The Brākmen


At the Brāk-Up Club, l-r: Tom Schultz, Gordon Kruse, Jim Ladd, Bob Kellogg, Jerry Ladd, and Landy Landholm.
The band just prior to recording the 45.
 

The Brākmen came from the town of Freemont, Nebraska a short drive northwest of Omaha. Lowell Reithmuller (keyboards), Bob Kellogg (guitar), and Gordon Kruse (guitar) formed the Brakemen while in high school in 1963. Other early members include Ken McMahon on guitar and Kent Armstrong on drums. In 1964 they found first Gene Starmer then Dave Nelson to play bass, and Jerry Ladd from another local group the Fugitives, on drums. With the addition of Jerry’s older brother Jim Ladd, they became the Six Wild Brākmen.

They gave their first live show in April, 1965 at the DeMolay building in Freemont, but a Battle of the Bands at the Armory was their first big performance; a home-made light show helped them win. They became known for their wild stage antics and shouted vocals. They started playing at a teen club in Omaha called Sandy’s Escape, and soon became house band at the Brāk-Up Club in Fremont and toured into Colorado and Iowa.

After many personnel changes, the lineup at the time of recording was Jim Ladd on vocals, his younger brother Jerry on drums, and Gordon Kruse and Bob Kellogg on guitars, Landy Landholm on keyboards and Eric Stark on bass.

In 1967 they traveled to A1 Studio in Council Bluffs, Iowa to record a 45 financed by Jim and Jerry’s father, Jack Ladd. ‘Minutes & Minutes’ really cooks, propelled by a fat, fuzzed-out guitar line, organ and good use of horns, with some great shouting. It was written by Stark and Kruse.

‘Movin’, written by Jim Ladd and Bob Kellogg is more controlled but equally intense. Jerry keeps up a constant beat on the toms, while Eric makes some Entwistle-like runs on the bass and the horns repeat a line in the background. I’m not sure how they decided to add horns to these tracks, or who plays them.

The label name, LSK was taken from the initials of the members’ last names. The record sold well locally, and a second 45 on LSK Nitey Nite is rumored to exist, but may have never been released.

Soon after the record’s release, the band almost signed with Kasenetz and Katz, but Jim Ladd was drafted and other members wanted to stay in college to keep their student deferments. The band continued until 1969, when Jerry Ladd was drafted. In 2001 the Brākmen were inducted into the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame.

Sources: The Nebraska Music Hall of Fame and the 7 Legends site (http://www.geocities.com/the7legends/thebrakmen.html – now defunct) site both have lots of information, photos and recollections of the Brākmen.

7 thoughts on “The Brākmen”

  1. The Brakmen were one the top “Combo’s” of that era!!! They put on a great show. Nebraska had an amazing amount of great bands in the sixties. Some of the other great bands of that era included the Chevrons, The Chancellors The Rumbles, The Pete Klint Quintet, The Echoes and so many more that escapes my 60’s pharmacutically altered mind. It was a great time to be alive and experience the wonderful music of the time. I think your site is da bomb and keep up the good work.

  2. Bob – I am trying to find a country band that played in central nebraska (Hastings area) in the early 1960’s. This band had a blond haired drummer (possibly wavy hair). I would really appreciate any leads or information you could share.

  3. Lesa, Hi, The only country band that I can recall from those days was the band Young Country. I know that they were from west of Omaha but I am not sure from which town. Hastings might be right???? I was not a big country fan in those days or now for that matter. I hope this helps you out. Peace Bob

    P.S. They were a very good band and you might be able to find more info on them at the Nebraska music hall of fame. I know that they were inducted.

  4. Hello. Gordon Kruse here, former lead guitarist for the Bralmen and currently playing bass for the Brakmen revived. Thank you for your article it is very well done. There are some corrections I would like to pass on for you. First, I was the one drafted not Jim. Jim was still in college and had a school deferment. Most of us still live in FREMONT not FREEMONT Nebraska. We also had another bass player that traveled with us in Iowa for over two years. He was later replaced by Eric when Tom entered the University of Nebraska.

    After the induction in 2001 6 of us that were still around decided we should try it again. After 4 years of practive we were ready again. So for the past 3 years we have been playing engagements. The six of us are: Jim and Jerry Ladd, Bernie Fletcher, Ken McMahon, Gene Starmer and myself – Gordon Kruse. And after 30+ years gap, we truthfully, if I say so myself, still sound pretty good.

    Thanks again. Keep up the good work.

    p.s. There is also a chance that we will be nominated for the Iowa Roack and Roll Hall of Fame this year, if not. the next.

  5. Hi All.
    I see a lot of familiar faces and names on this site. Too bad I left Fremont in ’63, just as you all were getting going.
    I hope that everyone is fine there. If anyone could help me get in touch with Bob, it would be grand. I just feel like saying ‘Hi’ after all these years.
    Congratulations on your accolades.

    Jerry Perkins

  6. I have fond memories of the group,when I was a student at Midland in the sixties. Bob Kellogg was a fraternity brother of mine, and I would like to get in touch with him, if I could. Any help would be appreciated.

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