Jay Bee & the Kats

                                       ...........by Don Fritz
Written on 10.25.10

This is the fifteenth edition of the Feature of the Month for the South Dakota Rock & Roll Music Association. We are rock and roll fans, and looking to write a feature each month, that will not only bring back wonderful memories, but will also remind us all of the history that was made in our great state of South Dakota. We are hoping to write a feature each month selecting one of the many talented Bands, DJ's, Radio Stations, and Dance Halls throughout SD.

In the 1960's there were several rock and roll bands from Huron, SD. They included the Torres, Bird Dogs, and Jay Bee & the Kats. It was around 1962 that the Kats came on the scene. Early members included Bob Shaw, Joe Unzicker, Steve Pugsley, and Lloyd Nerland. Shaw, from Mitchell, had been in a high school band, and formed the new group with Nerland. The four guys seemed to click and soon they were playing all over the tri-state area. Unzicker was the featured vocalist on most of the songs.

The following year Shaw and Nerland wrote an instrumental, "Tension", that had hit written all over it. In the Spring of 1964 the band scheduled a recording session at Kay Bank Studio in the Twin Cities. recording on the Bangar label they cut a 45 with "When School is Through" on one side and "Tension" on the other. There weren't too many pressings but many were given to radio DJs in the Midwest. Although the record label didn't promote the record, the Ventures-sounding instrumental "Tension" proved to be very popular and received extensive airplay. If Kay Bank had promoted it, "Tension" could have very possibly become a national hit.