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The Sensations

1966 – 1969

Fall, 1965:  Two musicians, both graduates from Robbinsdale High School meet at the Coffman Union on the campus of the University of Minnesota and start to play music together.  The two college freshmen are Art Dean (bass guitar and vocals) and Rick Sivula (guitar and vocals) and they get together on Sunday afternoons to play in the basement of the Sivula home. 

Early, 1966:  Art and Rick meet Bob Johnston at the Coffman Union on the University of Minnesota campus.  Bob, also a graduate of Robbinsdale High School, plays lead guitar and he is invited to play with Art and Rick.  None of the musicians had known each other at Robbinsdale High.  Rick Sivula invites his younger brother Paul to play drums with the group. 

A new band forms called The Sensations with the following lineup: Art Dean on bass guitar and lead vocals; Rick Sivula on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Bob Johnston on lead guitar and backup vocals; and Paul Sivula on drums and backup vocals.  The band plays a variety of top 40 hits from the era. 

Bob Johnston’s younger brother introduces the band members to George Peplo of the Peplo Company in Crystal.  George, a jazz guitar player from the 1940’s, had constructed a custom designed and unique set of speaker cabinets that were six feet tall with two rows of six inch speakers with a triangular V shape.  The light weight and portable speakers produce a very clear vocal sound.  George allows the band to practice in his space and to use his speaker system for practice and also on jobs. 

August, 1966:  The Sensations play their first public performance at The Teen Fair (part of the Minnesota State Fair) as part of a band contest.  The group finishes in third place which gets them on the bill at a concert to be held at the Minneapolis Armory.

October, 1966:  The band plays at the Minneapolis Armory with a number of other local bands (including The Del Counts).  The Fabulous Flippers are on the bill and the headline act is Paul Revere and the Raiders.

The band books their own jobs and discover that getting jobs in the local Minneapolis – St. Paul clubs is not all that easy due to the fierce competition, so the band decides to focus on playing out of town jobs.  The group plays at ballrooms, armories and high schools located in Rogers, Foley, Ann Lake, Princeton, and Cambridge, among other locations.   The band travels in a VW minivan, but the van has problems going up hills loaded with the band equipment (requiring band members to get out and to push the vehicle) so the group makes a switch to driving to jobs in station wagons. 

Early, 1967:  Randy Hand joins the band.  The new lineup is: Randy Hand on lead vocals, trumpet and keyboards; Art Dean on bass guitar and lead vocals; Rick Sivula on rhythm guitar and lead vocals; Bob Johnston on lead guitar and backup vocals; Paul Sivula on drums and backup vocals. 

The band covers songs by a wide variety of groups including: The Beatles; Jay and the Americans; the Righteous Brothers; Shades of Blue; the Fortunes; Tom Jones; Major Lance: Jackie Wilson; the Rascals; the Temptations; the Impressions, Bob Cuban and the Inmen;  Sam and Dave (among others). 

August, 1967:  The band plays at The Teen Fair at the Minnesota State Fair.

November 22, 1968: The group plays for a dance at Onamia High School.

November 29 and 30, 1968:  The band plays at the Wahkon A Go Go in Wahkon, Minnesota (located just Southeast of Lake Mille Lacs).  The club features go go dancers on the stage (inside cages).  These will turn out to be the last jobs with the band for Art Dean. 

December, 1968:  Art Dean leaves the band for military service and is sent to the war in Vietnam.

The band hires a new bass player (his first name is unknown, last name is Feldman) and carries on.

The band makes a transition in style from R & B music to more straight forward rock music.

July, 1969:  Bob Johnston leaves the band and enters the military service.  The Sensations come to an end. 


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


Live  at  Wahkon  A  Go Go  –  November  1968



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Where are they now?

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    No longer active in music, name lives in Florida
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Interview PART ONE  –  Time  =  18:38


Interview PART TWO  –  Time  =  21:38