Doug Yankus began playing guitar at the age of eight, and by the early '60s, under the short-lived stage name of Ritchie Dino (after hero Ritchie Valens), he began performing and studying music voraciously. Disinterested for the most part in structured music, Yankus was influenced early on by Bo Diddley and Buddy Holly, but also by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Frank Zappa. Yankus formed several bands throughout high school, including the Versatones, Ritchie Dino and the Dukes, and the Strangers from Digil (Digil being the music/practice/party room for various musical friends in the basement of the Appleton, WI Yankus home). By 1965, Strangers from Digil had morphed into the vaguely psychedelic pop/rock band Private Property of Digil, which consisted of Yankus on guitar, Don Jacklin on bass, Chuck Posniak on organ, and Steve Gertsch on drums, replaced a year later in the drum seat by Dave Faas. The band almost exclusively performed original material written by Doug Yankus, who had become, even at such an early age, a prolific composer. He also was an accomplished drummer and keyboardist, but it is because of his virtuosic guitar-playing skills that his name spread throughout the area's music scene. Private Property developed a substantial following in Wisconsin and by 1967 was recording Yankus' songs. The recordings received substantial local airplay, and climbed numerous record charts, but by 1968, Private Property decided to call it quits. Yankus regrouped, taking Fass, who switched to bass duties, with him and enlisting drummer Rob Griffith for a heavier power trio they christened Soup. On the strength of Yankus' reputation alone, Soup immediately garnered widespread interest. But they fully lived up to the interest, gaining acclaim in nearly every quarter. Rock Magazine wrote in 1970 that "in ability alone, Soup surpasses nearly every new group on the pop scene today," while Yankus' skills on guitar were described as "so far advanced that no one comes close to him." Jimi Hendrix even went to see Soup play in Milwaukee. Jim Peterman, formerly of the Steve Miller Band, sat in for one cut on keyboards. The band began recording some of the multitude of songs Yankus had written by this time (his brother estimates in the liner notes that he wrote over 1000 songs) at various studios, including the vaunted Chess Studios, throughout the Midwest, and they issued their eponymous first album privately in 1970, untitled and in a plain brown wrapper, with demo tracks on one side and a live performance on the other, simply because local fans craved a Soup record. They continued on through the early '70s, and released an acclaimed second record, The Album Soup, during that time. Unable to break through to the commercial mainstream, however, Soup disbanded in the mid-‘70s. Yankus went on to form Soft Touch and the Doug Yankus Band, and played on releases by John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Rosanne Cash, and Tracy Nelson, and Mother Earth, among others, before tragically passing away in 1982 due to complications from diabetes. ~ Stanton Swihart, RoviPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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