The Rainmakers are a Kansas City, Missouri-based original rock band, fronted by Bob Walkenhorst, which had a small string of hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the United States and Europe, especially Norway.
The Rainmakers were formed in 1983 as a three-piece bar band called 'Steve, Bob and Rich,' which "quickly became popular throughout the Midwest," according to one Amazon.com review. They released one album, Balls, under this name. The addition of drummer Pat Tomek allowed Walkenhorst to switch to guitar and assume the role of frontman. The band changed their name to The Rainmakers when they were signed to Polygram by A&R man Peter Lubin.
The band's self-titled 1986 debut album received positive reviews in the U.S. entertainment media including Newsweek magazine, which dubbed it "the most auspicious debut album of the year," and reached No. 87 on the U.S. Billboard album chart. The band made a fan of horror author Stephen King, who quoted the band's lyrics in his novels The Tommyknockers and Gerald's Game. The album, however, achieved its greatest commercial success overseas. In the United Kingdom, the single "Let My People Go–Go", (a song heavily based on the American Negro spiritual anthem "Go Down Moses"), broke into the Top 20 in the UK Singles Chart.
Their follow-up album, 1987's Tornado, peaked at #116 on the U.S. chart. The Rainmakers released one more studio album, 1989's The Good News and The Bad News, and one live album, 1990's Oslo-Wichita Live, which were successful in Europe, but did not chart in the US. The band broke up after the release of the live album, which was only issued in Europe.
However, Scandinavian interest in their music remained high, so they reformed and released a new album, Flirting with the Universe, in 1994. The album achieved the equivalent of gold record status in Norway in one month. Ruth left the band and was replaced by new bassist Michael Bliss, and one more album, Skin, followed in 1997. The band issued one further track in 1998, a collaboration with Brewer & Shipley in a new version of "One Toke Over The Line", before they broke up again.
In 2011, the Rainmakers reformed, with bassist Rich Ruth returning to the group in place of Bliss, while long-time guitarist Steve Phillips was replaced by Jeff Porter. On March 5, the band was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame with a ceremony and concert at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, Kansas. The following week, March 14, the band's album, 25 On, was released. At the end of March, the band returned to Norway for a two-week tour. The band played two shows in Kansas City, MO on May 14, 2011 and May 15, 2011 at Knuckleheads Saloon. The second show was scheduled after the first show sold out very quickly.
Bob Walkenhorst (vocals, guitars)
Pat Tomek (drums) (1986–1990, 1994–1998, 2011–)
Steve Phillips (guitars, vocals) (1983–1990, 1994–1998)
Rich Ruth (bass) (1983–1990, 1994–1995, 2011–)
Michael Bliss (bass, vocals) (1995–1998)
Jeff Porter (guitars, vocals) (2011–)