Mr. Custer" fame.

Del Shannon
Del Shannon
1957-68-22 Bobby Vee
Bobby Vee

In 1963 they were booked as the house band at the famous Club Ponytail in Harbor Springs, Michigan. During that summer booking, they also opened, backed, or performed with acts such as Del Shannon, Bobby Vee, Bobby Vinton, and the Beach Boys.

Bobby Vinton

The Beach Boys

From the Club Ponytail the Kingtones went to Coral Gables, a jumping spot in Lansing. This club was remodeled three times while the band was there to accommodate the increasingly large crowds they drew. They wanted to play in Detroit, but because they were still under age they were not allowed to play there.


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