Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lost & Found Sound: KISD Tribute to Steve Ellis

On August 31, 1967 Steve Ellis, leader of Steve Ellis and the Starfires, was killed in a motorcycle accident on Highway 23 just south of Pipestone, Minnesota. His death came as a shock to everyone in the local music community. How could someone so vital, so alive, die?

Two weeks following Steve's death, Tom Rambler from KISD radio assembled the three remaining members of the Starfires -- Barry Hansen, Mike Mulligan, and Dean Senthner -- for an interview to remember Steve. The interview was made into a half-hour radio program that also featured the band's music.

The program aired on KISD in late September 1967. I recorded it off-the-air on my Wollensak reel-to-reel tape deck. You can hear the program, plus how KISD sounded back then, at:

Lost & Found Sound: KISD Tribute to Steve Ellis (click this link and press "play")

Portions of Tom Rambler's interview were later included on the IGL release "Steve Ellis and the Starfires Songbook."

This is perhaps the last known photograph of Steve Ellis and the Starfires performing in June 1967. The location is unknown.

Band members left-to-right are Mike Mulligan (bass), Dean Senthner (drums), Steve Ellis and Barry Hansen.

In 1966, Steve Ellis and the Starfires released "Walking Around." The song, which is included in the KISD radio program, made the Billboard chart and received considerable radio airplay.


  1. Ken, Thank you for your kind words about the X-Men. We had a great time putting the set together and it was really quite a kick to do our originals again. Your comments mean a lot to me, particularly given your "ear". What you said about mike Connor couldn't be more on the mark. Mike was the center of the X-Men's universe and continues to be the center of a the music universe in Sioux Falls. Having played with Mike all these years, I know him to be the most generous of musicians, in spite of his amazing talents. He truly is the musician's musician.

  2. I was 14 years old when I saw Steve Ellis and the Starfires at the Trent gym in Trent S.D. playing for a dance sponsered by the Trent American Legion. I remember Barry Hansen singing a Beatles song "Anna". Steve Ellis sang a bunch of covers. My favorite was "Since I fell for you". After that, I was a fan.