Mad Hatters

2011 - Band

Band Members:  Jack Scoonover, Jack Chase, Dick Chase, Kelly Samples, Larry Lewis, Chris Bowling

The Mad Hatters were formed in Des Moines in 1960 by three high school freshmen: Jack Chase – guitar, Dick Chase – bass guitar, and Jack Scoonover – drums. The group played locally around Des Moines during the three founding members’ high school years.

Upon graduation from high school, they decided to reform and expand the band to a six member group with a horn section. As a result, Jack Scoonover switched to keyboards and three new members were added: Kelly Samples from Des Moines on drums, Larry “The Lip” Lewis from St. Louis on trumpet, and Chris Bowling from St. Louis on saxophone. The two new members from St. Louis were in Des Moines at the time attending Drake University.

The Mad Hatters became increasingly popular in Des Moines and beyond. By the mid-60’s they playing all over Iowa, particularly in the most well-known ballrooms such as the Val Air in Des Moines, The Cobblestone in Storm Lake , The Surf in Clear Lake , and the Roof Garden in Arnolds Park . In addition, the band was very popular with college fraternities and sororities all around Iowa.

In 1966, The Mad Hatters recorded a 45 RPM record at IGL Studios in Milford . The “A” side was “Route 66”, and the “B” side was titled “For Her Love”, written by one of the band members. The Mad Hatters’ record became a regional hit in Iowa, hitting #2 on radio station KIOA in Des Moines . The record also was a “Pick Of The Week” on a popular Detroit radio station, as well as a radio station in St. Louis . In addition to the 45 RPM single cut by The Mad Hatters, the band also participated in the recording of a compilation album at IGL Studios along with several other popular bands who regularly recorded there.

In 1968, Dick Chase, a key member of the group, moved away from Des Moines . As a result, the group disbanded and the band members took different directions in their lives. Today, Jack Scoonover remains in Des Moines, Kelly Samples resides in Shawnee, Kansas, Jack Chase lives in the Dallas, Texas area where he is a retired Vice President of Columbia Records, Dick Chase lives in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Larry Lewis and Chris Bowling reside in the St. Louis, Missouri area, where they were originally from.

From the central regions of Iowa and far beyond, the Mad Hatters are joining the inspiring and awesome IRRMA Hall of Fame Class of 2011.

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