This photo has to rank as one of the strangest pictures that has been offered to this site. In 1964 all the rage for teenagers was the phenomena of Go-Go Clubs such as the Whiskey A Go Go in Las Angeles or the Peppermint Lounge in New York City. Local teenager, Ron Sakamoto, tapped into this trend and opened the Honeycomb A Go Go in an old basement bowling alley a few doors down from the Monarch Theatre on Second Street. From the beginning it became the place to be seen and the lineups snaked down Second Street in front of the Monarch Theatre, much to the displeasure of the owners. Groups like Wes Dakus and The Rebels, the early Guess Who, The Big Town Boys from Toronto , The Marketts from Los Angeles ( who recorded Out Of Limits) , Regina’s White Knights and many other national acts played the venue. The success of the club spelled the end of the Medicine Hat Teen Hall. This photo is of Ron Sakamoto in the Medicine Hat Stampede parade wearing a sombrero( What??), along with two of his go go dancers ( he thinks they are Lucille Bishoff and Terry Waters??) along with the bleached blond White Knights band from Regina. Ron graduated from the local scene to become one of the biggest concert promoters in North America. A note of interest, Medicine Hat’s Outlaws served as the house band at the Honeycomb for several years, ( See The Outlaws).
An old photo of the location of the Honeycomb A Go Go on second street and the door way that led down into the popular basement club. It is hard to read but the sign on the right says Honeycomb A -Go- Go. Another 100 yards to the right is the Monarch Theatre.
This is a banner that would run across the bottom of a page of the Medicine Hat News to promote local dances. The Legion and the Elks Club used this extensively as well as the Corona Ballroom who did this twice a week for many years. This one was from March 11-1966 and promoted a Twist Contest between mayor Harry Veiner and the Honeycomb go-go girls. It’s interesting to note that the Friday hours were from 9:00 PM to 1:AM but Saturday the music, by law, had to stop at midnight.
This photo of The Outlaws ( Sorry it is of such poor quality but…..) includes Peter Sawchuck who was a loud, fast talking CHAT radio DJ for a short time around 1965. L to R back row Gerry Maier (guitar) Peter Sawchuck (manager??) Gary Ulrich (vocals) L to R front row Dave Meher (bass) John Patton (drums) Don Patterson (guitar). At one point the band promoted T Kay clothing for The Bay in Calgary.
Although it might not have been a highly visible part of the 60s Medicine Hat musical picture there was, nonetheless, a small pocket of folk music that has continued on to today and this picture perfectly captures the genre at that time. ( Photo taken by the Medicine Hat News).This is the New Folk Trio in about 1965 consisting of L to R ….Sharon Martin, Georgina McCallum and Sally McGee (Sehn). Apparently the Honeycomb A-Go-Go used to open up for folk music on Saturday afternoons and this group performed there as well as appearing at local Hootenannies ( Does anyone remember Hootenannies??), high schools and service clubs. It also seems that Sharon and Georgia were part of the vibrant night time Honeycomb scene by being go-go dancers. It would be great to include more pictures of folk groups so if anyone has any please send them in. ( Susan Palmer and Lyndell.??…Clint Jarboe??….Roger ??…Boylan ??)
A photo of Honeycome a-g0-go owner Ron Sakamoto today….for those that remember his smiling face at the Honeycomb in the mid 60s.
Following is some fun information about Honeycomb A Go Go founder Ron Sakamoto taken from an interview which is available on the internet.
At age 17, Ron started The Honeycomb A Go Go in Medicine Hat—complete with gogo dancers! His life work had begun, but Ron chose to give up this club to further enhance his education. After going to school in Vancouver, Ron returned to Medicine Hat to continue to follow his dream. Ron managed several departments at the local Eaton’s store during the day and ran a booking/management agency at night. Baby-boomers in southern Alberta will remember spending Friday and Saturday evenings at a dance with one of the many bands Ron booked. While the club served no alcohol, Sakamoto peddled pop, chocolate bars, and chips to make money.
A favourite story of Ron involves playing cards with several businessmen one evening. Ron proposed an investment plan to these businessmen, asking each of them to invest $1000.00 for shares in his company. He could then expand Gold& Gold Productions to book larger acts and arrange a concert tour into other provinces in Canada, a goal he set for himself. All of the businessmen turned Ron down saying he would never be able to book the band he was interested in and therefore would never be able to put on the concert tour. In spite of this, and believing in himself, Ron managed to scrape the deposit together, booked The Doobie Brothers and the rest is history.
Ron was the first promoter to bring the rock band Kiss; to Canada; he’s booked hundreds of artists from Roy Orbison to Shania Twain. His accomplishments include being a finalist for Promoter of the Year in the American Country Music Awards, in 1996 Ron won Canada’s Promoter of the Year in all categories, and just this past September Ron won the Canadian Country Music Association’s Promoter of the Year award for the eighth consecutive year.
“I was 17 when I started The Honeycomb. We had live bands. I remember booking the White Knights, and the Checkerlads from Regina; and Chad Allen & the Expressions from Winnipeg. Of course, Chad left to go to university and they put Burton Cummings in, and became the Guess Who. I remember saying to Frank Weiner at the Hungry I Agency (in Winnipeg), “What’s their new name?.” He said, “well, we’re changing it to Guess Who.” I said, “I don’t know. What are you going to change it to.” He said, “Guess Who.” I said, “I don’t know.” He finally said, “You stupid ass. They are going to be called the Guess Who.”
Most of the Canadian acts were regional in the ‘60s. From Edmonton, there was Wes Dakus and the Rebels with singer Barry Allen with his hit “Love Drops.” How many times did I book those guys? They were huge here.
Medicine Hat mayor Harry Veiner helped me. He had a broken down bowling alley which wasn’t in use. So he told me everything I had to do. How to come to city council (and get a permit). He said that if I made money I could pay him something. If I didn’t, that was okay. He was a real colorful mayor. He was my first mentor. He taught me a lot about business. That’s what he was. He was the most successful businessman in Medicine Hat. He told me what to do. and how to do it.
Ron Sakamoto was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
A picture of Wes Dakus and the Rebels from Edmonton. Ron Sakamoto talks about what a popular attraction they were at the Honeycomb and they were as good, if not better, than many of the major recording acts that came through Medicine Hat. From L to R…Barry Allen, who had major airplay with songs like Lovedrops, Wes Dakus, Stew Mitchell (drums) and Bob Clark , one of the finest guitar players in the country during the 60s. Below is a sample of an instrumental by Wes Dakus and the song Lovedrops from Barry Allen, which will help to show just how good this band was
Wes Dakus and The Rebels- Come on Down (audio).
Barry Allen- Lovedrops (audio)
A great band from Lethbridge that received national exposure primarily as an instrumental act along the lines of the Ventures and was always popular at the Honeycomb. Ron Sakamoto has said ” The first time I saw them, I booked them to play my club in Medicine Hat ‘The Honeycomb,’ ” Sakamoto recalled.“ They were still in school and you had to be 18 to play clubs, but nobody cared about that back then. They were a good band. Whenever they played, they filled my club up,” he recalled. “ I was quite sure they were going to be successful,” he continued. Below is an instrumental by the Checkers from about 1963.
Twilight Twist- The Checkers (audio)