John Steever to be inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


Nine bands and nearly a dozen South Dakota Rock and Roll supporters will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in April.

Among those to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is Lennox native John Steever.

John Steever will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Music Promoter.

Although no longer a promoter in the music industry, John says he is still active in production management.

He has worn many hats in the music business — acting as a stage hand, a driver, booking agent, band manager, merchandise seller, light director, carpenter, promoter, caterer, stage manager and production manger.

After graduating from Lennox High School in 1980, John moved to Sioux Falls and tried to see as many live bands as possible.

“I was intrigued by live entertainment, by bands and concerts in general,” he said, “and the bands I wanted to see weren’t coming to town.”

As he was talking about that dilemma to someone in the industry, the person said the bands don’t decide where they go — they get invited, they need a promoter to invite them.

John did just that. He began calling booking agents all over the country to get touring bands to consider touring in eastern South Dakota.

He worked as a booking agent for Champagne Attractions for about a year, then started his own company Downtown Promotions.

“It was difficult,” John explained, “They want to know about you, the venue, the situations… they play for more reasons than just money.”

The first bigger band that John booked was the FLAMIN’ OH’S, a band out of Minnesota. He booked the band at a college bar in Brookings and said, “I did quite well, surprisingly.”

It wasn’t always that way. He noted that when he hired the same band in the same situation months later, he lost money.

But John wasn’t deterred and he kept calling agents, and booking bands in bars, clubs, ballrooms and theaters.

Bands would send him promo packs and materials like records, cassettes, and compact discs.

“I was enamored with touring talent, I would fall in love with them, too,” said John.

Although he noted the hard part of the job was telling talent no.

“You do have to say no a lot, I don’t want to tell anybody no, but you have to pitch it ten times to get one yes,” he said.

He went on to promote many regional and national touring bands such as: the GOO GOO Dolls, Ipso Facto, Squeeze, Firehose, The Replacements, Weird Al Yankovic, The Suburbs, Violent Femmes, and The Forbidden Pigs.

John said he finds it gratifying that some of those bands he booked for gigs in Sioux Falls years ago are still around.

“Bands come and go; the trick was, as a promoter, to figure out who’’s good and is there anybody else who has an interest in this,” he said. “You get on board early and do a good job, then hopefully next time around, it’s more successful.”

In 1994 John and his wife Sarah moved a house to some land just outside of Lennox. About three years later it became the Steever House Bed & Breakfast, which they continue to run.

During that time, he was representing the band Janitor Bob. He was also heavily involved with the Sioux Falls Jazz Fest for 24 years, marking his final show about three years ago. In the mid-1990’s he shifted from promoter to production manger.

“The promoter actually hires the band, sells the tickets, makes arrangements and has interest in the financial aspect of the show,” he explained.

Now he describes his job as helping to facilitate productions, which can be a lot of different duties.

He is still is involved in a music festival in Sioux City. He’s been a part of that particular show for over 19 years.

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