The Rockers

2003 - Band

Members: Jim Shea, Rick Van Haitsma, Reuben Hanson, Mike Erskine, Roger Rothwell, Mike Cripe, and Gary Murkins


In the autumn of 1960 Jim Shea, Rick Van Haitsma, Reuben Hanson and Mike Erskine formed a rock and roll band. These four junior high friends from Sioux City called themselves the Rockets and played their first job at the roller skating rink in Onawa.

The young band was soon left without a drummer when Hanson left the group. He was replaced by an accomplished young drummer named Gary Murkins. He fit in well and the Rockets were soon performing throughout the Midwest; booking through C&M Enterprises.

Eventually Rick Van Haitsma left the group and two new members, Roger Rothwell and Mike Cripe, came on board. This coincided time-wise with the band’s gaining recognition and wider exposure through their appearances with some of the high-powered recording artists of the day. Among these were the Everly Brothers, Buddy Knox, Wanda Jackson, Bobby Vinton, Dick & DeeDee.

In the summer of 1965 the group changed its name to The Rockers and shortly after cut their first record at the Iowa Great Lakes Recording Company studios in Milford. They did a cover of Del Shannon’s hit “Runaway” and an original song written by Roger Rothwell entitled “There’s a Pain.”

The Rockers continued to perform into the late 1960s as one of the most popular of Midwestern bands for schools, ballrooms and nightclubs. The subsequent deaths of Gary Murkins and Mike Cripe have saddened those who remember the Rockers from the 60s with fondness.

Murkins and Cripe will be inducted posthumously along with Erskine, Rothwell, Shea, and Van Haitsma.

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