Bob Walkenhorst

Courtesy photo

For a few years in the 1980s The Rainmakers seemed like a band on the verge of major success.

Critics waxed enthusiastic about songwriter Bob Walkenhorst’s ability to combine thinking man’s humor and incisive social commentary. These are two qualities that have seen songs such as “Government Cheese,” about the U.S. welfare system and the somewhat lighter “Let My People Go Go,” endure across the decades.

But, Walkenhorst says, he can’t take all the credit for the timelessness of those songs. Much of that, he adds, comes down to the listener.

5. In The Beginning, There Was Steve, Bob and Rich:

Steve Phillips, Bob Walkenhorst, and Rich Ruth first came together in 1983, performing under their first names. The trio gained a faithful following in the Midwest, released one album, Balls, added a fourth member, Pat Tomek (drums), and by 1986 had become The Rainmakers. Some of the band’s best-loved material, including “Let My People Go-Go” and “Big Fat Blonde” come from the Steve, Bob, and Rich era.