West Michigan Mid-Sixties Bands

Ken Rank

St. Joe-Benton Harbor

From Tom O'Brien, co-writer of Ken Rank's "Twin City Saucer"

Just happened to come across your website for Fenton Records, while looking for info on Ken Rank. Ken & I wrote "Twin City Saucer" while we were working at WSJM in St. Joe-Benton Harbor back in 1967. I had about a dozen copies, but moving around the last 35 years they "got lost in the shuffle."

Boy, $200.00! That's more than the total we spent for the initial pressing. Back then we paid $175.00 for 300 45's and Dave Kalmbach (the studio owner) put an instrumental by the Mussies [the Jades, actually] on the "B-side" for free. Since we supplied the "master" tape there was no studio charge - just the pressing fee.

Ken & I were on the air at WSJM in the mid 60's; Ken was on 6 to 9pm and I was on 9 to midnight so we usually hung out together. It was around '67 that WBKB, in Chicago (now WLS-TV-Channel 7) aired a report about people in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois spotting a flying saucer. They had eyewitness accounts from LaPort, Indiana to South Haven, Michigan, and we couldn't turn on the TV without seeing some kind of UFO Report. That's where the main idea came from. We originally just recorded the "break-in" Twin City Saucer (Twin Cities being St. Joseph-Benton Harbor) on inch, mono tape & transferred it to a cart. I guess we spent about 3 hours writing and Ken spent another few hours voicing. I took almost 7 hours editing & mixing it. Almost as soon as we started playing it on the air people were calling up wanting to know where they could get a copy.

We got financial backing from Don Rimes, who owned Rimes & Hildebrand Department Store in St Joe. Ken was managing his son's band, The Fyrebirds (they also recorded on Fenton and had a regional hit with "I'm Alive" [Fenton 2528]) and made us an offer to back the record, with the provision that we sell them only in his store. Of course we told him "no way" we wanted to market them to ALL record outlets in Southwestern Michigan. Don reluctantly agreed, he gave us the money & we sold them in a lotta places. We spent days going around to all the record stores & asking for "space." We even had them in a fast food joint called Roxy's Drive Inn. We worked out a deal if you buy a burger you'd get a free copy of the 45. They were on sale in Kroger's Food Store, Goodman & Goldbaum Men's Store and many more places I can't recall. All 300 records sold out in 3 weeks and we placed another order - this time for 1,000. We began sending out fliers & 45's to radio stations in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Alpena and Lansing - hoping for some airplay. We even got a call from WCFL in Chicago requesting a copy. CFL never played it - and by this time the UFO stories had become a distant memory. Eventually we sold almost all of the 2nd run - about 800. The rest we gave to family & friends. We had plans to put out another version, Twin City Saucer Part 2, but Ken got a job at a radio station in California and I went to NBC in New York City. We've since lost touch and I haven't heard from Ken since the mid 80's. I was looking for info about him when I came across your website.

I haven't thought of the record in years - thanks for the mp3 link - it'll be a treat to listen to after so many years.

Last updated on June 2, 2004.
Comments

If this is the same Ken Rank (and I suspect it is)
who later worked in Tulsa, Fort Smith, and other
places, and most recently owned The Videobase, a
video production company in Tulsa, he died last
Sunday morning at 11. He had a lung transplant
in January, went back to Tulsa in early May, and
never fully recovered. His funeral is tomorrow,
(Thursday 6/24) in Fort Smith, AR.

Posted by: Jack Parnell at June 23, 2004 05:33 PM

i too was looking for a digitized version of this song if available. i have the original 45 signed by ken rank and tom obrien it was made out to my mom.any info plz email

Posted by: bryan laney at September 18, 2006 12:20 PM

Hi Bryan,
Please let me know if you find a copy. This record is on my wish list of Fenton releases! Never heard by me, and as far as I know, never comped.

Thanks!!

Jim K.

Posted by: jim at September 25, 2006 07:14 PM


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