By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 11, 2008 at 5:17 AM

Although the Fab Four played the Arena once -- in September 1964 -- Milwaukee can't claim The Beatles. But we can claim The Ricochettes, a Beatles-inspired pop group that performed in area clubs and recorded a few singles in the mid-1960s.

The band has reformed after a 40-year hiatus and plays at Serb Hall on Friday, Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and Summer Breeze also plays.

Drummer Jon Galobich is back in Milwaukee after three decades in Chicago and he says the time just seemed right for The Richocettes to remind Milwaukee about the band.

"Last year WOKY radio switched its format to ‘60s and ‘70s music. They also began a weekly segment called ‘Throwback Thursday,' that features Milwaukee's best remembered and loved sixties bands.

"Host Gregory Jon invited me on to talk about The Ricochettes. Gregory reported many Milwaukee ‘60s bands were reforming: The Skunks, El Rey and the Nightbeats, Big Louie and The Renegades, etc. He thought it would be a wonderful idea if The Ricochettes reformed. Thus this reunion."

Galobich recalls that the band was formed by Ar Kriegel and Herb Hohnke, who were neighbors and students at Custer High. Although Kriegel was a trombonist and Hohnke an accordionist, their love for rock and roll led them to the guitar and bass, respectively.

Galobich joined next and when guitarist Jerry Wollenzien was added in early 1965, The Ricochettes were complete and ready to play.

"CYO dances were the main meeting place for all Milwaukee teens throughout the ‘60s," remembers Galobich. "They became a proving ground as well for all Milwaukee's bands. And The Ricochettes played CYOs from Cudahy to Menomonee Falls and Port Washington to New Berlin.

"We became regulars at George Devine's Million-Dollar Ballroom in the Eagles Club. We also opened for many of the British invasion bands in Milwaukee's Auditorium and Arena and traveled to Chicago to play the Aerie Crown Theatre and Opera House and Auditorium."

Soon, the quartet was sharing stages with their heroes, opening for The Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermits, The Animals and The Mindbenders.

"Our greatest thrill was opening for The Rolling Stones at Milwaukee's Auditorium," says Galobich. "However, our bragging rights are a tad moot as we have no proof. It seems pictures were taken backstage of us and the Stones celebrating my and Jerry Wollenzien's birthdays by a Milwaukee Journal photographer. However, in our excitement no one bothered to get copies of the pictures."

The group recorded a handful of 45s in 1965 and ‘66, including "Can I Be Sure" backed with a cover of The Beatles' "I'll Be Back" for Raynard Records, "Come In My Love (Out of the Rain") and "Losing You" for Quill, "I Don't Want You" for Destination Records and "Find Another Boy" and "Don't Waste Your Time" for Continental/Destination.

In 1966, The Beatles stopped touring and The Ricochettes also made some changes. Galobich decided his future was behind the scenes and he quit to become the band's manager. He later went on to work for Columbia and Elektra Records and managed bands, including The Ides of March.

The Ricochettes replaced him with the colorfully named Humpty Neuhofer and added two guitarists, brothers Mike and Jim Milewski.

"The new amalgamation continued to play successfully throughout the next several years," says Galobich. "Eventually life, the Army and Vietnam, marriage, children and other musical pursuits intruded."

Although the band split, most members remained involved in music and kept in touch with one another.

Galobich says that the music at the upcoming show will reflect the past and the present of The Ricochettes.

"The band still has an extensive roster of Beatles tunes. However other British invasion acts like the Hollies, Tremolos, Fortunes, etc have provided repertoire for the group.

"(But) Ar Kriegel and Jim Milewski have continued to hone their individual songwriting chops and the band will continue to perform several of their original tunes."

He notes that a pair of "sneak preview" shows went well and The Ricochettes are keeping their options open for the future.

"The response has been more than supportive. If this kind of response continues maybe it will be time for a full-fledged Ricochettes reunion."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.