The Rippers Show
The Rippers is an oldies/60’s tribute band based out of Kansas City. Together since 2009, the band features five talented musicians with countless years of experience. They are inspired by a variety of material from the Beatles to the Turtles to Cream – from Motown and British invasion to surf music and rock classics. The Rippers capture all the peace-and-love-grooviness of the songs that helped define a decade.
Four lead vocalists make it possible for the band to replicate a variety of songs with complex harmonies. The Rippers strive to perform their songs with passion and accuracy. Their authentic sound is true to the original recording with NO backing tracks. The Rippers bring a show that pays homage to the best vocalists, instrumentalists, songwriters and arrangers the 60s had to offer. It’s a taste of the whole decade. The Rippers plays some of the most memorable and influential music ever written played just like you remember them. The timeless quality of this music appeals to all age groups from 7-70.
The Rippers song list contains a wide variety of songs from all subset’s of 60s music. The show is self-contained. We bring everything with us – from the sound system and dedicated sound person to our lights. The Rippers can play up to 4 hours and provide music during the breaks. We take pride in our band and our reputation. We arrive early and work with you to ensure the best experience. The Rippers are professional and personable, and the show is an all ages-pleaser. The crowd dances – the crowd sings – everyone has a good time!
Perfect for any outdoor festival, concert, private and corporate functions, fundraisers, high school reunions or club engagements, the Rippers consider it a great pleasure to bring to life some of the best music of the 60s. A real tribute to the artists from the age of the musical revolution. Our large repertoire of classic songs makes a great choice for any occasion. Fun and up-tempo groovy hits you can sing along with and dance to too.
Playing all your favorite music from the 60s - experience of an era gone by. So, c’mon down for a trip back in time. Those days may be over, but thanks to The Rippers, the spirit and the music lives on.
The Rippers History
2009 - present
So what is a Ripper?
A person or thing that rips.
Something especially strong, fine or good of its kind (slang).
One of a group of musicians that naturally came together because they love oldies.
The guys met while part of a Neil Diamond Tribute band – the Feel of Neil. After rehearsals, a few band members would hang for an oldies jam session. Their promoter heard a session and decided that it would be great if members of the Neil Diamond band could also open for themselves as a 60’s band. That was the birth of The Rippers. The Neil Diamond band is long gone, but The Rippers have been playing together now for many years.
The original lineup was comprised of Lee Roberts, Mike Crooks, Richard and Ryan Tyrel along with a bit of a revolving door of bass players. The band decided to call themselves The Rippers – a name taken from Richard’s late 60’s high school band. As the band broke away from their secondary role as Feel the Neil’s opening act, they focused primarily on music of the early sixties. The first incarnations of the band also included female background vocalists. Early gigs included Harrah’s Battle of the Bands and Winslow’s BBQ.
Deciding to focus solely on male vocal harmonies, in late 2013, full-time bassist Neil Kelly, and vocalist Jason Biggerstaff joined the band. The Rippers began expanding their song list to include late 60’s psychedelic and prog rock. Richard Tyrel retired at the end of 2015, and guitarist Gary Luebbert took his place. At the same time drummer Van Davison replaced Ryan Tyrel.
In 2015, due to the number of lead singers and detailed harmonies the band also added a dedicated sound person and as such, Barbara Hunt became the shadow Ripper. 2018 brought the very busy Dan Thebassman McNeff into the group to replace Neil Kelly. Thankfully, Neil will sit-in when Dan is occasionally booked elsewhere. Jason Biggerstaff also left to start a group focusing on songs from decades later than the 60’s. A complete listing of the shows from 2014 onward can be found on our schedule page.
Lee Roberts - Keyboard, Vocals
A Founding member of The Rippers, Lee’s passion for music began at the age of 10 in Missouri. He started his first rock and roll band at 15. At 21, that band played at the state fair in Sedalia, MO in the battle of the bands. As a twist of fate, they’d performed two of Marshall Tucker's biggest hits the same night The Marshall Tucker Band happened to also be playing the fair. When Marshall Tucker’s piano player became ill, Lee got his 15-minutes of fame when they asked him to fill in. Marriage and life (3 kids and 9 grandkids) pushed music to the side for a while except for a brief stint with a band in Montana in the late 80’s. Moving back to Kansas City, music once again went on the back burner until a happenstance Karaoke contest at Harrah's Casino led to a request to join a local band. That group, The Feel of Neil, a Neil Diamond tribute band, connected Lee with Mike Crooks, and from there the Rippers eventually became a reality.
Mike Crooks - Acoustic & Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Mike started performing gigs late in life (excluding a brief flirtation with a high school rock band). Marriage, work, and five children (now with 4 grandchildren) relegated his singing primarily to the shower and the car. About 20 years ago, while travelling for work, Mike stumbled into karaoke in a hotel bar and rediscovered his love for performing. Once home, he started singing in contests around Kansas City where he met Lee and was asked to join the Neil Diamond tribute band on acoustic guitar. Jam sessions following rehearsals focused on 60’s songs which gave Mike a chance to sing lead vocals. Nudged by their promoter, the members of the The Feel of Neil (minus Tony Knoblock a.k.a. Neil Diamond) started opening for themselves as a 60’s band. The Rippers became a standalone entity.
Van Davison - Drums, Backing Non-Vocals
Van, the last drummer to play at the Grand Emporium, is also the only band member that doesn’t sing. He decided to pursue the drums after noticing how cool his drummer friend looked walking around with sticks in his back pocket. The desire to look cool lead to a lifelong pursuit! Van has been playing gigs in the Kansas City area for over 35 years in various bands - everything from country to blues, variety and classic rock & roll. He was able to have several bands and a marriage, 2 children and now 2 grandsons. Van tells us he has met a lot of great players over the years and has stories to tell about both great and not so great venues.
Dan Thebassman - Bass Guitar, Vocals
A lifelong Kansas City native, Dan’s mom taught him to play the piano at home. At nine, he started on violin in school, switching to double bass two years later, continuing all the way through high school. During high school, he joined The Mystical Sound Affair, a local rock band made of his best friends. Through the years he’s played in a number of rock, folk and bluegrass bands, including once playing in an Alice Cooper tribute band! The winner of Dan’s weirdest gig was a show for a nudist colony. A clothing-optional show, the band decided clothing was their option – the crowd went without. Currently Dan is playing with Blind Date, The Wood Valley Pickers and Southern Reign in addition to The Rippers. Besides playing electric and double bass, Dan been known to play guitar, mandolin and piano on stage.
Gary Luebbert - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Gary “borrowed” his older brother’s guitar and taught himself to play at age six. It wasn’t until his teen years that he had a guitar he called his own. From Columbia, MO, he started playing in bands in the 80's, most notably Problem Child, Pure Opie, and The Banastre Tarleton Band. After college at KU, Gary moved to Kansas City where for the last 25 years he’s played with a number of bands including - Indigo Groove, The Patsys, The Karma Kings, and Ju Fish before hooking up with The Rippers as their lead guitar player. Marriage, three kids and a grandkid keep Gary busy when he’s not trying out new knees.