Mar 16, 2020
Bio by Rich Tupica, Lansing City Pulse
The rival to the Plagues was another local band of teens, the Ones. After founding members/brothers Kevin Nicholoff (bass) and Kerry Nicholoff (organ) recruited the dynamic lead vocalist and guitarist Danny Hernandez (who passed away in 2000 at age 53), the Ones quickly became Lansing’s biggest sensation.
The Ones, which also included drummer Mark Boomershine, toured the circuit, packing in huge crowds at each stop. The band primarily played covers of soul hits — and Hernandez had the perfect voice, guitar skills and stage presence for the job.
“We were doing James Brown stuff because Danny could do it,” Kerry Nicholoff said. “He was a great showman and guitar player. He’d drop down to his knees and all that. That’s what he did. His whole family were great musicians.”
Loren Molinare of the classic Lansing rock 'n' roll band the Dogs, which formed in 1969, recalled growing up in the Lansing teen scene and witnessing the brilliance of Hernandez and the Ones at the Armory on Washington Avenue.
“Danny was kind of like the Hispanic James Brown with a guitar — he was quite the showman,” Molinare said. “People take that stuff for granted now. Back then, rock 'n' roll was still fresh and new. Bands actually made money back then. Live music was a big deal. There was no MTV or Internet, so when a band came to town it was a big deal. It was a different world.”
Dave Cripe, who played in the Back Alley, a 1960s Lansing band, recalled seeing Hernandez perform in a group prior to the Ones. “Danny was fantastic, just unbelievable. I saw him when he was in a band called Pepe & the Problems,” Cripe said. “My cousin, who was a little older than me, took me over to a dance that was in the Frandor parking lot. I thought he was fantastic then. But the Ones — they were like celebrities in Lansing. They still are to our class at Everett High School.”
Aside from clubs, dances and concerts, the Ones played a seven-night-a-week gig at the Metro Bowl in Lansing, which was then a hip bowling alley and night club. That gig is where the band honed its stage show and perfected what would later be its signature tune.
“You Haven’t Seen My Love” hit the charts in late 1967, and later took off across the region in early 1968. The song featured lyrics by Hernandez and was produced by “Boogie” Bob Baldori of the Woolies at Fenton Records. Kerry Nicholoff, who wrote the classic organ riff on the tune, recalled being surprised by the reaction to the epic love ballad.
“It went to No. 1 in Lansing,” Nicholoff said. “They were playing it on all the stations non-stop. We’d sit outside on a summer night, and it seemed like the record was on every half hour. Then it started playing in Grand Rapids and other cities in the area. Then we started getting calls from just about every record label.”
The song, originally released by local labels Spirit and Fenton, soon got picked up and distributed by Motown Records — a first for a non-Motown-produced act. The record deal led to additional Motown singles and a tour, which included one date opening for Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.
By 1969, the Nicholoff brothers left the band. Hernandez continued to perform as Danny Hernandez & the Ones with a rotating cast of members for a number of years. Later lineups included Hernandez’s nephew Ronnie Hernandez (of the New Paris Bakery), as well as local musicians Tom Taylor, Gary Pitchford, Gary Melvin and Brad Hersey.