CRANK originated in a basement apartment in Huron, SD in 1971. At the time, they were known as Lucifer and played gigs wherever they could manage. The band members included Doug Lampson, Bob Gripp, Craig Brown, and Lowell Buesing. In May of 1972, they moved to a rundown, deserted farmhouse just east of Worthing, SD, with their manager Mike Sunderman. They started writing their own songs, convinced that this unique approach would soon set them apart from other area bands.
The new location meant they needed a new name, and they settled on CRANK. They were influenced by Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, Crow, FREE, the Sons of Champlin, and, of course, The Beatles. However, after a few months of nomadic living, Buesing left the band, leaving them as a three-piece band.
Despite the setback, they remained determined to succeed and recorded their first single in the summer of 1973 at Bill Van Dusen's UA Recording Studio. The single featured two original songs, "Come One, Come All" by Lampson and "Hot Old Sun" by Brown. They were proud of the recording, convinced that adding Recording Artists to their posters would bring the world to their feet. The recording didn't bring much change to their existence, but it did provide them with a higher caliber of venues to play in, including the Roof Garden Ballroom at Lake Okoboji and the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.
CRANK continued to work a small circuit of ballrooms and bars within 100 miles and chased every playing opportunity they could find. They took pride in being a three-piece band but had the opportunity to add Randy Royer to the band in the summer of 1974. Randy had a long history with the band Birnam Wood out of Brookings and was a talented singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. The addition of Royer allowed them to rehearse as a four-piece band and record another single.
They recorded "Sweet Iowa Woman" by Brown as the A-side and "Cloudburst" by Lampson as the B-side at Westminster Sound, a farm studio outside Otho, Iowa. The single was released on Blue Rose Records in late fall of 1974, and a few copies of it still exist. The single provided a springboard for CRANK to open for the Earl Scruggs Revue at the Frost Arena in Brookings before a crowd of roughly 5,000 people.
Despite the success, by the late spring of 1975, the band members had made the decision to break up. They played a well-attended farewell concert at the roller rink in Canton, where they had established a solid fan base during their time together. In 1993, the band performed a reunion gig at a pub in Canton. The last time the four musicians saw each other was at Brown's wedding in 1999. Unfortunately, Lampson passed away suddenly in early 2012, and the remaining members played at his funeral service in Madison.
Today, Royer and Gripp remain working musicians and occasionally perform together in a jazz combo in Sioux Falls. Brown plays only occasionally in the praise band at his Harrisburg church, where his rock 'n roll tendencies are decidedly out of place. Despite their brief existence as a band, CRANK made a significant impact in the local music scene, and their legacy lives on through their recordings and occasional reunion performances.