2007 - Band
In 1964 Kurt Keller was approached by two guys at high school, Russ Morgan and Wally Ackerson, to see if he was interested in putting a band together. He has just left the Road Runners so recruited his friend Rick Wynant and the four became The Princemen.
Keller was on lead guitar/vocals; Morgan rhythm guitar/vocals, Ackerson bass guitar/vocals, Wynant drums/vocals. The group was named by another high school friend, Merle Jensen, who used to brag that he "named the band and played a mean radio."
Band members began gathering more gear and rotated their rehearsals between their parents’ homes. They played after-game parties, mixers, proms and were regulars at Des Moines teen clubs: The Clique, The Place and The Inferno. The Princemen also won the Teen Town Battle of the Bands at the Iowa State Fair and the Fort Des Moines Skateland Battle of the Bands. They appeared on WHO-TV’s Discotheque Show several times, KRNT-TV’s Talent Show with Bill Riley and played many events with Don Warren (WHO-TV) and Bill Riley (KRNT-TV). The music was good; life was good.
In 1966 Morgan was drafted and Ackerson decided to pursue other avenues. A week later Wynant and Keller were at the Val Air Ballroom when two guys came up to introduce themselves. Gary and Larry Pitts and a friend, John Kelley on keys, would like to form a band with them. A jam was set up for the next day and they were back in business.
Jack and Jane Pitts came on board as promotion/business managers. Gary Pitts designed and built a "killer" light system. The Princemen performed all over Iowa and shared stages with The Blues Magoos and The Outsiders.
Traveling to IGL Studios in Milford in 1967, the band cut two sides of a 45. The record enjoyed local success and the band was now "IGL Recording Artists." Keller says, "That session at IGL, with the quality of the facility, the caring and highly qualified staff, and their desire for us to have the best sounding tracks we could muster was, and still is, a most treasured and enjoyable memory." The band is honored to have "Love is a Beautiful Thing" #19 included on the current "IGL Rock Story – Part 2" CD.
When 1968 came, Rick Wynant left for school and Dave Merrill came on board so the band rocked on. Then Gary Pitts left for the service, Ken Kallenback from Mexico, MO came on board and still the band rocked on. However Larry Pitts and Kurt Keller were called to military service and, sadly, The Princemen disbanded.
Keller remained in the music field in Des Moines. His latest project is playing oldies rock and roll with the band "A.M. Radio." Morgan is a residential designer and plays with the current Princemen in central Iowa. Ackerson lives in Las Vegas, involved in casino operations. Wynant is a faculty member of the Drake University Comm. School of Music. Gary Pitts manages his real estate holdings in Des Moines. Kelley became a banjo playing Orthopedic Surgeon in Norcross, GA. Larry Pitts passed away in 1996.
Chances are if you were young, lived in Iowa in the mid’60’s, can remember the Val Air, The Clique, The Place, or if you attended a high school prom or post game party, you danced to the music of The Princemen. Rock On!!