Billy Rat and the Finks
2008 - Band
While living in Northwest Iowa, Wally Shoop decided to put a band together and recruited a few “younger guys” to play in his band. Shoop was in his early 20’s and commandeered some quality younger musicians (the keyboard player was all of 14 at the time). They became Billy Rat (Wally) & the Finks.
The Finks were Chas Efting, Mike Osgerby, Jack Gilenfeld and Tom Bedell. The band was originally called The Zombies but the English band by that name became extremely popular so Wally and the guys changed their name to Billy Rat & the Finks in late 1964.
BR & the Finks played throughout Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. They recorded a 45 of “Little Queenie” and “All American Boy” at the IGL Studio in Milford. Some New York FM Radio stations still play the Finks’ version of “Little Queenie” in their song rotation today.
This band was innovative by nature. They were one of the first local groups to incorporate a tape deck through their PA system to add background. They would “mess” with the audience by pre-recording their break songs and, pretending to play, while individually walking off stage to the utter amazement of the crowd. They were also one of the earliest to use the “fuzz-tone” when recording.
Jack Gilenfeld was drafted into the army in late 1966 and was replaced by Bruce Church. The band was one of the first local groups to add GoGo dancers to their performances. Debbie Martin and Cherie Smith added much pizzazz to the show with their dance moves, mini-shirts and go-go boots. However, at some venues (mostly schools), the dancers were deemed “too risqué” and asked to leave the stage. The band lasted from 1963-67.
Shoop after performing for several years, turned to visual arts. He is the founder of Shoop’s American Bronze Casting Ltd. in Osceola, WI. Osgerby also performed throughout the Midwest until turning to the financial side of the music industry. He is the head accountant for Brad Paisley and resides in Nashville, TN.
Bedell’s music business, Bedell Guitar Co., was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. He went on to become the CEO of Pure Fishing, the world’s largest fishing tackle conglomerate. He is now retired and has established a foundation for philanthropic work. Tom’s interest in the arts include helping establish ArtsLive, creating the Sami Bedell Center for the Performing Arts and is an advocate for the Pearson Lakes Art Center as well as IRRMA.
Chaz Efting is a lifelong musician. He has traveled extensively with such notables as the late Tommy Bolin, the Luther Allison Band, Michael Murphy Band, Frankie & the Aliens, the Breeze Brothers and many more. He lives in Auburndale, FL. It was not known, at publication time, the whereabouts of Jack Gilenfeld or Bruce Church. Debbie Martin lives in Springfield MO and Cherie Smith Dykers in Lakeland, FL.