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Jan Kuehnemund’s Vixen guitar

Monday, November 10th, 2014

A Girl, a Guitar, and a Dream.  It’s a fitting epitaph to Jan Kuehnemund’s remarkable life, which was tragically cut short by cancer in 2013.  The 59-year-old St. Paul native was the founder and lead guitarist for Vixen, the first all-female rock band from the Twin Cities, which rose to international stardom during the glam metal heyday of the 1980’s.  Jan began playing guitar as a teenager and formed her first band, Lemon Pepper, while still in high school. With her dad Carl serving as roadie, Jan and her band mates Laurie Hedlund (drums), Cindy Boettcher (keyboards) and Gayle (Erickson) DeMatoff (bass) played throughout the Twin Cities, including gigs at the Cabooze, Duffy’s and the Union.   As the band honed their chops, they secured a manager and began performing around the country under their new moniker, Vixen.  During the 1970’s Vixen opened for acts such as Styx, Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon, and Bob Seeger, and in 1979 the girls moved to Los Angeles to strike it big.

By the mid-1980’s Cindy, Laurie, and Gayle had left the band, but Jan continued to pursue her dream with new members Janet Gardner (vocals), Roxy Petrucci (drums) and Glencoe, MN native Share Pedersen (bass). Their 1988 self-titled debut album, Vixen, went gold and was followed in 1990 by the release of Rev it Up and tours with Deep Purple and Kiss.  Vixen disbanded in 1991, but re-formed in 1997 without Kuehnemund.  Jan won a legal battle for the band’s name and revived Vixen in 2001 with new members. With more than 1 million records sold, four songs in Billboard’s Top 100, and six top-ranked videos on MTV during the 1980’s,  Vixen established its legacy as a groundbreaking success in the male-dominated world of heavy metal rock, a feat accomplished in large part due to the vision, talent and perseverance of its guiding spirit, Jan Kuehnemund.


Jan Kuehnemund (left) with Janet Gardner and Share Pedersen at The Town and Country Club in London, 1990. Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns, gettyimages.

Stop by the History Center this week only (through November 23) to see this rock star’s guitars, stage costume, and more. Enjoy!

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The Beatles

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

On this day, August 21 in 1965 the Beatles performed at Metropolitan Stadium. This photograph shows a crowd of nearly 4000 fans awaiting the arrival of the Beatles at the airport.

For more information on this concert, see this article in Minnesota History magazine.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Sounds of Blackness Sign

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Sounds of Blackness Sign

One of our favorite events of the year happens TONIGHT at the Minnesota Historical Society, Retrorama!

This year, fashion designers are taking their inspiration from the current exhibit, Sights, Sounds and Soul: Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis. This sign, which will be on view at the event, is an early bus advertisement for a seminal group in the Minnesota music scene, Sounds of Blackness.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this sign in our collections database.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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DJ Short Lunch

Friday, April 25th, 2014

DJ Short Lunch

The new MNHS exhibit Sights, Sounds and Soul: Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis opens this Saturday, April 26 so all this week we will post just a few of the over 2000 Charles Chamblis photographs we have in our collection.

In this photograph you can see disk jockey Bernard “Short Lunch” Walker working at P.J. Clarke’s in 1982.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

For more information on the whole collection of Charles Chamblis photographs, please view the finding aid here.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Taste of Sin

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Taste of Sin

The new MNHS exhibit Sights, Sounds and Soul: Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis opens this Saturday, April 26 so all this week we will post just a few of the over 2000 Charles Chamblis photographs we have in our collection.

In this photograph you can see the band Sweet Taste of Sin performing at the Jet-Away Club in 1985.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

For more information on the whole collection of Charles Chamblis photographs, please view the finding aid here.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Record Shop

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Record Shop

The new MNHS exhibit Sights, Sounds and Soul: Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis opens this Saturday, April 26 so all this week we will post just a few of the over 2000 Charles Chamblis photographs we have in our collection.

In this photograph you can see Chico Harris (a.k.a. Chico Fatfingers) and Kyle Ray posing with an Isley Brothers record at the Hot Licks store in 1980.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

For more information on the whole collection of Charles Chamblis photographs, please view the finding aid here.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Charles Chamblis Photography Collection

Monday, April 21st, 2014

From family reunions to the nightclub scene, there is no one who documented the Twin Cities Black community like Charles Chamblis. Affectionately called “The Pictureman,” he had a passion for photography and a knack for being everywhere at the right time. The Minnesota Historical Society is thrilled to have a collection of over 2,000 of his images documenting life in the 1970-1980s.

Sights, Sounds and Soul: Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis is a new exhibit of his work, opening at the Minnesota Historical Society on April 26, 2014.

And join us for Retrorama: a celebration of fashion of the 70-80s on May 16, 2014!

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The Philadelphia Story

Monday, April 21st, 2014

The Philadelphia Story

The new MNHS exhibit Sights, Sounds and Soul: Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis opens this Saturday, April 26 so all this week we will post just a few of the over 2000 Charles Chamblis photographs we have in our collection.

This photograph shows The Philadelphia Story (also known as the Valdons) performing in the mid 1970s: (Left to right) Maurice Young, Clifton Curtis, Monroe Wright, Bill Clark.

For more information or to purchase a photograph of this item, view this photograph in our collections database.

For more information on the whole collection of Charles Chamblis photographs, please view the finding aid here.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Bing Crosby Tape

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Bing Crosby Tape

Audio tape cartridge of Bing Crosby’s music album “I Wish You a Merry Christmas,” manufactured by 3M Company, Revere-Wollensak Division, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1962.

For details, view this tape in our collections database.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Dan Murphy’s Les Paul Goldtop Guitar

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

“It was really a home spun band with very humble beginnings”.  That’s how former Soul Asylum lead guitarist Dan Murphy described his Minneapolis-based band, which rose to superstardom in 1992 with their hit single “Runaway Train”.  A native of Duluth, Murphy co-founded the group in 1981 with Karl Mueller and Dave Pirner as a trio under the name Loud Fast Rules, playing in garages, at parties, and in local clubs including First Avenue.  With the addition of Pat Morley on drums, the band changed its name to Soul Asylum in 1984 and began recording albums for the independent record label Twin/Tone Records. Grant Young replaced Morley on drums shortly after their debut album, Say What you Will, and for the next nine years the band played hundreds of concerts across the United States and Europe, building a following of fans and climbing the college radio charts.  After releasing a string of tepidly-received albums under the A&M label, the band signed with Columbia Records in 1992 and released Grave Dancers Union to critical and popular acclaim. The album’s success catapulted Soul Asylum to international celebrity and assured their reputation for the next twenty years as one of the world’s most renowned independent rock bands.

Purchased in the mid 1980’s at Benedict’s Music Store in Minneapolis, Murphy used this Gibson Les Paul guitar on every Soul Asylum album, starting with 1988’s Hang Time, until his departure from the band in 2012.  Murphy also logged hundreds of performances on the guitar as a member of Soul Asylum and the supergroup Golden Smog, including appearances at President Bill Clinton’s first inaugural ball, the MTV Music Awards, “Saturday Night Live”, the “David Letterman Show”, and the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno”.  The guitar joins the Society’s extensive holdings of artifacts and manuscript materials which document both the storied legacy of Soul Asylum and Dan Murphy’s celebrated achievements as a Minnesota musician.

Adam Scher, Senior Curator

Photo by Daniel Schwen.

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An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs