Don Romeo spent time during the Korean conflict, around 1952, entertaining the troops by singing and playing his guitar. When he returned to his native Omaha, he promoted pageants and festivals and evolved into one of the pioneer promoters in the country.
His connections with South Dakota were many. Sheldon Songstad of the Sioux Empire Fair used the Don Romeo Agency to find grandstand entertainment. The Mitchell Corn Palace, the South Dakota State Fair in Huron, the Brown County Fair in Aberdeen, and the Central States Fair in Rapid City all bought entertainment through Don Romeo.
Many of the first acts he booked were country – Johnny Cash, Ronnie Milsap, Conway Twitty, and Loretta Lynn. Wayne Newton drew an overflow crowd at the State Fair. Don’s son, Bob, traveled with the Statler Brothers throughout the country when Bob was 18. He counted tickets, helped take sound equipment out of the entertainers’ buses, and even ran a Super Trouper spotlight when needed. The Don Romeo crew helped with all facets of the production, including providing staging and light shows.
Not many fairs and festivals were booking rock acts because fair boards were afraid of the kind of customers the bands would attract. So Bob and Don tried to change that. They promoted Cheap Trick as the first rock band to tour in the Midwest. The results were incredible. The fans loved the rock bands’ energy.
The stable of bands the Don Romeo agency brought to South Dakota venues is huge, including the Beach Boys, Styx, Three Dog Night, Kansas, Heart, Tommy James and the Shondells, Quiet Riot, 38 Special, ZZ Top, Alice Cooper, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Bob Romeo bought his father’s business in 1989 and renamed it the Romeo Entertainment Group, with offices in Omaha and Nashville. Bob’s son, R.J., runs the Nashville headquarters.
Bob, who served as the Academy of Country Music’s chairman of the board, has produced many television specials. He returned to full-time to the family business, a full-service award-winning talent buying agency, and is working on new and exciting endeavors to expand the company. Bob’s passion for entertainment and good works is legendary.
The South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association is proud to induct the Don Romeo Agency into its Hall of Fame. We are so glad he has returned to South Dakota to join in the induction ceremony.
Picture is of Bob Romeo (son of Don Romeo)