Alpena’s The Frost makes its mark in rock

Courtesy Photo The cover of “Through the Eyes of Love,” an album by Alpena-based band The Frost, is seen in this image provided by Alpena resident and former Frost member Bobby Rigg.

ALPENA — In the beginning, the Alpena-based rock and roll band was known as Bobby Rigg and The Chevelles.

Throughout northern and mid-Michigan, they were an opening band for such performers as Sonny and Cher, Gary Lewis and The Playboys, the Byrds, Jay and The Americans, and The Rascals.

The Chevelles caught the attention of Dick Wagner, as his band, The Bossmen, was ending its performing years.

According to Alpena resident Rigg, Wagner approached him at the Alpena Armory about forming a new band. That 1966 conversation established The New Bossmen, which later emerged as The Frost.

Wagner would be the lead guitarist, Rigg on the drums, Don Hartman, of Alpena, on the guitar, and Gordy Garris on the bass guitar. For a period, Jack Smolinski, of Alpena, was on the bass guitar.

Courtesy Photo Members of Alpena-based band The Frost — Bobby Rigg, Dick Wagner, Donny Hartman, and Gordy Garris — are seen in this Vanguard Records publicity photo provided by Rigg.

Vanguard Records produced three albums for The Frost: “Frost Music”, “Rock and Roll Music”, and “Through the Eyes of Love”.

The Frost appeared on stage with nationally known bands, such as The MC5, Amboy Dukes, Rush, Pink Floyd, Bob Seger, Eric Burton and The Animals and Nirvana.

“It was truly an unbelievable honor to have appeared with these well-known performers,” Hartman commented.

Both Rigg and Hartman recalled the massive audiences they performed before. In particular, the 1970 Goose Lake Festival, with 200,000 attendees, Meadowbrook, with 10,000 in attendance, and Detroit’s Grande’ Ballroom and Cobo Hall, as well as other venues in St. Louis, Missouri, Cleveland, and Toledo, Ohio.

By 1971, Wagner exited The Frost and established Ursa Major. Billy Joel performed with his band on the keyboard.

Courtesy Photo Alpena resident and former member of The Frost Bobby Rigg provided this last photo taken of the band, including Rigg, Dick Wagner, Donny Hartman, and Gordy Garris.

Within the year, The Frost ended their run, with the exception of a number of special engagements across Michigan. A legendary concert was a 2008 Alpena performance.

In the later years, Rigg was a radio station general manager, while Hartman continued to perform, leading a band which played classic rock and blues music.

Both are now retired. Wagner, Smolinski, and Garris have passed.

The Dollar Shave Club featured a television commercial using The Frost’s “Mystery Man” as the background music.

The Frost continues to have a significant following on Facebook. In addition, several of The Frost performers also have Facebook pages.


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