In 1986 "Rockin’ at the T-Dance" by Kansas City’s Rainmakers was forbidden @ my former station Q104 back when it was a hit music station.
The song dared to blame the Hyatt Corporation for the Hyatt Regency Skywalks disaster. Too young to remember? Look it up. It’s a filthy, dark mark in Kansas City history that many "suits" would like the Cowtown to forget.
Shoddy, cheap work lead to a massacre.
My parents lost friends at that Tea Dance while the band played Duke Ellington‘s "Satin Doll" on a hot July evening. It impacted my family & haunted me with nightmares for years .
Why did Q104 ban the Rainmakers song?
They didn’t want to offend a big corporation is what my memory whispers. That big corporation didn’t like that song and its ad agency probably didn’t like it much either. So the ad agency let that be known and that it represented lots of other corporations and lots of other ad dollars.
So it rippled through our frequency.
Give the people what they want? Not hardly!
Mercury Record’s Bill Rusch (one of the people most responsible for ME) fought hard for those Rainmaker boys, but that song was a political hot potato. It tested through the roof with our audiences but still didn’t get significant air time. And it was also at a critical moment in the band’s build to the top.
That song was the first track kicking off the Rainmakers big label debut but it set a tone many powerful Kansas City suits found not to their liking.
They let it be known they didn’t want these makers of rain (and music) to hit.
Now here’s a "what if moment."
What if KC had ACTUALLY backed these local heroes? Jersey backed its Boss. Indy backed it’s Cougar.
It was Kansas City’s big chance and we blew it!
Even now when you watch the Rainmakers live in concert (as I did last year for a 25th anniversary concert at the quirky, wonderful Knuckleheads), you ask yourself " How did the world miss out on this?"
Listen to that song now or "Wages of Sin" or "Another Guitar" and tell me those aren’t hit records!
When I interviewed author Stephen King years ago all he wanted to talk about was The Rainmakers once he found that KC was the origin of my spawning. Music lovers that hear the band fall in love with it. I just wish that more lucky souls had been exposed to them.
Every true Kansas City human coming of age in the Mid-1980’s still has The Rainmakers playing somewhere in the far recesses of their minds.
"Big Fat Blonde" was prophecy. I mean, take a look around.
" No Romance " has the brilliant line: "You’ll see lines not Valentines written all over my face" that echoed through my last Sweetest Day. Ugh.
"Government Cheese" is in my head when I see welfare dollars exchanged for booze or cash for crack. YOUR tax dollars at work . "Decline and fall"….Sure feels like 2012 America to me.
The Worlds end? "Reckoning Day" LIVE it’s just kick ass, old-fashioned rock at first listen. Repeated listens reveal so much more. " I cannot tell a Kennedy from a John Wilkes Booth."
"To the Hum" is simply beautiful music. Beautiful? Rainmakers? Yes. Enya would even dig on that track.
"Go Down Swinging" off their latest cd is autobiographical . That’s EXACTLY what they are doing right now.
Is lead singer Bob Walkenhorst bitter? Hard to tell .
He’s always seemed that way to me even going back to the early 1980’s. He’s a surly fellow with an attitude that certainly hasn’t helped the band. He’s also a brilliant lyricist and the lead singer of the best band to ever come out of Missouri, so I have no other choice but to forgive and love him.
I remember hearing about a push from some at their label wanting them to go from Steve, Bob, & Rich (the bands original name) to "The Missouri Mules." They fought and stayed with the Rainmakers name. Although , as I scour the Internet for band memorabilia sifting through a mess of Burt Lancaster as "The Rainmaker" movie paraphernalia the other name would have been fine. The other name might actually call up the mule mascot I bought for my alma mater CMSU (now known as UCM) a few years ago.
No other band has captured all that is Missouri – its hopes, fears, dreams, isolation, yearning, anger, and divine confusion. A KC soul sounds like them when it cries out to Christ.
The Rainmakers will play Knuckleheads Saloon at 10 pm Saturday and Mancow will be in attendence.