Teddy, Tongue and their times

One of the traditions here at AM, Then FM, is the year-end tribute to those who have gone on. Another of our traditions is preserving small chapters of Wisconsin’s rock ‘n’ roll history.

This is Teddy Mueller’s story.

Four years ago, I came across his blog. Teddy was a guy from Milwaukee who lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for years. He played drums in a bunch of bands, starting when he was 14. He’s perhaps best known for playing in Axe in the late ’70s and early ’80s. He met a lot of people. He partied hard.

Teddy was 17 when he joined Tongue, a blues-rock band much loved in Wisconsin in the late ’60s and early ’70s for its energetic live shows. I have Tongue’s only LP, which was released in 1969, before he joined the group.

He mentioned Tongue in his blog, so I emailed him. We exchanged a few emails one summer day, and he filled me in.

“Dick Weber was the first drummer. They did the album in ’68-’69. I joined in ’71.”

Tongue promo

“I attached a pic (taken) in ’72. We just got back from L.A. (They had played the Starwood Club in West Hollywood, as evidenced by the bumper sticker.) It was some of the best times in my life. You could drink at 18 and the music scene was wonderful. We would play to crowds 5,000 in a field somewhere in Wisconsin. Great times. It’s too bad video games took over. I wish music would come back.”

If Mueller sounded wistful, it’s because he was fighting for his life. Even then, in the summer of 2008, he had advanced cases of hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver.

That’s Teddy Mueller on the left in the picture from 40 years ago.

“I did have some long hair for that time,” he said. “We traveled the country, had a blast. I was 17.”

Teddy also reminisced about the Wisconsin club circuit of the early ’70s.

“We used to play the Pack and Hounds in Green Bay and a lot of festivals. I don’t think the Pack and Hounds is there anymore. (It’s long gone.) Atlantic Mine used to open for us. We used to eat at the Log Cabin in Wausau. Eau Claire, we played all the time at The Bar and the London Inn and partied at The Joynt.”

That late August day was the only time Teddy and I talked about his place in Wisconsin music history. I’m glad we chatted when he did. I kept an eye on his blog, but it became painful to read. He was dying.

Teddy passed away on June 29, 2012. He was 57.

This video has the audio from both sides of a Tongue single from 1972. “Hotel Arbutus” is the A side and “Harp Thing” is the B side. It was recorded at Audiotech Studios in Minneapolis. The drummer is 17-year-old Teddy Mueller. The images, a bit of a video scrapbook, are from Teddy Mueller’s life and times.

When he posted it to YouTube two years ago, Teddy wrote:

“This was my first professional recording about the Hotel Arbutus in Eagle River, Wisconsin. They bought it and tore it down. We used to stay there and played Hop’s Modernaire Bar. That’s a lot of sex, drugs and debauchery. Ha.”

To learn more about Teddy’s life and times, read this tremendous 2010 interview with Glenn Milligan of Metalliville, a UK webzine. Teddy’s blog is no longer online.


Filed under December 2012, Sounds

6 responses to “Teddy, Tongue and their times

  1. Ruth J Gwyn

    thank you Jeff Teddy visited me in Scottsdale Arizona April of 2012 he passed away June 29th of 2012

  2. woody

    Teddy you’re my oldest friend and you will always be missed and loved!!! RIP

    • Terry Sweberg

      Are you the Woody I remember? I hung with Wes Shreoder, Jim Gimple, Randy Mc Mahon, Joel and Victor from Kenosha, when we were partying with Teddy. Think you were also in the same baseball thing with me at a park on Silver Spring when we were about 10. Are you that Woody and do you remember me?

  3. harry pelman

    wow i remember seeing these guys in milwaukee in the early 70’s they were great.Sorry to hear Teddy past away.

  4. Joe Bob

    I met Teddy when I was 17 — he was a couple years older. I was a young kid digging Tongue, and coincidentally a super small time drug dealer — Teddy and the band were playing a show at a small little bar outside of Waupaca called the Roost. I sold some dope to Teddy and helped him shoot up between sets. In those days, if you were shooting — you thought you were at the cusp of the drug culture. Foolish.
    Teddy was sweet and great — the band, which I got to know in the years after, were all great people, even after the keyboards were manned by Joey. All too, too nice for rock n’ roll.
    But that was the time…..

  5. Terry Sweberg

    Went to Madison H.S. in Milwaukee with Teddy. Partied with him right when he was joining Tongue (we always called him Tongue band Teddy). I believe he was with a band called Short Stuff before that. Remember him and Tongue left Milwaukee shortly after he graduated H.S. They came back to the bar we always hung out at (Across The Tracks) in a limo a year or so later and we all had a couple. Never saw Teddy after that. Most other people we hung with are gone now also. R.I.P. brother.

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