2023 marks the 50th anniversary of Starchild bursting upon the Sioux Falls music scene. The seeds of Starchild were sown in March of 1973 when Mark Olson (drums) and Bob Wratz (guitar, lead vocals, songwriter) attended a David Bowie concert in Long Beach, California. Upon returning to Sioux Falls that summer, they hooked up with Chuck Salisbury (bass, vocals) and formed Starchild as a three-piece band in October of 1973. Initially, Starchild introduced the area to artists such as Bowie, REO Speedwagon, early Fleetwood Mac, and Wishbone Ash. With the addition of a fourth and fifth member, the band brought on Queen, Led Zeppelin, Foreigner, Tommy Bolin's James Gang, Montrose, and others, greatly enhancing the musical range of the band. The outstanding vocal talents of Allen Hanson took over the majority of the lead vocals, and guitar craftsman Don Lerdal was also added. When Don left the band, Clint Kennedy (guitar, vocals, songwriter) came on board and helped usher in the band's most productive period. After Clint left, he was replaced by guitarist extraordinaire Keith Myhre, aka Monostrophy. Throughout their career, Starchild was well-served by the talents of sound men Tom O'Dea, Mick Jensen, and John Bunker, as well as a hard-working and reliable road crew.
Starchild got its start in Sioux Falls at Turk's J&M club, the only venue available in Sioux Falls at the time for their brand of rock. The club facilitated Starchild's transition from a country rock club to a kick-ass rock and roll club, and they remained a staple there throughout their career. They also rocked high schools, colleges, clubs, and ballrooms throughout the Midwest for six years, utilizing fog machines, fire, and flash pots as a key part of their show. Starchild didn't follow the typical band route by playing top 40 rock in order to gain popularity and make money. They were in their own world, playing off-the-wall music by relatively unknown artists in their rockin' corner of the Midwest. It was an ambitious and memorable six-year ride that had them holding onto the edge of their respective seats (in the Green Gherkin bus!) from beginning to end.
Mark Olson is a drummer from Sioux Falls, who honed his skills under the tutelage of local jazz drummer Greg Olson. He played with bands like Starchild, Night People, and SKITZ, and is currently working with Danica Michaels. Robert Wratz played guitar and sang for City Wheel after his stint with Starchild. He also released two albums of his music as a solo artist and published three books of poetry and short stories between 2017 and 2019. Chuck Salisbury, who passed away in 2022, played bass for local bands, including Starchild and Wakefield, and was inducted into the South Dakota Music Hall of Fame as a member of Wakefield. Clinton Kennedy, a guitarist and songwriter, played with various rock bands before joining Starchild in 1974. He is now part of 100 Watt Shine. Keith Myhre, aka “Menostrofy,” began his career with the group Brotherhood before joining Starchild. He played with several other bands, including Nitelife and The Heaters, and currently lives in Iowa. Tom O'Dea and Mick Jensen worked with several bands as a sound and light technician in the ‘70s through the ‘90s.
A Special Thank You to Craig Olson on vocals and Scott Walters on bass guitar for bringing their talents to bear in putting together Starchild 2023!