The Cryan’ Shames, a Chicago-area band that rose to fame in the 1960s and had hits including familiar songs such as “Up on the Roof” and “Sugar and Spice,” were among those honored Sunday at the third annual Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66′s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The Wild Goose in Joliet, a grain warehouse in central Illinois and high school dances on the South Side of Chicago are some of the places the Cryan’ Shames played decades ago, evoking memories that last for many in the audience that awaited the band’s hall induction ceremony at the Rialto Square Theatre.
The museum itself has yet to fully open despite being on its third class of Hall of Fame inductees.
But the concept behind it, which is to pay homage to Illinois’ connection to rock and roll and other music genres, resonated with those who came to the Rialto to see the show and connect with something they cherished in their own lives.
“I wanted to be president of Denny’s fan club,” said Jo Ann Kohlhagen of New Lenox as she thought back to her affection for Cryan’ Shames drummer Dennis Conroy.
The band came to Joliet in the 1960s, when the Inwood ice rink was converted to a stage and renamed “The Wild Goose” as bands were brought into town.
“It was, like, two bucks to get in,” said Jo Ann’s husband, John Kohlhagen, who did not know his wife at the time but was among the young people who flocked to The Wild Goose.
“I got the [guitar] picks and the drumsticks from them,” Jo Ann said, looking back at some of the mementos she took from those days at Inwood.
Just how people’s lives could be connected by one rock band on the rise is reflected in the marriage of Patrick and Fran Somers of Libertyville, who also were waiting in the Rialto rotunda for the induction show to start.
“I grew up in central Illinois,” Patrick said.
Fran grew up on the South Side of Chicago.
The Cryan’ Shames were among the rock groups that would come to a grain warehouse in Forrest, which is not far from Patrick’s hometown of Chatsworth.
“A lot of the groups performed at that warehouse,” Patrick said. “That was a big deal for us in the farm country.”
Some of those same bands played at high school dances in Chicago, said Fran, who went to Maria High School on the South Side, a sister school to St. Rita High School in the days when Catholic high schools separated the girls from the boys.
“All the bands were, like, at our high school,” Fran said. “They played at our homecomings.”
The induction ceremony attracted an audience close to Joliet and far beyond.
Sheldon Helfgot of Lincolnshire said he heard about the event on the Bob Sirott morning show on WGN Radio AM 720. Sirott also was the master of ceremonies Sunday at the Joliet event and an inductee into the Hall of Fame.
“The groups here tonight are some of our nostalgic favorite groups,” Helfgot said. “We saw the Cryan’ Shames earlier this year in Vernon Hills, and Bob Sirott was the host.”
Bill and Julie Garl came from Granger, Indiana, and stayed the weekend to see the induction ceremony.
“We’d like to give a shoutout to Juliet’s and Cut 158 Chophouse,” Julie Garl said, acknowledging a good experience the couple had at the two downtown Joliet restaurants.
Steve and Angie Mrozinski said the Joliet event provided a nice option until they can travel to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
Angie, who said her brothers went to high school with two members of the band Styx, said she’s all in favor of the Illinois Rock and Roll Museum on Route 66′s mission to showcase the state’s connection to the music genre.
“I think it should get more recognized,” Angie said. “It was good music.”