Both Darrens named to Country Music Hall of Fame
By Angie Landsverk
Danny Darren is among the most recent inductees into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame.
He was in LeMars, Iowa last week to receive the award during the 42nd annual National Old Time Music Festival.
Danny learned of the nomination from the National Traditional Country Music Association in early June.
“I wasn’t really expecting it, but I appreciate it,” he said.
Danny was joined on stage to receive the award by his younger brother, Bobby, who is also a traditional country music performer.
Bobby was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year and received the Rural Roots Music Commission’s Real Country Music of the Year Award this year.
“I waited 52 years for a title like that,” he said. “It makes you feel like everything you’ve done was worthwhile after all.”
Their niece, Sheila Kilishek, said Hall of Fame members nominate other musicians for the honor.
“The same person nominated both of them, is a fan of both of their music,” she said. “The honors are well deserved for both of them. They are the last of a dying breed.”
Born and raised in Kaukauna, Danny was about 6 years old when he began singing.
“I always liked old time and country,” he said. “It’s what we grew up on, and it’s the only stuff that made sense.”
His parents, Ike and Marge Solberg, played music for years, calling themselves The Vagabonds.
They backed off of doing so in the early 1950s, after Bobby – the youngest of their 12 children was born.
“Darren” is the stage name for both Danny and Bobby.
Both made music their full-time careers.
While they often had side jobs throughout the years, music was always their focus.
Danny started playing with his first band when he was 17 and spent 20 years living and working in Milwaukee, where he was part of the country music scene.
“I mostly played on the south side of Milwaukee,” he said.
He also played throughout the state, as well as in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Danny left Milwaukee in late 1980 when the music scene began to change.
He returned to Kaukauna and played around there before moving to Weyauwega in 1990.
In Weyauwega, Danny has always been known for his performances at the nursing home.
He also sings at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King.
“Since I was 17, I’ve been going to King off and on to play for the veterans. I love the veterans, and I try to help them as much as I can,” Danny said.
He continues to perform, with two of his nephews still doing so with him.
Jeff Solberg has been with him about 40 years on bass and vocals.
Bill Solberg does guitar and vocals.
“We do a lot of three-part harmony together, especially gospel stuff,” Danny said.
Danny and Bobby still do shows together at times.
Bobby remembers watching his older brother sing and play guitar.
“I started singing and playing guitar when I was 5,” he said. “I took it seriously right away at 5, because Danny would play in the house with his friends.”
He wanted to be like his brother.
Bobby formed his first band when he was 11 and was 15 the first time he filled in with Danny’s band.
His three-piece group was know as Bobby Darren and the Drifters, and they performed together throughout the Midwest.
He recently changed the name of his group to The Bobby Darren Country Show.
It features Kilishek (Sheila Marie), who has performed with him for the past 32 years.
Both Danny and Bobby see themselves performing forever, and they also continue to stay loyal to what they say is the true sound and image of classic country music.
Danny will be in 78 November, and Bobby turns 63 this month.
The two brothers like to clown around when they are together but take their music seriously.
Danny appreciates all the musicians he has played with through the years.
“I’m thankful for my mother and dad, for the music they played and inspired us to play,” he said. “I thank the good Lord first for giving me the ability. If the good Lord gives you a talent, you should use it and share it with others.”