Benton Harbor – St. Joseph
From Tom O’Brien, co-writer of Ken Rank’s “Twin City Saucer”
Just happened to come across your website for Fenton Records, while looking for info on Ken Rank. Ken & I wrote “Twin City Saucer” while we were working at WSJM in St. Joe-Benton Harbor back in 1967. I had about a dozen copies, but moving around the last 35 years they “got lost in the shuffle.”
Boy, $200.00! That’s more than the total we spent for the initial pressing. Back then we paid $175.00 for 300 45’s and Dave Kalmbach (the studio owner) put an instrumental by the Mussies [the Jades, actually] on the “B-side” for free. Since we supplied the “master” tape there was no studio charge – just the pressing fee.
Ken & I were on the air at WSJM in the mid 60’s; Ken was on 6 to 9pm and I was on 9 to midnight so we usually hung out together. It was around ’67 that WBKB, in Chicago (now WLS-TV-Channel 7) aired a report about people in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois spotting a flying saucer. They had eyewitness accounts from LaPort, Indiana to South Haven, Michigan, and we couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing some kind of UFO Report. That’s where the main idea came from. We originally just recorded the “break-in” Twin City Saucer (Twin Cities being St. Joseph-Benton Harbor) on ¼ inch, mono tape & transferred it to a cart. I guess we spent about 3 hours writing and Ken spent another few hours voicing. I took almost 7 hours editing & mixing it. Almost as soon as we started playing it on the air people were calling up wanting to know where they could get a copy.
We got financial backing from Don Rimes, who owned Rimes & Hildebrand Department Store in St Joe. Ken was managing his son’s band, The Fyrebirds (they also recorded on Fenton and had a regional hit with “I’m Alive” [Fenton 2528]) and made us an offer to back the record, with the provision that we sell them only in his store. Of course we told him “no way” we wanted to market them to ALL record outlets in Southwestern Michigan. Don reluctantly agreed, he gave us the money & we sold them in a lotta places. We spent days going around to all the record stores & asking for “space.” We even had them in a fast food joint called Roxy’s Drive Inn. We worked out a deal if you buy a burger you’d get a free copy of the 45. They were on sale in Kroger’s Food Store, Goodman & Goldbaum Men’s Store and many more places I can’t recall. All 300 records sold out in 3 weeks and we placed another order – this time for 1,000. We began sending out fliers & 45’s to radio stations in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Alpena and Lansing – hoping for some airplay. We even got a call from WCFL in Chicago requesting a copy. CFL never played it – and by this time the UFO stories had become a distant memory. Eventually we sold almost all of the 2nd run – about 800. The rest we gave to family & friends. We had plans to put out another version, Twin City Saucer Part 2, but Ken got a job at a radio station in California and I went to NBC in New York City. We’ve since lost touch and I haven’t heard from Ken since the mid 80’s. I was looking for info about him when I came across your website.
I haven’t thought of the record in years – thanks for the mp3 link – it’ll be a treat to listen to after so many years.
Last updated on June 2, 2004.
Sad news, Ken Rank of “Twin City Saucers” fame (Fenton 2194) passed away Sunday, June 20, 2004, in a Tulsa hospital, after suffering complications from a lung transplant.
From the Fort Smith Times Record’s obituary:
Ken Rank, a well known TV/Radio personality, passed away Sunday, June 20, 2004, in a Tulsa hospital, after suffering complications from a lung transplant. Ken was born in Memphis. Along with his family he moved to Mountain Home, then to West Plains, Mo., where he graduated from high school as a record-breaking running back and an all-star baseball player for the West Plains Zizzers. After serving five years in the Navy as a medic, he began his career as a radio disc jockey in Fort Smith at KTCS Radio. Commander Ken worked at various radio stations over his career, including KRMG in Tulsa, where he was voted one of the top disc jockeys in the United States by Broadcast Magazine. Ken returned to Fort Smith and became the weather man for Channel 40/29 in 1983. Ken was also known for being the spokesperson for several northwest Arkansas businesses. He was active in the community and participated in numerous fund-raising events for local and regional charities. Ken also served on the board of advisers for St. Edward Mercy Medical Center in Fort Smith. After working 10 years as a weather man, Ken left to start his own company, VideoBase, a video production company. He produced a travel/human interest show, “Ken’s Window,” which aired on KFSM Channel 5 for several years. As an avid Razorback fan, Ken along with his wife, Debbie, founded the RoadHog Club, an RV booster club for the University of Arkansas that today has over 300 members. Ken and his family moved to Tulsa in 1996. Ken’s video production business continued to grow in the Tulsa area where he produced TV commercials and furnished video for multiple broadcast outlets including the Weather Channel and CNN. Ken’s commitment to charities continued in Tulsa, where he provided video production for Therapedics and Dillon International, an international adoption agency. Ken was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis in December 2002 and was placed on the waiting list for a lung transplant at Vanderbuilt Medical Center in June 2003. Ken researched information on lung and other organ transplants and vowed to become active in promoting organ donation and transplants. Ken received a right lung transplant Jan. 9, 2004, a date he called his re-birthday. The lung transplant was successful, and Ken returned to Tulsa to continue his recuperation and rehabilitation. Rejection is a major concern in all organ transplants. Complications with rejection issues caused Ken’s new lung to fail. Ken was preceded in death by his father, S.W. Rank, and his mother, Paula Sweatt Rank. He is survived by his wife, Debbie; daughters Sarah and Katie of the home, Jennifer of McAlester, and Melinda Gough of Fort Smith; son Brian of Fort Smith; seven grandchildren; and his sister, Meg Rank of Fort Smith.
Memorial services will be held at Floral Haven Family Center in Broken Arrow, Okla., on Thursday, June 24, 2004 at 9 a.m.
Pallbearers will be Bob Kale, Steve Wallace, Carl Lund, Steve Berry, Jack Parnell and Ronnie Kaye. Honorary pallbearer will be Joe Henderson.
Funeral service will be held in Christ the King Catholic Church in Fort Smith on Thursday, June 24, 2004, at 3 p.m. with burial at Woodlawn Memorial Park under the direction of Edwards Funeral Home of Fort Smith.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Patients Assistance Fund, Vanderbuilt University Medical Center, Lung Transplant Program, 913 Oxford House, Nashville, TN 37232.
Thanks to Jack Parnell for letting us know.
Last updated on June 23, 2004.
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