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The Hypstrz at Jay's Longhorn

Photo by Paul Lundgren

The first time I sang onstage was  with the Hypstrz on Halloween night, October 31, 1977, at the Burnsville Bowl. I was dressed as “Dr. X,” a masked professional wrestler who I grew up loving and hating, as did my friends in the Hypstrz, Billy and Ernie Batson.

That night, Bill pointed to me in the crowd and acted clearly bothered by my presence — riffing from an American Wrestling Association angle from the 1960s involving the real Dr. X. Bill called me on stage to ask what I wanted. I said, “I want to sing Money,” a rock standard written by  Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford and performed by the Beatles, Curtiss A, the Hypstrz, and many others. It was, simply, a gas!

Mark Engebretson

Mark Engebretson

Seven months later, in June of 1978, the Hypstrz played for the first time at Jay’s Longhorn. Unfortunately, I was on a road trip to California with a couple of lunkhead friends (me pictured at left at the Bonneville Salt Flats). Luckily, I made it back alive and was in attendance the nights the Hypstrz recorded their “Hypstrz Live” EP at the Longhorn. In fact, if you listen closely, you can hear me shouting “More” and “Hypstrz” at the end of their performance of “Hey Joe.”

Meeting Bill and Ernie right after high school was a game changer for me. I think, if not for them, my life would have turned out much, much differently, and likely for the worse. The Batsons remain dear friends and I always love to see them perform, as they do in this video from the Jay’s Longhorn Reunion on May 16, 2015 at First Avenue, renditioning Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “Louie Go Home.”

—Mark Engebretson

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