The Litter

Denny Waite

DENNY WAITE - Lead Vocals, Keyboard and Blues Harp

Denny was born on the East side of St. Paul, Minnesota on April 14, 1948.  As a young kid he loved singing along with the radio, TV commercials and with family and friends.  His parents, noticing the musical ability in their son, prompted him to take up an instrument.  Denny chose the piano and took lessons for many years.

As he progressed into his teens he tried the bugle, for the Boy Scouts, and played trombone in Junior High School.  By the time he reached Johnson High School he was experimenting with a new instrument, the harmonica.  He could also be found singing in his High School Choir and appeared in many school plays.

It was while he was at the Teen Fair section of the Minnesota State Fair in 1964 that he met and came to know Jim Kane.  Kane was looking for a replacement for the lead singer in his band "The Victors" and after auditioning, Denny got the job.  Since he was only 16 at the time, Denny had to juggle both rehearsals and gigs around his school schedule.

After playing around the Twin Cities area for the next two years, the band began to deteriorate leaving only Jim Kane and Denny to salvage things.  It was now 1966 and Denny was out of High School making his way as a professional musician and vocalist.  The gigs with "The Victors" helped him develop his style and the stage presence which soon would pay off bigger than he imagined.

Denny and Jim Kane ran into Dan Rinaldi and Bill Strandlof at the Minnesota State Fair's Teen section and after plugging in Tom Murray on drums, "The Litter" was born.

As the group began to take off, the venues became better, the road trips longer and the need for professionalism and  a good stage show, became more importantTo help achieve these goals and add more versatility to the sound, Denny called upon his past talents and added keyboards to numerous tunes.  As "The Litter" learned more and more obscure "English" album tracks, many having their roots in the Blues, it became necessary for Denny to add his harmonica to the mix.  It didn't take him long to adapt his knowledge of the harmonica into the styling of the Blues Harp.  (His mastering of the instrument is evident on many "Litter" recordings.)

The next logical step for "The Litter" was recording.  Hooking up with Jim Kane's old friend, Warren Kendrick, led to the studio sessions that eventually became Distortions. ("The Victors" recorded several songs in Kendrick's studio - most of which can be heard on the CD The Scotty Story - see the "Litter" Discography).  Having already been in the studio with Kendrick once before, Denny was looking forward to recording the album.  But this time it would be different, unlike the previous sessions which were more of a Demo nature, this was serious business.  This time it was for a complete album which would be released to a consumer market.  To make matters worse it had been a couple of years since "The Victors" had been in the studio.  Denny was having a tough time at first.  Used to the big ballrooms the group had been playing, the recording studio environment was quite different for him and he turned to Kendrick for advice.  Kendrick told him "Look Kid, just give it everything you've got - sing it from the soul and you'll be fine".  Denny took his advice and the results speak for themselves on cuts like Codine and Action Woman.

The album was a success and the band continued to work around the U.S. and Canada before going into recording sessions with their singer-songwriter and road manager Larry Loofbourrow.  Although Denny did not play keyboards or Blues Harp on these recordings, Loofbourrow thought enough of his vocal abilities to request that he provide some of the vocal harmonies needed for various cuts.

By the late summer of 1968, with two albums and countless concert tours behind him, Denny Waite was beginning to feel the grind.  "The Litter" had begun to move in a different direction.  As the band got harder and louder, he found it increasingly difficult to be heard over the antiquated PA systems of the day.  Eventually his voice began to strain and the concerts became more difficult for him to endure.  As the filming of Medium Cool came to a close that August in 1968, Denny learned that "Zippy" Caplan would be leaving the band almost immediately.  After considering the options, Denny decided to move on and both Caplan and Waite quit "The Litter" simultaneously.

What followed over the next few years was excitingly different for the former singer-songwriter of a popular Rock and Roll band.  Denny worked construction for awhile eventually ending up at the University of Minnesota where he studied Music and Philosophy.  It was during this period that he became interested in Yoga and Meditation and as the 60's came to a close Denny Waite could be found in Switzerland studying with the Maharishi.

Returning to the U.S. in the early 70's, he heard about a good opportunity and moved to Alaska to work on the pipeline.  During his time in the cold northland, he returned to his love of music and formed a Country band with his older brother Tom.  Calling themselves "The Brothers Waite", Denny sang and played harp and rhythm guitar.

Following his pipeline gig, Denny spent some time in San Francisco before moving back to Minneapolis in 1979.  He got a job working building maintenance for the Federal Court House but by 1984 had secured himself a better position as an airplane mechanic for Northwest Airlines.  This is a job he holds to this day.

Throughout the 80's Denny would jam with various local musicians occasionally sitting in with area working bands.  As 1989 was coming to a close, he got a call from his old friend and "Litter" mate, "Zippy" Caplan asking him to play keyboards, harp and sing for a good-time bar band using the old "Lightning" name.  Denny happily agreed and together with Woody Woodrich and other local musicians, the band began playing venues around Minneapolis.

Then in early 1990 a promoter called Denny requesting he put "The Litter" back together for a reunion concert at the annual "Riverfest" celebration.  The wheels had been set in motion.  Denny presented the idea to "Zip" and together they began the difficult task of locating their fellow "Litter" members.  Eventually it all came together.  The "Riverfest" reunion was changed to the "Mirage" club and "The Litter" came full circle.

Throughout the reunion years Denny played an important role as both performer and songwriter, as well as lending his talents to the recording sessions for the new album Re-Emerge.  Remaining close friends with "Zip" Caplan, the two musicians, joined by "Litter" alum Dan Rinaldi, are preparing to once again step on stage and perform.  This time they will be doing something they've wanted to do for a long time - play the Blues.  The new "Litter Blues Band" anticipates performing in local Minneapolis clubs by early '98.

Currently Denny resides in Minneapolis with his wife Bonnie, his son Eric and his daughter Lara.  Still working for Northwest Airlines he contends that he has not and will not forsake his love of music and is enjoying this latest incarnation of "The Litter".