There is no doubt that the Rave-Ons left an indelible mark on the Minnesota music scene during the 1960’s. Like many bands, they went through several personnel changes before landing on the perfect combination of talent and friendship that would propel them to success.
The original Rave-Ons began in 1961, with members from Richfield and Gaylord/Arlington, Minnesota, that included vocalist Robbie Harrell and drummer Skip Kovacs. Around the same time, an instrumental band called the Knights was performing at local Twin City gigs. The Knights were comprised of the Wiegand brothers, Dick (guitar) and Larry (bass), Dick Thomas (drums) and Chris Katsmedas (guitar). In 1962, Chris Katsmedas left the Knights to join the Navy.
Shortly after, the Knights were approached by Skip Kovacs and Robbie Harrell with a proposal to merge the Knights with Robbie and the Rave-Ons. The band was immediately successful, playing many high-profile gigs. By 1964, both Skip and Robbie had left the band for military service. Lonnie joined the band in mid 1963, providing lead vocals and his power-house guitar. From 1963 to the bands dissolution in 1967, the band would consist of Lonnie, the Wiegand brothers and Harry Nehls on drums. With this iteration of the band, they evolved from an instrumental band into one with tight Beatlesque background vocals.
With the release of a 45 LP with two original songs by Larry and Harry (I Want You To Love Me and Everybody Tells Me) on Twin Town records, the band quickly became a favorite on the local AM radio station KDWB and in area clubs.
Between 1965-66, they recorded 12 songs (nine originals and three covers), six of which came out on three separate 45s. All carried a definite British feel to them. But by late 1966, the band changed their style for a third and final time, going for harder-edged sounds reminiscent of The Yardbirds and Music Machine.
Love Pill and Whenever (penned by Knight) was the second Rave-Ons release on the Twin Town label in 1965. Whenever, Love Pill and I Want You To Love Me were included on the 1965-66 Minneapolis compilation series “Top Teen Bands” Vol. 1, 2 & 3, respectively. Dick stated that they “never saw a penny from all the records.” Any money generated was from their increased exposure and subsequent bookings.
In the fall of 1966, Lonnie left the band to pursue another musical direction more in the style of Donovan, John Sebastian, and Bob Dylan, while Larry, Dick and Harry went on to form the band South 40.
Although the band was only together from 1964 to 1967, they left a distinctive mark on the Twin Cities music scene. Throughout Lonnie’s career, you can hear influences of his early writing and guitar playing with the Rave-Ons. Much to the delight of the Rave-Ons fans, the original band members reunited for a gig in 2012.