The Teen Tones – A South Bend, Indiana Band

This photo was taken at Lew’s

Thomas Heminger during his high school days was a member of the group – The Teen Tones in South Bend, Indiana.  Here is what Tom has to say about the group

The band The Teen Tones consisted of five members: Mike Ryan/lead singer & saxophone, Ken Kidder/electric piano & vocals, Lew Kimble/drums & vocals, Roger Lackey/rhythm guitar & vocals, Tom Heminger/lead guitar & vocals. All Riley High School (South Bend, Indiana) students class of 1965.

We formed in 1962 and were active until the summer of 1965.  Our playing area consisted of Northern Indiana extending to Huntington and Wabash, Indiana; Southwest Michigan to St. Joseph, Niles, Michigan.  We had recording sessions in Chicago at RCA Studios and Chess Records.  Little did we know that there existed several other bands called Teen Tones on the east coast.  The name of the band was suggested by Ken Kidder’s mother.  Ken was the electronic genius of the group.  He put together Heath Kit amps for our first PA system.  We build our own speaker cabinets and loaded them with JB Lansing 15 inch speakers.  Ken rewired a Voice of Music two channel tape recorder so the tape heads had a 1.5 second delay and created an echo effect on the PA.  Ken also rewired his Wurlitzer electric piano so the bottom octave played in a deep bass register.  We did not have a bass player, as Ken played bass with his left hand on the piano, and chords and lead with the right hand.  

The premier place to play in South Bend was the First Methodist Church Teen Dances.  You could show your school ID and get in for a dollar.  Cokes were ten cents.  The dances lasted from 9 to 12.  Two police officers were there for crowd control and the place was packed every Saturday night.  During the summers we were the feature band at Lake Tippecanoe “Tippy Gardens.”  This outdoor venue packed in close to a thousand kids every Saturday night during the summer.  Kids traveled from all the nearby lake cottages and from cities including South Bend, Elkhart, Goshen, Wabash, Nappanee, Huntington, Wawasee, Middlebury, etc.

We also played at Notre Dame Stephan Center and were the opening act for the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars featuring: Gene Pitney, Major Lance, Ed Burns, The Hollies,The Crystals.  Other bands you may have heard about in this area that were active.

During high school our group was called the Teen Tones.  At that time, we had no idea that there were several other bands with that name out east.  We thought we were the only band with that name. : )  I will attach a picture to this email.  We play countless band jobs in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan.  We are around the same time as the Riveras (California Sun) of Mishawaka Indiana, and early days Tommy James and the Shondells  of Niles, Michigan.  If you want to hear some of our songs, go to Youtube and type in Teen Tones or Mike Ryan and the Teen Tones for Fortune Teller, Long Cold Winter Ahead..  You will also see the “other” Teen Tones on Youtube as well.  Also, you can find my college band on Youtube.  Look up Brand X (also several other bands by that name which I didn’t know about!)  Find Brand X with song titles of Come On Home and Stop In the Name of Love.  I am doing the guitar work on these songs.  The Teen Tones recorded in the Chicago RCA Studio.  Brand X recorded in the Chess Recording Studio in Chicago.  (Check out the video Cadillac Records to learn about Lenard Chess.  Some interesting history )  We never met Lenard as our recording was during 1968.  The fuzz tone guitar was “a little new” to Chess engineers and much different that Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and BB King)

Click on this website – it contains a listing of Indiana bands and then scroll down to the Teen Tones

Teen Tones from 3/10/1965

The following is a recording made from a television program that was broadcast on Channel 22 in South Bend, Indiana on March 10th,1965. I believe that the program’s name was Hoosier Favorites.

Poison Ivy – recorded by The Teen Tones


Here is another band picture taken in 1964.  This song was written by local songwriter Paul Hertel.  We had moderate success selling this record in the South Bend area.  We recorded, I believe, ten song tracks at the RCA studio in one afternoon.  Not bad for a bunch of 17 year olds.  : )  

TEEN GROUP The Teen Tones – Long Cold Winter Ahead   – YouTube Video

Teen Tones – Fortune Teller  – Youtube Video

Brand X – Come On Home  

Brand X – Stop! In The Name Of Love