SIOUX CITY | Once The Velaires’ 1961 cover of Chuck Berry’s classic “Roll Over Beethoven” reached Billboard charts and became a national hit, it was clear the Sioux City band had found its place in Iowa's rock and roll scene.
Formed in 1958 as The Screamers, the band was a sextet of mostly Central High School swimmers. Graduations and military commitments welcomed new faces and lost others. Changing their name to The Flairs, the band was comprised of guitarists Daniel Matousek and Bob Dawdy, bassist Jerry DeMers and drummer Don Bourret.
Not long after the band released “Roll Over Beethoven,” the name changed to The Velaires after playing in the Val Air Ballroom in Des Moines. The cover became very popular in Los Angeles, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard charts. This gave the band enough momentum to land an appearance on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.” The Velaires became the only Iowa-based group to have done so.
The band would later release eight more singles on various record labels including covers of “Dream” by Johnny Mercer and “Ubangi Stomp” by Earl Bostic. The original members stayed together until 1963. Matousek reformed the band soon after under the name Danny and The Velaires. The group stayed together until 1970.
In 1997, original Velaires members were inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association Hall of Fame. That same year Germany's Bear Family Records released a CD of The Velaires' greatest hits.
Matousek died the following year just a few days before a scheduled performance at the DanceMor Ballroom in Swisher, Iowa. The Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association created the Dan Matousek Lifetime Achievement Award in his honor.
On Jan. 21, 2013, Dawdy died at his home in Sioux City.
The Velaires continue to tour with drummer Bourret, keyboardist Gene Ambroson, bassist Mike King, guitarist Bill “Chopper” Pelchat and saxophonist Dave Napier.