Unbelievable Uglies founder recalled fondly
David Hoffman played bass in one of the region's biggest bands of the 1960s and later managed top acts like The Blenders, Bobby Vee and Johnny Holm. That restless, relentless spirit - and his ease on the stage and behind the curtain - made him a ...
David Hoffman played bass in one of the region's biggest bands of the 1960s and later managed top acts like The Blenders, Bobby Vee and Johnny Holm.
That restless, relentless spirit - and his ease on the stage and behind the curtain - made him a central figure in the Red River Valley music scene for decades.
Hoffman died on New Year's Eve in Hopkins, Minn. He was 60 years old.
"My God, he touched a lot of people," said Kit Grove, a longtime friend and former band mate now living in the Detroit Lakes, Minn., area. "Dave's brain, if you could have put it in a can, was marketable. He has this wonderful, wonderful brain."
Hoffman's first stint in the spotlight was with the Unbelievable Uglies, a rock band that recorded nine records from 1964 to 1971, performed more than 900 shows and opened for the likes of The Who, The Beach Boys and The Yardbirds. The band was inducted into the Minnesota Rock and Country Hall of Fame in 2004.
"They were a classic," said Mike Bullock, the former front man for Mike and the Monsters. "They always brought the house down."
Performing under the stage moniker Winston Fink, Hoffman, a Detroit Lakes native, helped provide the Uglies' "comic element," said band co-founder David Prentice, of Glenfield, N.D., in an e-mail statement.
The Uglies are often remembered as psychedelic, but actually cut records in a variety of styles, said Grove, a member of Friendship, the band Hoffman joined after leaving the Uglies in 1971. The group did have a constant: the wild energy of its live shows, which sometimes involved Hoffman banging a garbage can on his head.
"Truly, the band was ahead of its time," Grove said. "They weren't punk-ish, but they were definitely scamps."
In the 1970s, Hoffman began managing acts. He was Holm's manager for more than 30 years, Grove said.
"Those two together were like Elvis and the Colonel," he said.
For most of the 1990s, he did the same for The Blenders, though the Fargo-bred vocal quartet was unlike Hoffman's roster of 60s-themed artists.
"He was the man. He was the catalyst who moved us forward," said Tim Kasper, a member of The Blenders.
The foursome parted ways with Hoffman in 2000, but it was amicable enough that the group visited him in the Twin Cities during its recent holiday tour, Kasper said.
Hoffman was still ill, Kasper said, from the complications of an October 2005 stroke that cut short an Uglies reunion tour that fall.
Kasper bought a house from Hoffman in St. Louis Park, Minn., in 1999, which gave Hoffman a chance to show off his wacky sense of self-amusement. He drove to his new home in a higher-end suburb on a riding lawnmower, wearing a worker's jumpsuit, Kasper said.
"He just thought that was the funniest thing ever," Kasper said.
Hoffman is survived by his wife, Jean, and one daughter, Missy. The funeral will be at 2 p.m. today at the Washburn-McReavy Strobeck Johnson Chapel in Hopkins.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535 Unbelievable Uglies founder recalled fondly Dave Roepke 20080105