2013 - Individual Artist
Stan Sowienski was born on March 4, 1949, in Jersey City, New Jersey, and Legs Diamond became his stage name in June 1973.
Legs moved to South Dakota in 1950, and he lived in the Watertown area through 1960. He first fell in love with rock 'n roll music during second grade (1956). In South Dakota, there were only about three or four hours of rock 'n roll music shows on the radio during the week and a few more hours on the weekends. He learned the words to songs by listening every day; soon, he knew all the words to many songs. To this day, Legs’ favorite music is doo-wop and rockabilly from ‘48 to ‘62. After moving to Sioux City, Iowa in June 1961, Legs got his first guitar. It was a ‘63 Gibson Melody Maker that he purchased for $45, and for $225, he purchased his first bass: ‘64 Fender Jazz.
In 1964, Legs started playing in bands. It began with Brad (Morris) Miller and Mike Yandrich in a local band called Stingrays. In 1965 he moved to the band Johnny and the Satellites with Jack Moberg and then to the group West Reynolds and the Executioners. Legs was playing with Gene Ambrosen and Dan Cain in the Fabulous Flairs in 1966, and in 1967, he joined Hangman with Dave Stokes, Larry Means, and James and Phil Polomini. Legs moved to Denver, Colorado and joined The Crystal Palace guard for one and half years. In May 1971, he played with Russell Bizzett and Rick Archer in a back-up band for Chuck Berry.
His first Legs Diamond Band played just one gig in June of 1971 in Greeley, Colorado and broke up. So, in November of that year, Legs moved back to Sioux City and started a new Legs Diamond Band with Jeff Byrne, Phil Kelly, and Marc Engel. Johnny Bolin replaced Jeff on drums, and the band stayed together until June of 1973 when he started Legs Diamond and hothouse. This group, including members Stan Lipman, Scott Olsen, and Gary Gunderson, played gigs around the area until January 1975. Legs got to play some of his favorite music when he moved to Denver later in 1975 and joined a 50’s band called J. Walker and the Pedestrians. Another good band he worked with was Lil’ Red and the Reefer Brothers. He had great fun playing in the Front Range of the Rockies, but in 1979, it was time for him to check out LA.
A highpoint for Legs came after moving to LA when he got to play in the backup band for the Dell Vikings with original founding member, Chris Johnson. He had learned the words to their first hit Come Go With Me when he was nine years old, so all those hours in front of the radio really paid off. Leg played with various different bands for about two and a half years. He says it was “great fun, but not a lot of money!”
Legs returned to Sioux City in the summer of 1981 and started playing with many of the musicians he played with back in the early 70’s. Over the next 10 years, he worked extensively with Scott Olsen, Gary Gunderson, Marc Morsehead, John Beckish, and Johnny Bolan in the Sioux City area. He worked with the Tommy Eglin band, as well as his own bands, Smooth Operator, Legs Diamond Blues Revue, and Strangers in Paradise, to name a few, playing in places such as The Patio, Tony's, Brass Rail, Ozone, Parakeet, Mainliner.
Stan Sowienski, aka Legs Diamond, has enjoyed listening to and playing music his whole life. He says, “I don't gig as much now, but when I do, I love it just as much.”
It was 1986 when Mike Simpson and Jim Clancy, two veteran Iowa City area musicians who played together in many bands, came off of the road and wanted to keep performing. Tight musicianship and layered vocal harmonies were the priority for the group that would cover classic rock dance music and current top 40 hits. The band’s original lineup had Simpson on drums, Clancy on keyboards and rhythm guitar, Bruce Vander Schel on lead guitar, Rich Webster on keyboards and rhythm guitar, and Ty Montgomery on bass guitar. Montgomery left the band soon after it formed and was replaced by Pat Heffron.
Popularity for Dogs on Skis grew in 1988, and the band played area summer festivals and street dances, including the Czech Village Street Dances and ‘The World’s Biggest Beach Party’ at “No Wa-Wa Beach,” a cornfield converted beach near Williamsburg, Iowa. As demand for their time also grew, Clancy stepped away and Mullins won the job as keyboardist/vocalist. Webster left in 1989 and Nick Stika became lead/rhythm guitarist/vocalist. In 1990, during the recording of the album I Bark, Therefore, I Am, Heffron left and Jeff Musel became the new bassist/vocalist. The album includes tracks by both bassists.
1994 saw the Country/Western boom, and Stika, Musel and Vander Schel formed a country band called Bandolero. While Bandolero played mostly country, the band ended up being ‘Dogs On Skis with cowboy hats’. Some former members, including Webster and Clancy, came back to do some ‘reunion’ shows in 1995. Dogs On Skis played primarily summer events while Bandolero played bars and dance halls the rest of the year.
The line-up for Dogs On Skis changed several times during 1998-1999. Clancy replaced Mullins and keyboardist/saxophonist Denny Lodin replaced Vander Schel. When Simpson, Clancy and Lodin left, Mullins and Vander Schel rejoined with Mike Roeder on drums. Since Vander Schel’s last show on New Years Eve 1999, the band’s lineup has been steady with these members:
Stu Mullins splits his duties between lead and backing vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar and auxiliary percussion. He shares his creative time with his other band Stickman, and released his first solo album "Violet" in 2013. Mullins is the director of a youth center in Iowa City and also works as a music producer and engineer.
Jeff Musel is the bassist and one of the lead vocalists. He spent several years at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles working as a sound technician and is credited as assistant engineer on albums by musical luminaries Yes and Bob Dylan. Musel is the manager of the West Music store in Marion.
Mike Roeder plays drums and contributes some lead and backup vocals. He started playing music in his early teens and is a 40 year veteran, playing around the country and in Las Vegas. He’s also recorded on several projects in Los Angeles.
Nick Stika plays lead and rhythm guitar and sings lead and backup vocals. He performs solo acoustic shows at many local music venues around the area. He released an album of original songs called Big Ol’ Moon and is working on a follow-up. In 2008, he released his first novel Bag Of Knives, a rock & roll mystery, and is currently writing a second.
Demand for the band nearly 27 years after its inception continues, and 2012 was the biggest year in Dogs On Skis history with the band playing nearly 80 shows.