Jon Ludtke Checks In – Silver Laughter Founding Member

Jon on Les Paul

Jon on Les Paul

Note: Jon has given me permission to post some of what he sent me privately in a Facebook Messenger note. He was going to edit, but I think he got too busy so I am going to post with the warning that this may be changed at a later date if he gets to it.

Most of what he wrote was about his musical history, both when we started together as Assassination of Sound and later after Silver Laughter broke up. It is with a little regret that I post his story. Though it is true, it does not put ME in a very good light. Face it, I was not a very nice guy back then.

Regardless, it is the truth, so I am posting it here with some editing (at Jon’s request). I have made comments which appear in [] brackets to clarify. Jon and I have been talking back and forth on messenger, and he wanted me to share that our first band (that never played anywhere) was called Duffy England, and our slogan was “Duffy England is not a place”. Here is what Jon Ludtke had to say:


You and I formed Dandelion Wine, after the brief career of Assassination of Sound (my favorite song in Assassination was ‘Anything’ by Nobody). Dandelion Wine was together not quite 2 years, ending in 1969 (sometime after we played the Valentines dance at Williams Jr. High, February of 1979). Silver Laughter played that same dance in 1970.

When it ended, I had hurt feelings because you, my best friend at the time, left with Don Carstens to form another band. I was basically ‘kicked out ‘of the band. That summer (1969) I played with Alan Perkins and the Clark brothers. A friend, Rodney Siefken, introduced me to Steve Elliott and we started Silver Laughter with Kim and John [Carstensen].

As my pride recovered, I enjoyed watching your career in The Contents Are. When you joined Silver Laughter five years later, you became a valuable band member, as well as close friend.

In 1979, you and Ken left Silver Laughter. I was going to continue the band, as it was my right to do, because Silver Laughter was my band. I was a founding member, I performed in the band the entire duration, and I even owned a music trademark on the band’s name.

Jon around 1977

Jon around 1977

I was very angry when I found out that, after you quit, Art booked you, Ken and other members under the Silver Laughter name. Silver Laughter had before, and was capable then, of existing without you. I know it was only temporary, but you, and Art, had no right to use the Silver Laughter name after you left. Again, I felt [expletive deleted] upon, especially since my little brother had left school to join a sinking ship. [Jon is correct. We knew he owned the name, but the money was too much of a temptation to turn down. Back then I didn’t have much of a conscience for which I have many regrets.]

You and I do agree that firing Art was the epitome of stupid. Depressed about my music career, Steve encouraged me by letting me work with him in his studio. However, he had his own band at that time. In early 1980, Rodney Siefken (again to my rescue) introduced me to Butch Karn. He was in a band called the Crowd. They were excellent musically, exciting in performance, and had a huge following. Their singer, Mike Correlli (a previous band friend), was leaving the area. I joined Dan Hayes, Butch Karn, and Steve Rose, and we became Cold Stare (my name).

We recorded at RAK Productions, then did an EP at Westminst’r Sound, which received a lot of Midwest college AirPlay, especially a song called ‘Condition Red’. We toured, mostly colleges 1980-81. We then recorded a 14-song LP at Westminst’r (Frank Wiewel producing). The LP was never released, however promo releases of the songs ‘Magic In Your Eyes’ and ‘Key To My Heart’ received airplay. We toured 1981-82 in the club scene (a lot in Chicago and Minneapolis) and did tour support for the HAWKS, U2, Cheap Trick, and a series of punk/ new wave bands. Cold Stare broke up in 1982.

Steve E’s band at the time, the Flames, had an opening and I joined. From 1982 through 1996, Steve and I played in the Flames (1982-83), then Hi-Fi (1983-91) then Ghost Riders (1991-92), then Hi-fi again (1992-96). As Hi-Fi we recorded two LPs, only one was released. We also produced a multiple band LP for KFMH radio (1984).

Categories: History

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