It was 1965. Lyndon Johnson was in the White House, Sean Connery was number one at the box office, American soldiers headed to Viet Nam, and rock ‘n’ roll was everywhere.
Five young guys from Mason City, Iowa, did what a lot of guys did back then: They formed a band. Their leader was Pete Klindt, and the group was named “The Pete Klint Quintet.”
Within a year they participated in a “Battle of the Bands,” held at the legendary Roof Garden Ballroom in Arnolds Park, and they won. As a result, the Quintet earned a recording contract with IGL Studios in Milford, Iowa. They subsequently released a 45RPM record, “Very Last Day.” The single received lots of airplay locally. “It was nothing more than a local hit, but…without that…we wouldn’t have gotten launched as far and as quickly,” Klindt recalls.
The Quintet was becoming known for their excellent musicianship and powerful vocals, and, with their penchant for doing Motown covers, it wasn’t long before they were called a “blue-eyed soul” band.
The band’s manager, Mason City attorney Tom Jolas, connected the band with music industry powerhouse William Morris Agency, which in turn arranged to get the Quintet into the famed Chess Records Studios in Chicago. It was here that they recorded a Lou Rawls song in early 1967. The song was called Walkin’ Proud.
Walkin’ Proud became a top ten single in multiple markets throughout the country and was number one at KIOA in Des Moines for seventeen weeks. It also made the Billboard Hot 100 charts in October of 1967. “The biggest problem with the record was distribution,” Klindt explains. “It took over a year…The record would go number one everywhere that it hit, but it just crawled around the country because the distribution was so poor,” he adds with a chuckle.
The record’s popularity gave the William Morris agency the opportunity to book The Pete Klint Quintet as the opening act for numerous nationally known groups, and they soon found themselves warming up for the likes of Steppenwolf, The Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, and the Buckinghams. Perhaps the most notable of these occasions came in September of 1967 when the Quintet opened for Jim Morrison and The Doors at the KRNT Theater in Des Moines. “That was a really big thrill for us back then,” Klindt says. “And what a beautiful theater that was. It was just so ideal for musical concerts. It was also so beautifully constructed.”
Klindt met his wife Susie at a gig at the Val Air Ballroom in 1969.
The group’s follow-up single on Atlantic Records Hey Diddle Diddle didn’t sell well, and the constant touring was getting to some of the guys in the band. Within a few years, The Pete Klint Quintet was no more.
Klindt continued to play in a couple of different groups until early in 1973. The music scene was changing, and the ballroom gigs were waning in popularity. “I decided to hang it up and retire–without pay,” he says with a laugh.
Dealing with the recent death of his mother, and thinking that his musical career had come to an end, Klindt described himself as “heartbroken and depressed.” He started reading the Bible.
That Easter Sunday he and his wife decided to attend church, making their selection by randomly putting a finger on a Yellow Page listing. It was a small Baptist church in Des Moines, and the two of them heard the gospel of Jesus Christ there. After the gospel invitation at the end of the service, the two of them went forward. “I don’t know yet if this is real,” Klindt remembers thinking at the time. “And I want it to be.”
Soon after, he got a job working at Des Moines Music House, and the reality of Klindt’s new found faith in Christ became evident as he shared it with the many musicians he came in contact with there.
In the years that followed, he went into commercial construction and also began playing music again in church and other places where he could share songs he’d written about his faith, frequently singing duets with his wife, Susie.
In March of 1983, he took a position at Git N Go Convenience Stores, Inc., becoming their Director of Operations, a position he still holds today. He says his faith has been a great help in his business responsibilities. “God has really helped me to eliminate the stress because I can give it to Him…I just push back in my chair a minute and bow my head and talk to God.”
It’s clear that Evangelical Christianity has profoundly affected Klindt’s world-view. He has no use for political correctness: “Everything is upside down,” he says with evident passion.
Reflecting on his personal life he says, “I’m no better than the next person, but Christ has died for my sins: past, present, and future…God has guided me through all these years in every life issue.”
When asked if he still misses the “glory days” when he was so deeply involved in music, his answer is immediate: “Oh, yes,” he says. “It’s still there. It doesn’t die.”
Pete and Susie Klindt have now been married forty-seven years and raised three children together. They also have seven grandchildren. The Pete Klint Quintet was inducted into the Iowa Rock’n’Roll Music Association Hall of Fame in 1999.