The Dark Nights
2003 - Band
Members: Bill Rauhauser, Luke Kjolhede, Dan Dorr, Dave Coombs, Larry Koch, Jerry Young and Dick Lamb
In the mid 1960’s, the music of the Dark Knights could be heard all around the upper Midwest, including the states of Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota.
The band performed many “gigs” including some with the Rumbles and the Flippers. They signed with Dino Enterprises of Indianapolis, Ind. and opened for The Association, the Hollies with Graham Nash, and the Yardbirds with Jeff Beck as well as others. While opening for the Hollies, Bill traded 12 string guitars with Tony Hicks, the Hollies’ lead guitarist.
The Dark Knights recorded two original songs at IGL Studios in Milford, “Dark Knight” and “Send Her To Me,” which hit the Top 20 in Iowa. The band’s combination of fun and hard work paid off in 1966 when the National Ballroom Operators Association voted them the #1 “up and coming band.” After performing in the Battle of the Bands at the Roof Garden, Darlowe Oleson requested that the Dark Knights open for The Hollies at Danceland in Cedar Rapids.
The band’s members grew up in Iowa. Luke Kjolhede, Dan Dorr, and Dave Coombs all attended high school in Alta where they earned All-State Chorus honors and created the Dark Knights along with Larry Koch from near by Storm Lake. Upon graduating, Luke, Dan and Dave attended The University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, and met Bill Rauhauser from Emmetsburg, also an All State Chorus member, and Jerry Young, an All State drummer from Waterloo, and the group began playing at UNI.
After about a year Dick Lamb replaced Jerry Young, who left the group, enlisted in the service and performed with the SAC Air Force Band. With that came the reuniting with Larry Koch, by then a student at Iowa Central in Webster City.
The Dark Knights were a high-energy band known for a variety of music, choreography and tight harmony. Luke, the musical leader and piano major in college, originally played lead guitar and switched to keyboard in college. Today you will hear him playing keyboards or a mean lead guitar. He is also comfortable as a lead singer or covering the high harmonies. Dave’s baritone voice added an “English” sound to the music while playing a steady rhythm guitar. Dan’s bass voice, as well as bass guitar skills covered many of the popular songs of the time. Larry Koch, an energetic and entertaining drummer added a colorful, creative style and Bill’s lead guitar and harmony completed the band’s unique sound.
With each of the band members having lead voices as well as the ability to sing harmonies and back up, the Dark Knights had the ability to sing a wide variety of music. During a performance in Holland, Michigan, while playing for a more mature crowd, the guys put down their guitars and sang “Coney Island Baby” barbershop-style, which they remembered from their high school quartet days.
Graduation came and the band went their separate ways. Two of the members went on to form Milk and Honey, others moved away from Northeast Iowa. Over the years the band members scattered to California, Arizona, Texas, Montana, and Des Moines Iowa.
Most of the band members have continued to play in various bands over the years. Not seeing each other for more than 30 years, the Dark Knights reunited in 1999 and played two concerts, one was for the “Save The Park” Celebration at the Inn of Okoboji. They enjoyed the reunion so much that they got together again in 2002 and played two more concerts. When they are together, it’s as if no time has passed; the jokes, the music and most importantly, the friendships are still there.