Years active: 1967-69
Origin: Minneapolis, MN
Gene Balabon, lead guitar; Pete Huber, drums; Dave Wagner, lead vocals; Denny Johnson, bass; Dave Middlemist, keyboards; Bill Jordan, lead guitar; Greg Spring, keyboards; Lonnie Knight, lead vocals, lead guitar; Dale Strength, second lead guitar; Danny Kane, guitar
Jokers Wild was most likely another group formed with their sights on recording and eventual stardom. They could rightly be nicknamed "The Incredibly Shrinking Group," as they began as a six-piece outfit, dropped one guy to five, and ended up as a trio for their final recordings.
In November of 1965 Dave Wagner was bassist for a group called The Arrdvarks. As they were breaking up, Dave called Denny Johnson and asked him to be the bass player for a new band he was starting along with fellow Arrdvark, Gene Balabon. They picked up drummer Pete Huber from a band called The Gremmies. They still needed another member to fill out the band. Denny remembered a guitar/keyboard player he had worked with earlier, Dave Middlemist, from the band The Cavaliers.
They played their first job as The New Gremmies, later to be called The Chord On Blues, and then The Scoundrels. One night Dave Wagner was playing cards with friends, including Donnie Larson (of The Underbeats). Donnie suggested to chance the band name to Jokers Wild. And from then on the name stuck with them.
Eleven months later, Gene Balabon left the band and was replaced by Bill Jordan on lead guitar. Four months later, Dave Wagner and Dave Middlemist left to start a new band, The South 40 (later called Crow). The remaining members enlisted the Illusions keyboardist, Greg Spring, and after trying several singers they got Lonnie Knight from the Rave-Ons. After six months Bill Jordan left to join a country band and Lonnie Knight became the lead player for Jokers Wild. They added Dale Strength from The City Strangers on second lead guitar. But he left after six weeks. Danny Kane of the Stillroven joined the band and left after three weeks. Three months later Greg Springer left, and the band was down to three members. Six months later Lonnie Knight and Greg Springer both joined The Litter and went to Chicago, only to re-join the Jokers Wild six weeks later ! Greg left the band again four weeks later. Finally in the fall of 1969, after a chaotic (to say the least) ten months, the Jokers Wild were no more. Phew !
By far the most experimental of all the acts on the great Metrobeat label, Jokers Wild was also the most well-represented by vinyl releases.
All I See Is You [Metrobeat 4451] (1967)
I Just Can't Explain It [Metrobeat 4451] (1967)
Because I'm Free [Peak 4456] (1968)
Sunshine [Peak 4456] (1968)
And the unreleased cut:
All The World's A Copper Penny