Rock star has strong ties to OTC

Contributed photo
Rock star Gary Puckett learned to play guitar in the home of his grandparents, a block east of Pelican Rapids High School. He returned to Minnesota this summer to perform at the state fair.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Gary Puckett, who gained rock ‘n’ roll fame in the late 1960s, always appreciated his family ties to Otter Tail County, and Pelican Rapids in particular. This remains true to the present day for the rock star who still performs on a part-time basis.

Puckett returned to Minnesota this fall as part of the Happy Together Tour 2023. He performed close to Labor Day at the Minnesota State Fair along with The Turtles, Little Anthony, The Classics IV, The Vogues and The Cowsills.

The Happy Together Tour started May 31 in Clearwater, Florida, where Puckett resides, and ends Nov. 19 in Las Vegas. 

“At the Minnesota State Fair our tour performed for close to 7,000 people at the evening grandstand,” Puckett said. “Attendees looked to me like they were truly enjoying themselves, waving and singing along.”

Puckett said this made him feel like home again, back in Minnesota. 

“For me, it was a special evening, and I think for all of the fans who came to the show it was as well.”

Puckett first learned to play guitar, at the age of 15, in the home of his grandparents, a block east of Pelican Rapids High School. His grandfather had worked for the city police department.

Three of his favorite memories of Pelican Rapids include hikes with his grandfather along the river, visits to the pelican statue and eating banana splits at the cafe adjacent to the former Swan Drug.

The rock star grew up near Union Gap, Washington, and thus became the name of “Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.”

In the late 1960s Puckett and his band had six consecutive gold records. Hit songs included “Lady Willpower,” “Woman Woman,” “Young Girl” “This Girl is a Woman Now” “Over You” and “Don’t Give Into Him.”