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A Look Back: The Casinos Arrive in Fort Dodge
September 9, 2010

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You all know THE song, the one you heard as a kid, that made you stop in your tracks and listen to every word and every note. The song that you couldn't move on until you memorized ALL the words, and you could sing it flawlessly in the shower, or better yet, you could sing with style while cruising down Central Avenue.

One such song for me was the 1967 torch song, by a band called the Casinos, that I'll always remember, "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye".

I can still remember the first time I heard it. I was mesmerized by the tight horn intro, mixed with the swirling Hammond B-3, and the haunting vocals that spoke of the troubles of young love. The production was flawless and the vocals just captured your imagination!

I can remember reading a bio on the band, at the time and they were referred to as being an East Coast doo-wop group. Imagine my surprise when I say their photo, a NINE man horn band, in matching suits looking just like my favorite group, the Fabulous Flippers, only bigger. Wow!

Since that time I have learned so very much more about the Casinos and this is their story.

The band got it's start in Cincinnati, Ohio in the early 60's as a corner doo-wop group that would soon reconfigure itself into one of the East Coast's and Mid America's premier vocal and show groups, They usually featured nine to eleven men in the group on stage at any given time.

They would be known for their incredible horn section, heavy Hammond B-3 mix in their sound, the heart stopping vocals of group leader and vocalist, Gene Hughes.

In 1967 they covered a song written by the legendary John D. Loudermilk titled "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye/I Still Love You" (Fraternity Records 977). The song started to get strong East Coast radio air play, but it wouldn't take long for the song to hit the Billboard charts and gain top ten charts status across the country. It reach #6 nationally on Billboard and Cashbox's charts.

Because of the immense popularity of the song, the group found itself touring nationally, and one such stop was at our own Plamor Ballroom in downtown Fort Dodge in April of 1967.

On this same tour they would play Okoboji's Roof Garden Ballroom, Prom Ballroom in Minneapolis, and the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, as well as other Midwest stops.

I'm sad to say I never had a chance to see this musical powerhouse during their heyday. For the better part of the last decade Gene Hughes reformed the Casinos and performed a dozen plus dates a year until Gene's untimely death in 2008.

When the radio comes on, or I pop a CD into the changer and I hear these lyrics: "Kiss me each morning for a million years, hold me each evening by your side, tell me you love me for a million years, then if it don't work out, then you can tell me goodbye" it takes me back to less stressful times and some of the best memories of my life.

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