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
Hall of Fame Nomination
Hall of Fame Nomination
MADD Band History
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.
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 . Popular music was on the Hit Parade and musicals dominated the Broadway scene in NYC. Philadelphia
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.
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
and the Golden Age of rock and roll. America
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.
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
Coliseum. By age 10 and 11 he had performed several shows with the popular Rhythm Playboys. Ottumwa
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
area while Mick balanced his education, swimming and musical careers. Ottumwa
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
. This was followed by the Upstairs Playground, an innovative rock ensemble. Racine, Wisconsin
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 students. Mick later played in a group called Stray Cat. University of Iowa
Then it was on to
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. San Francisco, California
He then moved to
and joined a country/rock band called Captain Country. This band recorded an album and made music videos and was popular in the Eugene, Oregon 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 bands The Source and later Sapphire. Florida
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, 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
area where MADD had achieved great success at the Iowa State Fair and on WHO TV. After moving to Des Moines Midwest City, Oklahoma he learned from 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. Des Moines
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
. 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. Ottumwa
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 , where he played in Wheatstraw with Dartanyan Brown. Iowa
He then moved to Northern Florida where he joined a succession of bands playing the
Florida to circuit. These included Then 2 Now, The Prentis Bernstein Group, Bumper and Heart and Soul Limited. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Brian David became a regular session player for numerous groups in Nashville,TN as both a drummer and singer. In
he also taught drums. Florida
Recently he has moved to
and he continues to perform between Canada and Florida. Toronto, Canada
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
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 Ottumwa . 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
dances and at the YMCA Corral dances. Washington Junior High School
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 where he continued to be part of various bands. While in Tampa, Florida 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 , and at the Hard Rock Cafe during national tours. Nashville
Michael has a recording studio in his home and continues to play with various musicians in the
Casey Foutz from
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. Bloomfield, Iowa
He became a founding member of Crabby Appleton in
, 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. Los Angeles
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
Country Club Ottumwa
The Teen Corner,
Candy Kane Lounge,
Craze Street Festival, Ottumwa
Ottumwa Auditorium Featured act
Keokuk Teen Club,
WHO TV Teen Show,
- Des Moines
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
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
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
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 Omaha 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:
Appleton, Los Angeles
Then 2 Now,
The Prentis Bernstein Group,
Heart & Soul Limited,
Pacific Gas & Electric,
Rochester, NY to Florida Keys
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
and the Hard Rock Cafe. Nashville
Casey Foutz passed away in the 1980's and Barry Monohon in 2016 but three surviving founders of MADD are alive and well, Sexton, Bernstein and Schomers, and continue to be involved in bands, music, singing, recording sessions and even teaching music to this day. The band members can be found in
New York and Florida.
Perhaps the best indication of the exceptional nature of this band of lads from
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. Iowa
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 , "Go Back" etc. Appleton
MADD evolved into THE UPSTAIRS PLAYGROUND and got very, very psychedelic,
acid drenched. Guitarist Mike Sexton was beyond fabulous as a guitarist and 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 California , a rocket scientist, born again, or dead. I have no idea. Montana
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
I saw Casey back in
about 1983 when my band Ready Steady Go was playing a club there. He had been playing with Pacific Gas and 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. Ottumwa
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
garage band. " Iowa
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 musical heritage throughout the nation. Iowa
Here is how you can reach the band today.
Memories of MADD - Their signature song