The Rumbles have been one of the most popular and successful rock-and-roll dance bands in the Midwest for almost 50 years.
You’d think a band with such a storied history would be content to rest on its laurels and drive off into the setting sun of semi-retirement. Not a chance. There are still more crowds to be rocked, and their busy schedule proves it.
Originally an early-1960s high school garage band from Council Bluffs, Iowa, the Rumbles began playing professionally in 1963 with the original permanent lineup of Rich Clayton and Joe Brunnworth on guitars, Warren “Bud” Phillips on bass guitar and Steve Hough on drums. Although he was the last to join as well as the youngest member, Hough is the only remaining original Rumble.
When the Eddy Haddad Entertainment Agency of Omaha assumed management of the group in 1964, the band’s popularity took off. The somewhat strange marriage of the big band leader Haddad and the raucous rock-and-roll band with the soaring vocal harmonies paid off handsomely throughout the 1960s with several hit songs and huge crowds throughout the Midwest.
1968 brought the monster single "Jezebel," which went to No. 1 in several Midwestern radio markets and charted on the Billboard Hot 100. A string of chart singles followed, including “Everybody’s Talkin,” “14 Years,” “Out of Harmony,” “Hey Lenora,” “Push, Push” and others. Even the loss of band founder Clayton, who moved to California in 1967 with the band on the verge of stardom failed to slow down this musical juggernaut. Clayton was replaced by keyboardist/guitarist Bob Ford.
The one thing that did bring the Rumbles’ popularity to a halt was something they had little control over – the musical tastes of their core audience. As psychedelic music started to win over young people in the late 60s and early 70s, the Rumbles witnessed an unprecedented phenomenon: kids sitting down to listen to the music rather than bolting for the dance floor. Consequently, attendance at dances rapidly declined, and The Rumbles soon were forced to disband.
The Rumbles went their separate ways: Brunnworth followed Clayton to California, Phillips became an electrician while playing in other bands, Ford continued in an unofficial Rumbles combo before starting his own group, and Hough got into the nightclub business and formed his own band, Horse, a horn outfit that featured wife Fran as one of the lead vocalists.
In 1979, the original Rumbles were asked to do a reunion concert at Omaha's Peony Park. It would be the first time the band played together in over eight years. Omahan Lance Hancock, who missed out on a Rumbles berth in the late 60’s when Brunnworth was booted from military service, was now the lead guitarist with Brunnworth’s departure. Figuring it was a one-shot performance and his 15 minutes of fame, Hancock never dreamed he would go on to play 19 years with the band, second only to Hough’s tenure.
The Rumbles Reunion dance was such a huge success that the group decided to reform later that year. Phillips and Ford signed on for another tour and with Haddad resuming management of the band, the Rumbles picked up where they left off in the early 70s and never looked back.
Haddad retired in 1986 and handed over management and booking duties to Hough. The band never missed a beat and, despite a handful of personnel changes through the years, remains what it is today: the best rock-and-roll dance band around.
In addition to original Rumble Hough, the current lineup includes guitarist Gayle Adams, bassist Todd Henseler, and keyboardist/guitarist Tim Vasquez.
The Rumbles still draw crowds of rock and roll fans far and wide and have done more street dances than any other band in the area during their long, successful career.
As they always like to say,”We started this band to have some fun, and we aren’t giving up until we have some!”