Roland Bernard “Bunny” Berigan was born just beyond the Fox Cities and just after the turn of the 20th Century before becoming a major player in a major American musical movement.
He’s still regarded among the finest jazz trumpeters of all time.
Berigan was born in Hilbert in 1908. He was raised in Fox Lake and attended the University of Wisconsin before hitting the big time with his trumpet and unique jazz sound as the big band, swing era took America by storm.
Before his passing at just 33 years old, Berigan’s trumpet was featured on hundreds of records alongside the era’s biggest names including Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.
Berigan’s solo on Dorsey’s recording of “Marie” is considered one of his signature performances.
He played as part of Broadway pit orchestras. He was a member of the CBS Radio Network’s house band. He was regularly featured on CBS Radio’s “Saturday Night Swing Club” broadcasts.
In 1937, he became the leader of a band under his own name.
The WAMI Hall of Fame is far from Bunny’s first honor.
His 1937 recording, “I Can’t Get Started,” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1975. In 2008, Berigan was inducted into the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame.
His legacy had been honored annually in Fox Lake with the “Bunny Berigan Jazz Jubilee.”
Stevie Rachelle’s career took him from Oshkosh to Hollywood -- then across the nation -- and once again back to his Wisconsin roots.
He became a favorite of the Packer nation. Before that, he played on the big stages under the bright lights and gave the Dairyland some representation amid the Aqua Net, eyeliner and power ballads of the glam metal era.
Rachelle joined Tuff as vocalist in 1987 through circumstances that might well be described as fate. A flyer handed out on the Sunset Strip somehow made its way to the Midwest and Stevie answered the call. Tuff sought the right man for the mic and Stevie took a gamble, buying a one-way flight to L.A.
An unlikely scenario became reality.
After paying their dues on the club scene, the band signed with Atlantic Records in 1990 and found success with their debut album, “What Comes Around … Goes Around.” Their power ballad, “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye,” peaked at the three spot on the Dial MTV countdown -- behind Guns ‘N Roses and Metallica. Tuff toured alongside artists including Lita Ford, Dokken and Badlands.
Glam lost its hold, though Rachelle kept busy. Another project demonstrated his home state, home team love. His Packer-centric parody act, Cheeseheads With Attitude, was a major part of the soundtrack during the Green and Gold’s mid 90s return to glory.
Rachelle founded the web magazine, “Metal Sludge” which continues to provide an outlet and community for glam fans.
His WAMI induction wasn’t lost on “Metal Sludge,” which included his honor under the headline, “HELL FREEZES OVER … Wisconsin Area Music Industry inducting STEVIE RACHELLE of TUFF into Hall of Fame.”
Billy Flynn is a Wisconsin guitarist with Wisconsin roots, though built his resume and legacy within one of the great American blues scenes -- and one just a short drive south of our border.
The Green Bay native is already a member of the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame, and tonight, he becomes part of the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Hall of Fame.
He’s known and appreciated as a musician’s musician; a multi-instrumentalist who shines on lead and rhythm guitar, mandolin and harmonica. He’s renowned for his innovative and unexpected solos steeped in history while still expressing the blues of today.
At the young age of 14, Flynn met Jimmy Dawkins while sitting outside and listening at the back door of a Green Bay blues club -- and as they say, the rest was history. Dawkins invited Billy to hit the road in 1975 with The Chicago Blues All-Stars and its ensemble cast including Dawkins, Eddie Shaw, Hubert Sumlin and Junior Wells.
He’s played alongside some of the biggest names in his field.
Billy was the backing guitarist during the “Howling For Hubert (Sumlin) Tribute” at the Apollo Theater and supported artists including Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Elvis Costello, Kim Wilson and Billy Gibbons.
His ability and passion carried him across the country and around the world. He’s played at the Chicago Blues Fest, King Biscuit Fest, San Francisco Blues Fest and blues festivals across Europe. Billy released 11 titles under his own name and has performed on or written songs for more than 50 recordings and artists. His most recent album, “Lonesome Highway,” was released in 2017.
Flynn’s work was featured in the Grammy-nominated soundtrack of the movie “Cadillac Records” in the role of the guitar work of Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry. He performed on Beyonce’s version of “At Last” from the soundtrack, which earned her the 2010 Grammy for best female R&B performance.