Book recalls Fairmont era of great rock ’n’ roll

Tom Tourville

For those interested in the history of rock ‘n’ roll in southern Minnesota, there’s an event coming up on April 28 they won’t want to miss.

The Martin County Historical Society will host a book signing at 2 p.m. that Sunday for “Remembering South Central Minnesota’s Rock N Roll Years” by Tom Tourville. The event will be held at the Historical Society at 304 E. Blue Earth Ave. in Fairmont.

Tourville will offer a brief lecture on his book, followed by a rock ‘n’ roll autograph party with more than 25 musicians.

In addition, Tourville will sign books at 10 a.m. May 3 at Bank Midwest in Sherburn, 33 N. Main St. The book is also available on Amazon.com

A Fairmont native, Tourville moved to the area in 1955 and spent his time as a kid during what he considers the classic ’60s and early ’70s before he went off to college in Mankato.

“Fairmont had a really vibrant, rich rock ‘n’ roll history to it and it was a fun time to grow up,” he said. “There were so many options to go see rock music and local bands and buy records.”

Tourville went on to share what it was like to write the book and really dig into the local culture of the time.

“Over the last 40 years, I’ve had the chance to write 29 books on Midwest rock ‘n’ roll history,” he said. “I had decided after my last book that that would be it, but the last couple of years I thought it would be fun to go back to my rock ‘n’ roll roots and do a book on the history of southern Minnesota rock, broader than just Fairmont. So I started work on this book about two years ago and it covers all the rock ‘n’ roll history between 1964 and 1977.

“Of course, if you’re going to look at rock history, it hinges on ballrooms. Ballrooms were the anchor to how the rock music grew and became popular.

“So in this book I included Fairmont’s legendary Interlaken Ballroom, the Fox Lake Ballroom in Sherburn, the Ballroom at Hands Park, which went by many different names, and the Fairmont Youth Center, where all the kids in the area cut their teeth on rock music.”

Tourville meticulously documented everything he could find, noting that about 50 percent of his information came directly from the Historical Society.

“I built this book around all the different groups and chronologically documented when particular groups played month by month, date by date,” he said. “When I finished, I ended up with 132 pages and over 420 photographs and 1,200 bands playing 1,100 shows at those different venues. The case can be made that Fairmont, at least in the ’60s and ’70s, was largely built on rock ‘n’ roll.

“It went so far that Enderson’s Clothing once hired a rock band to play in their store to unveil fashions. That just goes to show you how popular that music was to this area.”

Tourville noted he is proud to have the forward to his book written by Steve Murphy and Jerry Clark, both leaders of the band “The Epicureans.”

“This [book] was probably one of the most fun ones I wanted to do because it really goes back to my rock ‘n’ roll roots as a kid,” he said.


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