Mogen’s Heroes began having fun making music on Halloween night 1978 in Chancellor. The band, founded by Waubay native John Mogen while teaching vocal music in Lennox, soon added guitarist Tom Steever. Drummer Scott Klaverkamp joined in the early ‘80s. Their tight three-part harmonies became the band’s trademark.
Television anchorman Doug Lund replaced Klaverkamp in May 1988. Wagner native Dennis Gale took over guitar duties in February 1997. Bill Hoffman, a Redfield native, became the drummer early in 2003. That’s the trio that still plays today.
With the addition of a younger Hoffman, the band’s playlist went from doing Elvis to featuring Four Seasons tunes. “Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown” made way for Beach Boys arrangements. Working with three vocalists who could hit the high notes delighted the audiences. The band has always taken pride in pleasing a wide variety of ages.
Several musicians have been regular fill-ins: drummers Mike Hurley and Dave Hofstad, guitarist Rick Burkhardt, versatile musician Richard Smith, and lead singer/comedian Jim Woster. Playing for four decades with six main musicians in a three-piece band is a feat in itself.
Mogen’s Heroes has averaged around 50 gigs a year over four decades, so the band vans have seen a lot of territory. The trio has played in more than 120 South Dakota towns and cities, along with North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas City, Missouri. Mogen’s Heroes was the final band to play at the iconic dance hall at the Blue Dog Inn. The group loves to play the South Dakota State Fair, arts festivals, county fairs, wedding dances, political rallies (Rudy Giuliani, VP Dick Cheney, and Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney)—any event where the goal is to have fun.
Mogen’s Heroes wants to thank the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame for the honor. Forty years of consecutive playing might seem like a long time. Who says they’re stopping soon?