Gear Daddies

Plenty of alt-country bands have hailed from Austin, Texas, but the Gear Daddies were that rarity, a group playing twangy, rootsy rock & roll from Austin, Minnesota. Proud Midwesterners the Gear Daddies were formed in 1984 by Martin Zellar on lead vocals, guitar, and harmonica; Randy Broughten on electric guitar and pedal steel; Nick Ciola on bass; and Billy Dankert on drums and vocals. The band made its reputation through live work, and as Zellar told reporter Jason Schoonover, "I played every bar and service club, prom and homecoming in southeastern Minnesota, northern Iowa." The Gear Daddies pulled up stakes and moved to Minneapolis, where they made a name for themselves on the town's lively independent rock scene. In 1987, they issued their debut single, "She's Happy" b/w "2-18," through the Minneapolis-based indie label Gark Records. In 1998, Gark brought out the Gear Daddies' first full-length album, Let's Go Scare Al, and enthusiastic regional press led to the group signing a major-label deal with Polydor Records, which reissued the LP in 1989. In 1990, Polydor issued the second Gear Daddies album, Billy's Live Bait. The band's touring in support of the album included a stop on Late Night with David Letterman, where Zellar and Broughten sat in with the house band to perform "Stupid Boy." The CD edition of Billy's Live Bait included a hidden track, "(I Wanna Drive The) Zamboni," and while it was never released as a single, in time it became the Gear Daddies' best-known song, played frequently at hockey games and appearing in the movies Mystery, Alaska and D2: The Mighty Ducks. Despite frequent touring, the Gear Daddies never broke through to a mainstream audience, and in 1992 the bandmembers amicably parted ways, marking their passing with the release of a collection of studio outtakes and live tracks, Can't Have Nothin' Nice. Zellar went on to a solo career with his group Martin Zellar & the Hardways, while Randy Broughten plays with the bands Trailer Trailer and the Cactus Blossoms. In 2010, the Gear Daddies staged a handful of reunion shows, and since then have played a few shows each year for their fans in the Midwest. ~ Mark Deming

  • ORIGIN
    Austin, MN
  • GENRE
    Rock
  • FORMED
    1984