John S. Collins
Rhythm Guitar/Vocals 1969-1975
John was born in Rochester, Minn., in 1949. A rebel early on, John was expelled from Bemidji High School for refusing to cut his hair. After being drafted to fight in Vietnam, John was nearly jailed for refusing induction to the service. While this was something that would have not been tolerated by many parents, John's parents supported him throughout his efforts to be granted conscientious objector status. John offered alternative service to his country, which led him to work with troubled youth for a number of years.
After playing in bands including The Squires and The Benson Obermeyer Fruitstand Band, John formed Podipto in 1969 with John Calder, Jack Sundrud, Dan Lund and Karen Regnier (then, Lund). John wrote much of the band's music, and was never happier than when trading guitar licks with Dan on stage.
John became frustrated with record labels and executives while in Podipto. After the band split up, he eschewed the big music business, preferring a quiet life in rural Minnesota, near Bemidji, with his wife and three children. In 1978 he recorded the album Minstrel Man, which showcased his maturing songwriting and acoustic fingerpicking skills. In 1987 he released his second solo album, Anna.
Though he later played in several bands, including Goldust and the Wanderers, he spent the majority of his career as a solo musician, playing at colleges, night clubs and hotel bars across the Midwest, where he became a favorite of travelers and regulars alike. John performed a mix of covers and originals, and was known for honoring song requests, often surprising those who saw his shows infrequently by remembering and playing their song for them years later.
In the early 1990s, John collapsed on stage in Fargo, suffering a major heart attack. A paramedic happened to be at the bar, who succeeded in reviving him. Over the next several years, John continued to perform locally, and in 1994 he recorded the album Heart On The Mend with Chester Ellingson and Dan Lund.
Collins died as the result of a massive heart attack in Bemidji, Minn., on May 27, 1995.
John always wanted to record an acoustic blues album. In collecting various recordings of live sets and television appearances, it turns out he did. His family released Live at the Fargo Town House, a set of blues covers, in 2015.
John's final solo album, recorded one year before his death in 1995. John spent several weeks immersed in the studio with Chester Ellingson engineering and playing drums. Dan Lund played lead guitar on "Rodeo Heart," "Miss You Baby," "Headed For Trouble" and the second lead on "Oklahoma Girl." Kate Nelson contributed piano, organ and synthesizer. Vocals, guitars, bass and harmonica all by John.