Peter Shapiro and I lived together in two Victorians in the Bay Area. We lived on 13th. Street near downtown Oakland, and a home in East Oakland where I did a painting of Rena Easton in 1971. When my friend, Bryan Maclean, of ‘Love’ died in 1998, I lamented the loss of the three artists God put in this world to accompany me and my gifts. Bryan and I had been the resident artist at University High is West Los Angeles in 1963 – 1964. Marilyn Reed and I created a Beatnik scene, and I drew her at a tea house we found on Sawtell. This became the New Balladeer where Bryan played with his friend, David Crosby. Bryan was also good friends of a Venice Beat named, Sky, who was murdered by my second girlfriend’s father who belonged to the Purple Gang. Bryan dated my sister, who in 1972 became the world famous artist ‘Rosamond’.
Marilyn is still a good friend of Jazz great, Les McCann. After we broke up she went with Jeff Pasternak to France on a ocean liner. Here she is having dinner with Jeff onboard. Jeff founded a rock group ‘The Mustard Greens’ that played at the Whiskey A Go-Go, where he met ‘The Doors’ that he tried to get in his father’s movie.
“Bryan started playing guitar in 1963/64. He got a job at the Balladeer before it changed its name to the Troubadour Club, playing back-up blues guitar. It was here he met the pre Byrds Jet Set while dating Jackie De Shannon and he became ‘fast friends’ with David Crosby. He moved away from home and by early 1965 he became road manager for the Byrds on their first Californian tour with the Rolling Stones.”
Bryan was a roadie for the Byrds when he was seventeen. We were both on the brink of dropping out of high school that we had outgrown. Bryan told me he was going to got on tour with the Byrds in Europe, but because he was underage, then did not take him. Bryan went to live with the Beat Artist, Vito Paulekas
In 1966 I went with my friend Nancy Van Brasch to see ‘Love’ at the Filmore. Instead of inviting us back stage, he came out into the audience to see me. He was fucked-up, and embarrassed when I noticed. He had dabbled in heroin in Venice where he hung with the Beats. I would read he had a freak-out and broke a big window.
Nancy and I lived in a famous commune in SF, and she dated Stanley Augustus Owsely. Christine Rosamond came to live with us, and she went on a date with Nick Sands. I later got to know members of ‘The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’ who bought me art supplies. I was the Artist in Residence when I lived with ‘The Loading Zone’.
Peter Shapiro, was the founder of the Acid Rock Group ‘The Marbles’ who played at ‘The Tribute to Doctor Strange’ the Longshoreman’s Hall in 1965. A thousand original hippies were there. That is Peter on a bridge in Venice California with Keith Purvis, Tim O’Connor and his girlfriend, and myself. Tim was in love with Christine, who was Keith’s lover, who was Christine Wandel’s lover, who was Peter’s lover, and whom became my lover in 1967. Christine is currently the lover of the New York Artist, Stefan Eins, the founded of Fashion Modem that resembles the Berkeley Experimental Arts Foundation, who are The Open Theatre that presented the Loading Zone and Big Brother and the Holding Company.
Keith was the lover of Berry Zorthian, the daughter of the artist, Jirayr Zorthian, who was titled ‘The Last Bohemian’. He was influenced by the artist Thomas Hart Benton, whose cousin, Garth Benton, married my late sister, the world-famous artist known as Rosamond. Christine Rosamond Benton lived in the ‘Idles Hands’ commune in San Francisco along with the Zorthian Sisters, and Nancy Hamren, a good friend of the Kesey family. Betty Williams-Zorntian paid the rent. That is Betty playing the guitar to her children. In 1965, when I was eighteen, I dropped acid at Betty’s home in Pasadena, and the Zorthian Ramch.
Here is the testimonial of Alessandra Hart who co-founded BEAF:
“A small group of our friends decided to create the Berkeley Experimental Arts Foundation and we rented a space on College Avenue in Berkeley which we made into a theater, calling it Open Theater & Gallery. Pop Art was just coming in, Andy Warhol was experimenting with it on the East Coast. We opened with a pop art exhibit and a theater piece my husband, Roland Jacopetti, wrote.”
The Loading Zone played at the event these artists and filmmakers put on at the Open Theatre. Here is the missing link between artists and Psychedelic Music that was an intended to be a sideshow to a multimedia happening aimed at expanding your mind, with, or without LSD. We are talking about ART, that would soon be pushed aside, put on the back-burner while The People got it, that they were Art Pieces, living sculptures on a new and very fluid stage. The Muse was everywhere, and in, everyone. No one wanted to look at art anymore and grove on the artist, his or her………..TRIP! Five hundred people were now living galleries with ten million paintings flashing inside their minds every second. There were light shows put on by The Family Dog whose member, Luria Castell, was the first manager of the Zone.
Christine Wandel has become the Muse of Stefan Eins. Christine, Marilyn, Peter, Jeff, and myself all read ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’. Marilyn, Jeff, and myself, lived in the Whiteaker Neighborhood, who block party is two days away. I had a studio and gallery on Blair in 1987.
The Open Theater, at 2976 College, was a venue for “Happenings” that would now be called Performance Art. The directors were a Berkeley Drama School dropout named Ben Jacopetti and his wife Rain. Among their innovations were a light show that featured significant (if arty) nudity. When the performers auditioned for Tom “Big Daddy” Donahue’s psychedelic nightclub Mother’s on Broadway (home of Carol Doda and numerous topless clubs), Donahue rejected the show for having too much nudity.
The Open Theater seemed to be only open for a year or 18 months, but it was an important part of the scene, as the Open Theater was a big part of the Bay Area underground prior to the Fillmore. Berkeley comedy duo The Congress of Wonders got their start as part of the Happenings and Gary “Chicken” Hirsch (later in Country Joe and The Fish) sometimes played in the house jazz group. George Hunter and Alton Kelly artwork graced the lobbies. Thus the fact that Big Brother’s first public show (on January 15, 1966) was a benefit for the Open Theater seems only fitting. Charles Perry in his book Haight Ashbury – A History (Vantage 1985) has a brief but excellent history of the Open Theater.
The Open Theater in Berkeley is most famous for debuting Big Brother and The Holding Company, and for being one of the incubators of the Trips Festival, which we have covered elsewhere. Indeed, another blogger discovered a listing in the Oakland Tribune Theater section that listed one of (if not the) first advertisements for “Psychedelic Music” at the Open Theater. Following the lead of this blogger, I reviewed the Theater Sections of The Oakland Tribune for 1965 and 1966, and managed to piece together the brief, but interesting history of the organization. I apologize in advance for any serious Theater scholars who have stumbled across this, as my focus is more on the musical side of the venture.
The Oakland Tribune first mentions the Open Theater on July 21, 1965. Founders Ben and Rain Jacopetti had formed a group called the Berkeley Experimental Arts Foundation “for the presentation and study of new art forms and trends”. After opening on September 30, 1965, the Open Theater began presenting shows every weekend, and sometimes on weekdays as well. The first listing above (under the heading Little Theaters, from the Sunday, November 7, 1965 Tribune) was typical of their Fall 1965 offerings. There was new theater on Fridays and Saturdays, and on Sunday they had “Sunday Meeting,” a spontaneous meeting. Sometimes music was advertised, as presented by either Ian Underwood or The Jazz Mice, Underwood’s trio.
It was the Sunday Happenings that seemed to be one of the precursors to The Trips Festival. According to Charles Perry’s 1984 book Haight Ashbury: A History, there was apparently multi-media performances, with lights and nudity (too much nudity for San Francisco’s Broadway), music by Underwood and others, an Art Gallery featuring contemporary art, and so on. The bass player for the Jazz Mice was artist Tom Glass, known also as Ned Lamont, and a painting of a huge comic book-style painting of his graced the lobby.
In January, the open theater begins to shift somewhat more towards music. The second (split-up) entry is from the Sunday, January 9, 1966 edition of Oakland Tribune. The Sunday night happening is followed by an apparently musical performance by Day Wellington and The Poor Losers. The next weekend is January 14 and 15, when The Loading Zone and Big Brother make their debuts, in evenings of “rock and roll and theatrical improvisation”.
The weekend of January 21-22-23 was the Trips Festival, in which the Open Theater participated. They surely contributed some multi-media, and Ian Underwood’s Jazz Mice played the first night. On the Saturday night (January 22), Underwood and others presented an avant garde musical performance. The last day of the Trips Festival, however, the Open Theater has its Sunday Meeting as usual, although perhaps some of the regular participants may have been a little worse for wear.
The last clipping is from the Sunday January 23 edition of the Tribune, noting the Happening, and also upcoming musical events. They are
Thursday January 27, 1966
Ramon Charles McDarmaid and Don Buchla, Movies by Bruce Baille
Don Buchla had constructed the Thunder Machine for Ken Kesey’s Pranksters, a sort of electronic percussion device.
Friday, January 28, 1966
Performances by Congress of Wonders and Ned’s Mob, introducing new material.
Congress of Wonders were a comedy trio, also regulars at the Open Theater, who did hip comedy and performance art (they later released a few albums). Ned’s Mob are unknown to me.
Saturday, January 29, 1966
Rock and Roll dance featuring The Loading Zone
This would have been The Loading Zone’s third performance, to our knowledge, the first two having been two weeks earlier at the Open Theater (Jan 14) and then at the Trips Festival (either Jan 21 or 22). The Loading Zone was based in Oakland.
The Open Theater continued to present performances through early March. They presented a John Cage piece on February 4 and 5 (reviewed by the Tribune) and a few other shows. Ian Underwood was now mentioned as the Musical Director, and per the March 12, 1966 Tribune it appears that Ben and Rain Jacopetti had left, and the Open Theater was under new management. However, by the end of March the Open Theater had closed. Ian Underwood said the Theater group was looking for a different space, but it was not to be.
Fashion Moda was founded in 1978 by Stefan Eins. He was soon joined by artist Joe Lewis and William Scott, a young teenager from the neighborhood as co-directors. Defining itself as a concept, Fashion Moda quickly became a strong voice in the New York art world during the late 1970s and the 1980s. Fashion Moda crossed boundaries and mixed metaphors. It helped redefine the function of art in a post-modernist society. Fashion Moda spotlighted such artists as David Wojnarowicz, Keith Haring, Jane Dickson, Stefan Roloff, Jenny Holzer, Mark Kostabi, Kenny Scharf, Carson Grant, Joe Lewis, Thom Corn, John Ahearn, Lisa Kahane, Christy Rupp, John Fekner, Don Leicht, Jacek Tylicki, Stefan Eins himself and graffiti artists like Richard Hambleton, Koor, Daze, Crash, Spank, and many others. In addition to highlighting new talent, Fashion Moda was a major force in establishing new venues. In 1980, Fashion Moda collaborated with the downtown progressive artists organization Colab (Collaborative Projects Inc.) on “The Times Square Show” (June 1980), and Now Gallery which introduced uptown graffiti-related art to downtown art and punk scenes.
The Legendary Longshoreman’s Hall “Dr. Strange” Dance of October 1965
Until Jack’s arrival, the Airplane had confined their performances almost exclusively to the Matrix, with one exception. The club had been designed with them in mind, they were able to fill the room to capacity each time they played (which wasn’t that difficult as the legal limit was under 300–more often than not there would be twice as many bodies crammed inside), and they liked the place. The band was able to rehearse there during the week without having to set up and take down its equipment each time. Being the house band was ideal for them.
But as the Airplane’s reputation spread, there was more of a demand for their services and, like any new band, they needed all the work they could get. The most pivotal of the first outside gigs was undoubtedly the one that took place October 16th at Longshoreman’s Hall, at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, dubbed by its comic-book-loving promoters “A Tribute to Dr. Strange.” Also featuring the Charlatans, the Marbles and the Great Society, the event was presented by a four-person collective calling itself the Family Dog, who took their name in honor of Harmon’s recently deceased pooch and lived together in a communal house on Pine Street. It was billed as a Rock ‘n’ Roll Dance and Concert.
Airplane lineup at the time of the Dr. Strange dance: l. to. r. Jorma Kaukonen, Bob Harvey, Marty Balin, Signe Anderson, Paul Kantner, Skip Spence
It was that last part that hit home with the Airplane. Their music was meant to be danced to, and this nonsense about no dancing being allowed at the Matrix was awfully frustrating.
Elliot Sazer: When people tried to start dancing, the police would stop them. You’re not allowed to dance in San Francisco, unless you’re in a hotel or the place has a special dance permit. And for a very liberal town, this was the craziest law I’d ever heard of in my life.
Joe Buchwald: Marty was always the one who instigated, “C’mon up and dance.” He’d work
the crowd up into a frenzy and then they’d all rush forward to the stage and that’s when all that commotion started.
Alton Kelley: We threw six or seven dances before we even knew we had to have a permit. The city tried to shut it down but once it was happening there was no shutting it down.
A recent photo of Longshoreman’s Hall, San Francisco
Ralph Gleason agreed that San Franciscans should be able to dance to rock and roll. He had mentioned the lack of dancing at the Matrix in his very first Chronicle column on the band. So when the Family Dog members–a young woman named Luria Castell, accompanied by two friends, Ellen Harmon and Alton Kelley–came to see him in October about putting on a dance concert, Gleason was all ears. He said he’d help any way he could.
Castell had been a political activist and had recently returned from L.A., where she’d enjoyed dancing to the Lovin’ Spoonful in a discotheque, wondering why San Francisco couldn’t have the same. Harmon had come to the city from Detroit, quit her straight job and lived in a tree. And Kelley was an artist from Connecticut, into exploring the possibilities of day-glo paint and collage and experimenting with new art forms. The fourth Family Dog member, Jack Towle, didn’t come to that initial meeting.
“San Francisco can be the new Liverpool,” Castell told Gleason right off the bat. She proceeded to outline the plan of this decidedly unbusinesslike troupe, to reunite dancing and rock and roll in San Francisco. In his 1969 book, The Jefferson Airplane And The San Francisco Sound, Gleason wrote, “There was a reason that they picked San Francisco in which to start and it wasn’t just because they all happened to be there at the time.” Those reasons, among others, were that New York was too large and Los Angeles was “super-uptite plastic America.”
But mostly, it was because San Francisco was San Francisco, and that was where it had to happen.
Neither the Family Dog nor Jefferson Airplane were operating in a vacuum. An undercurrent had been bubbling toward the surface for some time in San Francisco, but one group of young renegades from straight society was not always aware of the other. Rock groups were forming all over the place, more of them, it seemed , every day. Same for politically active groups, protesting social conditions and our nation’s policies abroad. Artists were experimenting with new graphic forms and previously unexplored media such as light. New advances in electronics offered previously unimagined directions in which the music could go. Castell, Harmon and Kelley ran this all down to Gleason, how they wanted to bring it all together. They told him about the dance they were planning for Longshoreman’s Hall. Gleason said he’d be there.
Permits were secured, bands were enlisted, handbills were drawn by Kelley and printed by Joe Buchwald, and the word went out.
When Gleason arrived at the hall, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Everyone approaching the hall, Gleason wrote in his book, appeared to be going to a costume party. He described men dressed as characters out of the Old West, long-haired girls in longer dresses. There were “riverboat gamblers” and “mining camp desperados,” black leather and brown buckskin. Inside, the scene was even more colorful. The crowd, Gleason reported, danced wildly all night as the bands played. The light show, although primitive by later standards, pulsated to the beat of the music.
“It was orgiastic and spontaneous and completely free-form,” Gleason wrote. He described the happy coexistence of hippies wearing buttons for peace and political types wearing buttons touting the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). What also impressed Gleason was that the Family Dog, the promoters, were out there dancing with the rest of them. This was unheard of at traditional dance events!
Jorma Kaukonen: In the beginning, when we first started playing, the audience was mostly sitting down, because that’s what audiences were trained to do then. But then audiences began to realize, “Hey, we don’t have to sit down. It’s rock and roll, for Chrissakes.”
Bill Thompson: I remember long lines of people, holding hands, dancing to the music. I mean, 20, 30 people sometimes, going around in a circle. They’d get caught up in the energy of the music, and the excitement. There was so much freedom. This was not like school dances–that was a whole different story, everything was regulated.
Bob Harvey: Longshoreman’s was the foreshadowing of the psychedelic dance concerts. But it was more than just music and dance. It felt like belonging, like family. It was my last gig with the band. I knew I was going and it felt so bad.
Paul Kantner: Before the dances, we were just the band at a party, because we weren’t connecting with an audience, even at the Matrix. And the party was often much more interesting. I mean, there was a structure there of a stage, and an audience. But, quickly, that wall broke down almost instantaneously.
Bryan MacLean guitarist, singer and songwriter of the cult 60’s Californian band Love, died of a heart attack on Christmas day 1998 in the city of Los Angeles where he was born.
Love were responsible for producing the album ‘Forever Changes’ in 1967 which has long held the reputation with music critics for being one of the finest albums ever made and although Arthur Lee did most of the song writing for the band, it is Bryan’s song ‘Alone Again Or’ from that classic album that Love are generally remembered for.
Born in Beverley Hills, California in 1946, Bryan’s father was an architect to the Hollywood stars and his mother an artist and a dancer. Neighbour Fritz Loew of the composers Lener & Loew recognised him as a melodic genius at the age of three as he doodled on the piano. Bryan’s gift for music was duly noted and he was given piano lessons and taught classical arrangement theory. Bryan’s early influences were more Billie Holliday and George Gershwin rather than Robert Johnson, although he confessed a strong obsession for Elvis Presley. During his childhood he wore out show music records from ‘Guys & Dolls’, ‘Oklahoma’, ‘South Pacific’ and ‘West Side Story’. His first girlfriend was Liza Minelli and they would sit at the piano together and sing songs like ‘The Wizard of Oz’. He learned to swim in Elizabeth Taylor’s pool and his father’s best friend was Robert Stack from T.V’s ‘Untouchables’. At 17 Bryan encountered the Beatles, “Before the Beatles I had been into folk music. I had been showing my art work at a panel shop (I wanted to be an artist in the bohemian tradition) – where we would sit around with banjos and do folk music, but when I saw ‘A Hard Days Night’ everything changed. I let my hair grow out and I got kicked out of three high schools.”
Bryan started playing guitar in 1963/64. He got a job at the Balladeer before it changed its name to the Troubadour Club, playing back-up blues guitar. It was here he met the pre Byrds Jet Set while dating Jackie De Shannon and he became ‘fast friends’ with David Crosby. He moved away from home and by early 1965 he became road manager for the Byrds on their first Californian tour with the Rolling Stones. He managed one more cross-country tour with the group after they hit big with ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ but the exhausting 30 one nighters broke him physically and when the Byrds left for their first U.K. tour in the summer of 1965 they left Bryan behind.
After an unsuccessful audition for a part in the Monkees Bryan got into a car on Sunset Strip which Arthur Lee was driving. Arthur had a band called the Grass Roots doing a residency at the Brave New World Club and being street wise knew Bryan’s ‘connections’ with the Byrds. He knew all of the scene that followed the Byrds would follow Bryan if he invited him to see the band play at the club as the Byrds were out of town and sure enough after a couple of weeks the crowds were lined up and down the street for blocks. Bryan desperately wanted to join the band and he said, “I’d give my right arm to be in your group.” To which Arthur responded “No – you’re going to need it!” The Grass Roots became Love when another group registered a hit with the name.
Love were rapidly gaining a reputation as the ‘street band’ and Jac Holzman’s Elektra Records snapped them up and they hit big with their version of the Bacharach/David song ‘Little Red Book’ and a very successful first album to which Bryan contributed the beautiful ‘Softly To Me’ as well as co-writing two others and the Byrds arrangement of ‘Hey Joe’ which he sang. In a staggering progression in just nine months Love put out their second album “Da Capo” and the storming hit single – a pre punk blast of a song ‘7 & 7 is’. Bryan’s beautiful ‘Orange Skies’ was just one of the “6 sides of an uncut diamond” that formed side one of this classic “flower power” album. As the band threatened to implode with addiction to hard drugs taking hold; sessions for what would turn out to be one of the classic albums of the “summer of love” began.
The Marbles had the following members: Peter Shapiro on lead guitar, Steve Dowler on rhythm guitar, David Dugdale on bass and Ray Greenleaf on drums. The Marbles were a psychedelic and rock group whose most notable performances were at the Tribute to Dr. Strange at the Longshoremen’s Hall in San Francisco on October 15, 1965, and again at the same venue for The Trips Festival on January 21, 22 and 23 along with Jefferson Airplane, The Charlatans and The Great Society. Both Shapiro and Dowler went on to become members of Paul Fauerso’s The Loading Zone.
The Whisky played an important role in many musical careers, especially for bands based in Southern California. The Byrds, Alice Cooper, Buffalo Springfield, Smokestack Lightning, and Love were regulars, and The Doors were the house band for a while – until the debut of the “Oedipal section” of “The End” got them fired. Van Morrison‘s band Them had a two-week residency in June 1966, with The Doors as the opening act. On the last night they all jammed together on “Gloria“. Frank Zappa‘s The Mothers of Invention got their record contract based on a performance at the Whisky. The Turtles performed there when their newest (and biggest-selling) single “Happy Together” was becoming a hit, only to lose their new bassist, Chip Douglas (who had arranged the song), to The Monkees; guitarist Michael Nesmith invited him to become their producer (he returned to the Turtles a year later, to produce them). Neil Diamond also played at the Whisky on occasion. Metallica bassist Cliff Burton was recruited by the band after they watched him play a show there.
Arthur Lee, who was originally from Memphis, Tennessee but had lived in Los Angeles since the age of five, had been recording since 1963 with his bands, the LAG’s and Lee’s American Four. He had also produced the single “My Diary” for Rosa Lee Brooks in 1964 which featured Jimi Hendrix on guitar. A garage outfit, The Sons Of Adam, which included future Love drummer Michael Stuart, also recorded a Lee composition, “Feathered Fish.” However, after viewing a performance by the Byrds, Lee became determined to form a group that joined the newly minted folk-rock sound of the Byrds to his primarily rhythm and blues style. Singer, songwriter / guitarist Bryan MacLean, whom Lee had met when he was working as a roadie for The Byrds, joined the band just before they changed their name from the Grass Roots to Love, spurred by the release of a single by another group called The Grass Roots. MacLean had also been playing guitar in bands since about 1963 but picked up music early. Neighbor Frederick Loewe, of the composers Lerner & Loewe, recognized him as a “melodic genius” at the age of three as he doodled on the piano. Also joining the band were another Memphis native, lead guitarist Johnny Echols, and drummer Don Conka. A short time later, Conka was replaced by Alban “Snoopy” Pfisterer. Love’s first bassist, Johnny Fleckenstein, went on to join the Standells in 1967. Fleckenstein was replaced by Ken Forssi (formerly of a post-“Wipe Out” lineup of The Surfaris).
Love started playing the Los Angeles clubs in April 1965 and became a popular local attraction. At this time, they were playing extended numbers such as “Revelation” (originally titled “John Lee Hooker”) and getting the attention of such contemporaries as the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. The band lived communally in a house called “the Castle” and their first two albums included photographs shot in the garden of that house
Signed to the Elektra Records label as their first rock band act, the band scored a minor hit single in 1966 with their version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David‘s “My Little Red Book.” Their first album, Love, was released in March 1966. The album sold moderately well and reached No. 57 on the Billboard 200 chart.
MacLean, suffering from heroin addiction, soon left the band, while Lee dismissed all the other members. MacLean later emerged as a Contemporary Christian artist. Echols and Forssi also experienced the ravages of drug addiction and disappeared from the scene. Echols eventually moved to New York and became a very busy studio musician. Arthur Lee, as the only remaining member, convened a new lineup and continued recording as Love.
Today, the band’s critical reputation exceeds the limited success they experienced during their time; their 1967 album Forever Changes is held in particularly high regard and often appears on lists of the best rock albums of all time.[examples needed] The band’s influence extends beyond the realm of 1960s psychedelia to such punk and post-punk bands as Television Personalities and The Jesus and Mary Chain, whose William Reid wore a Love t-shirt in his band’s video for “Head On” from their Automatic album. The Damned covered “Alone Again Or” on the album Anything, and the Swedish band The Hellacopters covered “A House Is Not A Motel”. Love have also influenced many 1960s-inspired Top 40 UK acts, including The Stone Roses, The Bluetones, Shack, The Stands, Primal Scream, and Ricky, whose mini-album You Set The Scene was named after a song on Forever Changes.
In tribute, Led Zeppelin‘s Robert Plant cites Forever Changes as one of his favorite albums ever. Jim Morrison’s 1967 personal biography for Elektra listed Love as one of his favorite bands. A tribute album We’re All Normal and We Want Our Freedom – A Tribute to Arthur Lee and Love was released in July 1994.
In 1966 Jeff Pasternak, songwriter, artist and son of legendary film producer Joe Pasternak, was strongly advised by his father not to get involved in Show Business. However, after meeting Elvis Presley on an MGM soundstage Jeff quickly forgot that advice. Months later, out for a good time at the London Fog on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, Jeff and a friend found their way to a sleazy backstreet bar and Jeff’s life changed forever.
The club was almost deserted as they waited for the new band they’d come to hear. Then, around 9:00 pm Jim Morrison and The Doors strolled onto the tiny dance floor. Jeff was captivated and mesmerized. He recalls that surreal night as one of The Doors‘ very best performances. “I knew after I left the club that night that this was the style of music I wanted to write, and the singer I wanted to sound like.”
Shortly after that evening Joe Pasternak approached Jeff, asking, “What rock and roll band would you recommend for my new movie, The Sweet Ride?” Jeff immediately told him about The Doors, whom Jeff had been following to about every gig they had around L.A. By then, Jeff says, “Their music and energy had saturated every part of my being.”
In a few more weeks Jeff had convinced his friend, John Branca (to later become one of the world’s top music attorneys) to experience The Doors. Two months later, Jeff and John had their own band, The Mustard Greens. “I was on top of the world,” Jeff says, “co-writing original material with John and waiting for my dad to sign The Doors. Who could ask for anything more?” Unfortunately for both the film’s success and music history, Joe Pasternak chose to sign Moby Grape, because they wanted $5,000 less. Shortly thereafter Light My Fire soared up the charts, racking up sales and fans. That’s Show Biz
Then Jeff’s rebel ways at home resulted in a one-way ticket to the sidewalks of Hollywood. “I’ll never forget the family chauffeur bidding good-bye to me and my stereo on a side street one block from The Whiskey a Go Go. A few nights later inside The Whiskey, Jim Morrison was screaming at his parents on stage, and the song, The End, had me questioning my own destiny,” Jeff recalls.
By late 1967 The Mustard Greens found themselves playing right down the street from The Doors at Gazzari’s on the Strip. Then came the Battle of the Bands and the Teenage Fair. “Hundreds of bands entered the contest and thousands of screaming teens cheered us on to second place in a very close race. At least we performed all original material,” Jeff says.
At the end of 1968 music producer Brian Ross discovered The Mustard Greens and quickly put the band into the recording studio. Their first single on Original Sound Records hit the charts at #78 with double bullets. Dick Clark’s American Bandstand‘s national TV audience gave “Cotton Soul” the highest ever rating. By now John and Jeff had changed the group’s name to Mad Andy’s Twist Combo, which didn’t last long. Brian suggested Pasternak’s Progress and that’s what appeared on the record company’s Sunset Boulevard neon sign
Vitautus Alphonsus “Vito” Paulekas (20 May 1913 – 25 October 1992) was an American artist and bohemian, who was most notable for his leading role in the Southern California “freak scene” of the 1960s, and his influence on musicians including The Byrds, Love and Frank Zappa.
Paulekas’ “free thinking lifestyle and artistic passion inspired beatniks, aspiring existentialists and Valley girls in need of rebellion.” In 1964, Paulekas offered rehearsal space to the Byrds, and the following year the troupe of free-form dancers, with Paulekas and Franzoni, accompanied the group on their nationwide tour. Later, Arthur Lee and Love also used his premises for rehearsals.
In some clubs, Paulekas and the dancers became as big an attraction as the onstage entertainment. The troupe – including several of the young women later to become known as The GTOs, and members of the Fraternity of Man – occupied the Log Cabin in Laurel Canyon formerly occupied by Tom Mix and later by Frank Zappa.