BACKGROUND

The Connie Awards were thought up, organized by, and named after Connie Hechter, jazz drummer and editor of the T.M.C. (later Connie’s) Insider.  He and Marsh Edelstein thought it would be good for the industry to show some recognition for the booming music scene in the Twin Cities.  The program for the 1968 ceremony stated the mission:

The Connie Awards symbolize professionalism, best of class, and consistency of performance within that class.

The purpose of the awards is to recognize the top pop music talent in this market, attract national attention to the musical resources in this Upper Midwest market, and to unify our industry.


 

conniesdennislibby

Connie Award statuettes of Dennis Libby of the Castaways


A note on spelling:  between typos in the original documents, bad copies of microfilm, and my own prolific typos, there is every chance that names are spelled wrong.  Please contact me and I will be grateful for any corrections.  Thanks!

 


1967

DATE:  May 22, 1967

PLACE:  Sheraton-Ritz Hotel in Minneapolis

HOST:  Charlie Boone

NOTES:  First year.  325 guests.  Winners were determined by the Midwest Academy of Contemporary Music.

 

The nominees for best band performed on Sunday, May 21, at a dance at the Wakota Arena in South St. Paul for nearly 2,000 kids.  They were:

  • Danny’s Reasons
  • T.C. Atlantic
  • The Underbeats
  • The Hot Half Dozen
  • The Del Counts

See pictures.

Winners that year were:

  • The Del Counts – best band
  • Grasshoppers – most promising new band
  • Dave Brady & the Stars – best show group, best vocal group
  • Don Beauclaire, Hot Half Dozen – best trumpet, most versatile musician
  • Freddy Freeman of T.C. Atlantic – best keyboard player
  • Jim Johnson, Underbeats – best lead guitar
  • Charles Schoen, Del Counts – best rhythm guitar
  • Robert Gonyea of Danny’s Reasons – best bass guitar
  • Ceedy Van Dusen, Danny’s Reasons – best drums
  • Dennis Libby, Castaways – best other instrument – electric piano
  • Greg Hartman, Mystics – best saxophone
  • Underbeats – best instrumental band
  • Danny Stevens – best vocal single, best showman single
  • Best album of the year, whatever it was, was on SOMA, which got the Connie.

1968

DATE:  May 27, 1968

PLACE:  Grand Ballroom, Sheraton-Ritz Hotel in Minneapolis

HOST:   Bill Carlson of WCCO TV

NOTES:

  • Second Annual 1968 Connie Awards

  • Keynote to be by Charles Fach, VP of Mercury Records.
  • Wilson Pickett was expected to speak, but apparently was not there.

  • Connie showed his rather un-hip sensibilities by making the event black tie and hiring Dick Whitbeck and his 15-piece Blue Diamonds Orchestra.

  • See scans of the program on Jerry Lenz’s blog.

  • Presented by the Midwest Academy of Contemporary Music and the Insider.

  • The top five nominees were determined by ballots sent in by Insider readers.  Ballots were included in two issues of the Insider, and each reader was entitled to send in those two ballots.  “If you are not familiar with the Recording Category, do not vote in this section.”

The 1968 Academy members were listed as:

  • Torp’s Music Center
  • Magoo’s – New City Opera House
  • Wagener Music
  • The Barn
  • Vavro Music
  • Schmitt Music
  • Traficante Music
  • Soma Recording Co.
  • Heilicher Bros., Inc.
  • Musicland Stores
  • All Records Sales
  • Willlong Publishing
  • Celann Publishing
  • Danames Publishing
  • Pickwick International
  • T.L. Marsh, Inc.
  • B Sharp Music Store
  • Cabaret
  • Trestman’s Music
  • Prom Center

1968 NOMINEES AND WINNERS:  Nominees are listed for each category.  The winner is the first one on the list and the rest are listed as they appear on the program.

RECORDING CATEGORY

Best Producer:

  • Menten and Steinberg for “Twenty Years Ago,” Candy Floss

  • Warren Kendrick for “Distortions,” Warick

  • Marshall Edelstein for “Sugar and Spice,” Fox

  • Peter H. May for “Little Picture Playhouse,” Falcon

  • Peter H. May for “Hey Joe,” Falcon

  • Menten and Steinberg for “World War II in Cincinnati,” Atco

Best Composer:

  • Menten, Steinberg, Paulik and Goldberg for “Twenty Years Ago”

  • David Sandler for “Blow to my Soul,” on Falcon

  • Rico Rosenbaum for “It’s Gonna Rain Today,” on Metrobeat

  • Menten Steinberg, Paulik and Goldberg for “World War II in Cincinnati”

Artist & Repertoire:

  • Menten and Steinberg for “Twenty Years Ago”

  • Marshall Edelstein for “Sugar and Spice”

  • Dale Menten for “Mickey’s Money,” Falcon

  • Peter H. May for “Hey Joe,” Falcon

  • Menton and Steinberg for “World War II in Cincinnati”

Recording Engineer:

  • Darrel Arvidson for “Sugar and Spice”

  • Darrel Arvidson for “Boom Boom,” Westchester

  • Darrel Arvidson for “Distortions,” Warick

  • Darrel Arvidson for “Twenty Years Ago”

  • Bob Schultz for “Sweetest Girl in the World,” Metrobeat

Album:

  • “TC Atlantic” Dove
  • “Money Music,” Various Artists, August
  • “Distortions,” Litter

Single:

  • “Twenty Years Ago,” TC Atlantic
  • “Little Picture Playhouse,” Stillroven
  • “Sugar and Spice,” Grasshoppers
  • “Mickey’s Monkey,” CA Quintet
  • “Hey Joe,” Stillroven

INSTRUMENTAL CATEGORY

 

BEST OTHER INSTRUMENT

Mike Holm, System, Autoharp

Mike Wright, Sir Raleighs, Harmonica

Mickey Stevens, Danny’s Reasons, Tambourine

Jiggs Lee, Grasshoppers, Maracas

Roger Brunner, Happy Dayz, Tambourine

 

BEST OTHER HORN

  • Peter Brynildson, System, French Horn
  • Dick Burt, Sir Raleighs, Trombone
  • Steve Solem, Sparklers, French Horn
  • Dave Hanson, Mystics, Trombone

BEST TRUMPET

  • Dave Hanson, Mystics
  • Ken Erwin, CA Quintet
  • Tom Buckman, Sparklers
  • Doug Franzen, Metropolitan Soul
  • Peter Brynildson, System
  • Chuck Dahle, Sparklers
  • Mark Skok, Happy Dayz
  • Keith Larson, Hot Half Dozen

BEST SAXOPHONE

  • Greg Hartman, Mystics
  • Dave Gustafson, Society
  • Fred Draper, Hot Half Dozen
  • Larry Ankurm, Metropolitan Soul

BEST KEYBOARD INSTRUMENT

  • Gary Peterson, Metropolitan Soul
  • Fred Freeman, TC Atlantic
  • Dennis Libby, Castaways
  • Dave Mrocek, Del Counts
  • Gregory Maland, Castaways
  • Butch Stokes, Mystics

BEST BASS GUITAR

  • Dick Hedlund, Mystics
  • Larry Wiegand, South 40
  • Doni Larson, Underbeats
  • Bob Falen, Del Counts
  • Tim Black, Grasshoppers
  • Jim Erwin, CA Quintet

 

BEST RHYTHM GUITAR

  • Tom Acheson, Grasshoppers
  • Dan Rinaldi, Litter
  • Charles Schoen, Del Counts
  • Rico Rosenbaum, Underbeats
  • Gus Dewey, Happy Dayz
  • Dave Middlest, South 40

BEST LEAD GUITAR

  • Tom Caplan, Litter
  • John Howarth, Stillroven
  • Dick Wiegand, South 40
  • Ben Hamar, Grasshoppers
  • Steve Miller, Del Counts
  • Loren Walstead, Underbeats
  • Jeff Adilman, Convoys
  • Dale Menten

BEST DRUMMER

  • Steve Maurer, Happy Dayz
  • Jim Faragher, Chancellors
  • Kelly Vincent, Del Counts
  • Rod Eaton, TC Atlantic
  • Ceedy Van Dusen, Danny’s Reasons
  • Tom Murray, Litter
  • Denny Craswell, Castaways
  • Phil Scollard, Grasshoppers
  • Harry Nehls, South 40

MOST VERSATILE MUSICIAN

  • Charles Schoen, Del Counts
  • Mike Holm, System
  • Mark Skok, Happy Dayz
  • Peter Brynildson, System
  • Wes Hayme, Mystics
  • Keith Larson, Hot Half Dozen
  • Bob Jones, Hot Half Dozen

BEST INSTRUMENTAL GROUP

  • Mystics
  • Del Counts
  • Hot Half Dozen
  • South 40
  • Underbeats
  • TC Atlantic

SHOW AND VOCAL CATEGORY

BEST VOCAL SINGLE

  • Dave Waggoner, South 40
  • Jiggs Lee, Grasshoppers
  • Danny Stevens, Danny’s Reasons
  • Charles Schoen, Del Counts
  • Rico Rosenbaum, Underbeats
  • Fred Freeman, TC Atlantic

BEST SHOWMAN

  • Jiggs Lee, Grasshoppers
  • Dave Waggoner, South 40
  • Charles Schoen, Del Counts
  • Dennis Waite, Litter
  • Honeybear, Nickel Revolution
  • Pete Huber, Jokers Wild
  • Roger Brunner, Happy Dayz
  • Fred Freeman, TC Atlantic
  • Danny Stevens, Danny’s Reasons

BEST VOCAL GROUP

  • Chancellors
  • Del Countys
  • System
  • Underbeats
  • Grasshoppers
  • New Generation

BEST SHOW GROUP

  • Happy Dayz
  • Grasshoppers
  • Hot Half Dozen
  • Nickel Revolution
  • Youngsters
  • Danny’s Reasons
  • Del Counts
  • Mystics
  • Litter
  • Society
  • Perspectives
  • Paisleys
  • CA Quintet

MAJOR AWARDS

 

BEST NEW MATERIAL:  “Oscar Crunch,” Nickel Revolution.  The Insider promised that the winner of this new category would receive a disc release from Mercury Records.  Before the award was made, Connie said, “We feel this is a big forward step in securing national recognition by a major record label for songwriters in this area.”  Although “Oscar Crunch” got some traction, again it was just a novelty song and probably not what Connie was hoping for in new material.  Plus the Nickel Revolution hated it.

 

MOST PROMISING NEW BAND

  • Sparklers
  • Jokers Wild
  • Youngsters
  • System
  • Metropolitan Soul
  • Paisleys
  • CA Quintet
  • Happy Dayz

BEST BAND

  • Mystics
  • Underbeats
  • Grasshoppers
  • Stillroven
  • Del Counts
  • Litter
  • TC Atlantic
  • South 40

 


 

1969

 

DATE:  May 19, 1969

PLACE:  Pick-Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis

HOST:  Charlie Boone

NOTES:

  • Over 300 in attendance

  • Panel discussion with record company reps, local disk jockeys, and Hechter.  KQRS was accidentally not invited.

  • Keynote address by Dick LaPalm from Chess Records, Chicago.

 

From the June 7, 1969 issue of the Insider:

The 1969 Connie Awards on May 19 packed the ballroom of the Pick-Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis with over 300 musicians and industry personalities who came in their finest threads to witness the selection of the best pop talent in the area as determined by the votes of club and ballroom operators and a triad of musicians.  The audience dined on an eight course dinner and listened to Chess Records’ advertising and promotion director Dick LaPalm deliver an informative discourse on the record industry before the Awards ceremonies began.

It was a most colorful and exciting evening.

The Jokers Wild won the award for Best Show Band, which was an achievement for a three-man band! Lonnie Knight also won for Best Lead Guitar and Best Other Instrument (harmonica/blues harp).

 

Other winners:

  • Best Band: Mystics; next closest were the Del Counts and Crow
  • Promising new band:  Zarathustra
  • 21+ Club band:  (tie) Danny’s Reasons, Dave Mark Syndicate
  • Instrumental group:  Mystics
  • Best Single:  The Nickel Revolution for “Oscar Crunch,” a song they weren’t particularly fond of.  Thanks to Jerry Lenz of the Nickel Revolution for posting the “Oscar Crunch” and Candy Floss story on his blog.
  • Male Vocal:  Grant Gulllickson (Zarathustra), Jimmy Lawrence (Danny’s Reasons)
  • Showman:  Danny Stevens
  • Female Vocalist:  Susan Drude
  • Versatile Musician:  Dale Menton, Blackwood Apology
  • Drummer:  Bill Lordan, Mystics
  • Rhythm Guitar:  Mike Stokes, Mystics
  • Bass Guitar:  Willie Weeks, Mystics
  • Keyboard Instruments:  Gary Peterson
  • Saxophone:  Wes Hayne, Mystics
  • Trumpet and Other Horn (trombone):  Dave Hanson, Mystics
  • Producer:  Warren Kendrick for “Paupers and Poets” by White Lightning

House of Leather won a bunch of awards:

  • Recording Engineer:  Bob Schultz
  • A&R, Composer, and Most Versatile Musician:  Dale Menten
  • Album of the Year
  • Best Vocal Group:  Blackwood Apology

 


 

1970

 

DATE:  June 1, 1970

PLACE:  Pick-Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis

HOST:  John Pete, KQRS Program Director

NOTES:

  • National rock promoter Bill Graham was planned to be the featured speaker, but the honors were done by Jon Carroll from Rolling Stone Magazine, Amos Heilicher, and Vince Pernicano, Midwest Promotion Director, Warner Bros. – 7 Arts Records

  • Music by Dick Whitbeck and his Orchestra

  • The Sir Douglas Quintet performed.

  • Michael’s Mystics provoked Connie Hechter’s ire when they didn’t show up.

  • Connie was also upset that WDGY did not promote the awards or attend.

  • Envelope Girls courtesy of the Patricia Stevens School

  • Presented by the Midwest Academy of Contemporary Music

Academy Members were listed in the Program As:

  • Torp’s Music
  • Traficante Music
  • The Prison
  • Audio Tech Recording Studio
  • Soma Records
  • Musicland Stores
  • Trestman Music
  • Schmitt Music
  • Pickwick International
  • Celann Publishing
  • Park Music
  • Heilicher Brothers
  • The Barn
  • Young America Clothing Stores
  • Minneapolis Musicians Association
  • St. Paul Musicians Association
  • Northwest Organ
  • J.L. Marsh Company

Panel Participants were:

  • Randy Cook, WWTC
  • Ray Moss, KUXL
  • Charlie Boone, WCCO
  • Don Bleu, KDWB
  • John Pete, KQRS
  • Ira Heilicher
  • Ron Picollo of Columbia Record Sales

NOMINEES AND WINNERS:  Nominees are listed for each category.  The winner is the first one on the list and the rest are listed as they appear in the program.  (Thanks, Mike Jann!)

RECORDING CATEGORY   *

Best Producer:

  • Ira Heilicher for “Pain”

  • Orvold Forbord for “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin”

  • Jerry Adams for “Groovin’ is Easy”

Best Composer:

  • Larry Weigand for “Evil Woman”

  • Jim Kane and Mark Gallager for “Future of the Past”

  • Jim Kan and Tom Murray for “Feeling”

Artist & Repertoire:

  • Herb Pilhofer for “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”

  • Jerry Adams for “Groovin’ is Easy”

  • Ira Heilicher for “Pain”

Recording Engineer:

  • Tom Jung, Sound 80, for “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”

  • Jerry Adams for “Groovin’ in Easy”

  • Roger Wilhelms for “Thundertree”

  • Bob Schultz for “Pain”

Album:

  • “Thundertree,” Thundertree

Single:

  • “Pain,” Mystics
  • “Groovin’ is Easy,” Dave Mark Syndicate
  • “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin,” Fenatiks
  • “Sunshine,” Cure of Ares

 

INSTRUMENTAL CATEGORY  *

 

BEST OTHER INSTRUMENT

  • Larry Ankrum, Marauders, Flute
  • Lonnie Knight, Flash Tuesday, Harp
  • Larry Loud, Marauders, Tambourine
  • Gary Anderson, Cricket, Harmonica
  • Jiggs Lee, Bananas, Tambourine

 

BEST OTHER HORN

  • Jerry Wolf, Pride and Joy, Trombone
  • Bob Haglund, Mystics, Trombone
  • Dave Hanson, Evolution, Trombone
  • Lee Smith, Sir Raleighs, Trombone

BEST TRUMPET

  • Eddie Shaw, Sir Raleighs
  • Bob Gurrola, Mystics
  • Dave Hanson, Evolution
  • Wally Warhol, Pride and Joy

BEST SAXOPHONE

  • Wes Hayne, Evolution
  • Larry Ankrum, Arauders
  • Andy Wilson, Pride and Joy
  • Larry Forbord, Fenatiks
  • Rick O’Dell, Sir Raleighs

BEST KEYBOARD INSTRUMENT

  • Gary Peterson, Marauders
  • Greg Maland, Jumbo
  • Greg Inhoffer, Pepper Fog
  • Butch Stokes, Mystics
  • Steve Solornonson, The Fenatiks
  • Mike Holm, The System
  • Bruce Jackson, Cricket
  • Dick Bert, Pride and Joy

BEST BASS GUITAR

  • Dick Hedlund, Zarathustra
  • Bob Jones, Jumbo
  • Kent Saunders, Dave Mark Syndicate
  • Tim McCarter, Pride and Joy
  • Bob Phalen, Del Counts
  • Wayne Cafanella, Sir Raleighs
  • Dick Erickson, the System

 

BEST RHYTHM GUITAR

  • Mike Stokes, Mystics
  • John Northrup, Marauders
  • Rick Johnson, Dave Mark Syndicate
  • Grant Meyer, The Fenatiks
  • Larry Seuss, Del Counts

BEST LEAD GUITAR

  • Chuck Dahle, Sir Raleighs
  • Lonnie Knight, Flash Tuesday
  • Zippy Caplan, White Lightning
  • Lloyd Forsberg, Bananas
  • Steve Miller, Del Counts
  • Larry Grants, Sunshine World

 

BEST DRUMMER

  • Denny Craswell, Crow
  • Edgar Murphy, Mystics
  • Bill Gent, Danny’s Reasons
  • Kelly Vincent, Del Counts
  • Tom Murray, Litter
  • Rick LiaBrasten, Thundertree
  • John Hughes, Big Island

 

MOST VERSATILE MUSICIAN

  • Mike Holm, The System
  • Jim Kogel, Marauders
  • Larry Ankrum, Marauders
  • Larry Forbord, Fenatiks
  • Dick Burt, Pride and Joy

BEST INSTRUMENTAL GROUP

  • Fenatiks
  • Marauders
  • Sir Raleighs
  • White Lightning
  • Dave Mark Syndicate
  • Pride and Joy
  • Mystics
  • Big Island
  • Pepper Fog

SHOW AND VOCAL CATEGORY  *

BEST MALE VOCAL

  • Dave Waggoner, Crow
  • Doug Maynard, Zarathustra
  • Jim Lawrence, Danny’s Reasons
  • Mickey Stanhope, White Lightning
  • Larry Seuss, Del Counts
  • Carl Bradley, Mystics
  • Danny Stevens, Danny’s Reasons
  • Dennis Teien, The System
  • Johnny Elms, Sir Raleighs

BEST FEMALE VOCAL

  • Gale Winkler, Salt, Pepper and Spice
  • Sue Huble, Zarathustra
  • Tracy Black, Dave Mark Syndicate
  • Gale Young, 19th Amendment
  • Gwen Needham, Brave New World
  • Char Holman, Char and Maryann

 

BEST SHOWMAN

  • Danny Stevens, Danny’s Reasons
  • Larry Loud, Marauders
  • Jiggs Lee, Bananas
  • Dave Mark, Dave Mark Syndicate
  • Jim Lawrence, Danny’s Reasons
  • John Elms, Sir Raleighs

BEST VOCAL GROUP

  • Zarathustra
  • Danny’s Reasons
  • Del Counts
  •  Brave New World
  • Noys
  • System
  • Chesterfield Gathering

BEST SHOW GROUP

  • Sir Raleighs
  • Danny’s Reasons
  • Mystics
  • Fenatiks
  • Bananas
  • Zarathustra

MAJOR AWARDS

 

MOST PROMISING NEW BAND

  • Fenatiks  (tie for winner)
  • Brave New World (tie for winner)
  • Noys
  • Salt, Pepper and Spice
  • Pepper Fog
  • Chesterfield Gathering
  • Cricket

BEST BAND

  • Mystics
  • Marauders
  • Danny’s Reasons
  • Big Island
  • Sir Raleighs
  • Paisleys
  • Del Counts

BEST 21 AND OVER BAND

  • Sir Raleighs
  • Big Island
  • XL-5
  • Dave Mark Syndicate
  • Joey Strobel
  • Danny’s Reasons
  • Zarathustra

 

SPECIAL AWARDS  *

RECORD PROMOTION MAN OF THE YEAR

  • Timothy D. Kehr, Columbia Records
  • Jerry Bix, Heilicher Brothers
  • Pat Devine, Heilicher Brothers
  • Buddy Fritz, Jather Distributing
  • Doug Lee, Decca Records
  • Ira Heilicher, Heilicher Brothers.

 

Crow won a special award for “making it” on the national scene

The Titans, house band at Duff’s, won an award for “consistently drawing the people who dance and drink.”