Dennis Albee

2010 - Matousek Lifetime Achievement Award

Dennis was born January 8, 1950 in Macomb, IL , to parents who taught music. It soon became obvious to all that music would be his chosen path in the world.  

Learning to play guitar at age four and with his parents playing in many country bands in the area, he was often brought onstage to perform. He appeared on the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour not long after that. Albee went on to play other instruments i.e. banjo, accordion, mandolin, trumpet, saxophone, bass guitar, piano, organ, drums and harmonica.

Dennis has dedicated his life to and made his living with music. He was inspirational to many of his students including Darrell DeCounter (deceased) whom went on to play with Christy Lane, Jerry Reed, The John Anderson Band, Neal “Bronson” Herrmuth of Nashville fame, Eddie Bourell, and many others including Denny Hilton of Branson.

Albee formed a garage band in 1961 called the Firebirds with his sister and a drummer from Iowa . The group was later renamed Brillo and the Firebirds due to his having been teased by a high school teacher about his curly hair. The band became popular in the area and word spread to Iowa and Missouri . They packed teen dances at clubs, high schools and colleges in the tri-state area with kids driving 150 miles or more to hear them. The band traveled to Ottumwa, Des Moines, Keokuk, Burlington, Mount Pleasant, Danville, the Quad Cities , Ft. Madison and every small rural school in SE Iowa, NE Missouri and western Illinois . Sunday night dances were at maximum capacity at the American Legion in West Point whenever they appeared there.

The band participated in the International Battle of the Bands in Chicago in1966 and they won the 1967 International Battle of the Bands in Chicago at Navy Pier. The group went on to record a 45 rpm “Calling Red Rover” and “Someplace to Hide,” both written by Dennis. The band disbanded in 1969 when its members left for college.

Dennis moved to Iowa in 1969 where he continued to play with garage bands in SE Iowa . These included Brick from Mount Pleasant and Big Huge from Keokuk along with Craig Moore and Dave Johnson from the 2004 IRRMA Hall of Fame inductee GONN. Albee also was a member of several Burlington house bands such as Penthouse and Life at the Pzazzatorium. His days of extensive road travel began with Life at the Pzazzatorium which created duos and trios as Pop! He continued with the bands The Big Kids and the Good, Bad & Ugly and spent many years as a solo artist when travel extended into and.

Touring the country and taking other paths of work through the years he has continued his love of music and is still a driving force with other bands today. Dennis has always been a highly respected guitar player in Iowa since the mid ‘60s and a respected musician. In October of 2004 Brillo and the Firebirds re-ignited the same “sold out” American Legion in West Point .

Dennis currently is involved in three bands including Smokin’ Mojo Kings, a blues band that plays many originals. Dennis has written “Shut Your Yap”, “Too Many Pretty Women” and “Blues Gutter” to name a few. Rock Steady obviously is a variety of rock music.

As a solo artist he can be seen often in the SE Iowa area and often at Riverside Casino and Resort in Riverside where he has also played with their national acts.  Rich Bentler, Entertainment Manager at the Casino, calls Albee ‘Mr. Riverside’. Says Rich, “Dennis is our Wayne Newton. As Newton is ‘Mr. Las Vegas,’ we have Dennis Albee. He is the consummate performer and when he takes the stage he lights up the crowd.”

For a lifetime of contributions to the Iowa music scene, Dennis Albee is a very deserving recipient of the 2010 IRRMA Dan Matousek Lifetime Achievement Award.

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