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Yesterday in La Crosse

Mr. and Mrs. Dragon, and Mr. Rogers (Kenny), play the Sawyer, 43 years ago

Brad Williams

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May 14th was a red letter day in the history of La Crosse’s old Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium.  That was the day Elvis Presley performed in the building in 1956.  Exactly 20 years later on May 14th of 1976, the Sawyer hosted one of the hottest musical acts of the year…Captain and Tennille.  Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille had the biggest hit of 1975, ‘Love Will Keep Us Together.’  Their cover of ‘Shop Around’ had just entered the Top 40…and they were getting a weekly show on ABC.  Captain and Tennille drew an audience of 23-hundred to the Sawyer on a Friday night, which was a disappointment to the auditorium manager, because the arena was just over half-full.  Also appearing on the bill that night…Kenny Rogers, who was just a year away from having a career-boosting hit with the song ‘Lucille.’   

La Crosse’s Blue Stars drum and bugle corps was preparing for a busy Bicentennial summer.  Besides the usual competitions, the Blue Stars were invited to perform that August at the Rose Garden of the White House, where members of President Ford’s family were expected to attend.   

And about 80 people showed up in Myrick Park to hear from the followers of a couple known as Bo and Peep…who claimed to be space aliens preparing to take their followers to heaven…in a spaceship which would arrive on Earth in a few months.  Bo and Peep didn’t appear at Myrick themselves, but they had a message that was out of this world, in 1976, yesterday in La Crosse.     

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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