2010 - Band
Everyone fondly remembers the exciting show band, the Sensational Rising Suns. The Rising Suns were another of the incredible horn bands booked, promoted, and sold through the legendary Mid Continent Productions of Lawrence, Kansas.
With such groups as the Fabulous Flippers, The Young Raiders, and the Roarin’ Red Dogs, the Rising Suns are another in the long line of creative and highly successful Kansas show and horn bands, entering the IRRMA Hall of Fame in the out-of-state category.
The band started out in 1967 in Topeka, Kansas and went on the road as the Rising Sons. Six months into their new career, the group would experience a terrible bus accident, and the group no longer existed. Mid Continent needed to find another Rising Sons and fast, as bookings were starting to pile up.
This time they recruited a great horn band out of Coffeyville, Kansas that was originally called the Dalton Gang. The band took on the new name of the Rising Suns and would tour as the Rising Suns all the way into 1972.
The Rising Suns were a 7-8 man horn and show band that featured Mid Continent’s first interracial soul band fronted by black singers, “Big” Walter Downing and Izzy Martin. Walter was the younger brother of the legendary R&B performer “Big” Al Downing.
Mid Continent was not sure that a multi-cultural band would be accepted in many of the Midwest’s small rural ballrooms, but the opposite occurred, as the band became one of the hottest sellers on the Mid Continent roster. With Downing’s and Martin’s incredible live shows, they became a Midwest rock and roll rage. One special aspect of their show was that their last set of the evening featured a complete costumed recreation of James Brown’s Live At The Apollo show. The band was heavily featured on KOMA Radio in Oklahoma City, and KAAY in Little Rock Arkansas , so when they showed up in town, it was always a major music event.
Because of being a Mid Continent band, they played virtually every ballroom in Iowa including: the Roof Garden-Arnolds Park, Cobblestone-Storm Lake, Surf-Clear Lake, Val Air-Des Moines, Inwood-Spillville, Matter’s-Decorah, Electric Park Ballroom-Waterloo, Avalon Ballroom-Remsen, Danceland Ballroom-Cedar Rapids, Starline-Carroll, The Library Ballroom-Iowa City, Dancemor Ballroom-Swisher, Star Ballroom-Dakota City, Lake Robbins Ballroom-Woodward, Lakewood Ballroom-Lake View and the Pla Mor Ballroom in downtown Fort Dodge on three separate occasions.
In 1972 the group would disband with Downing and Martin relocating to California and becoming members of national soul group, the Undisputed Truth and their big hit record, “Smiling Faces”.
The Sensational Rising Suns of Coffeyville are honored to be inducted into the Iowa Rock & Roll Music Association Hall Of Fame. They were inducted into the Kansas Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. What an exciting Induction Spectacular show it will be, when all the horns and original players along with Izzy Martin are on the Roof Garden stage for the Hall of Fame concert. “Big” Walter Downing passed away in 2004 due to complications from diabetes but will certainly be there in spirit!