Joseph Behrend (1953-1989) became an accomplished pianist while growing up in rural Madison, SD. Joe’s cousin John Behrend (2016 SDRRMA inductee with Military Pickle) recalls, “At a Thanksgiving visit with Joe’s family, back when Joe was in high school, Joe sat at their family’s old upright and played a very dynamic classical piece (probably by Borodin) so superbly that, when he finished the piece, I felt so up-staged and blown away that I was speechless! Joe much later told me that I was an inspiration for him to play yet, to the contrary, after this performance I’d felt that he should have my gigs as Military Pickle’s keyboardist from 1967-1970.”
Joe left Madison in 1971 to chase his dreams of launching a music career, got classical training at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, and joined the legendary band Flamin’ Oh’s, yet his life ended like too many famous musicians- in a tragic mystery.
The Flamin’ Oh’s, which had several aliases, including Flamingo and The Oh’s, recorded seven albums, an EP, and a 45-rpm single. They were one of the first bands to record their videos for MTV. “I Remember Romance” and “Stop!” were both listed in Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 and got much airplay. The Flamin’ Oh’s played new wave, power pop, and punk rock music and toured the United States and Bogota, Columbia. Their many regional venues included South Dakota, the Minnesota Zoo, Minneapolis Aquatennial, plus the Cabooze and Longhorn bars.
The Flamin’ Oh’s opened for Ozzy Osborne, Motor Head, .38 Special, Taj Mahal, and Lamont Cranston. The band still plays under singer-songwriter Robert Wilkinson’s leadership. Their award-winning drummer, Bobby Meide, was also from Madison. Joe was the clown prince of the local music scene, and even partied with Prince. Flamin’ Oh’s fans loved the part of the show when Joe sang his funny satirical songs that he wrote, such as “Medical Mess,” “New Boyfriend,” and “Skinny Legs.”
Joe also studied to be a French chef and cooked French cuisine for the band and friends. He had a loving relationship with his spouse, Barbara Behrend, and was well-known as one of the good guys.
In 1989, Joe was embarking on a new music project in Minneapolis with a singer-songwriter from California and was tragically murdered in August of that year. A benefit was hosted for Joe featuring many local bands. His storied life deserved a better ending than a murder mystery. Information about a reward concerning Joe’s cold case is posted online.
Joseph Behrend brilliantly inspired rock and roll to many others. He’s loved and missed by those whose lives he touched.
2019Spirit of the Music Award