The Cavaliers

2001 - Band

Members: Gary Grimes, Steve Gleason, Dominic Guidichessi, Marvin Spencer, and Joe Hernandez


The Cavaliers had their humble beginnings when two Des Moines East High School students, a preacher's son and the student council president started them in 1961.

Gary Grimes on Sax and drummer Steve Gleason were equipped with one small amp, an old set of school band drums, and a vintage sax. Within three years they were joined by Dominic Guidichessi (of Dominic and the Dominos fame). Marvin Spencer, a well known soul singer from Waterloo and 15 year-old bass guitar sensation Joe Hernandez.

They soon cut a 45 RPM record that rose to #21 on the charts followed by an Album. On the road they traveled throughout the country but remained a popular soul act primarily in the upper Midwest. As one of the few fully integrated groups in Iowa in the '60s, they faced many challenges. For example; there were incidents of being chased out of town by angry locals.

Today, Grimes is a highly successful business owner in Des Moines. Gleason is a physician who served the nation in the White House and is now the Iowa Commissioner of Health. Hernandez and Guidichessi are restaurateurs.

Spencer still an avid singer, has watched his daughter, Tracy Spencer, rise to stardom with a gold and platinum album in the United States and three Platinum albums in Europe. Today she continues to be a hot soul and hip-hop sensation.

The Cavaliers feel they owe their success to friendship, persistence, and the Cavalier extended family that has included over 50 musicians since 1961.

Marvin Spencer passed away February 12, 2014, in Waterloo. IRRMA extends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Spencer and the loss to our music community. You can read about Spencer's legacy from the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier here.

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