The Rockin' Flames

2003 - Band

Members: James Moore, Sidney Moore, Roy Cadwell, Dean Cheney, Fred Walk, Vern Sandersfeld, and Ronald Coghlan


James Moore and the Rock ‘N Flames were one of the first rock and roll bands formed in eastern Iowa. Found by brothers James and Sidney Moore in 1957, the original members were James on lead guitar, Sidney on bass guitar, Roy Cadwell on drums, and Ron Coghlan on rhythm guitar. All four were from What Cheer.

Their first booking was at the graduation dance of the sister of the Moore brothers at Thornburg High School. Shortly after that they appeared on a teen hop show at KTVO-TV in Ottumwa. From that point on their popularity skyrocketed.

The band moved to Marengo in late 1957 and in early 1958 were joined by saxophone player Dean Cheney of North English. In mid 1958, piano player Vern Sandersfeld from Williamsburg joined the band. Then Fred Walk joined the band as bass player.

They traveled all over Iowa in a 1955 Pontiac with a trailer full of equipment. They were one of the first groups in the area to combine choreographed moves with their own arrangements and original works as well as all the top tunes of the day making them THE show band to be watched.

They had the honor to open for stars such as Sue Thompson, Bobby Rydell, Bobby Vee, Bobby Bare, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Conway Twitty, and many others.

Venues played include the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Danceland and Armar Ballrooms in Cedar Rapids, Val Air Ballroom in West Des Moines, Roof Garden at Arnolds Park, Electric Park in Waterloo, Hawk Ballroom in Iowa City, Checkerboard Ballroom in Prairie Du Chien, Wis, Gayla Ballroom in Independence, and Dance Mor Ballroom in Swisher. They also played several school dances in Chicago, Ill., and Harold’s Club in Peoria Ill., Parsons College in Fairfield, and Ottumwa Heights College in Ottumwa.

James Moore and son Cass have a band now called the “Sundown III” and play in southeast Iowa. James and family live in rural What Cheer.

In 1961, Sid was drafted into the army. While in the army, he learned to play the piano and after his discharge from the service he played piano in the band. He didn’t pursue his music career any further and now spends all his time farming. Sid and family now reside in rural North English.

Ron Coghlan started playing bass guitar and put his own group together in 1958-1959. Ron was a top-notch bass player and singer and has since passed away.

Roy Cadwell worked with PBS in Madison Wis. and taught radio and TV news broadcasting at The University of Wisconsin in Madison. He’s now retired.

Dean Cheney continues to play and sing frequently setting in with various local Cedar Rapids groups. Dean and wife reside in Cedar Rapids.

Vern Sandersfeld worked for many years at the University of Iowa Hospitals and on his lunch break would play piano in the lobby to entertain visitors and staff. He also played at the Holiday Inn at Amana and played banjo at Shakey’s in Cedar Rapids. Although never having any formal music lessons, he was considered an accomplished musician. Vern has since passed away.

Fred Walk went on to play with several groups including Danny and the Juniors, and Linn County band that had a major recording contract with Mercury Records. Fred and family now reside in Richfield, MN.

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