Friday, December 04, 2015

MADD - Iowa's Greatest Garage Band of the 1960's

Iowa's Greatest Garage Band of the 1960's

The Band history
Mick Sexton - Barry Monohon

Brian David Bernstein

Michael Schomers - Casey Foutz

Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association


Hall of Fame Nomination
submitted by

Jim Putnam



Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association

Hall of Fame Nomination
MADD Band History
Ottumwa, Iowa was a small town with a huge craving for good music thus it was a place where Swing Bands and the Grand Ole' Opry toured constantly when in Iowa.  It was in the shadow of this rich musical legacy that a group of young lads growing up in the 1950's and 1960's fired their interest in music, and became caught up in the early evolution of the rock and roll movement in America.
What a time to be involved as they were in the first generation of Baby Boomers and were exposed to the most turbulent times in terms of world and national events while the music industry was going through the greatest changes since the radio revolutionized the music scene.
Television brought America into the far reaches of the nation's deep music legacy from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville to Dick Clark's American Bandstand in Philadelphia.  Popular music was on the Hit Parade and musicals dominated the Broadway scene in NYC.
There was a proliferation of genre friendly radio stations across the land and with the advent of rock and roll and the soaring popularity of country music suddenly tours with a cavalcade of stars were making their way throughout the land.

A young kid in the 1950's was torn between the country sounds of Hank Williams, the rock and roll of Bill Haley and the Comets, Elvis and Buddy Holly, the soul of Louis Armstrong, the blues by the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed, the doo wop of the Platters, Coasters and Del Vikings, the pop songs of Teresa Brewer, Rosemary Clooney, Perry Como and Doris Day and the folk songs of Peter, Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio and others to mention a few.

With the commercial success of Fender and then Gibson electric guitars in the early 1950's the revolution in music styles was matched by the revolution in instruments with technical innovations often driving the emerging rock and roll era.

Ottumwa was one of the first tour sites for the Grand Ole Opry road shows and was in the middle of the cultural revolution taking place in music.  Changes intensified in the 1960's with the Beach Boys, the California sound of the Byrds, the Beatles invasion, Dylan's electric folk and the psychedelic revolution.

This was the culture of music when each of the lads of MADD began their odyssey in the music scene.  They were the first generation bombarded by all forms and styles of music from radio, television, movies and Broadway shows.  It was the Golden Age of America and the Golden Age of rock and roll.

Before the age of computers, cell phones and multi-track digital recording, when electric guitars were still new and rock and roll was just beginning to discover a niche as a new music genre, a group of young lads in Ottumwa set out on the path that would bring them together in their high school years and launch them into a lifetime love of music.

MADD was a journey from honky tonks to country clubs, street dances to college campuses, and television to the State Fair.  Members grew from junior high marching bands to American Bandstand appearances, from teen clubs to Broadway.  It was magical in a time when the magic of rock and roll ruled.  Here is their story.

MADD Members

Mick Sexton

Mick Sexton was a singer and lead guitarist for MADD and the acknowledged leader of the band though he refuses credit and insists all four, Mick Sexton, Barry Monohon, Michael Schomers and Brian David Bernstein should collectively share credit as leaders and founders.  Still, a look at his background and it was clear why he was the driving force in pushing their amazing creative musical achievements.

By age 4 Mick was playing Hank Williams tunes on his Grandmother's piano.  His interest in music caused his mother to rent an accordion from a door to door salesman.  After a handful of lessons, at age 4½ Mick was playing The Blue Danube Waltz live on an Oskaloosa radio station.

His father bought him a Stella acoustic guitar for his 5th birthday and 6 years of lessons led to winning a number of talent contests at county fairs.  Performing for his parent's friends became a family ritual.  When performing on the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in the late 1950's he shared the stage with Raymond Burr (Perry Mason), James Arness (Matt Dillon) and Schuyler "Sky King" (Kirby Grant) at the Ottumwa Coliseum.  By age 10 and 11 he had performed several shows with the popular Rhythm Playboys.

All the while Mick was exceptional in school and YMCA AAU athletics in swimming and diving competition including winning Gold Medals in two State AAU championships and two Regional AAU championships.

He joined his first rock band, The Perfidians, when in 8th grade.  They played the Horseshoe Club and road houses in the Ottumwa area while Mick balanced his education, swimming and musical careers.

After a brief stint with Tommy Williamson's X Rays band he was playing at the Teen Corner Candy Kane Lounge with Barry Monohon, Eddie Hood and Bill Ingles.  When Eddie and Bill departed, Mick, Barry, Michael Schomers and Brian David Bernstein decided to form MADD.

After his MADD experience Mick played in a group called London Fog with Casey Foutz, the 5th member of MADD, that recorded a song in Racine, Wisconsin.  This was followed by the Upstairs Playground, an innovative rock ensemble.

He moved the Upstairs Playground to Iowa City where they performed at the popular college bar Little Bill's, one of the hot spots for University of Iowa students.  Mick later played in a group called Stray Cat.

Then it was on to San Francisco, California where he joined a band called Innersection that opened for the well known band the Whispers.  Mick's band was an all Black Soul and R&B band until he joined.

He then moved to Eugene, Oregon and joined a country/rock band called Captain Country.  This band recorded an album and made music videos and was popular in the Pacific Northwest music scene playing venues from I-5 truck stops to The Dexter Lake Club, a popular venue used for the movie Animal House featuring the band Otis Day and the Knights led by now famous Robert Cray.

It was back to the Top 40 when Mick joined his wife in the band Elixir and they moved to Rochester, NY and joined a circuit playing clubs from Rochester to the Florida Keys, then forming Florida bands The Source and later Sapphire.

Today he retains his passion for music in an avant garde group playing a range of music from the Beatles to Paul Simon to traditional Irish (Celtic) to classical including Mozart, Bach and Beethoven forever seeking to challenge his creativity and push his in depth knowledge and expertise in music.

Barry Monohon

Barry Monohon, bass guitar, was adopted by his maternal grandparents who exposed him to music his entire life.  From his earliest memories of an accordion player performing Mocking Bird Hill for him at his Aunt's house at age 4, to discovering a stash of 78 big band records at age 5 by Glenn Miller, Harry James, Benny Goodman and Sophie Tucker, music was his passion.

The first live concert he attended was Conway Twitty and Brenda Lee in the Grand Ole' Opry Show that regularly came to Ottumwa and one night his step father, Leo Monohon brought the popular Rhythm Playboys over to the house for rehearsal, giving young Barry a chance to sit in with the band.

He progressed from a tonnette to clarinet, to ukulele before joining his junior high band.  Left handed, he got his first electric guitar in junior high and soon took up bass guitar.

Like Mick, Barry also played in local bands before joining the X Rays band with Tommy Williamson where they were the house band at the Candy Kane lounge.  When two members decided to leave Mick, Barry and Brian David Bernstein decided to form MADD with Michael Schomers.

To those who knew him Barry was a fun loving and mischievous character who would rebuild right handed guitars in order to play left handed, and loved a good practical joke.  Like the time he shouted into the microphone during a sold out concert to the teen girls who threw panties on stage to throw money not clothes, and they promptly bombarded Michael Schomers and the others with quarters.

An accomplished graphic design, oil and pastel artist Barry balanced his interest between MADD and his passion for art moving for a time to Berkeley, California where he was caught up in the Abstract Expressionist movement but returned to Iowa.

He later played in three bands in the Des Moines area where MADD had achieved great success at the Iowa State Fair and on WHO TV.  After moving to Midwest City, Oklahoma he learned from Des Moines musician and friend George Clinton that the recording contract that was supposed to go to MADD for winning the Omaha Midwest Battle of the Bands was given to the 1910 Fruitgum Company band.

Barry now has an art studio in Lincoln, Nebraska and has exhibited both nationally and in Europe and his works are included in many prominent private and corporate art collections.

Brian David Bernstein

Brian David Bernstein, drummer and vocals, came from a family who owned Bernstein's Music Store in Ottumwa.  Under the watchful eye of his father he went from a shy snare drummer in the junior high school band to evolve into one of the best rock drummers in the state.

Just 12 years old when MADD was formed Brian David stunned his peers like Mick Sexton, Barry Monohon and Michael Schomers with his raw talent and boundless energy on the drums, along with his exceptional singing talent, that allowed him to contribute to the three-part plus harmonies that set MADD apart from most bands.

Unlike the other band members, Brian David's first real band was MADD but his on stage presence and flamboyant style made him an instant hit with the fans and gave the impression he was born to beat the skins.

After his years with MADD he played in Iowa City with Mick in the Upstairs Playground and later moved to Des Moines, the heart of jazz, soul and alternative music in Iowa, where he played in Wheatstraw with Dartanyan Brown.

He then moved to Northern Florida where he joined a succession of bands playing the Florida to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina circuit.  These included Then 2 Now, The Prentis Bernstein Group, Bumper and Heart & Soul Limited.

Brian David became a regular session player for numerous groups in Nashville, Tennessee as both a drummer and singer.   In Florida he also taught drums. 

Recently he has moved to Toronto, Canada and he continues to perform between Canada and Florida.
Michael Schomers
Michael Schomers, rhythm guitar and vocals, was in a youth group at church that had a guitar but needed a guitar player for sing alongs, so Michael jumped in.  When the Beatles came along he was hooked.
His first band in Ottumwa was the Blew Brothers, with Tony and Tommy Blew.  Their father Don Blew was their mentor.  Don's true passion was his music and he was known as a musician's musician having played guitar in many bands throughout his career including the Ponderosa Playboys which was an area backup band for Nashville stars and the Don Blew Trio and Don Blew Quartet with his two sons.  Don also had taught jazz guitar at Parsons College.
With such a great mentor it was a fast track to success.  With the addition of Tom Williamson to their group they became the Aztecs, later the Sidewinders and eventually the X Rays.  They played Washington Junior High School dances and at the YMCA Corral dances.
Mick, Barry and Michael all were linked by playing with Tommy Williamson at different times although Michael and Mick had attended the same YMCA camp earlier.  When MADD was formed Barry switched instruments to bass guitar and Michael, who had become an accomplished bass player, switched to rhythm guitar and singer.
Michael's father was instrumental in helping the boys acquire the Cadillac hearse which was a symbol of the uniqueness of the band and helped with bookings and managing the gate at concerts.
After MADD Michael played in Iowa City in the band Source and eventually moved to Tampa, Florida where he continued to be part of various bands.  While in Florida he played in a highly acclaimed Broadway musical, The Rock and the Rabbi, performing on Broadway in NYC, at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and at the Hard Rock Cafe during national tours.
Michael has a recording studio in his home and continues to play with various musicians in the Florida area.
Casey Foutz
Casey Foutz from Bloomfield, Iowa  joined MADD late in the first year as keyboard player and was a fan favorite as a performer and singer.  After MADD he played with Mick in London Fog and the Upstairs Playground.
He became a founding member of Crabby Appleton in Los Angeles, with several Billboard 100 hits.  While with the band they opened for national stars like the Doors, Sly and the Family Stone, Three Dog Night, Guess Who and ABBA.  They also appeared on Dick Clark's American Bandstand and other national shows.  Casey then joined Pacific Gas & Electric of Los Angeles.  Heart problems shortened his career and Casey died in the mid 1980's of heart failure.
The MADD Years - 1965-1970

All MADD members were pushed by their parents and families to pursue the dream of all teens, to be rock and roll stars, but they were among the few who captured the sound of popular artists so well that they often sounded far better in concert than the original performers.

Many can dream but few can come so close to realizing it as the lads of MADD when they formed their unique band in 1965.  The name was influenced by a song by the Animals called Mad at You.

Before MADD and at very young ages the members played in a variety of local bands including the X Rays, Blew Brothers, Aztecs, Sidewinders, Perfidians and others as they developed their skills as musicians and singers.

When most aspiring rock and rollers were getting their first Fender guitar the members of MADD were already mastering the legendary Rickenbacker 12 string guitar, Hoffner left-handed bass guitar and Ludwig drums.

As noted, in 1964  Mick Sexton (lead guitar/singer) had a band with Eddie Hood (bass/singer), Bill Ingles (drums) and Barry Monohon (rhythm guitar).  Eddie left the band and Barry Monohon took over as bass player.

In 1965 when Bill Ingles left to join the military, Mick (lead guitar), Barry (let handed bass) and Michael Schomers (rhythm guitar) agreed to form MADD with Brian David Bernstein as drummer thus the core group was in place.

Barry was recruited at an audition in Bernstein's house and Barry played a left handed Hoffner Bass like Paul McCartney of the Beatles.  Schomers first practiced with the group at his house.  When the band was first formed Schomers and Bernstein were just 14 and 13 years old respectively, incredibly young for the sophisticated songs and harmonies perfected by the band.

Michael's father helped them buy a 1952 Cadillac hearse as their touring car and in 1965 the band was officially launched.  As they toured Southeast Iowa and their popularity increased keyboardist Casey Foutz joined the band.

Among the first songs played by MADD was My Generation by the Who and Day Tripper by the Beatles and by 1966 they were known for their complex songs like Red Rubber Ball by Cyrkle, a short lived band who opened for the Beatles on their American tours.

Sexton, who was known for his haunting rendition of Mr. Tambourine Man by the Byrds which he played on a Rickenbacker 12 string set the lads on a course of magical three-part plus one harmonies that made MADD the premier Iowa "Garage" Band of the 1960's and one of the best in the nation.

Of course during that time most national recording artists were covering songs written by others so being a Garage Band and covering songs was typically the ticket to success, provided you had the talent and opportunity to excel.

Not only did MADD have incredible talent but they had help from Iowans and others of all ages who heard and then believed in these talented lads.  MADD never had a manager, booking agent, road manager, publicist, promoter or anyone working for them.  People just wanted them to succeed.

From 1965 until 1970 MADD toured the Iowa/Missouri/Illinois area growing their following from small town gigs to college campuses to being featured on television station WHO in Des Moines, playing the Iowa State Fair, and dominating one of the nation's largest Battle of the Band competitions in Omaha, Nebraska.

Some MADD Venues

Clothing Show at Ottumwa Country Club
The Teen Corner, Ottumwa
Candy Kane Lounge, Ottumwa
Dance Craze Street Festival, Ottumwa
Ottumwa Auditorium Featured act
Keokuk Teen Club, Keokuk, Iowa
Kahoka, Missouri College Dance
Northeast Missouri State University, Kirksville, Missouri
University of Iowa, Iowa City
Parsons College, Fairfield, Iowa
WHO TV Teen Show, Des Moines -
Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, Iowa
Starr Stations Midwest Battle of the Bands, Omaha, Nebraska

Among the many unique aspects of MADD was the fact they shared a 1952 Cadillac hearse as their touring car and they all lived together most of the time they played together in order to be able to spend countless hours rehearsing new tunes and mastering new techniques.  Every performance seemed to be enhanced from the previous one.
They also were very much involved in the Iowa community of musicians and were constantly sitting in with other bands or sharing techniques and ideas with groups from Keokuk to Iowa City to Des Moines.
As a group they set a pattern of showmanship and exceptional skill as singers, musicians and performers covering the most difficult songs of the generation often achieving a sound superior to the bands they were covering.
The pinnacle of their success was achieved in 1969 at the Midwest Battle of the Bands in Omaha, Nebraska where over 30 bands had been invited and hit bands the Buckinghams from Chicago and Young Rascals, later the Rascals, from New Jersey were performing.
The Starr Radio network, one of the largest rock and roll radio networks in America with stations from coast to coast was sponsor through their KOIL station in Omaha.  Before the competition was completed MADD left all other competitors buried when the thousands of fans blew away the sound meters used to measure audience response.

As the clear victor MADD was featured as the opening act for the Omaha auditorium concert by the Buckinghams and Young Rascals.  The sponsors were stunned when the crowd demanded encores by MADD before the featured acts and the Midwest audience clearly favored the incredible energy and professionalism of MADD over even the nationally famous recording artists.
When MADD completed their opening performance and played several encores in response to the demands of the crowd, Dennis Tufano, a founder and lead singer for the Buckinghams came and up and told MADD, "You guys are far out!"  It was the first time the Iowa boys had received a compliment like that.
MADD finally disbanded when some pursued a college education but all of the members went on to play in numerous bands throughout the country including jazz, soul, country rock and avant garde groups.
Bands after MADD:

London Fog, Iowa City
Upstairs Playground, Iowa City
Stray Cat, Iowa City
Wheatstraw, Des Moines
Shabazz, Des Moines
Crabby Appleton, Los Angeles
Woodrose, Des Moines
Goo, Des Moines
Source, Iowa City
Sound Minds, Iowa City
Then 2 Now, Florida
The Prentis Bernstein Group, Florida
Northern Harbour, Florida
Bumper, Florida
Heart & Soul Limited, Florida
Charlie Reis, Tampa, Florida
Pacific Gas & Electric, Los Angeles
Innersection, San Francisco
Capitan Country, Eugene, Oregon
Skyline, Eugene, Oregon
Elixir, Rochester, NY to Florida Keys
The Source, Orlando, Florida
Sapphire, Orlando, Florida
During the MADD era the band performed with The Rascals and Buckinghams, and after MADD the members were in bands that opened for rock stars including the Doors, Sly and the Family Stone, Three Dog Night, Guess Who, ABBA, the Whispers and George Carlin.  They also appeared on American Bandstand, on Broadway in NYC, at the Grand Ole' Opry in Nashville and the Hard Rock Cafe.
While Casey Foutz passed away in the 1980's all four core members of MADD are alive and well and three, Sexton, Bernstein and Schomers continue to be involved in bands, music, singing, recording sessions and even teaching music to this day.  The band members can be found in Toronto, New York, Florida and Nebraska where Barry Monohon is an accomplished artist in impressionistic pastel landscapes and mixed media.
Perhaps the best indication of the exceptional nature of this band of lads from Iowa are the words of their peers from the time period.  When the words come from musicians and recording artists from other parts of the state they have even more significance.  Recently Craig Moore who played in bands the Pagans and GONN from Iowa made these comments about the influence of MADD on bands throughout the state and region.

Reply by CRAIG MOORE on May 29, 2012 at 2:43pm

"MADD didn't make a record, to the best of my knowledge they never wrote a song, but they were the ultimate garage cover band. SO good, they knocked us out totally. We were still beginner's in the Pagans. I don't think we had met Rex & Brent yet when we first saw MADD, and I had only been playing bass for a couple of months. Barry the bass player looked like McCartney & played a Gibson EB-1 violin shaped bass left handed. He was amazing as were all of them. I asked him how long it was going to take me to get a handle on bass and he told me "oh about 6 months and you'll start to get it, start to 'hear' things."

We were practicing & learning songs and listening to records 24/7 of course, and I literally watched the calendar and at that 6 month mark 'viola!' I started hearing octaves and such on the records, started to decipher the 1 from a harmonic note, etc. Still had a LONG way to go but that remark was magic.

MADD did "Rain" letter perfect when it was NEW, at a time when most bands could only listen in awe to the record. The organist was Casey Foutz who eventually left Ottumwa with Phil Jones (Enoch Smoky) and were founding members in LA of Crabby Appleton, "Go Back" etc.

MADD evolved into THE UPSTAIRS PLAYGROUND and got very, very psychedelic, California acid drenched.  Guitarist Mike Sexton was beyond fabulous as a guitarist & vocalist, last time I saw him was 1968 or 1969 and he looked exactly like a taller version of Dickie Peterson (Blue Cheer). He's either a highly paid session musician with a huge ranch in Montana, a rocket scientist, born again, or dead. I have no idea.

David Bernstein the drummer was one of the greatest unknown shit kickers you could imagine.  I heard some vague rumblings about him in the early 70's but never knew where he ended up. I hope he's fine and I hope he never lost his love of music, he was great.

But MADD's bass player had a huge impact on me personally, and the band was idolized thoroughly by The Pagans and GONN, and in fact they inspired both the spelling of our name AND the fact that we adamantly enforced the "no 'THE'" rule, as did MADD. The fact that we had our own hearse was as close as we could get to being as cool as MADD, in our minds. Until we made a record, anyway. I saw this hearse ad about 6 months or so ago and sent it out to Phil Jones just as a reminder of the good old days back here in the Midwest.

I saw Casey back in Ottumwa about 1983 when my band Ready Steady Go was playing a club there. He had been playing with Pacific Gas & Electric in LA and had a heart attack, moved back to the home town to recuperate and get his head together. It was great to see him, he always reminded me of Gene Clark, but he seemed pretty down and not very happy.

I was pleased that he remembered me and the band and all the times we hung out with them. Not too long after that I heard he had another heart attack and died. Very sad. So all you fans of records by GONN, you need to say a 'hail Mary' for Casey and never forget there was a band called MADD that maybe didn't make a record but their impact is with you still, every time you hear GONN or hear another story of the Iowa scene 1965-1968.

They were the ultimate Iowa garage band. "


MADD is everything a true local band should represent in order to be enshrined in the Iowa Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.  They earned the respect of their peers.  Once on stage they demonstrated exceptional talent as musicians and singers.  They played the most difficult instruments and sang the most complex three-part plus one harmonies at a level far beyond their young years.

As individuals they never hesitated to help people seeking advice on playing or singing techniques.  While they electrified audiences they never lost their humility.  They loved the challenge of mastering complex songs and were never satisfied until their song was as good if not better than the original.

They grew up during the birth of rock and roll and MADD performed through the psychedelic era excelling in the astonishing diverse evolution of music and rock and roll.

Throughout their careers they have been great innovators and ambassadors for the State of Iowa and the rich Iowa musical heritage throughout the nation.

Jim Putnam

Here is how you can reach the band today.

Memories of MADD - Their signature song

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