In the late 1950's, five Yakima Valley musicians began meeting together every week or so to practice their music. From those casual meetings a dance band, The Rumblers, developed. The Rumblers played for school affairs, parties and dances. Their fame began to spread and they began playing in many Washington towns.
Gene Boyd ~ Lead Guitar
Ron Cooley ~ Guitar, Vocals
Larry Coryell ~ Guitar
Glen Dahl ~ Vocals
Dennis Duncan ~ Tenor Saxophone
Leland Elliot ~ Drums
Mike Mandel ~ Keyboards
Mike Metko ~ Saxophone
Dave Morgan ~ Guitar
Doug Robertson ~ Drums
Dave Robinson ~ Alto Saxophone
Dick Ruthardt ~ Bass, Vocals
In Memory of
Gene Boyd (d: 22 July 2011)
They made their professional debut with singer, Jimmie Bowen. The Rumblers accompanied Bowen on a circuit that included Lewiston & Fruitland Idaho, Baker and Pendleton, Oregon, and the Tri-city area in Washington. There was talk that they had an excellent chance to be chosen to play with Paul Anka and Conway Twitty but I don't know if that happened. They had a great sound and were very popular, especially in the Yakima Valley.
Linda (Landon) Edwards, September 2006Actually, the Rumblers first started out as “Ronnie & the Rumblers” when Ron Cooley who sang & played guitar put together a foursome which included Dennis Duncan (tenor sax), Doug Robertson (drums), and Dave Robinson (alto sax). Many of the band’s early appearances were at the old “Rock-it-Club" on Cornell Ave in Yakima, run by Bob & Pat Gursley. More than a few careers were started there and more than a few fond memories can trace their origins back to the dances at the Rock-it-Club!
The Rumblers at a Street Dance in Yakima, Washington
Photo By Hal Scofield - 1959 - Provided Courtesy of Gene Boyd
When Ron moved away less than a year later, Dave Morgan joined the band and filled the need for a guitar player and singer. Gene Boyd was added next as lead guitar. Shortly thereafter, Dick Ruthardt, a bass player & singer from Grandview, and Leland Elliot a drummer from Wapato, came aboard (to replace Dave Robinson and Doug Robertson). The band remained stable with these five core musicians (Gene, Dennis, Lee, Dave & Dick) for nearly the remainder of its existence. With a focus on blending their individual sounds, they developed a well-integrated cohesive sound and became the “Rumblers” with the rock & roll sound that hundreds of Yakima Valley teenagers loved to listen and dance to.
They played dances throughout the Yakima Valley at the Eagles, Knights of Columbus, the Carpenters Hall, The Wagon Wheel, Toppenish Long House, and the Filipino Community Hall, and the Terrace Heights Community Center. In a competitive “Battle of the Bands” at the Yakima Armory they emerged victorious over their rivals, the Checkers, another Yakima Valley band.
As the Rumblers popularity grew, they began to play many Central Washington venues, often opening for other performers. On one occasion, they were the opening band for Lloyd Price of “Stagger Lee” fame. Outside the Yakima Valley, the Rumblers performed in various towns in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Utah, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It was during this time that Jimmy Bowen, a recording star for Roulette Records, adopted the Rumblers as his backup band. Jimmy went on to become one of the most influential record producers in the industry. The Rumblers always considered him a good friend and certainly an important and significant player in their history. While on tour in the Midwest at Kay Bank Studios in Minneapolis, the Rumblers recorded and released their single “Trudgin” on the Darbo label. It was later played on American Bandstand.
As the band began to diminish due to marriage, military obligations, etc., a different band evolved. Ironically, it consisted of the remaining members of the Rumblers and their longtime rivals, the Checkers. Added were: Glen Dahl (vocals). Mike Metko (sax), Mike Mandel (keyboard), and Larry Coryell (guitar). Many of the engagements were in Canada, notably Kimberly, Cranbrook, Penticton and Vernon, BC. Eventually there were more Checkers than Rumblers and the band became the Checkers, sadly leaving the name “Rumblers” for the use of the hot rod clubs.
Linda (Landon) Edwards, Dave Morgan, Gene Boyd, March 2007
Gene Boyd, guitarist for The Rumblers, passed away at his home in Mill Creek, Washington, on July 22, 2011.
Dave Morgan, July 2011