Grand Rapids – Ronn Burke, Paul Magnan, Gary Johnson, Dick Webster, Jim Ranta
THIS LOCAL ROCK BAND HAS RETURNED TO THE STAGE AFTER A 40-YEAR HIATUS
For five gentlemen from West Michigan, their encore story is literally just that – an encore more than four decades in the making.
And chances are – if you were a teeny-bopper during the mid-to late-1960s – you’re a part of their narrative.
That’s when a rock ‘n roll group know as “The Boyfriends” took to stages throughout Michigan, playing covers at high schools, college campuses, dance clubs and classic “battle-of-the-band” competitions.
As they neared the age of 20, The Boyfriends broke up. But in 2013, they decided to resurrect themselves, men now all older than 60, motivated in part by a request to play at the 45th Catholic Central High School reunion of the Class of 1969.
“It’s something that to me is deeply satisfying,” related keyboardist Jim Ranta, D.O., who joined the others in the band when they were juniors and he was just a freshman. “It’s not the frenetic pace now that it was back then and not all-consuming like it was back then, when we played four or five nights a week.”
The band originated when bass player Paul Magnan and drummer Dick Webster joined forces, but only after Paul talked Dick into losing an accordion player who threatened to be a part of their original entourage.
Both men were already playing in bands – Dick in “The Attitudes” and Paul in “The Revolution Kind” and “Cupid and the Intrepids.” Paul was successful in convincing Dick to go the rock route rather than leaning in a polka direction.
The rest, as they say, is history, with The Boyfriends becoming wildly successful for the three years they stayed together, playing the same clubs that hosted the Beach Boys, Bob Seeger, MC5 and Brownsville Station.
The Boyfriends dissolved when Dick and guitarist Gary Johnson went into the armed forces. Dick returned to work in commercial painting. Gary was employed as a technician for Xerox. Jim eventually became a doctor. Ron Burke retired from a career at Steelcase Inc. and Paul worked in the electronics field before entering manufacturing; he now serves as a manager for DTE Energy.
Paul and Ron found other ways to keep entertaining. Ron signed on with the band Natchez Trace, and Paul hitting the road for 13 years as a bass player and keyboardist for hire, sitting in on gigs with the Mandrell Sisters, Johnny Rodriguez, Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams Jr., Mickey Gilley and David Allen Coe.
He roamed the U.S., and laughs now to consider that “I lived on the kindness of women.”
Jim says it’s “fun to be back with old friends and play the music we love and entertain people who enjoyed us then and now. Like most old memories, we self-edit and might think we’re better now than what we really are and that’s fine.
“So we’re enjoying it now and then, just in different ways.”
Boyfriends Website: http://www.theboyfriendsband.com/
The Boyfriends, 1965-1970
From the Boyfriends FaceBook Page on September 16, 2013:
Well it’s somewhat official..The Original Boyfriends plan on reuniting and performing at the next Catholic Central Class of ’69 Reunion. Going to post this on the class reunion page and hope for some support..
This is the start of The Boyfriends page. A remembrance of a very popular group over West Michigan, that performed in the late sixties. The intent is to share photo’s, comments, and reach out to all of the fans we had back in the day – and let them know that we remember them as well.