Good things happened quickly for In a Hot Coma. The band was soon asked to open up for Cheap Trick right before their debut album on Epic was released, Keller said.
After several years, Keller left In a Hot Coma and played in local bands, including a short stint playing with Howie Epstein, who later became the longtime bass player for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, as well as The Shivvers, a popular Milwaukee power pop band. He then joined a Rockford-based pop group called The Names until he joined The Baxters with Martin Krohne on guitar and Greg Scott on bass. After capturing second place at a State Fair Battle Of The Bands competition in West Allis, WI, The Baxters made their debut at a popular punk club, Zak’s, Milwaukee's first punk club, on New Year's Eve.
For the next two years, the trio wrote original songs and played shows in cities such as Rockford, Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison. With 200 original songs in their repertoire, The Baxters came up with two tunes that got some attention in 1980: "What Ya Gonna Do" and "Don't Run Away," both of which can be heard on YouTube.
The band recorded the songs at Star Studios on National Avenue but couldn't put together enough money to release a record. Seventeen years later, "Don't Run Away" appeared on a CD featuring iconic Milwaukee band Great Lost Brew Wave, while "What Ya Gonna Do" made it onto a 2001 CD set called History in 3 Chords.
In addition to Ringo Starr, Keller said, several other legendary drummers have influenced him over the years, such as John Bonham (Led Zeppelin); Keith Moon (The Who) and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick).
Keller got to know Carlos when his band opened for Cheap Trick and helped him in one unique way.
"I would use the same drumsticks over and over and beat them up because they're not inexpensive," he said. "One day, I came offstage and Bun E. saw that my sticks were all nicked up, so he got one of his roadies to give me a large box full of his used sticks. I used them for the next two years and will never forget Bun E. for that!"