Tag Archives: Tongue

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 friends also have this Facebook tribute page. Teddy’s blog is no longer online.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under December 2012, Sounds

North by Midwest, Day 2

nxmw1

Delighted to see you again on this, Day 2 of NXMW 2009.

Tonight, we have some old stuff for you from our corner of America.

I only vaguely remember Tongue as one of those bands making the rounds of bars, colleges and roadhouses of Wisconsin during the early ’70s. I don’t think I ever saw them, but I know I heard their name on the radio as their gigs were advertised.

Here is Tongue’s story, as told by Steve Seymour over at his fine (mostly Michigan) music blog Rock n Roll Graffiti:

“Founded in 1967 at the University of Wisconsin-Stout by singer/guitarist Paul Rabbitt and bass player Bob ‘Hippie’ Collins, the group was originally known as the Tennis Shoe Tongue Band. … (The band) quickly became student body favorites for its blues-based hard rock sound and ferocious live shows. …

“Tongue toured extensively with another Wisconsin band, Soup, and opened shows for many headliners on the Midwest concert circuit. Tongue toured with the Cleveland-based rock band James Gang, featuring Joe Walsh, and played with Chuck Berry, Cheap Trick, Michigan’s own Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper. … After gigging around the Midwest for a decade, the Tongue called it quits in 1976.”

Tonight on the NXMW turntable are a couple of tunes from Tongue’s 1969 album, “Keep On Truckin’.” Steve Seymour is right. This certainly is a heavy “blues-based hard rock sound,” and it was popular.

tonguelp

“The Tongue was lucky as our audiences accepted our original material even though we did not have Top 40 radio airplay,” Paul Rabbitt told Steve Seymour.

My copy of “Keep On Truckin'” is a dollar record found under the tents in my friend Jim’s back yard last fall. Enjoy these originals.

“Homely Man Blues” — Written by Rabbitt, but keyboard player Mick Larsen gives the Hammond organ quite a thorough workout. This one really must have cooked when played live.

“The Earth Song” — Written by Rabbitt and Bob Collins, whose guitars grind away. This one must have been pretty nasty live, too.

Both by Tongue, from “Keep On Truckin’,” 1969. It was recorded at Scott Sound Studios in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and released on Hemisphere Records out of Madison, Wisconsin. The album link is to a 2000 re-release on Fab Gear Records, a European label. It has three songs not on the original record.

Readers’ note: My excerpt of Steve’s fine post is just the tip of the iceberg. Head over to Rock n Roll Graffiti to read more about Tongue, and to see some vintage photos of the band. You also may dig the embedded jukebox full of vintage rock from the Michigan music scene.

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Filed under March 2009, Sounds