Jim Musser, Dennis McMurrin among Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame 2018 Inductees

Dennis “Daddy-O” McMurrin plays KCCK’s Jazz Under the Stars in 2013. — video still

The Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Association announced the class of 2018 on earlier this month for the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. See the full list at the bottom of the post.

Jim Musser, a longtime columnist for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, is among the inductees in the Media category. Musser and fellow 2018 inductee the Dickinson County News are only the third and fourth Hall of Fame members in that category (photographer Dick Cole (2012) and Twist&Shout‘s column “A Look Back” (2003) are the others).

Cedar Rapids’ Dennis “Daddy-O” McMurrin is one of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. McMurrin has a 54-year history as a musician in Iowa.

The Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Association was established in 1997, and in December kicked off a capital campaign to fund a new, larger location that will be built as part of the renovations at Arnolds Park Amusement Park, which has been home to the Hall of Fame since it opened in 2003. In addition to the Hall of Fame, the association funds programming for youth, including a partnership with Pearson Lakes Arts Center to create a Teen Music Association, a project which Executive Director Cindy Stanbro is working to replicate in Clear Lake.

Stanbro, who came to the association last year with 17 years of experience managing nonprofits, said in an email, “Each one of the Inductees in the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame helped define what Iowa sounds like today and helped pave the way for future artists.”

Both Musser and McMurrin are renowned and beloved in their respective fields in eastern Iowa, but both expressed surprise at having been chosen for the Hall of Fame.

Jim Musser (second from L) with Chicago blues rockers BB Spin after a show around 1982. — photo courtesy of Jim Musser

“I can honestly say it NEVER occurred to me that I would ever go into it, much less that I belonged,” said Musser in an email. He said his wife and a group of friends worked to put him on the association’s radar. “It IS nice to be thought of in that way, and extremely humbling,” he said, but admitted that “it will, no doubt, always seem weird.”

Musser started his music writing career at the Daily Iowan in the early ’80s. Although not a student, he said, “I had written a Letter to the Editor regarding a egregiously botched review of a Steve Cropper record, and the DI music editor challenged me to do better, um, so I did. They liked me and I stayed.”

Jim Musser (L) and Alejandro Escovedo at the Iowa Arts Festival, Iowa City, June 4, 2011. — photo courtesy of Jim Musser

Over the years, he was also a regular contributor to free Midwest music paper The Prairie Sun, alt-country mag NO DEPRESSION and the website CDNOW, and as music editor of ICON, Little Village‘s precursor — which, at $35 a week, was his only salaried music writing position.

He started as a freelancer at the Press-Citizen in 1998, to provide music content for their nascent arts and entertainment GO section. For the next 17 years he provided a weekly column in that section. Due to health issues that made it challenging to stay current on the scene, he made the decision that when his run at the Press-Citizen ended, he would step back from music coverage.

“I never went to J school, and really never thought of myself as a journalist. I think I’d say I’ve been more of an enthusiast/appreciator. In any case, I tried to have fun with it, and along the way bring attention to the myriad talents and interesting characters who populate Iowa City and the region,” he said. “I guess I’d say that ‘music journalism’ is most important as an attempt to suss out the output and perceived intentions of the performers and somehow help them find links to a listening audience.”

Guitarist McMurrin said of his Lifetime Achievement Award, “It took me a little by surprise.”

But he certainly has achieved a lot in his lifetime of performance in Iowa. McMurrin was 10 when he started his first band, the Planets. His bandmates, all around his same age, included fellow guitarist Michael Lehmann Boddicker (now known as a keyboardist and film composer), Richard Sweeney on bass and G.J. Tutrup on drums.

“We really thought we were something!” McMurrin said.

In the years since, McMurrin has played in several different bands, including McMurrin & Johnson, his long-time partnership with Dan Johnson (the pair have an upcoming gig at Sanctuary Pub on Friday, Feb. 2). Although he also still performs regular solo gigs, he said he prefers playing with other people, liking his bands better the bigger they are.

McMurrin has two projects in the works at the moment — he is working on a new CD, little by little, in his home studio, and he’s finalizing details on an invention that he’s been working on for years.

The invention, a handheld guitar bower, has already seen some interest from big names in the business, McMurrin said. Although he’s hesitant to talk about the project details, “I will tell you,” he said, “U2 wanted two of them.”

The CD, a labor of love, is something he records for every day. He’s layering in all of his own horn parts for the album. He doesn’t play horn during shows (“Not live, not yet,” he said), but he’s been doing in studio for a while, and even recorded with the Tower of Power Horn Section.

“About 20 years ago,” he said, “I bought a baritone saxophone, and then I bought a tenor. And I was missing something — so when I turned 50 I went and bought a trumpet … That’s the tricky one.”

McMurrin said there’s only been two days out of the last six years that he hasn’t played horns. “You have to put in the time and keep your performance level up,” he said. “I’m kind of liking what I’m doing; it’s sounding pretty good — but you have to work at it.”

KGAN Channel 2 News is running a profile of McMurrin on Sunday, Jan. 28, ahead of the station’s broadcast of the 2018 Grammy Awards.

The Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Association will hold and induction ceremony and concert on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2, 2018. In addition to most of the 2018 inductees, the concert will also include the winners of the association’s annual youth competition, Iowa Rocks Talent (registration is now open; qualifying rounds are scheduled for Okoboji and Des Moines). The ceremony starts at 2 p.m.; the concert starts at 6 p.m. Tickets go on sale March 1.

2018 Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

Buckeye — Band
The Bushmen — Band
Cabala — Band
Crusin’ — Band
The El Riadas — Band
Festival — Band
IV Pauli — Band
Lavendar Hill — Band
The Nadas — Band
A Stitch ‘n Tyme — Band
Torkays — Band
The Trippers — Band

Duane “Nudie” Binder — Individual Artist
David Ellefson — Individual Artist
Ralph Goldheim — Individual Artist
Johnny Green — Individual Artist
Rick Hillyard — Individual Artist
Rob Lumbard — Individual Artist
Rich Mock — Individual Artist
Gary Richards — Individual Artist

Pam Dixon — DJ

Julie Christensen — Women Who Rock

Dickinson County News — Media Representative
Jim Musser — Media Representative

Lorados — Venue

George Rondinelli — Support People
Marilyn Maye — Lifetime Achievement
Dennis McMurrin — Lifetime Achievement
Dean Davis — Matousek Lifetime Achievement

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