The Litter

Dan Rinaldi

DAN RINALDI - Rhythm Guitar, Lead and Back-up Vocals

The year was 1945 and on May 1 a baby boy was born to the Rinaldi's of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  They named him Dan.  At an early age Dan showed an interest in music and at age 9 his grandmother bought him his first guitar, a Sears Silvertone.  By the time he was 15 years old, he had earned some of his own money and plunked down a $20 bill for a Dan Electro.

As Dan's playing improved through his High School years, he began getting together with other musicians he met in local garage bands.  Interested in learning what other groups were doing around the Twin Cities area, Dan would make the rounds to local teen clubs and dancehalls whenever he could.  (This practice he continues to this day).

Eventually he ended up at the Marion Ballroom where he ran into promoter Timothy D. Kehr and a guitar player looking for other musicians to form a new "British" style band.  The guitarist was Bill Strandlof.  Kehr and Strandlof had gone to High School together and Kehr had promised to manage and book Strandlof's new group "The Tabs".  In need of a Rhythm guitar player and deciding that Dan had the "English" look the band needed, an offer to join was presented to Rinaldi.  The year was 1964 and the group had patterned itself after the "English" groups of the day with plenty of harmonies thrown in for good measure.  "The Tabs", a four-piece group consisting of two guitars, bass and drums, prided themselves on their "English" style vocals and were adept as well at tackling the harmonies of American groups like the "Byrds".

After booking and handling the band for two years, Kehr, who had made a lot of connections in the music business, decided to go his own way; eventually landing a job with Columbia Records.  In the meantime "The Tabs" felt they had taken things as far as they could under their current circumstances.

Dan Rinaldi and Bill Strandlof, the two surviving members, were looking for a new direction when they connected with two other musicians at the Teen Fair section of the Minnesota State Fair in 1966.  Since Jim Kane and Denny Waite, formerly "The Victors", were in a similar situation, a merger seemed to be a logical solution.  This new band was named "The Litter".

Dan Rinaldi played fabulous rhythms behind the numerous Lead guitar players that followed between 1966 and 1972, always giving 110% to whatever new line-up "The Litter" would throw at him.  His unique and wild stage presence was an intricate part of "The Litter's" success.  Denny Waite attributes the breaking of equipment on stage to Dan.  "He was the first one of us to smash his instrument and after a few gigs the whole band got into the act".  As the story goes "The Litter" themselves weren't even aware of "The Who's" habit of smashing guitars and wrecking their stage set-up, until they saw "The Who" live at the Minneapolis auditorium in early 1967.

After six years of touring and recording, not to mention all the member changes, "The Litter" began to erode due to mismanagement and bad record deals.  Only after a complete dissolution of the group in the early 70's did Dan Rinaldi find himself out of work.  But not for long.

Throughout the early 70's Rinaldi, who had hooked up with a local rock group called "Rockit", continued to play his unique style of Rhythm guitar around the Mid-West circuit until the groups demise.

Finally in 1975, a decade after the forming of "The Tabs", Dan was reunited with Bill Strandlof.  Remaining friends through the years, an opportunity finally presented itself for the two guitarists to play together again.  Since Dan had become good friends with Jack Ayres, the Lead singer for "Rockit", Rinaldi suggested he join them and the group "Tramp" was born.  The band began playing in and around Minneapolis clubs doing their version of Southern Rock ala "Lynyrd Skynyrd", but petered out by late '76 partially due to musical differences between Strandlof and Ayres.

By this time Strandlof had decided to retire from the performing end of the music business and Dan was back on his own.  Shortly after the "Tramp" breakup, Rinaldi was approached by an all female group called "Spitfire" (later changed to "Spitphire").  The novelty of this band was the fact that only one musician in the group was male and the rest female.  Dan fit in perfectly and the band played the Upper Midwest promoting themselves with almost all original material.  Since the group was one of the first all female bands to appear in the area, it wasn't long before other groups jumped on the bandwagon. (The most well known all female band from Minneapolis was "Vixen"; who later went on to sign with Capitol Records and had a string of successful albums.)

It was after this in 1978 that Rinaldi was placed in a band called "Stryder" by friend and booking agent Bill Pluta.  The group, doing heavy rock covers by acts like Ted Nugent, seemed the perfect place for Rinaldi's talents.  Pluta, however, having difficulties booking the act, re-placed Dan in a group called "Fast Eddie".  This time Dan got to do something he'd never had the chance at in all his years of playing - he was to be the group's Lead guitarist.  Covering 50's groups and a lot of Elvis the Lead work was easily handled by Rinaldi, who enjoyed success in the local bar circuit for the next five years.

By 1983 the 50's revival was growing old and Dan left the group.  It wasn't long after that he was contacted by an old friend, Jack Ayres, who had a new group he wanted Dan to join called "The Hots".  Dan had enjoyed working with Jack in both "Rockit" and "Tramp" and after listening to a tape Jack sent him, he consented to join the group.  "The Hots" played the bar circuit for the next couple of years, changing members along the way and the name to "The Rizzatos", but by 1985 and another dissolved band, Dan Rinaldi had had enough.

Considering himself retired from the music business, Rinaldi went to work for a real estate company managing their apartment buildings. 

It wasn't until five years later in 1990 and "The Litter" reunion that Dan Rinaldi stepped foot on a stage again.  Reunited with his "Litter" mates, Dan relished the whole idea of playing, touring and recording again.  He hadn't lost a thing.  The rhythms, the stage presence, it was all still there.  Still connected to "The Litter", Rinaldi continues to manage the apartment buildings, but his heart and soul will forever be in the music business.

As a final point of interest, as stated on the "Litter" Facts page, Dan says he's proud to be the only member of the band to have lasted through all it's incarnations.