The Graceland Ball room in Lupton Michigan was a favorite place for the Purple Gang. The building was built in the late 1920's until it burnt down in the early 1980s. Floyd Pastula was the owner at the time that it burnt.

The Graceland Ballroom Lupton, Michigan

When you walked in the building there were bullet holes all through the timbers, and they had mannequins dressed in the corner as the purple gang.

Although the Graceland building burned in the early 1980s, many Ogemaw County, Michigan residents will recall its striking rustic design.

The original owner, Mike Gelfand, aka One-arm-Mike, a former member of Detroit's infamous Purple Gang, and many stories came from this connection, a few of them true.

Mike purchased the property for one dollar from his sister who had inherited it from an uncle's estate. No one knows where the money to build the ballroom came from - speculation is the Purple Gang. Graceland burned from a fire.

A mix of prohibition and an economic boom from the automotive industry in Detroit during the 1920s caused the uprising of the notorious Purple Gang.

In Detroit the 1920s were a time of excess. Although prohibition was in affect, Detroit's gangsters imported alcohol from near-by Windsor. Proceeds from this industry went to various developments, but none were more impressive than the building of the South Branch Ranch and the Graceland Ballroom.

Not far from the south branch of Au Sable river in northern Michigan, the gang built one of the largest ranches in Michigan history. The various barns surrounding the primary residence resembled modern day airplane hangars. They included an indoor horse riding area, dance parlor, interlinking tunnels, and hidden rooms.

Info I found in a forum....

Kenyons Hideout: I grew up next to the Graceland Ballroom, Home of the Purple Gang, I knew Floyd Pastula very well. He owned Graceland at the time. I know that Al Capone was there on many occasions, recalled by Floyd himself... Both Al Capone and The Purple Gang used to frequent a place called Kenyon's on Sage Lake where there is still a old mob house that was owned by the Purple Gang!

It recently sold a few years ago... This is a 784 acre lake riddled with Tunnels too... Kenyon's still exists, but the Graceland burned down years ago, shortly after Floyd Died as well...

Ed Rychcik: I am Floyd Pastula's nephew. I had all the amusement games,pinball, pool tables, hockey table, and different games in it when it burned down. I was there early the next morning. The fires were still simmering. I recovered about $600 in quarters. All the quarters are fused and many are melted together.

Graceland is mentioned in Kenyon's Hideout video



My favorite Sweat hog Juan Epstein

Robert Hegyes (pronounced Hedges; May 7, 1951 – January 26, 2012) was an American actor best known for his portrayal of high school student Juan Epstein on the 1970s American sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.

While performing on Broadway, Hegyes auditioned for television producer James Komack and was cast to star in what was to become the award-winning ABC comedy, Welcome Back, Kotter.

Hegyes portrayed the character of Juan Luis Pedro Felipo de Huevos Epstein (typically referred to as simply "Epstein"). The show lasted four seasons, from 1975-1979. Hegyes became one of the show's directors at age 25.

Robert Hegyes
Official Website

On January 26, 2012, after suffering from chest pains at his Metuchen, New Jersey home, Hegyes died from an apparent heart attack at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey. He was 60 years old.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hegyes family and Robert's widow and children... RIP Epstein!



Robert Lee Balderrama
Photo: Underground Bee

Robert "Bobby" Balderrama, born in O'Donnell, Texas, grew up in Saginaw, Michigan, is the lead guitarist for the band Question Mark & the Mysterians. Bobby told me they all wrote their hit song 96 Tears. He later played with Joe King Carrasco, the Crowns on the Bandido Rock album of 1987, and now fronts his own Smooth Jazz Band Robert Lee Revue.

The Robert Lee Revue:

My favorite of The Robert Lee Revue
"Tropical Breeze" Free Download for 7 days

Robert Lee Balderrama-Guitar; Frank Rodriguez-Keyboard/P­iano; Robert Martinez-Drums; Tom Barsheff-Sax; Amy Lynn-Percussion; Nick Balderrama-Rhythm Guitar; Jack Nash-Bass; Rudolph Levario-Percussion.

Robert Lee with Ibanez Guitar

What a pleasure to chat with the amazing Bobby Balderrama the lead guitarist of Question Mark and the Mysterians and currently fronting his band the Robert Lee Revue!

It was so fabulous seeing Bobby play live 4 times in the past year and again on New Year's Eve. As the band was tuning up I shot over to Bobby and asked him to pose for a picture for me. He stopped everything and gave me such a nice shot. I just loved it...

Bobby and I talked at great length about music and we have a lot of guitar heroes in common. The first influence Bobby spoke of was our friend the legendary Detroit Wheels guitarist Jimmy McCarty..

We talked about how when McCarty plays he is lost in his music...Bobby plays the same way. He doesn't see the audience... the guitar becomes part of his body and he just plays......

Robert Lee Balderrama

The second guitarist we chatted about was Carlos Santana. Bobby said it was amazing to watch Santana evolve and invent his own guitar style with Latin influence and yet still really rocks out.

Bobby talks about Santana and Smooth Jazz...

As I do I asked about Bobby's guitars. He played a Mexican Fender Stratocaster on New Year's Eve. He explained to me that Fender makes American and Mexican guitars. Bobby said that his Mexican was less expensive but played just as well as an American Strat.

Bobby on far left with Question Mark and the Mysterians

I always ask lead guitar players who gave them their first guitar.. It seems like it was always their father... Bobby told me that his brother's wife was frustrated when her husband came home late and did an El Kabong on his head with his guitar...! Of course it broke. His brother then gave it to his Dad and then Dad gave it to Bobby! The rest is history...

In 1976 George Benson had the monster hit album Breezin. Bobby heard George play and it inspired Bobby to play smooth jazz. George Benson played with an Ibanez jazz guitar as does Bobby with the Robert Lee Revue.

You can listen to Robert Lee Revue's CD here

Bobby is sending me the Robert Lee Revue CD For the Love of Smooth Jazz and we can't wait to have it! Here is a review of the CD

You can find Bobby: :

Robert Lee Revue
Robert Lee Revue Myspace

Read More on RK
New Year's Eve with Question Mark and the Mysterians
Flintstock Question Mark and the Mysterians
Question Mark and the Mysterians

Loved chatting with Bobby B and I am certain we will be in front when the Robert Lee Revue plays soon. Bobby is a really great guy and we will be talking with him again soon for part 2!

Thanks Bobby! xxooRK



Kenyon's (Hideout) Lakeside Resort

While Lesley and I were up north for Thanksgiving, I met Lynette Ewald in Oscoda and she told me about Kenyon's Hideout. Had never heard of this resort before. Found the owner's phone and email then wrote to her about an interview. Yesterday Barbara the owner replied to my email... We are going to chat soon and I am definitely going to visit the Hideout this summer.... This place is right up my alley... Kenyon's Hideout was a favorite haunt of Detroit's Purple Gang... take a look at this VERY COOL Michigan resort.... Thanks Barb! xoRK

Michigan Magazine takes a tour of Kenyons Hideout and Resort near Lupton, Michigan. New owner Barbara Goodboo takes us on a room by room tour of this century old historic land mark business. We see hidden tunnels, passage ways and trap doors of the resort's heyday during the depression under the influence of the PURPLE GANG!

Michigan Forum Discussion on Graceland Ballroom/Kenyon's Hideout

Do you believe in ghosts? If you do you'll enjoy the stories of sightings and paranormal activity Barbara relates to us that she and others have experienced while renovating and restoring the building and property. If you don't believe in ghosts...your opinion is welcome to help explain what happened to their camera crew as they filmed the "Godfather" room!...

Kenyon's Resort is known as one of the best kept secrets in town located on a 785 acre lake known as Sage Lake in Lupton Michigan. They have a marina for boat gas and a 15 slip boat dock for customers and hotel guests.

KR has a nice little beach for swimming and relaxing. They offer casual beach side dining from the OutSide Bar and Grill, while getting a tan, or you can eat upstairs in the VIP Lounge/Dining Room overlooking the Lake. (Proper attire required for dining room level.)

Evening entertainment is at the Piano Bar Located downstairs in the SpeakEasy Lounge on Friday and Saturday evenings. Or, bring the family for Game Night and all you can eat pizza on Thursdays from 5-9pm. We also specialize in Murder Mystery Dinner Parties and Gangster Event nights, full costume for adults only this is where you are the actors! By reservation only.



Chris Klondike Masuak

One of my very favorite guitarists is Chris Klondike Masuak of the bands The Hitmen, Screaming Tribesmen,The Raouls, New Christs, The Juke Savages, Klondike's North 40 and of course RADIO BIRDMAN...

Ran into Klondike on Facebook this am and wondered what videos would Chris pick? We chatted a bit and narrowed it down to his favorite Detroit influences... We dig it.... xxoRK


Off'n the top of my head (on youtube)...

1. Stevie Wonder: Signed, Sealed, Delivered

On high rotation in Kamloops, BC when I was a kid. How can you NOT smile n' dance till the kids tell you to "Stop it, Dad! You look STUPID!"

2. Marvin Gaye: Hitchhike

I learned how to play guitar by playing along to Creedence Clearwater's version of " I Heard It Through The Grapevine". Then I discovered "Hitchhike". Every time I hear it it makes me feel so good it brings a lump to my throat! Who's NOT dancin' now???

3. Elvin Jones (w John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison): Afro Blue

It's the BEAT!! Johnny Bee Badanjek and Dennis Machinegun Thompson would no doubt agree that Elvin was a major Detroit influence on every drummer of the day!

4. Mitch Ryder and Detroit Rock N Roll

As Niagara would say, "Jeeeezus!"




One of my favorite videos of Klondike and The Hitmen with Niagara...


Rob Tyner with Davison Police

Received a lovely email from Peter C (Cavanaugh) the legendary Disc Jockey from the famous AM Flint station WTAC and many other stations.

Peter C (Cavanaugh)

Hi, Kim!

Prompted by a note referencing your "Dogs" interview, I just visited the Retro:Kimmer website for the first time and was most impressed.

I worked with "The Dogs" many years ago at a venue I operated near Flint called Sherwood Forest.

Keep up the good work!

Rock & RULE!

Peter Cavanaugh

Had a chat with Peter C. yesterday. I love talking with DJ's on the phone. They sound the same on air or off! Boom this big voice comes flying at me over the phone line! Peter and I have so much in common. The main difference is that I am still learning about the history of my favorite Michigan Musicians.

Peter was there from the beginning and helped shape the scene that took over America's Radio airwaves beginning in the 1960's.

My first question was about Rob Tyner the lead singer of the MC5. Rob had a famous encounter with the Davison Michigan Police Chief. I had heard several versions but Peter C was there! So I LOVED hearing that story...

Peter is the REAL DEAL... read his book....you'll love it. xRK

Peter was kind enough to send me his book. I stayed up all night and read the entire book... I couldn't stop reading... THANK YOU PETE!

This book grabbed me from the first page...Peter C was really front and center for the Evolution of Rock n Roll. I am so grateful to be involved with keeping my favorite rock music alive and it was so exciting to speak with Peter about what really happened backstage back in the 1960s and forward.

It was really interesting to read Peter's story about the beginning of Mark Farner and Grand Funk Railroad. They were a local band in the Flint area and went from being just a local band to one of the biggest platinum recording bands of all time.

Peter has a great back story on the Stooges playing in Flint and of course Iggy and the Peanut Butter incident....

WTAC was the very first station to play The Who. Keith celebrated his 21st (20th) birthday in Flint and had some fun at the Holiday Inn...

Found this video!



Just in.... Hi Kim- The bass parts are done now , this week I will do the singing. Here is the press photo of me and Glen. Crankin' it up!!

Glen Matlock-Sex Pistols and Sonny Vincent- Testors recording in Belgium at Primitive Studios, January 2012. 24 track tape, no digital gear within 20 kilometers.

All Best from Sonny

Rat Scabies (The Damned) Sonny Vincent

****NEW UPDATE****

Hi Kim- How are you? I hope fine and well. I'm here in the studio doing it my way. Here is the latest news for you. Best from Sonny

Album News Flash- The songs, Wild and disturbed, grooving and angular with 2 ballads as well.
The line up-
Sonny Vincent -Testors
Rat Scabies- The Damned
Glen Matlock- Sex Pistols

Yesterday I got an email from Sonny Vincent who is recording in Belgium. It was great to hear what he is up to:

From Sonny....

Hey there! I first saw your website when I did that interview with Goran Polak. Thanks for all the cool stuff you post!

At the moment I am in Brussels, Belgium in a very cool all vintage analogue studio recording a new album. I just finished putting down the basic tracks with the amazing drummer Rat Scabies of the Damned.

We don't have a video (yet) but here is a cool vid from our last tour....

You are welcome SV and we can't wait to hear the new cd when it's finished! Keep us in the loop! xK



Al King

Hey gang we had a blast today with our pal drummer Al King! Haven't seen Alex for a bit and we had a lot of news to catch up on etc. Al is one of my very favorite young drummers. Lots of my rock pals have all lined up as fans of Al's beats. I met Al after he wrote to ask me a question about Machinegun Thompson. This was early 2009.

After seeing Al's picture I realized he must be the son of an old friend of mine Jim King...from back in the day. Al's uncle is Drummer Rob King of Destroy All Monsters fame and also a really close friend of mine.

Al and I dropped Lesley off at work and then we ran all around the Dollar Store.. A favorite activity of mine! It was so good to connect and we are planning more sessions and gigs to cover together soon. xK

A few years ago I had the pleasure of filming a session in Ann Arbor with Mark Sisto (Visitors) Gary Quackenbush (SRC) Chris Taylor (Blue Snaggletooth) and Al on drums... I shot a few videos and after the session I asked Al to play the intro to an SRC tune...



Detroit Riots July 22, 1967

A friend sent me this video tonight and I had never heard or seen Gordon Lightfoot's "Black Day in July" The creator of this video did an incredible job...I loved it. The music and images are just amazing.... thanks to LL...



Just got a package from LA from The DoG himself.. Loren Molinare. I met Loren via telephone in 2009.. Loren is so kind and with a gentle voice....then he transforms before your eyes....

This was the first time I took photographers to a concert.. Sure escalated from there! Took some of my friends and they were blown away by ThE DoGs...Granted this 3 piece has been together forever and communicate on a level only other DoGs can hear...LOL

With very little fanfare in Ann Arbor 2009.. the DoGs took the stage then tore it apart.... I loved their gig so much...

I really like this cd all the way through... I played it all and then started it over again... First play I listen to what lyrics jump out at me...second play I go after the beats... that is what makes me want to dance.. third play is full tilt.. if the neighbors complain... it's a hit!

My top four tunes are:
What Goes in Quiet Comes Out Loud
Good Time Girls
In on the Out
Nothing Lasts 4 Ever

Meeting the DoGs was such a fortunate moment in time for me.. I met my dear friends Rock Photographer Heather Harris and Detroit Jack producer of DVD set of Doggy Days.. via ThE DoGs and Julie Molinare now a blogger herself... I made her page Greener Designs back in 2009...

Detroit Jack and Retro: Kimmer are cooking up lots of new adventures coming soon... Jack lives in Tokyo so stay tuned for posts from DJ...

By all means...please read this fantastic review of the new CD by Heather Harris..




DICK WAGNER Releases ‘Not Only Women Bleed’ Book

My friend The Maestro of Rock, Dick Wagner finished his new autobiography with his business partner Susan Michelson. I had the pleasure of chatting with Dick and Susan all along the process of them writing it.

Dick sent me a copy for review and I am in the middle right now..story on that coming soon.

My other stories featuring Dick Wagner's Music.

Here Comes the Mystery Man Dick Wagner
Dick Wagner's Top 10 Influences (I think this story that Dick and I collaborated on is in his book.)
Retrokimmer's New Video with Dick Wagner's Stagger Lee

Dick writes in a most distinctive way and he speaks the same way. You are totally aware that he is a songwriter when he speaks. If that makes sense.. like the phrases he puts together are just perfectly lyrical. Many pretend...but Dick Wagner is the REAL THING... he truly has been there..done that... and got the Tee Shirt! What a guy... much love for Dick and Susie XXOOK

Hot New Releases in Biographies & Memoirs of Entertainers
DICK WAGNER: #1 on Amazon.com!


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