Sunday, June 3, 2018


We are sad to report the passing on CNY music great Don Barber on may 26, 2018.

He first formed the band Donnie and the Dukes in 959 (Don Barber & Walter Stiles), They reorganized in 1960 with a musical lineup of Bob Story (bass), Don Barber (vocals, drums), Dave Blatchley (rhythm guitar) & Skip Seyerle (lead guitar). With help from WNDR Radio's "Dandy Dan" Leonard the group entered Syracuse's Riposo Studio and recorded a two-side regional hit single "I'll Be Blue" b/w "Henrietta" on the Personality Record label (1961).

"I'll Be Blue" was released nationally by Buck Ram, who was also the manger of the national group the Platters. With Dan Leonard managed the band though the years and with his help was responsible for their national & regional success. This included involvement with Three Rivers Inn that springboarded Don's career to host many Sunday "Teen Canteen" Shows. They also appear regulary as the Little Brown Jug in downtown Syracuse.

Don Barber & The Dukes shared the stage though the years with such national acts as- Custis Lee, Del Shannon, Bobby Rydell, Lloyd Price, Bell Notes, Brenda Lee, Jimmy Rodgers, Bob Crew, Erbie K. Doe, The Tokens, Viscounts, Bobby Sherman, Chubby Checker, Freddie Cannon and Johnny and the Hurricanes.

By 1963 there lineup included Don Barber (vocals, bass) with new personal Chuck Mellone, (keyboards), Joe Sawmiller (guitar), Dave McQuillan (drums), In mid 1964 Jack Belle (of Continentals) handled guitar duties during a long summer engagement at Lake George in early 1965 for a backup session for The Madison and stayed together to record there hit "The Waddle". Also heard on the Waddle on keyboards was Kal Dee plus backing by The Madisons. With the popularity of this hit single the band toured across the Northeast with performances with nationals acts as The Angels, Johnny Thunder, Lou Christi along with The Newbeats & Vascals in Agawan park, Mass on July 11, 1965.

If Don Barber's ame seems familliar his family ran the Barber Funeral Home in Homer, NY. for many years. As a historical note- CNY saxophone great John Kane can also be heard on Barber's early recording of "I'll Be Blue" and Henrietta".

Don Barber and the Dukes have appeared yearly at Cortland, NY Summer Festival. Joining Don on stage were Mickey Lee Soule (ELF), Brian Miles (Brians Idols), Mike Shaw (Mad Jack), Larry Baker (Triple Threat, Essentuals), and  the legendary bassist Joe Leo. In late 2011, the band' re-united to re-record a video of the classic song "I'll Be Blue" (50th Anniversary) that included photos and a band early history. You can still see it to this day on youtube.

When we at Syracuse's Dinosaur Radio started out History of Syracuse "Rock N Roll" Then and Now live stage shows Don Barber & the Dukes along with the Livin Ennd shared the stage in our very first show some 4 years ago.

Don Barber our friend will be dearly missed. Don we salute You

Then came the band second single "The Waddle{ (old Bernie Milton song) b/w "Whats Your Name' release on Thunderbird Records in May 1965. The band's lineup on this recording- Barber, Sawmiller, with WOLF DJ' Fred Winston (on drums). This threesome was put together in early 1965 for a backup recording session g for the Syracuse band The Madisons and stayed together