The Blue Things formed as the Blue Boys at Fort Hays State College from the ashes of a Hays, Kansas, R&B band, the Barons. From the Barons came Mike Chapman (lead guitar and vocals) formerly with Pat and Lolly Vegas, Richard Scott, bassist and vocalist formerly with the Flippers (later known as The Fabulous Flippers), and Rick "Laz" Larzalere (drums and vocals).
With a 1964 summer tour booked, the trio decided they needed a fourth member, and soon found a lead singer and rhythm guitarist in Mike's roommate, Val Stoecklein. On the tour, the band hired Jim Reardon as manager. Reardon manufactured Blue Boys sweatshirts, in addition to starting a fan club, complete with membership cards.
Keeping true to their name, the Blue Boys wore matching blue suits and played blue guitars. The group reportedly earned fees as large as $1,200 for playing colleges and high schools throughout Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Colorado.
Reardon also got the band signed with John Brown's Mid-Continent Co. booking agency. Brown’s first band was the highly successful Fabulous Flippers. His second act was The Blue Things. In an February phone interview, John Brown mentioned many places in South Dakota that featured The Blue Things: Berringer’s Groveland Park in Tyndall, Spearfish, Hot Springs, Northern State in Aberdeen, the Blue Dog Inn in Waubay, the Mocamba Club in Sioux Falls, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, and just across the border in Hatfield, Minnesota, at the Hollyhock Ballroom.
Country artist Jim Reeves had a backup group called the Blue Boys. To avoid a legal battle, Brown changed the Blue Boys to the Blue Things. Brown managed to get the Blue Things a deal with RCA, based on their reputation as Midwest superstars. Before they could record for RCA, one more change: Drummer Rick Larzalere left the band to focus on school. After several unsuccessful replacements, Bobby Day from Salina, Kansas, was chosen.
Although their live set was mostly Top 40 and British Invasion covers, Stoecklein, Scott and Chapman began composing songs to record, which they did in the fall of '64. The band demo’ed five Stoecklein originals and two covers at Damon Recording Studios in Kansas City.
For a group that was always defining the cutting edge for bands on the Plains, music didn't stand still for the Blue Things. Their January 1967 Nashville session and last with Stoecklein produced one of the finest examples of psychedelia ever: "Orange Rooftop Of Your Mind" b/w "One Hour Cleaners."
In May of 1967, Stoecklein left for a solo career, signed with Dot Records and released an album, "Grey Life," in 1968. The remaining Blue Things moved to California and continued to perform concerts, also signed with Dot Records, and toured for 14 months before disbanding. The Blue Things have never held a reunion concert.
Stoecklein died in 1993 in Kansas. Mike Chapman has continued to write and perform and has had a successful career in the audio industry in Georgia. He remembered the Blue Things playing about 250 nights a year. Richard Scott has a successful career in the audio industry and writes and records his own music, and Bobby Day owns a cabinet company in Kansas.