2010 - Band
It was September 1965, at a Grinnell “Winter Whirl” dance that Jim Ryan and Scott Hanson decided to create a rock and roll band that would eventually become one of the top music combos in Central Iowa. The duo found four other high school friends and the Mojos was born.
The Mojos was made up of Jim Ryan, vocals; Ray Burlingame, drums; Scott Hanson, rhythm guitar; Chuck Lannom, bass; Steve Devine, lead guitar and Carlos Mendoza, arranger, manager, and organ.
With the exception of drummer Burlingame, the six-piece group was largely self-taught. That lack of experience meant only one thing – hard work and lots of practice. According to Hanson, “We felt that anyone joining us would need to give 110% to assure that we would become more than ‘just another band’. We were fortunate to have several other classmates who were willing to give a similar effort.”
The band became known for their own special brand of mojo playing R & B, psychedelic and general good-time music and soon was playing teen dances and fundraisers from Carroll to Okoboji, from Iowa Falls to Ottumwa and locally in Des Moines, Marshalltown and Newton.
In 1966 the band was selected out of 50 bands around the state to compete in the Iowa State Fair’s Battle of the Bands. The Mojos won the contest, awarded a gig at the Fair’s Teen Town the following week. A Battle in Okoboji with bands from five states netted a win for the group and they were awarded a national recording contract. 1967 the Mojos got their shot at television, appearing in a KRNT-TV-sponsored Battle of the Bands. By this time, they had undergone a personnel change, with Jim “Brow” Stewart having replaced Chuck Lannom on bass guitar in 1966. The group was thrilled when they received an invite and appearance as one of the featured bands at the Red River Valley Expo in Winnipeg, Canada in 1967.
During that time the band signed a contract with Capitol and recorded in a studio located in Rochester, MN. Although Hanson says the tapes might still be available, he has no idea as to where they might be. “We spent several days in preparing the sessions and were ready to release the first single, but ran into problems getting releases from BMI and The Who. We had discovered a novelty song on one of The Who's first albums, “Boris the Spider.” We did our own tweaking and revamping and it caught on at all of our dances. As a result no hard copies were released and were retained by the studio.”
Grinnell was still home to the group, continuing their support of their local community. Many of their Grinnell gigs were hosted by KIOA Good Guy Dic Youngs. The band even had an official Mojos barber ‘to get that long hair just right,’ according to Scott Hanson. And practice had moved to an official ‘Mojos Studio’ where fans and groupies could enjoy their sessions.
The Mojos stayed very active throughout 1967 and ‘68. As band members graduated from high school and headed for various colleges, they continued playing only during holidays etc. Jim Ryan attended Iowa and Arizona State and became an attorney. Carlos Mendoza went to Grinnell College and Med School University of California and is a cardiologist living in Colorado. Scott went to Grinnell College and is president of an insurance agency and resort owner. Steve Devine attended Simpson College and then received his M.S. from the University of Idaho in Geology. Everyone spread out seeking various careers. Hanson and Burlingame created another group "The Friendly Stranger" with two Grinnell College students, Mike Eaton and Jack Isely. Burlingame then continued with the Quarry. Jim Ryan the lead singer continued in Arizona with an oldies band "Mid-Life Crisis" and still plays occasionally today! Mendoza and Devine didn't continue in any organized fashion after the group disbanded.
The Mojos are recognized for their wide scope and quality of musical work, their dedication to their fans leading to a highly successful career as they deservedly enter the IRRMA Hall of Fame with the Class of 2010.