It was a Sand Springs invasion when the band The Rogues Five came to your town or your TV in the 1960s.
The Rogues Five played the music that got people dancing, twisting and shouting — and teenage girls screaming. It was scandalous to some around here at the time, but if the Beatles could do it, why not this band of teenagers from Sand Springs?
They opened for The Doors and other big names at the Tulsa Convention Center (now the Cox Business Center). They were a regular band on KOTV’s popular teen dance show “Dance Party.” They had a record that charted regionally, right up there with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.
“In the ’60s, we were the go-to band for sock hops and concerts,” said I.J. Ganem, who was the guitarist and sang in the band.
The teenagers grew up and parted ways, but they never lost the friendship or the music. Now, 50 years later, they’re putting it back together.
The first Rogues Five reunion is set for this weekend, 50 years after the band formed. Ganem, Randy Ess, Philip Wilson, Bard Coats and Jamie Oldaker will play at the Sandite Billiards and Grill, 7822 W. Parkway Blvd., in Sand Springs, starting at 8:30 p.m. Friday. The all-ages show is free to attend, with donations collected for the Sand Springs Museum.
“We have people coming from Chicago and Texas. They’ve said, ‘I waited 50 years for this,’” Ganem said. “We didn’t realize the impact we had on people.”
The early days of the Rogues Five was just the Rogues, with Ganem and Ess playing around on their guitars.
“I.J. and I started playing together at 10,” Ess said. “We had a record at 14. We hit the road at 15.”
Ganem added: “A lot of our fans couldn’t drive to the gig.”
The teens were popular among their peers, at least those who fawned over the British invaders. They were the first ones in their school allowed to grow their hair long because their shows at school fundraisers helped raise lots of money, Ganem said.
They all had that moment when they heard their songs on the radio the first time, surreal to hear their music played alongside the biggest names in music at the time. They aimed high with their music, but really their goals were pretty simple.
“Our goal was not to go to New York or anything,” Ess said. “Our goal was to play the Civic Center.”
They achieved that in 1967 when they opened for Jim Morrison and The Doors, right after their infamous and scandalous appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The leather pants Morrison wore were really quite the scandal at the time.
“We hung out with Morrison most of the day because he wasn’t getting along with his band,” Ganem said.
But it didn’t last. Graduation scattered The Rogues Five. It wasn’t a malicious break, just time.
The fans didn’t go away, though. The band members were regularly asked about the possibility of a reunion, a call that grew and grew in recent years.
In comes the sixth Rogue: Ganem’s son, Morgan Ganem.
“I’ve always been a fan of their music,” Morgan Ganem said.
So he started convincing his dad this was a good idea, and it started to grow. Eventually they were all on board, and Sand Springs was rolling out the red carpet.
Wilson said they went to an event for the band at the Sand Springs Museum and were thrilled by what they found.
“What convinced me is when we walked into the museum and it was packed and they were cheering,” Wilson said.
I.J. Ganem added: “The people’s interest in the reunion blew us away.”
Now they’re excited to see what happens when the band and their fans get back on the stage for the first time in almost 50 years.
“We finally all got together for the first real practice. It was like time stood still. It was like the ’60s again,” I.J. Ganem said.