BILL STRANDLOF - Lead Guitar and Vocals
Bill was born in 1946 in St. Paul, Minnesota and grew up listening to the early Rock and Roll of the late '50's and early '60's. He seemed to take a special interest in bands that featured the guitar.
Strandlof's first experience in playing music in front of an audience was with a Kingston Trio style folk group. His first real band was a "Ventures" style rock group called "Keith Zeller and The Starliners". Steadily playing the Minneapolis circuit in the early '60's he was able to fine tune his playing techniques and meet a lot of other musicians in the area. Bill's love of "The Ventures" gave him a common interest with other guitar players like Rick Youngberg ("The Deacons and "The Paisleys") and "Zippy Caplan" who was playing with "The Uniques" at the time. Bill's first recording experience came when Keith Zeller took the group into the studio to cut a 45rpm of an old standard Yellow Bird. Released locally, the record had modest success.
By 1964 "The Beatles" had begun to change the shape of the music industry and Strandlof was fascinated with their writing abilities and their harmony work. It was during this time that "The Tabs" were formed and Bill's friendship and association with Dan Rinaldi began. After two years of repeated attempts to become a top local group "The Tabs" broke up. When Rinaldi and Strandlof had a chance meeting with Jim Kane and Denny Waite who were just coming out of "The Victors", a new band "The Litter" was formed. Bill enjoyed playing in the band for awhile, but as time went on "The Litter" seemed to be moving further and further away from the direction Strandlof had envisioned for himself. Looking to incorporate more harmonies into a softer sound, it was obvious to Bill that it wasn't going to happen with "The Litter". Conflicts between Bill and Jim Kane become more frequent as they argued about the style of music the band was playing. It wasn't long before Strandlof decided he needed to make a change. Shortly after recording Action Woman, Soul Searchin' and A Legal Matter, Bill quit "The Litter". Bill's old jamming partner "Zippy" Caplan stepped into his shoes and finished the album. Caplan himself once said "It's too bad about Bill leaving the group because I've always wondered what those songs would have sounded like with Bill's leads instead of mine. I've always liked his playing - he had some great riffs".
After "The Litter" Bill's guitar was silent for a period of time but in the early '70's Strandlof was once again involved in the Minneapolis scene when he did some stints with "The Castaways" and "The Accents".
By the late 1970's Bill Strandlof had taken himself out of the music industry. He had gone to school to learn TV repair work and except for a short stint in 1975 in a group called "Tramp" with Dan Rinaldi, he continued to work in the repair field until his death. Bill had been sick off and on during those last years in the '90's and eventually learned he had Leukemia.
The disease finally took it's toll and Bill Strandlof died March 4, 1995. He is greatly missed by family, friends and fans. Bill's memory lives on in the few recordings we are privileged to have and there will always be a special spot for him in the hearts of the remaining members of "The Litter".