Poore Boyes

Minnetonka band with one 45 on four different record labels




The Poore Boyes

1963 – 1969

September, 1963:

A new band forms in the west suburban area of Lake Minnetonka called The Poor Boys.  The lineup is: John Summer on guitar and vocals; Paul Laidig on guitar and vocals: Rob Witte on bass guitar and vocals; and Rob Hanson on drums and vocals.  All band members are students at Minnetonka High School, except for Rob Witte who attends Benilde in St. Louis Park.  The band practices in the basement of the Hanson residence in Minnetonka.  John Summer and Paul Laidig book jobs for the bands.  The bands very first jobs are for private parties held at homes in the Excelsior area of Lake Minnetonka.  The band plays a variety of surf songs (Dick Dale and the Beach Boys), R&B songs (Barbara Lewis and the Shirelles) and Top-40 songs (Paul Revere and the Raiders). 

Late, 1964: Don Powell starts to manage and book the band and comes up with a new spelling for the band name:  The Poore Boyes.  Don Powell gets the band their first “official” job, playing at a school dance at Le Center High School.  Don has the band wear matching stage clothes and has them learn dance steps. 

Paul Laidig leaves the band and is replaced by Jim Roberts (Minnetonka High School) on guitar and vocals.  Paul Gagner joins the group on guitar and vocals.  Paul is a student at Hopkins High School.  The first job with Paul in the band is at Groveland Junior High School in Minnetonka with The Victors.

1964/1965:  The band purchases a 1964 Ford Step Van from a local floral company for use as their band vehicle.  The band plays numerous jobs at local high schools including: Minnetonka; Hopkins; Central; Benilde; and Washburn.  Many of the jobs are for homecoming dances.  The band also plays at local teen clubs including: Mister Lucky’s; Bobby’s; Danceland; the Purple Barn; the Purple Cigar and Bimbo’s.  In addition, the band also plays at local KC Halls, fraternity parties, a bowling alley in Hopkins and the east side YMCA in St. Paul.  With the arrival of the British Invasion to the United Sates, the band covers songs by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and The Who.  Numerous songs by the group have three or four part vocal harmonies.  The band members wear British style clothing and Beatle boots.

Early 1966:  The band goes in to Dove Recording Studio and record two original songs, produced by Don Powell.  The two songs are “Give” (written by John Summer) and “It’s Love” (written by John Summer and Jim Roberts).  On the two songs are: John Summer on rhythm guitar and lead vocals; Jim Roberts on lead guitar (12 string Rickenbacker) and backup vocals; Paul Gagner on guitar and backup vocals; Rob Witte on bass guitar and backup vocals; and Rob Hanson on drums and backup vocals.

February, 1966:  The Poore Boyes 45 of “Give” and “It’s Love” is released on the local Summer label. The record is played on KDWB and is featured on a listener call in contest.  The band members are interviewed on KDWB.  The record also gets airplay in Duluth and Chicago.  The band travels to Chicago to do a radio interview.

The record is released on three other labels, after the release on the Summer label, as follows:  Patty and Uptown (both are divisions of Holton Records) and Tower.  All three record labels have a connection with Capitol Records.  The 45 is listed as a “break out” record in Cashbox magazine. 

“Give” by the Poore Boyes is played on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand television show and is part of a feature called “rate a record” where the audience/dancers rate new songs on a numerical basis, with 100 being the top score.  

Summer, 1966: John Summer leaves the band.  The other members carry on.  Lifelong friend of the band, Fred Jack, fills in on bass guitar for shows that Rob Witte is unable to play at.  The first job without John Summer in the lineup is a fraternity party held at Eaton’s Ranch, a horse ranch in Eagan off Cedar Avenue, with a large barn used for parties. 

Fall, 1966:  The band adds a light show to their live act, “Lights by Us” (Paul Johnson and Terry Clark).  The light shows feature overhead projectors, colored light gels and one of the very first strobe lights used by a local band in the twin cities. 

The band plays out of town jobs in Roger’s; Hastings; New Ulm, Avon; and Duluth and also play in Wisconsin including: Cadott (the Frog Hop Inn); Superior and Hudson.  In Bloomington, the band plays at The Alps, a popular nightclub in an A-Frame/Chalet style building located off Freeway 494.

Summer, 1967: The Poore Boyes play on the bill with The Turtles at the Marigold Ballroom.  Fred Jack and Rob Witte both play on bass guitar for the show.  The dual bass players in the group catches the attention of members of The Turtles. 

1967 – 1969:  The band continues to play around town including “Battle of the Bands” at Danceland, the Prom Center and Aldrich Arena.  Paul Gagner and Rob Witte sing lead vocals on the majority of the songsAll band members sing backup vocals.  The group’s songlist includes cover version of the following songs:

Lonnie Mack: “Why.”

The Animals: “House of the Rising Sun,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and “Boom Boom Boom.”

The Guess Who: “Shakin’ All Over.”

Them: “Gloria” and “Baby Please Don’t Go.”

The Yardbirds: “Shapes of Things,” “I’m a Man,” “Little Games” and “Jeff’s Boogie.”

The Beatles: “You Won’t See Me,” “Twist and Shout,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Norwegian Wood,” “Day Tripper,” “This Boy,” “Things We Said Today.” “Tax Man,” “Dr. Robert,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” ” I’m Down” and “Anna.”

The Who: “My Generation.”

The Rolling Stones: “Statisfaction,” “The Last Time,” “It’s All Over Now,” ” Flight 505,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”

The Troggs: “Wild Thing.”

Paul Revere and The Raiders: “Steppin’ Out.”

Wilson Pickett: “Midnight Hour” and “Mustang Sally.”

Simon and Garfunkel: “Sounds of Silence.”

The Turtles: “Happy Together.”

Cream: “I Feel Free,” “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Born Under a Bad Sign.”

The Byrds: “Tamborine Man,” “Turn Turn Turn” and “Rock and Roll Star.”

Buffalo Springfield: “Feel a Whole Lot Better.”

Summer, 1969: The Poore Boyes play their final job at The Purple Barn in Eden Prairie and the band comes to an end.  Rob Witte, Paul Gagner and Jim Roberts join Cisco Grove… their friend and former fill in bass player, Fred Jack, is in the group.  Also in Cisco Grove at the time are Bill Dowd and Weej Maus.


In April, 2012, Paul Gagner recalled an incident that occurred at a job in Rogers,Minnesota.  The band was using a strobe light in their light show and several guys in the audience came up to the band after the show and accused them of making their girlfriends sick as a result of the strobe light.  Paul also recalled that when playing at The Alps, the club had a light that flashed on to alert the band if they were playing too loud.  If the light came on a certain number of times, the power to the band was cut by the management. 

In April, 2012, John Summer recalled that he and the other band members were inspired by another band from theMinnetonka area, The Yetti Men.  The lead guitar player in the Yetti Men was Lee Hanson, brother of Rob Hanson.  John took guitar lessons from Lee Hanson. 

In April, 2012, Rob Witte recalled that Don Powell knew John Summer and Rob Hanson and met with their parents in 1964 to discuss his plans for managing and booking the band.  The parents gave their approval to Don’s plans. 

In April, 2012, Rob Hanson recalled that Don Powell encouraged the band to use popular British slogans during live radio interviews including “hippie fab” and “real gear.”


Photos  (Click a photo to see it full-screen, then click the arrows to see the next one.)



Give  –  45 Record  –  Side A


It’s  Love  –  45 Record  –  Side B




(time period)
main band in red
other bands


Where are they now?

  • name
    instruments in current band
  • name
    No longer active in music, name lives in
  • name
    Still active, jobbing with various bands



Interview PART ONE