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Winner band to be inducted into SD Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame

The Fabulous Unknowns, of Winner, along with former Dimock dance hall Vic's Place are a part of this year's South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame inductees. (Republic photo illustration)

WINNER — Despite its name, a Winner-based band, The Fabulous Unknowns, is far from unheralded in South Dakota.

A rock and roll band formed in 1972, The Fabulous Unknowns will be inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame on Saturday, capping five people's musical careers on the state's largest stage.

The Fabulous Unknowns was a show band that played a variety of music, did comedy routines and prided itself on its clean, family-friendly acts. And, though recognition is nice, former band member Terry Pospisil said, the best part is getting to return to South Dakota and reconnect with his bandmates, some of whom he hasn't seen in decades.

"Back then we were all skinny and had hair, but now that we're all over 40 ... I no longer am real skinny and I don't have much hair," joked Pospisil, now a New Orleans, Louisiana resident. "I'm excited to see if my friends have fared the same. But, mostly, I'm just excited to share this one more thing with them."

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Saturday at the Ramkota Exhibit Hall in Sioux Falls, beginning with an autograph session at 3 p.m. and live music from inductees at 5 p.m.

Events will kick off tonight with a "Friday night jam session," featuring several Hall of Fame Inductees from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Ramkota.

The guidelines to be considered as inductees to the hall of fame are somewhat loose, Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame President John Mogen said. But all inductees have two things in common: They had to be nominated, and they had to have made an impact on the people around them.

The Fabulous Unknowns did just that.

With flamboyant ensembles that featured "colorful outfits, puffy sleeves and frilly fronts," the group, comprised of Winner residents Pospisil, Dave Hosek and Curt Hofer, and Colorado Springs residents Rob Taylor and Tim Obert, won over the hearts of South Dakotans with a wide variety of musical arrangements.

"We never swore, we never smoked on stage though four of us were cigarette smokers at the time, we didn't drink alcohol, we didn't do any of that kind of stuff," Pospisil said. "People who liked it were the same kind of people we were—young professionals trying to make their way in the world."

Most often, The Fabulous Unknowns performed at Holiday Inns and dinner theaters in South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska, but the group started simply as a group of men in their early 20s just looking for a good time.

And they found it.

The group got along well, creating "unforgettable" memories while traveling, Pospisil said.

The band dissolved on good terms in 1974 so members could pursue college education at various universities. But most of the members have continued to pursue their passion in music careers, with Pospisil and Obert working now as full-time musicians, while Taylor is involved with a separate band. Hoffer is deceased, but was involved in music until his death, Pospisil said.

For Pospisil, who fell in love with music at an early age, the Hall of Fame induction is "a thrill," worth the 18-hour drive from New Orleans to Sioux Falls.

"When I first thought about it I didn't know what it was going to mean to me," Pospisil said. Ultimately, it's nice to be recognized like this by fellow musicians in the state of South Dakota. It's something I never aspired to, I just want to play music and make people happy."

Precious Cargo

A Parkston resident will also get his time in the spotlight this weekend.

Paul Weidenbach, a trumpet player and one of the 21 members who played with Aberdeen-based band Precious Cargo in its 11-year existence, will make the trek to Sioux Falls Saturday for the induction ceremony, reuniting with bandmates he hasn't seen in more than 30 years.

The band will open the music session of the event Saturday as the first of five bands slated to perform.

"Any opportunity to play is a good day," Weidenbach said. "But this one — this one is really exciting."

Precious Cargo was formed in the fall of 1977 by Northern State University students and Weidenbach joined shortly after in 1978, bringing the number of members to seven and solidifying the group as "legitimate."

Known for their versatility and vocals with songs by the Doobie Brothers, Chicago, Tower of Power, The Commodores, Chuck Mangione and more, the band became a favorite at high school proms and other dances as well as the NSU and South Dakota State University campuses.

"It's what we did for fun, then we got paid for it on the weekends," Weidenbach said. "We were just a bunch of college-aged musicians so we all did a little bit of everything."

As members graduated and moved away, it transitioned to a four-person ensemble in 1981 and played nearly every weekend. In 1985 three band members moved to Texas to go on tour, and the band eventually dissolved in 1987.

But Weidenbach's involvement in music didn't end when the band did.

The 58-year-old regularly sings and plays guitar at his church, and formerly directed the men's choir in Parkston. But some of his fondest memories come from his time as a member of Precious Cargo.

"We all took the music pretty seriously and somewhere along the line somebody nominated us and here we are," Weidenbach said. "We were never a touring band, we were just a bunch of college kids having fun. It was our video game at that time, so this is something truly special."