By Daniel Holm
The Chancellors band from Minneapolis, Minnesota, was comprised of talented young musicians from the Twin Cities region. Dan Holm, 4110 Upton Ave. S., Minneapolis, Bandleader, played bass and later lead guitar throughout the life of the band. John Hughes, 3819 Glenhurst Ave., on drums and David Rivkin, 3725 Glenhurst Ave., lead guitar, were both from St. Louis Park. Mike Judge, 7309 Union S., Richfield, played rhythm guitar. All participated in vocals and the group was known for its tight harmony.
Dan Holm, playing lead guitar, founded The Continentals. Steve Adams of Minneapolis, rhythm guitar, and John Hughes (before moving to St. Louis Park) on drums, played their first gig at Southwest High School, April 6, 1962.
A newspaper article from the Spring of 1963 states, “During the past school season the Continentals have played for events sponsored by the Southwest high school Indianettes, St. Louis Park High School, Susan B. Anthony Junior High School, and the Bill Carlson television show. Lake Harriet and Minnetonka Yacht clubs, Southwest Activities Council, and Anoka High School have recently had the Continentals play for their parties.”
Tom De Biaso of De La Salle High School came in on bass guitar for the summer of 1963 and John Hughes moved to St. Louis Park. Steve Adams and Tom De Biaso both dropped out of The Continentals that autumn. This opened the door for John Hughes’ neighbor, David Rivkin, to join the band and Mike Judge to come in shortly after.
First performing as The Continentals, the group changed their name to The Chancellors in 1963 due to a redundancy of the Continental name in the local market. The Chancellors remained popular, playing the upper Midwest into the early 1970s. In 1965 they graced the cover of local music magazine Twin City a Go Go.
Represented by St. Louis Park residents Ira Heilicher, 4241 Basswood Road, and Dick Shapiro, 4440 W. 25th St., The Chancellors were the first group that the partnership of Path Musical Productions Company (later, Central Booking Agency with Bill Diehl) approached. Path Productions produced The Chancellors’ October 13, 1964, recording session at Kay Bank Studio in Minneapolis that yielded “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “YoYo,” “So Fine,” “Surf Beat,” “Charlie Brown” and “I Can Tell.”
“Little Latin Lupe Lu/YoYo” was released under the Soma record label, owned by Amos and Daniel Heilicher, in the United States and on Apex records in Canada.
The Chancellors’ cover of the Bill Medley classic debuted on the WDGY Tiger Survey chart December 26, 1964, climbing to #1 in Minneapolis on January 23, 1965, and remaining at #1 for 3 weeks. “Little Latin Lupe Lu” was listed on the WDGY and KDWB Minneapolis “Top Forty” for 11 weeks. The recording also listed in the “Top Forty” in Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha, and St. Louis radio markets.
“YoYo,” written by Mike Judge in the American “Rock-a-billy” style, was included on the German album “Eagle 301” in 1975, and the Belgium album “Inferno 1001” in 1988 (reissued on CD in 1996).
The “B” side of “So Fine,” written by James Gribbles, was “ I’m A Man” by Ellas McDaniel (Bo Diddley), recorded by The Chancellors on May 12, 1965, and released the same year. “So Fine/I’m A Man” also reached the “Top Forty” on Mid-America charts.
Several of the The Chancellors recordings were included in the compilation album “The Big Hits Of Mid-America Volume II,” on Soma Records, released in 1965 and “The Big Hits of Mid-America, The Soma Records Story 1963-1967,” CD format, on Plum Records, released in 1998. Also in 1998, Sundazed Music, Inc. of Coxsackie, NY, distributed “The Soma Records Story Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3.”
On May 3, 2008, the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame (formerly known as the Minnesota Rock/Country Hall of Fame) inducted original members Holm, Hughes, and Rivkin. Mike Judge, who died on July 11, 1996, was inducted posthumously. Ron Butwin of St. Paul, Minn., who replaced John Hughes when Hughes entered military service in May of 1966, was also inducted. Kevin Bowe, rhythm guitar, performed with Holm, Hughes, and Rivkin at the Hall of Fame.
David Rivkin, lead guitar with The Chancellors for three years (9/63-9/66), was also recognized at the 2008 Mid-America Music Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in the music industry.
Subsequent members were Ralph Burger, lead guitar; Jim Farragher, drums; Bruce Bartl, keyboards; Jerry Harvieux, bass; John Rawson, bass; and Cheri Thorne, vocalist. Doug Ahrens performed with the group as a substitute drummer. Woody Woodrich occasionally filled in on guitar.
The Chancellors disbanded at the end of 1967. Dan Holm resurrected the group with original drummer John Hughes for one year from May 1971 to 1972.
Holm, Hughes, Rivkin, and Judge played a reunion performance at the Medina Ballroom in 1982.