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Composition Faculty Member to Be Honored

Gary Rue, one of the McNally Smith College of Music’s outstanding Composition teachers, is making news as the new fall term approaches. Rue and his first band, The Sensational Sleepers, will be inducted into the Mid-America Hall of Fame (formerly the Minnesota Rock Country Hall of Fame) during proceedings September 16-18 at the Sheraton Hotel in Bloomington. The band will do a live performance Friday, September 17, the night of their induction.

Rue and his Sleepers include Steve (Tilly) Thielges (drums), Mike Burt (bass), Dennis Morgan (guitar and vocals) and Randy Drager (keyboards), and they are regrouping for the special occasion. While many of the musicians are well known to Twin Cities’ audiences, Morgan ( has an international reputation for his songwriting and producer credits for a variety of superstars and now lives in Nashville where he operates a recording studio.

Rue’s first band was formed when he was a teenager in southwestern Minnesota around the Tracy and Marshall area during the ‘60s. Like many bands of the period until the British Invasion, the Sleepers played a variety of R&B covers. That first musical episode was just the first of many subsequent adventures for the songsmith, band leader and multi-instrumentalist, whose “Rose of England” song has been covered by Nick Lowe. Rue has also written more than 70 theater musicals and is a composer-in-residence at SteppingStone Theatre of St Paul.

He also served from 1986 as conductor and arranger in North America for ‘60’s pop star Gene Pitney and his 15 piece orchestra (“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” “Town Without Pity” and many more) until Mr. Pitney’s death in 2006. Last winter, Rue and an orchestra featuring many of the music college’s faculty and current students performed a hot retrospective set of Pitney’s hits in the McNally Smith Auditorium. The longtime bandleader shared fond and funny anecdotes about his former boss and the pop legend who still has many fans around the world.