The Bands of Gold

2002 - Band

Members: Mort Armstrong, Gary King, Bernie Berntsen, Roger Hughes, Phil Rawson, and Terry Williams


Back in the mid-1960s, Larry Brown (son of Bill Brown of Williams & Brown Publishing Company) loved show business; especially music and musicians. He was a student at the University of Iowa and became the manager for “Denny and the Dukes.”

Throughout 1964-65, Brown worked to get “The Dukes” into a recording studio. Finally by ’65 he had lined up a recording session with Columbia Records in Chicago, Ill. The Dukes recorded “Is It Really Love” and “Carol In A Thousand Cities.” Although the “major Label” never happened, the 45 came out on Sultan Records and the band was able to sell the records around the Dubuque area.

Shortly after this session, “The Bands of Gold” originated. The reason was military in nature. The founder of Denny and the Dukes (Denny Rehm) left his band to enter military service. The rest of the band (Roger Hughes, Bernie Bernsten, Gary King, Phil Rawson, Terry Williams) stayed together and changed the name. Later Williams would be drafted and Mort Armstrong (now deceased) became the drummer.

Brown also stayed as band managed and continued to strive for that “hit.” He arranged another session in Chicago in 1966. The band used newly written material by Hughes (“It’s Over” and “You Won’t Change Me”). The engineer enjoyed the sound so much he called up a producer from Mercury Records. The band was signed on the spot and a new 45 came out on Smash Records – a Mercury label.

“You Won’t Change Me” was the hit the band had been waiting for. It was played on the air from Chicago to Iowa City. It spent over 10 weeks on WDBQ’s (Dubuque) Top 20, climbing to #2 on the charts. The song also spent time on the KIOA (Des Moines) Top 20, three weeks at #3.

From there B of G did a tour of Iowa ballrooms, grand openings and other venues to promote the new record. They drew big crowds and experienced enthusiastic reactions to their original material.

The band made one more trip to Chicago for another studio session. Mercury Records was looking for a band to take nationally with good horns and “Chicago Style” sound. After lengthy negotiations the band voted to decline the opportunity. Mercury signed The Buckinghams and the rest is history.

Because of newly started families, college and new business careers, B of G returned to Eastern Iowa and continued to play throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s. Though the band dismantled, the members continued to play with various bands. Some of them are still entertaining audiences today.

Roger Hughes was inducted into the Iowa RockNRoll Hall of Fame in 2000 as a songwriter. Gary King is in the Nebraska RockNRoll Hall as a sax player.


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