2012 Inductees

The Gufs

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The Gufs came together in 1988 and quickly made a mark in the alternative pop/rock genre. UW-Milwaukee college roommates Goran Kralj and Scott Schwebel formed the band. They invited Goran’s brother, Dejan to join along with bassist Tony Luna. Initially, the band received notoriety as a Milwaukee bar band. Luna left in 1990 and was succeeded by Morgan Dawley.

During the 1990s, the band toured the Midwest and developed a solid fan base. Early albums were recorded on the indie label, Red Submarine Records. Their album “Collide” (1995) featured two singles that garnered strong radio airplay: “Smile”, and “Crash (Into Me).”

Atlantic Records signed The Gufs in 1995, and under Atlantic, they released “The Gufs” (1996) and “Holiday from Me” (1999).

Returning to Red Submarine Records, The Gufs released “A Different Sea” in 2006. “To celebrate their 20th Anniversary in 2008, the band performed a series of summer concerts with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Ben Sidran

The Chicago Sun Times referred to him as a “Renaissance man cast adrift in a modern world,” while the London Times has called him “The first existential jazz rapper.”

Long-time Wisconsin resident Ben Sidran has earned international recognition as a Grammy nominated pianist, singer, composer, organist, producer and author.

He was born in Chicago in 1943, but raised in Racine. Sidran attended UW-Madison where he formed The Ardells with fellow students, Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs.. Sidran earned his degree in English Lit, then went to England for his PhD.  While there, he was a session musician for The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton and Charlie Watts.

 Returning to the US in 1967, he rejoined forces with Miller in Los Angeles, and after re-establishing himself as a recording artist, moved back to Madison.

As both a jazz and rock musician, Sidran’s recording credits include albums with Mose Allison, Van Morrison, Diana Ross, and Rickie Lee Jones, as well as more than 20 discs of his own on the Arista, Go Jazz and Nardis record labels.  He’s also known as an accomplished producer, college lecturer, and author. Books include: “Black Talk”, (black music in America), his memoir “A Life in Music”, “Talking Jazz” (historic interviews with jazz musicians) and his most recent “Jews, Music and the American Dream.”

Sidran also produced “Sidran on Record” an award-winning NPR program spanning 5 years of interviews with jazz musicians including Miles Davis, Art Blakey and more. 

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Leland "Lee" Skylar

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Milwaukee-born Leland Sklar entered the WAMI Hall of Fame with more than 2,500 album credits on his music résumé, 

Born in 1947, Sklar moved to southern California as a young child.  Piano lessons began at age 4, but by the time he was 12, he was studying bass -- the instrument on which he built his legendary career. After graduating from California State, he met James Taylor, began playing gigs with him, and the rest is music history.

Sklar’s distinctive playing style has been heard on a long list of recordings by a diverse list of artists including Air Supply, Clint Black, Donovan, Bernadette Peters, Michael W. Smith, Diana Ross, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Roger McGuinn, Ray Charles, Ricky Martin, Cliff Richard, Hall & Oates, Phil Collins, Willie Nelson, and many more. Sklar appears on 12 of James Taylor’s albums.

Credits are not limited to recordings; Leland is heard on many film and television soundtracks, including Hill Street Blues, Simon and Simon, Forrest Gump, Ghost, and My Best Friend’s Wedding.

The bass icon is as famous for his rich, deep, grooves as he is for his foot-long beard.