Read PDF Rattin Out Stevie Wonder!! (Stevie Wonder Stories, Finally! Book 1)

Free download. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can download and read online Rattin Out Stevie Wonder!! (Stevie Wonder Stories, Finally! Book 1) file PDF Book only if you are registered here. And also you can download or read online all Book PDF file that related with Rattin Out Stevie Wonder!! (Stevie Wonder Stories, Finally! Book 1) book. Happy reading Rattin Out Stevie Wonder!! (Stevie Wonder Stories, Finally! Book 1) Bookeveryone. Download file Free Book PDF Rattin Out Stevie Wonder!! (Stevie Wonder Stories, Finally! Book 1) at Complete PDF Library. This Book have some digital formats such us :paperbook, ebook, kindle, epub, fb2 and another formats. Here is The CompletePDF Book Library. It's free to register here to get Book file PDF Rattin Out Stevie Wonder!! (Stevie Wonder Stories, Finally! Book 1) Pocket Guide.
Similar authors to follow
Contents:


  1. Sneasy the Greasy Babysits Abigail
  2. Similar authors to follow
  3. The Real Frank Zappa Book
  4. Sneasy the Greasy Babysits Abigail by Michelle Birdsong
  5. Navigation menu

Then, the idea was to unfurl a rolled-up piece of oilcloth with a photo on it, showing what this incredible plywood bookcase with the books sticking out of it would look like in his home. Then I let him hold an actual book -- the one that had the plastic overlays of the human body. I lasted a week. In the world of'professional entertainment,' I wasn't faring much better.

The management allowed us to play one [1] 'twist number' per night. I got so sick of it that I quit, put the guitar in the case, stuck it behind the sofa and didn't touch it for eight months. One of the other great jobs was as a rhythm guitarist in a pickup band at a Christmas dance in a Mormon recreation hall. The room was decorated with wads of cotton hanging on black thread snowballs, get it? The band consisted of sax, drums and guitar.

I borrowed a fake-book so I could follow the chord changes, since I didn't know any of the tunes. The sax player was, in civilian life, a Spanish teacher from the local high school. He had no sense of rhythm and couldn't even count the tunes off, but he was the leader of the band. I didn't know anything about Mormons at the time, so, during a break when I lit up a cigarette, it was as if The Devil Himself had just made a rare personal appearance.

A bunch of guys who looked like they weren't quite ready to shave yet started flailing over to me and, in a brotherly sort of way, escorted my ass out the door. I knew I was going to love show business if I ever got into it. It was established by an amazing gentleman named Paul Buff. Cucamonga was a blotch on a map, represented by the intersection of Route 66 and Archibald Avenue.

On those four corners we had an Italian restaurant, an Irish pub, a malt shop and a gas station. North, up Archibald, were an electrician's shop, a hardware store and the recording studio. Across the street was a Holy Roller church, and up the block from that was the grammar school. Buff had lived in Cucamonga before enlisting in the Marines. While serving, he decided to learn electronics, so that when he got out he could apply what he had learned and build his own recording studio.

He got out, rented a place at Archibald Avenue and set out to change the direction of American Popular Music. He didn't have a mixing console, so he built one -- out of an old s vanity. He removed the mirror and, right in the middle, where the cosmetics would have gone, installed a metal plate with Boris Karloff knobs on it. He built his own homemade, five-track, half-inch tape recorder -- at a time when the standard in the industry was mono.

I think only Les Paul had an eight-track then. Buff was able to overdub the same way Les Paul could, but in a more primitive manner. He wanted to become a singer-songwriter, so he listened to all the latest hit records, figured out what the hooks were and, through a mysterious process, created his own little hook-laden replicas. He taught himself how to play the five basic instruments of rock and roll: drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and alto saxophone -- then taught himself how to sing. He made master tapes of finished songs, then drove into Hollywood and attempted to lease them to Capitol, Del-Fi, Dot and Original Sound.

Some of these tunes actually became 'regional hits. I wrote and played guitar on the B side, an instrumental called "Grunion Run. I worked with him for about a year until he got into financial trouble and was in danger of losing his studio. So, remember the really cheap cowboy movie that my high school English teacher wrote the script for in ? I even got paid for it -- not all of it, but most of it. I took part of the money and bought a new guitar, and used the rest to 'buy' Pal Records from Paul.

In other words, I agreed to take over his lease and the rest of his debt. Meanwhile, my marriage fell apart. I filed for divorce, moved out of the house on G Street, and into 'Studio Z,' beginning a life of obsessive overdubbage -- nonstop, twelve hours a day. I had no food, no shower or bathtub; just an industrial sink where I could wash up. I would have starved in there if it hadn't been for Motorhead Sherwood. I knew him from Lancaster. He came to Cucamonga and didn't have a place to stay, so I invited him to move into the studio with me. Motorhead had a way with cars and also played the saxophone -- a useful combination.

When the Mothers were finally formed, he worked for us as a roadie, and later joined the band. One day Motorhead, by some illicit means, acquired a box of foodstuffs from a mobile blood bank. He got some instant mashed potatoes I still don't know why a bloodmobile would carry instant mashed potatoes, but that's where he said he got them , some instant coffee and some honey.

By then I had landed a weekend gig at a place called the Village Inn, in Sun Village, eighty miles away. The pay came to fourteen dollars a week seven bucks per night , minus gas. With that, I bought peanut butter, bread and cigarettes. One week we splurged and bought a whole brick of Velveeta.

The name derives from when a few of the guys, after drinking peppermint schnapps, purchased illicitly by somebody's older brother, blacked out. Three of the guys Johnny Franklin, Carter Franklin and Wayne Lyles were black, the Salazar brothers were Mexican and Terry Wimberly represented the other oppressed peoples of the earth.

Lancaster was a boomtown then. There was a huge influx of technical employees guys like my Dad who had dragged their families into this godforsaken place in order to work on the missile projects at Edwards Air Force Base. The original inhabitants, sons and daughters of alfalfa farmers and feed-store owners, held all the newcomers in low esteem. We were the people from "down below" -- a term used to describe anyone who was not from the high desert area where Lancaster was located.

The lowest rung on the ladder in this social arrangement was reserved for the sons and daughters of the black families who raised turkeys in an area beyond Palmdale -- Sun Village. Only slightly above that rung was a little slot for the Mexicans. The fact that this was an "integrated" band disturbed a lot of people. This distress was compounded by the fact that, prior to my arrival, someone had put on a rhythm-and-blues show at the fairgrounds, and legend had it that "colored people brought dope into the valley when they did that damn show, and we're never gonna let that kind of music 'round here again.

I didn't know about any of this shit when I put the band together. One day, I got a great idea: I decided to promote my own gig -- a dance -- at the local women's club hall, and I asked Elsie to help me. I wanted her to rent the hall for us, and she agreed to do so. Now, I'm pretty sure about this -- it was Elsie who had promoted the original "colored-person show with optional chemical commodities" -- and I didn't fully grasp the local socio-political ramifications of all this when I asked her to book the hall.

So, everything was set -- the band rehearsed out in Sun Village in the Harrises' living room, we had our song list, we were selling tickets, everything was fine. The evening before the dance, while walking through the business district at about six o'clock, I was arrested for vagrancy.

I was kept overnight in the jail. They wanted to keep me long enough to cancel the dance -- just like in a really bad s teenage movie. It didn't work. Elsie and my folks got me out. We played the dance. It was a lot of fun. We had an enormous turnout of black students from Sun Village. Motorhead Sherwood was the hit of the evening -- he did this weird dance called "The Bug," where he pretended that some creature was tickling the fuck out of him, and he rolled around on the floor, trying to pull it off.

When he 'got it off,' he threw it at girls in the audience, hoping that they would flop around on the floor too. A few of them did. After the dance, as we were packing our stuff into the trunk of Johnny Franklin's wasted blue Studebaker, we found ourselves surrounded by a large contingent of lettermen The White Horror , eager to cause physical harm to our disgusting little 'integrated band. They remained hostile to me and the other guys in the band all the way through to graduation.

Now, these upstanding young gentlemen were pretty well plugged into the cheerleading squad, and I know I'm not imagining this those girls did not like me very much -- and so it came to pass, during a school assembly to inaugurate the new gymnasium, one of these maidens name omitted because I'm a nice guy was given the honor of leading the entire student body in a rousing rendition of the school song, a truly nauseating piece of poetry, sung to the the tune of "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra It's an Irish Lullabye ," a song SO SPECIAL that it had to be sung STANDING UP.

In order for her to fulfill her mission, Ms. Name Omitted had to get the entire crowd on its feet -- even me -- which led her to shout sneeringly into the microphone: "Everybody up! I remained seated and, as a hush fell over the audience, without the aid of a PA system, proceeded to spoil her entire afternoon by inquiring: "Why don't you go fuck yourself, [name omitted because I'm a nice guy]! She collapsed, sobbing, and had to be helped out the door by the other pom-pom rustlers.

It was the worst white female impersonation of the James Brown cape-over-the- shoulder routine ever performed in the Western Hemisphere. The final wrap-up in the case of Ms. Name Omitted took place right around sunrise, after the senior all-night party. I made her laugh while she was eating breakfast at the nicest coffee shop in town, surrounded by her friends, and iced tea came out of her nose. Anyway, the reason I brought up all this old Lancaster stuff in here is to provide some details concerning the lyrics to "Village of the Sun" which, by my admittedly peculiar standards, strikes me as a sentimental lyric -- and there aren't many of those in my catalog.

We're not going to take it apart line by line, but a few references are worth following up on. You could always tell if a guy was a 'desert rat' by the windshield on his car. The wind was a constant factor, and so were the microscopic particles of sand it carried, capable of pitting a windshield till you couldn't see out of it anymore, simultaneously reducing the finest custom paint job to garbage in an amazingly short period of time. I heard that the Village Inn was destroyed by fire in a 'racial incident' in the early s, and that the people in the neighborhood had acquired the habit of shooting each other.

However, while I was working there, it was a great little place. Between sets they'd turn on the jukebox and, as soon as they did, a guy they called "The Stumbler" would go over to it, and dance FOR it -- he'd sort of worship it, as if it was The Shrine Of Music. Eventually, he'd be joined by a couple of 'assistant stumblers,' and they'd all bob and weave and grovel in front of it.

I watched this for a few weeks and finally, one night, decided to talk to him. I thought he'd be some kind of space-wino. He wasn't -- he was an okay guy. He was drunk, to be sure, but not out of his mind -- just happy. He invited me to go to his house. I couldn't turn this offer down -- like it says on the Freak Out! Stumbler lived in? I had to find out. After the gig, I followed him out into the desert a few miles, to a small turkey ranch. There was a handmade sort of house with cinder-block steps.

The light was on in the front window. I followed him in. In spite of the shabby exterior, the living room was pleasant, with new furniture and a very large, very new Magnavox stereo. Apparently he'd been listening to some records before his evening romp in front of the jukebox -- maybe a pregame warmup. The album on the turntable was Stravinsky's Firebird Suite.

I made some recordings with him then which predated the Beefheart Magic Band. The group was called the Soots. In those days certain record companies would lease the master recordings of independent producers. A producer would bring in a finished piece of product and be given a cash advance against royalties. The producer still owned the master.

The releasing company would have the use of it for a few years, after which control of the master would revert to the producer. He listened for a while and said, "We can't release these -- the guitar is distorted. He was in contractual bondage all over the place. Companies weren't paying him, but the contracts were written in such a way that he was precluded from recording -- they had him tied up for years. When he did the Bongo Fury tour with us in , he was just about destitute. Life on the road with Captain Beefheart was definitely not easy.

He carried the bulk of his worldly possessions around in a shopping bag. It held his art and poetry books and a soprano sax. He used to forget it in different places -- just walk away and leave it, driving the road manager crazy. Onstage, no matter how loud the monitor system was, he complained that he couldn't hear his voice. I think that was because he sings so hard he tenses up the muscles in his neck, causing his ears to implode. The high point of our relationship according to Rolling Stone -- and aren't they some kind of authority on these matters? Don is not technically oriented, so, first I had to help him figure out what he wanted to do, and then, from a practical standpoint, how to execute his demands.

I wanted to do the album as if it were an anthropological field recording -- in his house. The whole band was living in a small house in the San Fernando Valley we could use the word cult in here. To make remote recordings in those days, Dick had a Shure eight-channel mixer remounted in a briefcase.

He could sit in a corner at a live gig with earphones on and adjust the levels, and have the outputs of the briefcase mixer feeding a Uher portable tape recorder. I had been using that technique with the M.


  1. The Real Frank Zappa Book;
  2. JUVENILE FICTION!
  3. See a Problem?!
  4. Talk&Share of Christmas (Talk and Share With The Coping Coach Book 1)?
  5. | Bisbee, AZ - Official Website.

I thought it would be great to go to Don's house with this portable rig and put the drums in the bedroom, the bass clarinet in the kitchen and the vocals in the bathroom: complete isolation, just like in a studio -- except that the band members probably would feel more at home, since they were at home. We taped a few selections that way, and I thought they sounded terrific, but Don got paranoid, accused me of trying to do the album on the cheap, and demanded to go into a real recording studio. So we moved the whole operation to Glendale, into a place called Whitney, the studio I was using at that time -- owned by the Mormon church.

The basic tracks were cut -- now it was time for Don's vocals. Ordinarily a singer goes in the studio, puts earphones on, listens to the track, tries to sing in time with it and away you go. Don couldn't tolerate the earphones. He wanted to stand in the studio and sing as loud as he could -- singing along with the audio leakage coming through the three panes of glass which comprised the control-room window.

The chances of him staying in sync were nil -- but that's the way the vocals were done. Usually, when you record a drum set, the cymbals provide part of the 'air' at the top end of the mix. Without a certain amount of this frequency information, mixes tend to sound claustrophobic.

Don demanded that the cymbals have pieces of corrugated cardboard mounted on them like mutes , and that circular pieces of cardboard be laid over the drum heads, so Drumbo wound up flogging stuff that went "thump! I finished at approximately A. I called them up and said, "Come on over; your album is done. They listened to the record and said they loved it. The last time I saw Don was or ' He stopped by one of our rehearsals. He looked pretty beat. He had gone back and forth with some contracts at Warner Bros. I suppose he is still living in Northern California, but not recording anymore.

He bought some property up there -- someplace where he could see whales swim by. Going backwards again. Rockett Studios in Hollywood. They were going out of business and dumping some scenery. For fifty dollars I bought more scenery than I could fit in the studio, including a two-sided cyclorama -- purple on one side for night, blue on the other side for day -- a kitchen, a library interior, a building exterior -- everything I needed to make a cheap movie. Every piece that would fit through the doors was dragged in, set up and repainted.

I ended up sleeping in the set for Billy Sweeney's Laboratory. In the back of the studio, next to the toilet, I built a totally implausible, two-dimensional, cardboard rocket ship. I painted all the sets myself and wrote a script based on the people and facilities available at the time: Captain Beefheart vs. Then came the hard part -- trying to raise money to make the movie. The Ontario Daily Report ran a feature story on me and my project in its Sunday centerfold -- about how a weird guy in Cucamonga was trying to make a science fiction movie called Captain Beefheart vs.

It was probably that story which caused the San Bernardino County vice squad to take an interest in me. This was in -- my hair was short then, but the local folks thought I had long hair. The unspoken dress code for a Cucamongan male of that period, for all occasions, was a white, short-sleeved sport shirt with a bow tie Pee-Wee Herman would have been a fashion plate. T-shirts were considered avant-garde. I put out a casting call for local people to play in the movie.

A man came to audition for the role of the asshole: Senator Gurney. I later found out that he was a member of the San Bernardino County vice squad, sent to entrap me. The vice squad had bored a hole through the studio wall and was spying on me for several weeks.

The local political subtext to all this had something to do with an impending real estate development which required the removal of the tenants before Archibald Avenue was widened. The other part of the subtext had to do with a girl I met in a restaurant in Hollywood. She had a friend -- a white girl with a black baby.

Sneasy the Greasy Babysits Abigail

They needed a place to stay. Next stop, Cucamonga. She and her girlfriend used to play with the baby on the sidewalk in front of the studio, in plain view of the Holy Rollers lurking in the church across the street. Apparently this caused some psychological stress on the congregation and, shortly thereafter, I was visited by the man who had auditioned. He didn't get the part, but he did turn out to be quite an actor. A few weeks later he returned, disguised as don't laugh a used-car salesman.

He told me that some of his friends were having a party the following week. Since I had a sign outside the studio purchased at the auction that said "TV Pictures," he wanted to know if I could make him an 'exciting film' for the entertainment of his brethren. Eager to help as opportunities to entertain the gentlemen in this fascinating profession do not occur every day , I explained that films cost a lot of money and suggested instead an audio tape. He gave me a verbal list of all the different sex acts he wished to have included on the tape.

I didn't know at the time, but he was broadcasting our conversation to a truck parked outside the studio through his don't laugh wristwatch. I told him I could make a tape like that for one hundred dollars, and have it for him the next day.

Similar authors to follow

That evening, I manufactured the tape with the help of one of the girls -- about half an hour's worth of bogus grunts and squeaky bedsprings. There was no actual sex involved. I stayed up all night to edit out the laughs and then added some background music -- a complete production. The next day the auditionee, whose name was Detective Willis, showed up and handed me fifty dollars.

I said the deal was for one hundred dollars and refused to hand over the tape -- it never changed hands. In spite of that, the door flew open, flashbulbs popped, reporters ran all over the place and handcuffs were slapped on my wrists. The vice squad arrested me and the girl, and confiscated every tape and every piece of film in the studio. They even took my 8mm projector as 'evidence. I was flat broke and couldn't afford a lawyer.

I phoned my Dad, who had recently had a heart attack -- he couldn't afford a lawyer either. He had to take out a bank loan in order to bail me out. Once I got out, I went to see Art Laboe. He had released some of my material on his Original Sound label "Memories of El Monte" and "Grunion Run" and got an advance on a royalty payment, which I used to bail out the girl. I tried to get the ACLU to take an interest in the case but they wouldn't touch it.

They said it wasn't important enough and that, yes, there had been quite a few cases of illegal entrapment in that area. By then my Dad had been able to hire a lawyer, who said my only hope was to plead nolo contendere no contest -- or "I'm so broke I can't even buy justice in Cucamonga, so I'll just give a thousand bucks to this lawyer here and keep my fucking mouth shut, hoping you don't give me the death penalty".

Before the trial, my white-haired legal expert asked me, "How could you be such a fool to let this guy con you? I thought everybody knew Detective Willis. He's the kind of guy who earns his living waiting around in public restrooms to catch queers. I answered, "I don't stand around in toilets -- I never heard about guys that get paid to do that.

My fault that I never dreamed that scum like Willis existed, or that somebody in the government set aside tax dollars to provide guys like him with a salary and a 'research budget'? I was going to have to crank up my imagination a little to compensate for this dreadful revelation. I was charged with "conspiracy to commit pornography.

The Real Frank Zappa Book

The conspiracy charge, on the other hand, was a felony -- requiring impressive amounts of penal servitude. So, how does one engage in "conspiracy to commit pornography? It was presumed that I had discussed the making of the tape with the girl and, therefore, was eligible for ten to twenty years' hard time.

Still want to move to California, folks? At one point in the trial, the judge took me and the girl into his private chambers, along with all the lawyers, listened to the tape and started laughing. It was funny -- and nowhere near as bizarre as the vocal noises eventually released on side four of the Freak Out!

The laughter infuriated the twenty-six-year-old assistant DA who prosecuted the case. He demanded, in the name of justice, that I be forced to serve time for this heinous offense. The final verdict: guilty of a misdemeanor. The sentence: six months in jail, with all but ten days suspended, and three years' probation -- during which I could not violate any traffic laws or be in the company of any woman under twenty-one without the presence of a competent adult. The sentence also provided for the expungement of my 'criminal record' -- after one year there would be nothing on the books saying that I ever went to jail.

After the sentence had been pronounced, I was placed in the holding tank in the back of the courthouse, to wait for the sheriff's bus to take me to the county jail. I was reading a long piece of jailhouse poetry scribbled on the wall "The Ballad of Do-Do Mite" when Detective Willis walked in and said, "If you'll give me permission to decide which of those tapes we confiscated are obscene, we'll give you back all the rest of them -- erased.

I said, "First of all, I do not have the authority to change you from a policeman into a judge, and furthermore, you have no right to do anything to those tapes -- the case is closed -- and I'm going to come after you to get them back" -- but I never was able to get any of the stuff back, and to this day I don't know what happened to it. Unless you've been to jail, you can't imagine what it's actually like. This wasn't like the jail in Lancaster where they gave you pancakes in the morning. This was ugly jail. There was an enormous black guy in there called "Slicks" because his lips looked like those big smooth racing tires called 'cheater slicks'.

He was in for stealing copper. Vagrants used to go to the San Bernardino rail yards and pry the copper brake shoes off boxcars and sell them as scrap metal at a junkyard down the street. Slicks figured that if the junk dealers would pay pretty good for little lumps of copper, they'd pay real good for a really big hunk. So he planned to break into the local telephone company compound, where huge rolls of telephone cable were stored. The place had a chain-link fence around it.

Slicks planned to climb over the fence, put a pole through one of the rolls -- like an axle -- throw a rope over the fence, hook it up to the 'axle,' pull on the rope and let the giant roll crush down the fence. Then, he was going to take it out into the desert, burn the insulation off the wire and sell the copper. He got as far as climbing over the fence and into the compound before the dogs got him. There was a Mexican kid in there, about nineteen years old, who had been locked up for three weeks, awaiting extradition to Beverly Hills on a jaywalking ticket. The guards left the lights on all night to keep us from sleeping.

It was about degrees in there during the day. We were supplied with one razor blade per day, and one small shower stall at the end of the cell block for forty-four men. The scum on the shower basin was about four inches thick. I didn't shave or take a shower the whole time I was there. The food was not terrific. One morning I found a giant cockroach in the bottom of my cream o' wheat. I put it in an envelope with a letter to Motorhead's mother.

The jail censor found it, and the warden threatened me with solitary if I ever tried anything like that again. There were two guys they called the Chow Hounds who would literally eat anything. They would wait until everybody took the first bite of food and found it repulsive, then they would hold their trays out while the other inmates dumped their 'chop suey' onto them, forming miniature haystacks of We were given one half hour to eat before the trays were recollected.

The Chow Hounds's trays were always clean. This gave me a real good whiff of California law, California lawyers, and an inside look at the California penal industry in action. I haven't seen anything since then to change my opinion of how poorly the system works. After I got out of jail I realized that they were going to tear down the studio and widen the street, and there was nothing I could do about it. It was so sad. I had to get the wire cutters and yank all my equipment out of there and evacuate 'Studio Z. I worked as a salesman in the singles department.

I had just enough money to make bus fare back and forth for the first week, but no money for food. So with my first paycheck I went to a little Filipino market at the bottom of the hill and bought a bag of rice, a bag of red beans, a quart of Miller High Life and some condiments to flavor the rice and beans. I went back to the house and made a big pot of stuff that I planned to live on for the next week. I ate a big dish of it and drank some beer. My stomach swelled up as if the Alien was going to pop out. I fell off the chair, writhing in agony -- cursing the Miller High Life company.

While I was working at the store, a black guy named Welton Featherstone came in, shopping for singles. We got to talking and he asked me if I'd ever been to church. I told him I'd been raised a Catholic, and he said, "No, I mean have you ever been to a real church? He told me about a place called the World Church, which happened to be right around the corner from where I lived.

It was run by O. He said, "You won't believe it. Tonight's 'Baptism Night' -- you gotta go down there and check it out. I had actually seen O. Jaggers on TV once -- he had a local 'religious' program that ran for a short time. During the show I saw, he stood by a blackboard and drew diagrams as part of the 'answer' to a letter he claimed to have received from a deeply troubled viewer. The letter requested a theological explanation of UFOs, and the reverend obliged with this answer:.

Because of the great speed at which they travel, their tiny bodies begin to glow when they come in contact with our atmosphere. So, I went to the World Church. It was a large Quonset hut near Temple and Alvarado. Instead of an altar it had a stage with flowers and fake gold knickknacks, displayed between an all-white piano and an all-white organ.

Over the stage was an enormous cardboard cutout of Jesus, posed like Superman in the takeoff position, projecting out, over the audience. It was illuminated on either side by small clusters of red and blue lights -- like the ones they use in the driveways of apartment houses called 'Kon-Tiki. The congregation was poor -- black, Filipino, Japanese and Mexican. They were subjected to three collections during the hour I was there.

The 'baptism tank' stretched across the rear of the stage. It was a waist-high sort of aquarium-thing, filled with green water. The baptismal contestants wore white robes. Jaggers dunked each victim into the tank, dragging him sort of by the scruff of the neck , with his head under water, the length of it. One guy couldn't hold his breath and came up gagging.

It was pretty disgusting. As I was about to leave, I heard him announce into a handheld Neumann U , during the third collection, "Jesus just told me that you have another thousand dollars in your pockets. As their reward, he said, "I'm now going to rain down the fire of the Holy Ghost on you! Jaggers shouted: "Fire! The people responded by going, "Ooooo! Woooooo," as if it was really getting all over them.

The organist played scary music and the red and blue lights flashed on the cardboard Jesus. In , he was supporting himself by working as a carpenter, and on weekends he sang with a group called the Soul Giants at a bar in Pomona called the Broadside. Apparently he got into a fight with their guitar player, Ray Hunt, punched him out, and the guitar player quit. They needed a substitute, so I filled in for the weekend. The Soul Giants were a pretty decent bar band. I especially liked Jimmy Carl Black, the drummer, a Cherokee Indian from Texas with an almost unnatural interest in beer.

His style reminded me of the guy with the great backbeat on the old Jimmy Reed records. Davy Coronado was the leader and saxophone player of the band. I played the gig for a while, and one night I suggested that we start doing original material so we could get a record contract.

Davy didn't like the idea. He was worried that if we played original material we would get fired from all the nice bars we were working in. The only things club owners wanted bands to play then were "Wooly Bully," "Louie Louie" and "In the Midnight Hour," because if the band played anything original, nobody would dance to it, and when they don't dance, they don't drink. The other guys in the band liked my idea about a record contract and wanted to try the original stuff. Davy departed. It turned out that Davy was absolutely right -- we couldn't keep a job anyplace.

One of the places we got fired from was the Tomcat-a-Go-Go in Torrance. During this period in American Musical History, anything with "Go-Go" pasted on the end of it was really hot. All you were required to do, if you were a musician desiring steady work, was to grind your way through five sets per night of loud rhythm tracks, while girls with fringed costumes did the twist, as if that particular body movement summed up the aesthetic of the serious beer drinker.

The groups that got the most work were the ones who pretended to be English. Often they were surf bands who wore wigs so that they looked like they had long hair, or added the word Beatles somewhere in their band name -- you get the drift. Beatle clone groups were all over the place. We didn't have long hair, we didn't have band uniforms and we were ugly as fuck.

A converted shoe store in Norwalk with a beer license also fired us. Of course the gig didn't pay that well: fifteen dollars per night divided by four guys. There was no bandstand, so we were asked to play in a corner, surrounded by tables upon which three middle-aged women the pride of Norwalk -- perhaps relatives of the owner , wearing dark tan pantyhose to hide what I imagined to be Roquefort cheese molded into the shape of human legs, dangled their putrid fringe in our faces while we played that's right, you guessed it "Louie Louie.

While I was living in the bungalow where my stomach almost exploded , I ran into Don Cerveris again. Mark was about fifty and wore a beret. He was living in West Hollywood with a waitress from the Ash Grove named Stephanie, who was also sort of beatnik-looking. The main focus of his work was a group of large paintings that looked like police department pistol targets, designed to be viewed under flashing lights, which gave the illusion that the silhouettes were jumping around.

I found this a little baffling -- but what the fuck do I know from art? We hung out and had some laughs, in spite of the targets. I had come to the conclusion that the band needed a manager, and had thought Ow! Was I going to regret this one! So, I convinced Mark to take the mysterious voyage out to Pomona fifty miles east , where he might listen to the Mothers, live, at the Broadside. What did I know from managing? I told him that if he wanted to manage the group and could get us some gigs to go ahead. He didn't really know how to do that. What did he know from managing?

He brought in a guy named Herb Cohen, who was managing some folk and folk-rock groups and was looking for another act to pick up. Eventually they became joint managers of our band, with a contract negotiated 'on behalf of the group' by Herb's brother, an attorney named Martin Mutt Cohen. Suddenly we had a Real Hollywood Manager -- an industrial professional who had actually been booking groups into Real Hollywood Nightclubs for years, and would presumably do the same for us.

After being forced at great expense into the Musicians' Union local 47 , we started to pick up slightly better paychecks; however, our new, highly skilled management team was taking fifteen percent off the top. Almost overnight we had jumped from starvation level to poverty level. On Mother's Day, , the name of the band was officially changed to the Mothers. We had begun to build a little constituency on the psychedelic dungeon circuit. There was a 'scene' evolving in L. San Francisco in the mid-sixties was very chauvinistic, and ethnocentric. Rolling Stone magazine helped to promote this fiction, nationwide.

The scene in Los Angeles was far more bizarre. No matter how 'peace-love' the San Francisco bands might try to make themselves, they eventually had come south to evil ol' Hollywood to get a record deal. My recollection is that the highest cash advance paid for signing any group during that time was for the Jefferson Airplane -- an astounding, staggering, twenty-five thousand dollars, an unheard-of sum of money. The Byrds were the be-all and end-all of Los Angeles rock then. They were 'It' -- and then a group called Love was 'It.

When we first went to San Francisco, in the early days of the Family Dog, it seemed that everybody was wearing the same costume, a mixture of Barbary Coast and Old West -- guys with handlebar mustaches, girls in big bustle dresses with feathers in their hair, etc. By contrast, the L. Musically, the northern bands had a little more country style. Everything had that fucking D chord down at the bottom of the neck where you wiggle your finger around -- like "Needles and Pins.

The blues was acceptable in San Francisco, but didn't go over in Hollywood at all. I remember the Butterfield Blues Band playing at the Trip. They were hot shit everyplace else in the country, but the people in L. Tambourine Man. I had seen Lenny Bruce a number of times at Canter's Deli, where he used to sit in a front booth with Phil Spector and eat knockwurst. I didn't really talk with him until we opened for him at the Fillmore West in I met him in the lobby between sets and asked him to sign my draft card.

He said no -- he didn't want to touch it. At that time, Lenny lived with a guy named John Judnich. John earned his living part-time by renting PA systems to local groups. A state-of-the-art system then consisted of two Altec A-7 cabinets powered by a watt amplifier, and no monitor system they hadn't been invented yet -- the old-school audio wizards had convinced everyone that it was impossible to put a microphone that close to any speaker.

Vocalists had no way to hear what they were singing -- they could only hear their voices bouncing off the back wall, from the main PA. We used Judnich's system to perform in the Shrine Exposition Hall about five thousand seats. Anyway, John used to visit every once in a while, and it was on one of these occasions that he introduced us to "Crazy Jerry.

Jerry was about thirty-five or forty, and had been in and out of mental institutions for years. He was addicted to speed. When he was a young boy, his mother who worked for the Probation Department presented him with a copy of Gray's Anatomy. He read it dutifully and noted that in some of the illustrations of muscles it said, "such and such a muscle, when present --," and so it was that Jerry set out to develop the "when present" muscles of the human body. He invented 'exercise devices' for those 'special areas' that had not been inhabited by muscle tissue since the book was written. He didn't look like a bodybuilder, but he was very strong.

He could bend re-bars the steel rods used to reinforce concrete by placing them on the back of his neck and pulling forward with his arms. As a result of this personal experimentation, he had sprouted weird lumps all over his body -- but that was just the beginning. Somewhere along the line, Jerry discovered that he loved -- maybe was even addicted to -- electricity.

He loved getting shocked, and had been arrested a number of times when unsuspecting suburbanites had discovered him in their yards, with his head pressed against the electric meter -- because he just wanted to be near it. He and a friend once jumped over the fence of the Nichols Canyon power substation for the same reason. The friend nearly died from electrocution. Jerry escaped. He lived for a while in Echo Park with a guy called "Wild Bill the Mannequin-Fucker," in a house filled with store mannequins. Wild Bill was a chemist who made speed.

Jerry used to carry equipment and ingredients up the steep hill to the lab, in exchange for lodging and free drugs. Wild Bill had a hobby. The mannequins in the house had been painted and fitted with rubber prosthetic devices so he could fuck them. On festive occasions, he would invite people over to "fuck his family" -- including a little girl mannequin named Caroline Cuntley.

Jerry wanted to be a musician, so he taught himself to play the piano by using a mirror. He told me that by watching his hands in a mirror, placed "just so," it made the distance between the keys look smaller, and it was a lot easier to learn that way. He also wore a metal hat an inverted colander because he was afraid that people were trying to read his mind.

One morning, my wife, Gail, and I woke up to find Crazy Jerry hanging by his knees -- like a bat -- from the branch of a tree in our backyard, right outside the bedroom window. Later that night, in our basement, I made a recording of his life story. He didn't have any teeth, so it was hard for him to talk, but in the course of a few hours we learned that, once, when he was in 'The Institution' and they were shooting him full of Thorazine, he was able to jump a twelve-foot fence and get away from the guards.

He went to his mother's house to hide out. The house was locked, so he crawled in under the house and came up in the kitchen through the bread drawer. He got in bed and went to sleep. His mother, the probation officer, came home, found him and turned him in again. Compared to Jerry and Bill, Lenny Bruce was quite normal. At that time, according to Judnich, Lenny used to stay up all night dressed in a doctor's outfit, listening to Sousa marches and working on his legal briefs.

It was sort of colorful in Southern California in those days -- but a couple of Republican Administrations and poof! In , there were only three clubs in Hollywood that meant anything in terms of being seen by a record company, all of them owned by the same 'ethnic organization. The Action was a place where actors and television personalities went to hang out with hookers; the Whiskey was the permanent residence of Johnny Rivers, who played there for years; and the Trip was the big showplace where all the recording acts played when they came to town -- Donovan, the Butterfield Blues Band, Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs; bands like that all played there.

There were a few other clubs in town, but they didn't have the same status as those places. A new group coming to work on the circuit would start at the Action; then, maybe on Johnny Rivers's day off, they could play at the Whisky but they wouldn't get their name on the marquee, which would still say "Johnny Rivers" , and, if they got a record contract, they got to play in the Trip. We eventually landed a job at the Action. On Halloween night , during the break before the last set, I was sitting on the steps in front of the place, wearing khaki work pants, no shoes, an s bathing shirt and a black hornburg hat with the top pushed up.

John Wayne arrived in a tux with two bodyguards, another guy and two ladies in evening gowns -- all very drunk. Reaching the steps, he grabbed me, picked me up and started slapping me on the back, shouting, "I saw you in Egypt and you were great. I took an immediate dislike to the guy. Remember, all kinds of show people went to this club, from Warren Beatty to Soupy Sales, so it wasn't unusual for someone like "the Duke" to show up.

The place was packed. When I got up on stage to begin the last set, I announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, it's Halloween. We were going to have some important guests here tonight -- we were expecting George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party -- unfortunately, he couldn't make it -- but here's John Wayne. As soon as I said that, he got up from his table, stumbled onto the dance floor, and started to make a speech.

I leaned the microphone down so everyone could hear it; something along the lines of "--and if I'm elected, I promise to. At the end of the show, the manager of the club came over to me and said, "Be nice to the Duke, because when he gets like this he starts throwing fifty-dollar bills around. I had to pass his table on my way out. As I went by, he got up and smashed my hat down on top of my head. I took it off and popped it back out. This apparently annoyed him, as he shouted, "You don't like the way I fix hats?

I've been fixin' hats for forty years. I said, "I'm not even gonna give you a chance to apologize," and walked out. Not long after that, Johnny Rivers went on tour and we were hired as a temporary replacement at the Whisky-a-Go-Go. He was up the street, at the Trip, watching a 'big group. He liked it and offered us a record deal thinking he had acquired the ugliest-looking white blues band in Southern California , and an advance of twenty-five hundred dollars.

The average budget for an LP in those days was six to eight thousand dollars. Most albums consisted of the A and B sides of an artist's hit single, plus seven or eight other "filler tunes" -- just enough to satisfy the minimum contractual time per side fifteen minutes. The other industrial norm was that most groups didn't really play their own instruments for the basic tracks on their albums. We played all our own basic tracks on Freak Out!

Wilson was based in New York, and had gone back there after booking the dates for the sessions. We were broke. MGM didn't give us the advance right away -- the money was supposed to come later. When I finally located him, he was working out of a building on Seward Street, in Hollywood Decca's old scoring stage. He didn't have any cash but, in lieu of payment, he let us use his place to rehearse in.

We had the best rehearsal hall any band could ever want, but we were starving. We collected soda bottles and cashed them in, using the proceeds to buy white bread, bologna and mayonnaise. Finally, the day of the first session rolled around -- about three in the afternoon at a place called TTG Recorders, Sunset Boulevard at Highland Avenue. Jesse walked around with his hands behind his back, pacing the floor while we were recording, making sure nobody ran up any extra overtime costs by going beyond the three hours allotted for each session.

During a break, I went into the control booth and told him: "Look, Jesse, we got a little problem here. We would like to stay on schedule. We would like to get this all done in the three hours -- these glorious three hours that you've given us to make this record -- but we don't have any money and we're all hungry. Could you lend me ten bucks? There was a drive-in restaurant downstairs from the studio, and I figured ten dollars would be enough to feed the whole band and get us through the session.

Well, Jesse's reputation was such that, if anybody had seen him lending money to a musician, he would have been ruined. He didn't say yes and he didn't say no. I walked away, figuring that was it -- I wasn't going to ask him anymore. I went back into the studio and prepared for the next take.

Jesse walked in. He had his hands behind his back. He came over, casually, and pretended to shake hands with me. There was a ten-dollar bill rolled up in his palm. He tried to pass it to me, except I didn't realize what was going on, and the money fell on the floor. He made a face like "Oh, shit!

Search results

Without this act of kindness from Jesse, there might not have been a Freak Out! Tom Wilson had returned to Los Angeles for the sessions. He was in the control booth as we began recording the first tune, "Any Way the Wind Blows. The second tune was "Who Are the Brain Police? I could see through the window that he was scrambling toward the phone to call his boss -- probably saying: "Well, uh, not exactly a 'white blues band,' but. Freak Out! It wasn't as if we had a hit single and we needed to build some filler around it.

Each tune had a function within an overall satirical concept. As the sessions continued, the more enthusiastic Wilson became. About the middle of the week I told him, "I would like to rent five hundred [] dollars' worth of percussion equipment for a session that starts at midnight on Friday, and I want to bring all the freaks from Sunset Boulevard into the studio to do something special. We got the equipment and the freaks and, starting at midnight, recorded what turned out to be side four of the album. Wilson was on acid that night. I didn't know he had taken it -- he told me later.

I've tried to imagine what he must have been thinking, sitting in that control room, listening to all that weird shit coming out of the speakers, and being responsible for telling the engineer, Ami Hadani who was not on acid , what to do. By the time Freak Out! In fact, I believe Freak Out! We were then informed that they couldn't release the record -- MGM executives had convinced themselves that no DJ would ever play a record on the air by a group called "The Mothers" as if our name was going to be The Big Problem.

Listeners at the time were convinced that I was up to my eyebrows in chemical refreshment.

Stevie Wonder - Musician & Music Producer - Mini Bio - BIO

No way. As a matter of fact, I had several arguments with the guys in the band who were into 'consciousness-altering entertainment products. Cohen said we could continue to give Mark a percentage, but he wanted to take over since, basically, Mark didn't know squat about the management business. The classic line of the meeting was delivered by Ray Collins: "You need to go to Big Sur and take acid with someone who believes in God. Undaunted by this fascinating suggestion, I continued my duties as the 'resident asshole. The very first Mothers of Invention tour took place in , at a time when hardly anybody outside of L.

We were all ugly guys with weird clothes and long hair: just what the entertainment world needed. Fuck all those beautiful groups. The show had put together a "Freak Out Dance Contest," and invited the contestants to dress "freakishly" for the event. How freakish were they? The weirdest guy in the room was wearing two different-colored socks. In Detroit, we did a television show where we were asked to do something perverted: "lip-sync our hit.

From it, I gathered an assortment of random objects and built a set. Next stop: Dallas. We flew into Love Field and found ourselves walking down a long hall, full of soldiers and sailors -- stopped dead in their tracks, staring in utter disbelief. They didn't say anything. They didn't throw anything at us. They didn't shoot us like Easy Rider -- they just stood there.

We were then whisked off to a shopping mall, to some downstairs place where yet another TV teenage dance show was in progress. We played live on that one. The high point of the performance was Carl Franzoni, our 'go-go boy. Carl has testicles which are bigger than a breadbox. Much bigger than a breadbox. The looks on the faces of the Baptist teens experiencing their grandeur is a treasured memory. At the end of this grueling three-city tour, I was introduced to a fascinating little vixen, employed as a secretary at the Whisky-a-Go-Go: Adelaide Gail Sloatman.

It took a couple of minutes, but I fell don't laugh in love, and we started living together -- eventually memorializing the union in a severely ridiculous civil ceremony in We got married a couple of days before I left for the first European tour. She was nine months pregnant, with delivery imminent. We went to the New York City Hall, arriving just before closing time. I didn't have a wedding ring -- in fact, Gail still doesn't have a wedding ring.

There was a vending machine on the counter where you picked up the license that sold ballpoint pens with "Congratulations from Mayor Lindsay" printed on them: ten cents apiece. I had to buy one in order to fill out the form. We then rushed over to one of the little 'marrying cubicles. The cover was a green-and-black abstract whatchamacallit, and it had a magenta paper label with black lettering. The other composer who filled me with awe -- I couldn't believe that anybody would write music like that -- was Anton Webern.

I heard an early recording on the Dial label with a cover by an artist named David Stone Martin -- it had one or two of Webern's string quartets, and his Symphony op. I didn't know anything about twelve-tone music then, but I liked the way it sounded. To me it was all good music. There were a few teachers in school who really helped me out.

Kavelman, the band instructor at Mission Bay High, gave me the answer to one of the burning musical questions of my youth. I couldn't understand why I loved that record so much, but I figured that, since he was a music teacher, maybe he knew. He was the first person to tell me about twelve-tone music. It's not that he was a fan of it, but he did mention the fact that it existed, and I am grateful to him for that.

I never would have heard Webern if it hadn't been for him. Ballard was the high school music instructor at Antelope Valley High. He let me conduct the orchestra a couple of times, let me write music on the blackboard, and had the orchestra play it. Ballard also did me a big favor without knowing it. As a drummer, I was obliged to perform the gruesome task of playing in the marching band. Ballard threw me out of the marching band for smoking in uniform -- and for that I will be eternally grateful.

My English teacher at A. He was also a good friend. Don got tired of being a teacher and quit -- he wanted to be a screenwriter. In , he wrote the screenplay for a super-cheap cowboy movie called Run Home Slow, and helped me get my first film scoring job on it. While other guys in high school were spending their money on cars, I spent my money on records I didn't have a car. I went to used record outlets to buy jukebox records of rhythm-and-blues songs. The only way I could get a Lightnin' Slim record was to travel a couple hundred miles and buy it secondhand, all scratched up.

San Diego had neighborhood gangs, and each neighborhood had its own 'cool band' -- the equivalent of the 'home team' in football. These bands competed with each other -- who had the best musicianship, wardrobe, choreography. A 'good band' had to have at least three saxophones in it one of which had to be a baritone , two guitar players, bass and drums. It was regarded as a more serious band if everybody wore a pink flannel, one-button roll sport coat.

It was really good if they had pants to match -- and it was superb if all the guys in the front row knew the same steps, and if they went 'up and down' at the same time on the fast songs. The people who went to see these bands really loved them. These weren't 'rock shows' put on by 'promoters' -- instead, there were girl gangs who would rent the hall, hire the band, hang the crepe paper, and sell the tickets.

I spent more time with Don Captain Beefheart Van Vliet when I was in high school than after he got into 'show business. He dropped out during his senior year, because his Dad, who was a Helms Bread truck driver, had a heart attack and 'Vliet' as he was known then took over his route for a while -- but most of the time he just stayed home from school. Granny Annie lived across the street.

The way Don got his 'stage name' was, Uncle Alan had a habit of exposing himself to Laurie. He'd piss with the bathroom door open and, if she was walking by, mumble about his appendage -- something along the lines of: "Ahh, what a beauty! It looks just like a big, fine beef heart. There were piles of sweet rolls in the kitchen, like pineapple buns that didn't sell that day -- the place was crawling with starch -- and we'd eat mounds of them while the records were playing.

Every once in a while Don would scream at his mother always in a blue chenille bathrobe , "Sue! Get me a Pepsi! Our major form of recreation, other than listening to records, was to go for coffee in the middle of the night to the Denny's on the highway. If Don was short on cash this was before he took over the bread truck route , he'd open the back door of the truck, pull out one of the long drawers with the dead buns on it and make Laurie crawl through the slot, into the locked cab, where she would sneak a few bucks out of his Dad's change-maker.

After coffee, we'd ride around in his light blue Oldsmobile with the homemade werewolf-head sculpture in the steering wheel, and talk about people who had large ears. I got married for the first time when I was about twenty years old. I had no interest in higher education, but after finishing high school it occurred to me that if I wasn't in school, I wasn't going to meet any -- so I 'reenlisted.

At Chaffey, I met Kay Sherman. We dropped out of school, started living together and got married. I went to work for a company called Nile Running Greeting Cards. Their line consisted mostly of silk-screened greetings, designed for elderly women who liked flowers. I worked in the silk-screen department and, after a while, wound up designing a few of the floral horrors myself. Then came a part-time job writing copy and designing ads for local businesses, including a few beauties for the First National Bank of Ontario, California. I also had short stints as a window dresser and a jewelry salesman and -- the worst one -- I sold Collier's Encyclopedias, door to door.

That was truly wretched -- but at least I got an inside look at how that shit is done. First, they make you go to school for three or four days to memorize the sales pitch from which you are not allowed to deviate, since they tell you that they paid a lot of money to a psychologist somewhere who figured it all out. The guy who figured out the one I had to memorize should have his license revoked -- or do those guys ever get a license?

They teach you psychological tricks to convince people who can't even afford a loaf of bread to pay three hundred bucks for a set of books they can't even read. For instance: when you go to pitch the deal, and you have the sales contract on your clipboard, you should hold the pen under your thumb at the top of the board, near the clip. When you hand the clipboard to the person "Sir, why don't you just take a look at what it says right here -- " , you release your thumb and let the pen roll down the clipboard into the guy's hand -- and before he knows what the fuck happened to him, he's got the contract and the pen in his hands.

Then, the idea was to unfurl a rolled-up piece of oilcloth with a photo on it, showing what this incredible plywood bookcase with the books sticking out of it would look like in his home. Then I let him hold an actual book -- the one that had the plastic overlays of the human body. I lasted a week. In the world of'professional entertainment,' I wasn't faring much better. The management allowed us to play one [1] 'twist number' per night. I got so sick of it that I quit, put the guitar in the case, stuck it behind the sofa and didn't touch it for eight months.

One of the other great jobs was as a rhythm guitarist in a pickup band at a Christmas dance in a Mormon recreation hall. The room was decorated with wads of cotton hanging on black thread snowballs, get it? The band consisted of sax, drums and guitar. I borrowed a fake-book so I could follow the chord changes, since I didn't know any of the tunes. The sax player was, in civilian life, a Spanish teacher from the local high school. He had no sense of rhythm and couldn't even count the tunes off, but he was the leader of the band. I didn't know anything about Mormons at the time, so, during a break when I lit up a cigarette, it was as if The Devil Himself had just made a rare personal appearance.

A bunch of guys who looked like they weren't quite ready to shave yet started flailing over to me and, in a brotherly sort of way, escorted my ass out the door. I knew I was going to love show business if I ever got into it. It was established by an amazing gentleman named Paul Buff. Cucamonga was a blotch on a map, represented by the intersection of Route 66 and Archibald Avenue. On those four corners we had an Italian restaurant, an Irish pub, a malt shop and a gas station. North, up Archibald, were an electrician's shop, a hardware store and the recording studio.

Across the street was a Holy Roller church, and up the block from that was the grammar school. Buff had lived in Cucamonga before enlisting in the Marines. While serving, he decided to learn electronics, so that when he got out he could apply what he had learned and build his own recording studio. He got out, rented a place at Archibald Avenue and set out to change the direction of American Popular Music. He didn't have a mixing console, so he built one -- out of an old s vanity. He removed the mirror and, right in the middle, where the cosmetics would have gone, installed a metal plate with Boris Karloff knobs on it.

He built his own homemade, five-track, half-inch tape recorder -- at a time when the standard in the industry was mono. I think only Les Paul had an eight-track then. Buff was able to overdub the same way Les Paul could, but in a more primitive manner. He wanted to become a singer-songwriter, so he listened to all the latest hit records, figured out what the hooks were and, through a mysterious process, created his own little hook-laden replicas.

He taught himself how to play the five basic instruments of rock and roll: drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and alto saxophone -- then taught himself how to sing. He made master tapes of finished songs, then drove into Hollywood and attempted to lease them to Capitol, Del-Fi, Dot and Original Sound. Some of these tunes actually became 'regional hits. I wrote and played guitar on the B side, an instrumental called "Grunion Run.

I worked with him for about a year until he got into financial trouble and was in danger of losing his studio. So, remember the really cheap cowboy movie that my high school English teacher wrote the script for in ? I even got paid for it -- not all of it, but most of it. I took part of the money and bought a new guitar, and used the rest to 'buy' Pal Records from Paul. In other words, I agreed to take over his lease and the rest of his debt.

Meanwhile, my marriage fell apart. I filed for divorce, moved out of the house on G Street, and into 'Studio Z,' beginning a life of obsessive overdubbage -- nonstop, twelve hours a day. I had no food, no shower or bathtub; just an industrial sink where I could wash up. I would have starved in there if it hadn't been for Motorhead Sherwood. I knew him from Lancaster.

He came to Cucamonga and didn't have a place to stay, so I invited him to move into the studio with me. Motorhead had a way with cars and also played the saxophone -- a useful combination. When the Mothers were finally formed, he worked for us as a roadie, and later joined the band.

One day Motorhead, by some illicit means, acquired a box of foodstuffs from a mobile blood bank. He got some instant mashed potatoes I still don't know why a bloodmobile would carry instant mashed potatoes, but that's where he said he got them , some instant coffee and some honey. By then I had landed a weekend gig at a place called the Village Inn, in Sun Village, eighty miles away.

The pay came to fourteen dollars a week seven bucks per night , minus gas. With that, I bought peanut butter, bread and cigarettes. One week we splurged and bought a whole brick of Velveeta. The name derives from when a few of the guys, after drinking peppermint schnapps, purchased illicitly by somebody's older brother, blacked out. Three of the guys Johnny Franklin, Carter Franklin and Wayne Lyles were black, the Salazar brothers were Mexican and Terry Wimberly represented the other oppressed peoples of the earth.

Lancaster was a boomtown then. There was a huge influx of technical employees guys like my Dad who had dragged their families into this godforsaken place in order to work on the missile projects at Edwards Air Force Base. The original inhabitants, sons and daughters of alfalfa farmers and feed-store owners, held all the newcomers in low esteem. We were the people from "down below" -- a term used to describe anyone who was not from the high desert area where Lancaster was located.

The lowest rung on the ladder in this social arrangement was reserved for the sons and daughters of the black families who raised turkeys in an area beyond Palmdale -- Sun Village. Only slightly above that rung was a little slot for the Mexicans. The fact that this was an "integrated" band disturbed a lot of people. This distress was compounded by the fact that, prior to my arrival, someone had put on a rhythm-and-blues show at the fairgrounds, and legend had it that "colored people brought dope into the valley when they did that damn show, and we're never gonna let that kind of music 'round here again.

I didn't know about any of this shit when I put the band together. One day, I got a great idea: I decided to promote my own gig -- a dance -- at the local women's club hall, and I asked Elsie to help me. I wanted her to rent the hall for us, and she agreed to do so. Now, I'm pretty sure about this -- it was Elsie who had promoted the original "colored-person show with optional chemical commodities" -- and I didn't fully grasp the local socio-political ramifications of all this when I asked her to book the hall.

So, everything was set -- the band rehearsed out in Sun Village in the Harrises' living room, we had our song list, we were selling tickets, everything was fine. The evening before the dance, while walking through the business district at about six o'clock, I was arrested for vagrancy. I was kept overnight in the jail. They wanted to keep me long enough to cancel the dance -- just like in a really bad s teenage movie.

It didn't work. Elsie and my folks got me out. We played the dance. It was a lot of fun. We had an enormous turnout of black students from Sun Village. Motorhead Sherwood was the hit of the evening -- he did this weird dance called "The Bug," where he pretended that some creature was tickling the fuck out of him, and he rolled around on the floor, trying to pull it off. When he 'got it off,' he threw it at girls in the audience, hoping that they would flop around on the floor too. A few of them did. After the dance, as we were packing our stuff into the trunk of Johnny Franklin's wasted blue Studebaker, we found ourselves surrounded by a large contingent of lettermen The White Horror , eager to cause physical harm to our disgusting little 'integrated band.

They remained hostile to me and the other guys in the band all the way through to graduation. Now, these upstanding young gentlemen were pretty well plugged into the cheerleading squad, and I know I'm not imagining this those girls did not like me very much -- and so it came to pass, during a school assembly to inaugurate the new gymnasium, one of these maidens name omitted because I'm a nice guy was given the honor of leading the entire student body in a rousing rendition of the school song, a truly nauseating piece of poetry, sung to the the tune of "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra It's an Irish Lullabye ," a song SO SPECIAL that it had to be sung STANDING UP.

In order for her to fulfill her mission, Ms. Name Omitted had to get the entire crowd on its feet -- even me -- which led her to shout sneeringly into the microphone: "Everybody up! I remained seated and, as a hush fell over the audience, without the aid of a PA system, proceeded to spoil her entire afternoon by inquiring: "Why don't you go fuck yourself, [name omitted because I'm a nice guy]! She collapsed, sobbing, and had to be helped out the door by the other pom-pom rustlers. It was the worst white female impersonation of the James Brown cape-over-the- shoulder routine ever performed in the Western Hemisphere.

The final wrap-up in the case of Ms. Name Omitted took place right around sunrise, after the senior all-night party. I made her laugh while she was eating breakfast at the nicest coffee shop in town, surrounded by her friends, and iced tea came out of her nose. Anyway, the reason I brought up all this old Lancaster stuff in here is to provide some details concerning the lyrics to "Village of the Sun" which, by my admittedly peculiar standards, strikes me as a sentimental lyric -- and there aren't many of those in my catalog. We're not going to take it apart line by line, but a few references are worth following up on.

You could always tell if a guy was a 'desert rat' by the windshield on his car. The wind was a constant factor, and so were the microscopic particles of sand it carried, capable of pitting a windshield till you couldn't see out of it anymore, simultaneously reducing the finest custom paint job to garbage in an amazingly short period of time. I heard that the Village Inn was destroyed by fire in a 'racial incident' in the early s, and that the people in the neighborhood had acquired the habit of shooting each other. However, while I was working there, it was a great little place.

Between sets they'd turn on the jukebox and, as soon as they did, a guy they called "The Stumbler" would go over to it, and dance FOR it -- he'd sort of worship it, as if it was The Shrine Of Music. Eventually, he'd be joined by a couple of 'assistant stumblers,' and they'd all bob and weave and grovel in front of it. I watched this for a few weeks and finally, one night, decided to talk to him. I thought he'd be some kind of space-wino. He wasn't -- he was an okay guy. He was drunk, to be sure, but not out of his mind -- just happy.

He invited me to go to his house. I couldn't turn this offer down -- like it says on the Freak Out! Stumbler lived in? I had to find out. After the gig, I followed him out into the desert a few miles, to a small turkey ranch. There was a handmade sort of house with cinder-block steps. The light was on in the front window. I followed him in. In spite of the shabby exterior, the living room was pleasant, with new furniture and a very large, very new Magnavox stereo.

Apparently he'd been listening to some records before his evening romp in front of the jukebox -- maybe a pregame warmup. The album on the turntable was Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. I made some recordings with him then which predated the Beefheart Magic Band. The group was called the Soots. In those days certain record companies would lease the master recordings of independent producers. A producer would bring in a finished piece of product and be given a cash advance against royalties. The producer still owned the master. The releasing company would have the use of it for a few years, after which control of the master would revert to the producer.

He listened for a while and said, "We can't release these -- the guitar is distorted. He was in contractual bondage all over the place. Companies weren't paying him, but the contracts were written in such a way that he was precluded from recording -- they had him tied up for years. When he did the Bongo Fury tour with us in , he was just about destitute. Life on the road with Captain Beefheart was definitely not easy. He carried the bulk of his worldly possessions around in a shopping bag. It held his art and poetry books and a soprano sax. He used to forget it in different places -- just walk away and leave it, driving the road manager crazy.

Onstage, no matter how loud the monitor system was, he complained that he couldn't hear his voice. I think that was because he sings so hard he tenses up the muscles in his neck, causing his ears to implode. The high point of our relationship according to Rolling Stone -- and aren't they some kind of authority on these matters?

Don is not technically oriented, so, first I had to help him figure out what he wanted to do, and then, from a practical standpoint, how to execute his demands. I wanted to do the album as if it were an anthropological field recording -- in his house. The whole band was living in a small house in the San Fernando Valley we could use the word cult in here. To make remote recordings in those days, Dick had a Shure eight-channel mixer remounted in a briefcase. He could sit in a corner at a live gig with earphones on and adjust the levels, and have the outputs of the briefcase mixer feeding a Uher portable tape recorder.

I had been using that technique with the M. I thought it would be great to go to Don's house with this portable rig and put the drums in the bedroom, the bass clarinet in the kitchen and the vocals in the bathroom: complete isolation, just like in a studio -- except that the band members probably would feel more at home, since they were at home. We taped a few selections that way, and I thought they sounded terrific, but Don got paranoid, accused me of trying to do the album on the cheap, and demanded to go into a real recording studio.

So we moved the whole operation to Glendale, into a place called Whitney, the studio I was using at that time -- owned by the Mormon church. The basic tracks were cut -- now it was time for Don's vocals. Ordinarily a singer goes in the studio, puts earphones on, listens to the track, tries to sing in time with it and away you go. Don couldn't tolerate the earphones. He wanted to stand in the studio and sing as loud as he could -- singing along with the audio leakage coming through the three panes of glass which comprised the control-room window. The chances of him staying in sync were nil -- but that's the way the vocals were done.

Usually, when you record a drum set, the cymbals provide part of the 'air' at the top end of the mix. Without a certain amount of this frequency information, mixes tend to sound claustrophobic. Don demanded that the cymbals have pieces of corrugated cardboard mounted on them like mutes , and that circular pieces of cardboard be laid over the drum heads, so Drumbo wound up flogging stuff that went "thump!

I finished at approximately A. I called them up and said, "Come on over; your album is done. They listened to the record and said they loved it. The last time I saw Don was or ' He stopped by one of our rehearsals. He looked pretty beat. He had gone back and forth with some contracts at Warner Bros. I suppose he is still living in Northern California, but not recording anymore.

He bought some property up there -- someplace where he could see whales swim by. Going backwards again. Rockett Studios in Hollywood. They were going out of business and dumping some scenery. For fifty dollars I bought more scenery than I could fit in the studio, including a two-sided cyclorama -- purple on one side for night, blue on the other side for day -- a kitchen, a library interior, a building exterior -- everything I needed to make a cheap movie. Every piece that would fit through the doors was dragged in, set up and repainted. I ended up sleeping in the set for Billy Sweeney's Laboratory.

In the back of the studio, next to the toilet, I built a totally implausible, two-dimensional, cardboard rocket ship. I painted all the sets myself and wrote a script based on the people and facilities available at the time: Captain Beefheart vs. Then came the hard part -- trying to raise money to make the movie.

The Ontario Daily Report ran a feature story on me and my project in its Sunday centerfold -- about how a weird guy in Cucamonga was trying to make a science fiction movie called Captain Beefheart vs. It was probably that story which caused the San Bernardino County vice squad to take an interest in me. This was in -- my hair was short then, but the local folks thought I had long hair.

The unspoken dress code for a Cucamongan male of that period, for all occasions, was a white, short-sleeved sport shirt with a bow tie Pee-Wee Herman would have been a fashion plate. T-shirts were considered avant-garde. I put out a casting call for local people to play in the movie. A man came to audition for the role of the asshole: Senator Gurney. I later found out that he was a member of the San Bernardino County vice squad, sent to entrap me.

The vice squad had bored a hole through the studio wall and was spying on me for several weeks. The local political subtext to all this had something to do with an impending real estate development which required the removal of the tenants before Archibald Avenue was widened. The other part of the subtext had to do with a girl I met in a restaurant in Hollywood. She had a friend -- a white girl with a black baby. They needed a place to stay.


  1. ages of wonder Manual.
  2. Navigation menu.
  3. Outcaste (RLE Iran D): Jewish Life in Southern Iran (Routledge Library Editions: Iran)!
  4. Sabs Secret Paris: Quirks & Curios ~ 20 Teasers.

Next stop, Cucamonga. She and her girlfriend used to play with the baby on the sidewalk in front of the studio, in plain view of the Holy Rollers lurking in the church across the street. Apparently this caused some psychological stress on the congregation and, shortly thereafter, I was visited by the man who had auditioned. He didn't get the part, but he did turn out to be quite an actor. A few weeks later he returned, disguised as don't laugh a used-car salesman. He told me that some of his friends were having a party the following week.

Since I had a sign outside the studio purchased at the auction that said "TV Pictures," he wanted to know if I could make him an 'exciting film' for the entertainment of his brethren. Eager to help as opportunities to entertain the gentlemen in this fascinating profession do not occur every day , I explained that films cost a lot of money and suggested instead an audio tape.

He gave me a verbal list of all the different sex acts he wished to have included on the tape. I didn't know at the time, but he was broadcasting our conversation to a truck parked outside the studio through his don't laugh wristwatch. I told him I could make a tape like that for one hundred dollars, and have it for him the next day. That evening, I manufactured the tape with the help of one of the girls -- about half an hour's worth of bogus grunts and squeaky bedsprings. There was no actual sex involved.

I stayed up all night to edit out the laughs and then added some background music -- a complete production. The next day the auditionee, whose name was Detective Willis, showed up and handed me fifty dollars. I said the deal was for one hundred dollars and refused to hand over the tape -- it never changed hands. In spite of that, the door flew open, flashbulbs popped, reporters ran all over the place and handcuffs were slapped on my wrists.

The vice squad arrested me and the girl, and confiscated every tape and every piece of film in the studio. They even took my 8mm projector as 'evidence. I was flat broke and couldn't afford a lawyer. I phoned my Dad, who had recently had a heart attack -- he couldn't afford a lawyer either. He had to take out a bank loan in order to bail me out.

Once I got out, I went to see Art Laboe. He had released some of my material on his Original Sound label "Memories of El Monte" and "Grunion Run" and got an advance on a royalty payment, which I used to bail out the girl. I tried to get the ACLU to take an interest in the case but they wouldn't touch it.

They said it wasn't important enough and that, yes, there had been quite a few cases of illegal entrapment in that area. By then my Dad had been able to hire a lawyer, who said my only hope was to plead nolo contendere no contest -- or "I'm so broke I can't even buy justice in Cucamonga, so I'll just give a thousand bucks to this lawyer here and keep my fucking mouth shut, hoping you don't give me the death penalty".

Before the trial, my white-haired legal expert asked me, "How could you be such a fool to let this guy con you? I thought everybody knew Detective Willis. He's the kind of guy who earns his living waiting around in public restrooms to catch queers. I answered, "I don't stand around in toilets -- I never heard about guys that get paid to do that.

My fault that I never dreamed that scum like Willis existed, or that somebody in the government set aside tax dollars to provide guys like him with a salary and a 'research budget'? I was going to have to crank up my imagination a little to compensate for this dreadful revelation. I was charged with "conspiracy to commit pornography. The conspiracy charge, on the other hand, was a felony -- requiring impressive amounts of penal servitude. So, how does one engage in "conspiracy to commit pornography? It was presumed that I had discussed the making of the tape with the girl and, therefore, was eligible for ten to twenty years' hard time.

Still want to move to California, folks? At one point in the trial, the judge took me and the girl into his private chambers, along with all the lawyers, listened to the tape and started laughing. It was funny -- and nowhere near as bizarre as the vocal noises eventually released on side four of the Freak Out! The laughter infuriated the twenty-six-year-old assistant DA who prosecuted the case. He demanded, in the name of justice, that I be forced to serve time for this heinous offense. The final verdict: guilty of a misdemeanor. The sentence: six months in jail, with all but ten days suspended, and three years' probation -- during which I could not violate any traffic laws or be in the company of any woman under twenty-one without the presence of a competent adult.

The sentence also provided for the expungement of my 'criminal record' -- after one year there would be nothing on the books saying that I ever went to jail. After the sentence had been pronounced, I was placed in the holding tank in the back of the courthouse, to wait for the sheriff's bus to take me to the county jail.

I was reading a long piece of jailhouse poetry scribbled on the wall "The Ballad of Do-Do Mite" when Detective Willis walked in and said, "If you'll give me permission to decide which of those tapes we confiscated are obscene, we'll give you back all the rest of them -- erased. I said, "First of all, I do not have the authority to change you from a policeman into a judge, and furthermore, you have no right to do anything to those tapes -- the case is closed -- and I'm going to come after you to get them back" -- but I never was able to get any of the stuff back, and to this day I don't know what happened to it.

Unless you've been to jail, you can't imagine what it's actually like. This wasn't like the jail in Lancaster where they gave you pancakes in the morning. This was ugly jail. There was an enormous black guy in there called "Slicks" because his lips looked like those big smooth racing tires called 'cheater slicks'. He was in for stealing copper. Vagrants used to go to the San Bernardino rail yards and pry the copper brake shoes off boxcars and sell them as scrap metal at a junkyard down the street.

Slicks figured that if the junk dealers would pay pretty good for little lumps of copper, they'd pay real good for a really big hunk. So he planned to break into the local telephone company compound, where huge rolls of telephone cable were stored. The place had a chain-link fence around it. Slicks planned to climb over the fence, put a pole through one of the rolls -- like an axle -- throw a rope over the fence, hook it up to the 'axle,' pull on the rope and let the giant roll crush down the fence. Then, he was going to take it out into the desert, burn the insulation off the wire and sell the copper.

He got as far as climbing over the fence and into the compound before the dogs got him. There was a Mexican kid in there, about nineteen years old, who had been locked up for three weeks, awaiting extradition to Beverly Hills on a jaywalking ticket. The guards left the lights on all night to keep us from sleeping. It was about degrees in there during the day.

We were supplied with one razor blade per day, and one small shower stall at the end of the cell block for forty-four men. The scum on the shower basin was about four inches thick. I didn't shave or take a shower the whole time I was there. The food was not terrific. One morning I found a giant cockroach in the bottom of my cream o' wheat. I put it in an envelope with a letter to Motorhead's mother. The jail censor found it, and the warden threatened me with solitary if I ever tried anything like that again. There were two guys they called the Chow Hounds who would literally eat anything.

They would wait until everybody took the first bite of food and found it repulsive, then they would hold their trays out while the other inmates dumped their 'chop suey' onto them, forming miniature haystacks of We were given one half hour to eat before the trays were recollected. The Chow Hounds's trays were always clean. This gave me a real good whiff of California law, California lawyers, and an inside look at the California penal industry in action.

I haven't seen anything since then to change my opinion of how poorly the system works. After I got out of jail I realized that they were going to tear down the studio and widen the street, and there was nothing I could do about it. It was so sad. I had to get the wire cutters and yank all my equipment out of there and evacuate 'Studio Z. I worked as a salesman in the singles department. I had just enough money to make bus fare back and forth for the first week, but no money for food. So with my first paycheck I went to a little Filipino market at the bottom of the hill and bought a bag of rice, a bag of red beans, a quart of Miller High Life and some condiments to flavor the rice and beans.

I went back to the house and made a big pot of stuff that I planned to live on for the next week. I ate a big dish of it and drank some beer. My stomach swelled up as if the Alien was going to pop out. I fell off the chair, writhing in agony -- cursing the Miller High Life company. While I was working at the store, a black guy named Welton Featherstone came in, shopping for singles.

We got to talking and he asked me if I'd ever been to church. I told him I'd been raised a Catholic, and he said, "No, I mean have you ever been to a real church? He told me about a place called the World Church, which happened to be right around the corner from where I lived. It was run by O. He said, "You won't believe it. Tonight's 'Baptism Night' -- you gotta go down there and check it out. I had actually seen O. Jaggers on TV once -- he had a local 'religious' program that ran for a short time. During the show I saw, he stood by a blackboard and drew diagrams as part of the 'answer' to a letter he claimed to have received from a deeply troubled viewer.

The letter requested a theological explanation of UFOs, and the reverend obliged with this answer:. Because of the great speed at which they travel, their tiny bodies begin to glow when they come in contact with our atmosphere. So, I went to the World Church. It was a large Quonset hut near Temple and Alvarado. Instead of an altar it had a stage with flowers and fake gold knickknacks, displayed between an all-white piano and an all-white organ.

Over the stage was an enormous cardboard cutout of Jesus, posed like Superman in the takeoff position, projecting out, over the audience. It was illuminated on either side by small clusters of red and blue lights -- like the ones they use in the driveways of apartment houses called 'Kon-Tiki. The congregation was poor -- black, Filipino, Japanese and Mexican. They were subjected to three collections during the hour I was there. The 'baptism tank' stretched across the rear of the stage. It was a waist-high sort of aquarium-thing, filled with green water. The baptismal contestants wore white robes.

Jaggers dunked each victim into the tank, dragging him sort of by the scruff of the neck , with his head under water, the length of it. One guy couldn't hold his breath and came up gagging. It was pretty disgusting. As I was about to leave, I heard him announce into a handheld Neumann U , during the third collection, "Jesus just told me that you have another thousand dollars in your pockets. As their reward, he said, "I'm now going to rain down the fire of the Holy Ghost on you! Jaggers shouted: "Fire! The people responded by going, "Ooooo!

Woooooo," as if it was really getting all over them. The organist played scary music and the red and blue lights flashed on the cardboard Jesus. In , he was supporting himself by working as a carpenter, and on weekends he sang with a group called the Soul Giants at a bar in Pomona called the Broadside. Apparently he got into a fight with their guitar player, Ray Hunt, punched him out, and the guitar player quit. They needed a substitute, so I filled in for the weekend. The Soul Giants were a pretty decent bar band.

I especially liked Jimmy Carl Black, the drummer, a Cherokee Indian from Texas with an almost unnatural interest in beer. His style reminded me of the guy with the great backbeat on the old Jimmy Reed records. Davy Coronado was the leader and saxophone player of the band. I played the gig for a while, and one night I suggested that we start doing original material so we could get a record contract. Davy didn't like the idea.

He was worried that if we played original material we would get fired from all the nice bars we were working in. The only things club owners wanted bands to play then were "Wooly Bully," "Louie Louie" and "In the Midnight Hour," because if the band played anything original, nobody would dance to it, and when they don't dance, they don't drink. The other guys in the band liked my idea about a record contract and wanted to try the original stuff. Davy departed. It turned out that Davy was absolutely right -- we couldn't keep a job anyplace. One of the places we got fired from was the Tomcat-a-Go-Go in Torrance.

During this period in American Musical History, anything with "Go-Go" pasted on the end of it was really hot. All you were required to do, if you were a musician desiring steady work, was to grind your way through five sets per night of loud rhythm tracks, while girls with fringed costumes did the twist, as if that particular body movement summed up the aesthetic of the serious beer drinker. The groups that got the most work were the ones who pretended to be English.

Often they were surf bands who wore wigs so that they looked like they had long hair, or added the word Beatles somewhere in their band name -- you get the drift. Beatle clone groups were all over the place. We didn't have long hair, we didn't have band uniforms and we were ugly as fuck. A converted shoe store in Norwalk with a beer license also fired us. Of course the gig didn't pay that well: fifteen dollars per night divided by four guys. There was no bandstand, so we were asked to play in a corner, surrounded by tables upon which three middle-aged women the pride of Norwalk -- perhaps relatives of the owner , wearing dark tan pantyhose to hide what I imagined to be Roquefort cheese molded into the shape of human legs, dangled their putrid fringe in our faces while we played that's right, you guessed it "Louie Louie.

While I was living in the bungalow where my stomach almost exploded , I ran into Don Cerveris again. Mark was about fifty and wore a beret. He was living in West Hollywood with a waitress from the Ash Grove named Stephanie, who was also sort of beatnik-looking. The main focus of his work was a group of large paintings that looked like police department pistol targets, designed to be viewed under flashing lights, which gave the illusion that the silhouettes were jumping around. I found this a little baffling -- but what the fuck do I know from art?

We hung out and had some laughs, in spite of the targets. I had come to the conclusion that the band needed a manager, and had thought Ow! Was I going to regret this one! So, I convinced Mark to take the mysterious voyage out to Pomona fifty miles east , where he might listen to the Mothers, live, at the Broadside. What did I know from managing? I told him that if he wanted to manage the group and could get us some gigs to go ahead.

He didn't really know how to do that. What did he know from managing? He brought in a guy named Herb Cohen, who was managing some folk and folk-rock groups and was looking for another act to pick up. Eventually they became joint managers of our band, with a contract negotiated 'on behalf of the group' by Herb's brother, an attorney named Martin Mutt Cohen. Suddenly we had a Real Hollywood Manager -- an industrial professional who had actually been booking groups into Real Hollywood Nightclubs for years, and would presumably do the same for us.

After being forced at great expense into the Musicians' Union local 47 , we started to pick up slightly better paychecks; however, our new, highly skilled management team was taking fifteen percent off the top. Almost overnight we had jumped from starvation level to poverty level. On Mother's Day, , the name of the band was officially changed to the Mothers.

We had begun to build a little constituency on the psychedelic dungeon circuit. There was a 'scene' evolving in L. San Francisco in the mid-sixties was very chauvinistic, and ethnocentric. Rolling Stone magazine helped to promote this fiction, nationwide. The scene in Los Angeles was far more bizarre. No matter how 'peace-love' the San Francisco bands might try to make themselves, they eventually had come south to evil ol' Hollywood to get a record deal. My recollection is that the highest cash advance paid for signing any group during that time was for the Jefferson Airplane -- an astounding, staggering, twenty-five thousand dollars, an unheard-of sum of money.

The Byrds were the be-all and end-all of Los Angeles rock then. They were 'It' -- and then a group called Love was 'It. When we first went to San Francisco, in the early days of the Family Dog, it seemed that everybody was wearing the same costume, a mixture of Barbary Coast and Old West -- guys with handlebar mustaches, girls in big bustle dresses with feathers in their hair, etc. By contrast, the L. Musically, the northern bands had a little more country style. Everything had that fucking D chord down at the bottom of the neck where you wiggle your finger around -- like "Needles and Pins.

The blues was acceptable in San Francisco, but didn't go over in Hollywood at all. I remember the Butterfield Blues Band playing at the Trip. They were hot shit everyplace else in the country, but the people in L. Tambourine Man. I had seen Lenny Bruce a number of times at Canter's Deli, where he used to sit in a front booth with Phil Spector and eat knockwurst. I didn't really talk with him until we opened for him at the Fillmore West in I met him in the lobby between sets and asked him to sign my draft card.

He said no -- he didn't want to touch it. At that time, Lenny lived with a guy named John Judnich. John earned his living part-time by renting PA systems to local groups. A state-of-the-art system then consisted of two Altec A-7 cabinets powered by a watt amplifier, and no monitor system they hadn't been invented yet -- the old-school audio wizards had convinced everyone that it was impossible to put a microphone that close to any speaker. Vocalists had no way to hear what they were singing -- they could only hear their voices bouncing off the back wall, from the main PA.

We used Judnich's system to perform in the Shrine Exposition Hall about five thousand seats. Anyway, John used to visit every once in a while, and it was on one of these occasions that he introduced us to "Crazy Jerry. Jerry was about thirty-five or forty, and had been in and out of mental institutions for years. He was addicted to speed. When he was a young boy, his mother who worked for the Probation Department presented him with a copy of Gray's Anatomy. He read it dutifully and noted that in some of the illustrations of muscles it said, "such and such a muscle, when present --," and so it was that Jerry set out to develop the "when present" muscles of the human body.

He invented 'exercise devices' for those 'special areas' that had not been inhabited by muscle tissue since the book was written. He didn't look like a bodybuilder, but he was very strong. He could bend re-bars the steel rods used to reinforce concrete by placing them on the back of his neck and pulling forward with his arms. As a result of this personal experimentation, he had sprouted weird lumps all over his body -- but that was just the beginning.

Somewhere along the line, Jerry discovered that he loved -- maybe was even addicted to -- electricity. He loved getting shocked, and had been arrested a number of times when unsuspecting suburbanites had discovered him in their yards, with his head pressed against the electric meter -- because he just wanted to be near it. He and a friend once jumped over the fence of the Nichols Canyon power substation for the same reason. The friend nearly died from electrocution. Jerry escaped. He lived for a while in Echo Park with a guy called "Wild Bill the Mannequin-Fucker," in a house filled with store mannequins.

Wild Bill was a chemist who made speed.

Sneasy the Greasy Babysits Abigail by Michelle Birdsong

Jerry used to carry equipment and ingredients up the steep hill to the lab, in exchange for lodging and free drugs. Wild Bill had a hobby. The mannequins in the house had been painted and fitted with rubber prosthetic devices so he could fuck them. On festive occasions, he would invite people over to "fuck his family" -- including a little girl mannequin named Caroline Cuntley.

Jerry wanted to be a musician, so he taught himself to play the piano by using a mirror. He told me that by watching his hands in a mirror, placed "just so," it made the distance between the keys look smaller, and it was a lot easier to learn that way. He also wore a metal hat an inverted colander because he was afraid that people were trying to read his mind. One morning, my wife, Gail, and I woke up to find Crazy Jerry hanging by his knees -- like a bat -- from the branch of a tree in our backyard, right outside the bedroom window.

Later that night, in our basement, I made a recording of his life story. He didn't have any teeth, so it was hard for him to talk, but in the course of a few hours we learned that, once, when he was in 'The Institution' and they were shooting him full of Thorazine, he was able to jump a twelve-foot fence and get away from the guards.

He went to his mother's house to hide out. The house was locked, so he crawled in under the house and came up in the kitchen through the bread drawer. He got in bed and went to sleep. His mother, the probation officer, came home, found him and turned him in again. Compared to Jerry and Bill, Lenny Bruce was quite normal.

At that time, according to Judnich, Lenny used to stay up all night dressed in a doctor's outfit, listening to Sousa marches and working on his legal briefs. It was sort of colorful in Southern California in those days -- but a couple of Republican Administrations and poof!

In , there were only three clubs in Hollywood that meant anything in terms of being seen by a record company, all of them owned by the same 'ethnic organization. The Action was a place where actors and television personalities went to hang out with hookers; the Whiskey was the permanent residence of Johnny Rivers, who played there for years; and the Trip was the big showplace where all the recording acts played when they came to town -- Donovan, the Butterfield Blues Band, Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs; bands like that all played there.

There were a few other clubs in town, but they didn't have the same status as those places. A new group coming to work on the circuit would start at the Action; then, maybe on Johnny Rivers's day off, they could play at the Whisky but they wouldn't get their name on the marquee, which would still say "Johnny Rivers" , and, if they got a record contract, they got to play in the Trip. We eventually landed a job at the Action. On Halloween night , during the break before the last set, I was sitting on the steps in front of the place, wearing khaki work pants, no shoes, an s bathing shirt and a black hornburg hat with the top pushed up.

John Wayne arrived in a tux with two bodyguards, another guy and two ladies in evening gowns -- all very drunk. Reaching the steps, he grabbed me, picked me up and started slapping me on the back, shouting, "I saw you in Egypt and you were great. I took an immediate dislike to the guy. Remember, all kinds of show people went to this club, from Warren Beatty to Soupy Sales, so it wasn't unusual for someone like "the Duke" to show up. The place was packed. When I got up on stage to begin the last set, I announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, it's Halloween. We were going to have some important guests here tonight -- we were expecting George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party -- unfortunately, he couldn't make it -- but here's John Wayne.

As soon as I said that, he got up from his table, stumbled onto the dance floor, and started to make a speech. I leaned the microphone down so everyone could hear it; something along the lines of "--and if I'm elected, I promise to. At the end of the show, the manager of the club came over to me and said, "Be nice to the Duke, because when he gets like this he starts throwing fifty-dollar bills around.

I had to pass his table on my way out. As I went by, he got up and smashed my hat down on top of my head. I took it off and popped it back out. This apparently annoyed him, as he shouted, "You don't like the way I fix hats? I've been fixin' hats for forty years. I said, "I'm not even gonna give you a chance to apologize," and walked out. Not long after that, Johnny Rivers went on tour and we were hired as a temporary replacement at the Whisky-a-Go-Go.

He was up the street, at the Trip, watching a 'big group. He liked it and offered us a record deal thinking he had acquired the ugliest-looking white blues band in Southern California , and an advance of twenty-five hundred dollars. The average budget for an LP in those days was six to eight thousand dollars. Most albums consisted of the A and B sides of an artist's hit single, plus seven or eight other "filler tunes" -- just enough to satisfy the minimum contractual time per side fifteen minutes.

The other industrial norm was that most groups didn't really play their own instruments for the basic tracks on their albums. We played all our own basic tracks on Freak Out! Wilson was based in New York, and had gone back there after booking the dates for the sessions. We were broke. MGM didn't give us the advance right away -- the money was supposed to come later.

When I finally located him, he was working out of a building on Seward Street, in Hollywood Decca's old scoring stage.

Navigation menu

He didn't have any cash but, in lieu of payment, he let us use his place to rehearse in. We had the best rehearsal hall any band could ever want, but we were starving. We collected soda bottles and cashed them in, using the proceeds to buy white bread, bologna and mayonnaise. Finally, the day of the first session rolled around -- about three in the afternoon at a place called TTG Recorders, Sunset Boulevard at Highland Avenue. Jesse walked around with his hands behind his back, pacing the floor while we were recording, making sure nobody ran up any extra overtime costs by going beyond the three hours allotted for each session.

During a break, I went into the control booth and told him: "Look, Jesse, we got a little problem here. We would like to stay on schedule. We would like to get this all done in the three hours -- these glorious three hours that you've given us to make this record -- but we don't have any money and we're all hungry. Could you lend me ten bucks? There was a drive-in restaurant downstairs from the studio, and I figured ten dollars would be enough to feed the whole band and get us through the session.

Well, Jesse's reputation was such that, if anybody had seen him lending money to a musician, he would have been ruined. He didn't say yes and he didn't say no. I walked away, figuring that was it -- I wasn't going to ask him anymore. I went back into the studio and prepared for the next take.