Edelman: Salute to ‘Graduation Goodbye” & Drew Dimmel

If you were in a rock band in KC, circa 1966, you knew (and envied) the Dimmel brothers…

Drew Dimmel and his brother Doug were the core of The Classmen— the only group any of us knew who actually had a song playing on WHB, back when it was THE Top 40 station in town.

Their song “Graduation Good-Bye” was a solid hit– good hook, well-produced (that is until “Sergeant Pepper” showed up) and you could see the band at dances and clubs around town.

The Classmen were a clean cut band; no surprise, hailing as they did from Independence.

The other major rock band in town, The Chessmen, were the scruffier crew– like the Beatles and Stones. That band, from South KC, had a family connection, too– brothers Ron, Steve and Gary Hodgden and their cousin (or maybe friend– I’m hazy on that fact) Dave Huffines made up the group. Both the Classmen and Chessmen had a similar gimmick– the cute baby brother played drums.

My Dimmel moment came at the Boom Boom Room.

I was in a group called the Changin’ Times.

Our lead guitar player’s father befriended Mrs Hodgden, so we’d get the gigs the Chessmen couldn’t play because they were already booked. Call us the baby Chessmen– I worked hard to sound like Ron Hodgden and learned to play keyboards and rhythm guitar and sing, like he did.

I heard the Dimmels were trying to do something similar– start a second string Classmen, so that they could make money on the dates they were turning down.

I don’t know how I got on the list, but there came Drew one night, sitting at a table, checking out the band. That’s as close as I ever got to a Troubadour/Whiskey moment.

Drew was nice; he complimented my playing. Seemed much more mature than my bandmates and me– for him, music was a business, not a place to meet girls.

I never heard back from him, but I admired him and his work from that day forward.

Or course, most Kansas Citians remember Drew from his stint as a weatherman and other TV appearances.

However, for me, he’ll allways be the Classmen— and a classy guy. 

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6 Responses to Edelman: Salute to ‘Graduation Goodbye” & Drew Dimmel

  1. Jon lamar says:

    They were a rival band of mine. Every time we try to Garner a gig they got it. They were very popular back in the sixties and early seventies and they were hard to beat. I used to travel to college circuits those were the only gigs if they didn’t pursue too much.Drew Dimmel was a handsome fella, that did quite well on the weathermen gig as well. I ran into him in Westport about 20 years ago , in a police shortly thereafter diagnosed with his disease. What a fine person he was. Always Pleasant smiling person.

  2. Stomper says:

    Great piece of history, Mark. Thanks for posting it.

    I thought I had reached the Pinnacle of Cool the first time I got into the Boom Boom Room. I still think of it every time I pass the building on Main. You have some great inside knowledge of the music scene here in KC in the 60’s and need to write about more of it. I know you wrote a piece on Stan Plesser a few years back. He was Chris Fritz before Chris Fritz.

  3. Mark says:

    Thanks. Yeah, that’s how I met girls my mom didn’t know about.
    We played Coya’s Castle, the Frog Hop in St Joe,
    Some club behind the Riverside Red-x. And we
    Replaced the Chessmen (and alternated with the
    chontels) on the TV4 Saturday morning dance show “The
    HAppening.” It beat studying.

  4. Whitten Pell says:

    Mark my friend. it is Chesmann…one “s”…Dave Huffines was not a relative and was replaced fairly early in with Jim McAllister. they too had a record WHB played. Circles.

    Good piece and sad thing about Drew.


  5. Mark says:

    Thanks for the correction, Whit. I remember thinking Huffines looked like George Harrison. I saw them with Jimmy McAllister, too. They really covered Beatles tunes well. Only band I ever heard do “Wait” from Rubber Soul.

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