The charming town of Three Lakes, Wisconsin, which lies away in the middle of the Northwoods, has a long history of creativity, entertainment, and civic pride. Skip Wagner is a legendary performer who was among the famous people to have appeared on its stages. Skip created an enduring impression on Three Lakes and the hearts of all who had the honour of seeing his concerts, combining musical talent, comic skill, and a charming personality. We mourn Skip Wagner, who recently passed away and left behind a vast collection of memories, and his life and legacy in a melancholy manner.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
For those fortunate enough to have witnessed the Skip Wagner Show, it was more than just a musical performance; it was a journey into the past, a throwback to the era of Las Vegas-style lounge acts. Peter Stoltman, the drummer for Skip’s final season in 2011, fondly recalls the experience, saying, “Back in 2011, I had the bittersweet honor of being the drummer for the final season of the Skip Wagner Show.”
The Skip Wagner Show was a one-of-a-kind experience where Skip seamlessly blended his roles as the host, musical act, and comic. He surrounded himself with a talented ensemble that not only complemented his musical prowess but also served as perfect foils for his humor and skits. Jim Schelpley, the keyboard player and announcer, played the role of second banana, while Jim St. Charles, the trumpet player, contributed to the comedy with his own unique feature.
The saxophone and clarinet player, whose name escapes memory but whose talent does not, added another layer of musical finesse to the ensemble. Together, they created an unforgettable atmosphere reminiscent of the glory days of lounge entertainment.
An Unforgettable Sense of Humor
Skip Wagner was not just a musician; he was a natural-born comedian. His wit and humor left audiences in stitches, and he had an uncanny ability to deliver punchlines with impeccable timing. His comedic genius was so renowned that even Hollywood A-lister Bill Murray, who vacationed in the area during summers, cited Skip as an early inspiration.
When informed of Bill Murray’s admiration, Skip’s response was characteristically humorous: “Who’s Bill Murray?” Such playful responses were a hallmark of Skip’s interactions with friends and fans alike. His humor was infectious, and it brought joy to countless lives.
The Art of Showmanship
The Skip Wagner Show was a true testament to the art of showmanship. Skip’s magnetic stage presence drew audiences from far and wide. His musical talents, coupled with his comedic interludes, offered a captivating blend of entertainment that transcended generations.
As Peter Stoltman reminisces, “My part included not only playing drums for the tunes but adding sound effects like gunshots, door knocks, sirens, slide whistles, and of course, the well-placed rim shot as needed.” Every element of the performance was meticulously crafted to create a seamless and immersive experience for the audience.
The End of an Era
As all good things must come to an end, so did the Skip Wagner Show. The summer of 2011 marked the final season of this beloved institution. As the season wound down, it became apparent that this would be the end of an era. Skip, ever the showman, chose to retire on a high note.
Though the stage lights dimmed, Skip’s passion for the arts continued to burn brightly. He remained in his beloved Three Lakes, a local legend and a cherished member of the community. In his post-performance years, Skip turned his creative energies to painting, leaving behind a legacy of large-scale murals and exquisite decorations and signs for local businesses. His artistry adorned the town he loved so dearly, ensuring that his presence would never truly fade away.
A Man of Wit and Warmth
Through the years, Skip Wagner may have been aware that he represented the last of a dying breed, the kind of entertainer whose charisma and talent could captivate audiences for hours on end. Yet, whenever one encountered Skip, he was quick with a smile and an impromptu joke.
Peter Stoltman fondly remembers one such moment when he asked Skip about his age. With a twinkle in his eye, Skip replied, “I’m 77…I would have been 78 but Dad was shy.” This playful response perfectly encapsulated Skip’s enduring sense of humor and warmth, endearing him to all who had the privilege of knowing him.
Skip Wagner’s recent passing has left a void in the heart of Three Lakes, Wisconsin, and in the hearts of all who were fortunate enough to witness his performances. His unique blend of music, comedy, and showmanship transported audiences to a bygone era of entertainment. Through his artistry, Skip brought joy and laughter to countless lives, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to resonate for generations to come.
As we remember Skip Wagner, we celebrate not only his extraordinary talents but also the indomitable spirit of a man who used his gifts to bring happiness to others. In the annals of Three Lakes’ history, Skip will forever hold a cherished place as a legendary musician, comedian, and friend. Though he may have taken his final bow, the echoes of his laughter and music will forever reverberate through the hearts and memories of those who had the privilege of sharing the stage of life with him.