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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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SHADES (THE). (Jim Sawvel, Bill Nank, Boyd Stoewer, Bob Smith, Bobby Greenwood, Artie MENTZ, Ronny McDonald, Joe Hedley, Donny Stoewer, Denny Tranel, and Terry WilliamsThe Shades were a top area rock and roll band of the early 1960s.

The group had its beginnings in late 1957 at Bill Nank’s house in Dubuque. He, along with Joe Hedley and Bobby Greenwood, attempted to form a rock and roll trio. Eventually they hired a talented lead guitar player, Ronny McDonald, and superior tenor sax player, Boyd Stoewer. The group enjoyed minimal success until a powerful singer and front man, Jim Sawvel, joined.

Just as the band was beginning to succeed, Bill Nank was drafted. Joe decided to move over to bass guitar and Bobby Greenwood was hired back to fill the drum spot. Greenwood’s vocal lead strength and harmony added to the band’s solid sound.

The Shades opened for many rock and roll stars of that era including Johnny & the Hurricanes, Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon, The Champs, and Bobby Rydell.

No sooner had keyboardist Donny Stoewer joined the band, than the Army drafted Joe Hedley and Donny. Hedley was replaced by Denny “Truck” Trunel. When Jimmy Sawvell decided to hit the rodeo circuit, the group added singer and songwriter named Bob Smith.

Over the rest of the band’s performing years some highly talented musicians replaced leaving members. They were Terry “Mouse” Williams and one of the top 10 Elvis impersonators (according to “Rolling Stone” magazine), Artie Mentz. Boyd Stoewer passed away in 2000 and Bob Smith died while performing on stage in 1987.

Members of The Shades were inducted into the Iowa Rock'n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame in 2003.