I can remember listening to a record I had and singing along with it. I think it was a Doo Whap thing. I said “it sure would be nice to be able to sing on a record like that.” And my mom said she didn’t see why it would not be possible. Several years later when I first heard the Beatles on the radio, music was beginning to change. After seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, I along with many others had the desire to be in a band. Jim Carson who lived across the street from me played the piano, guitar and drums even though Jim had been blind all of his life. Gary the kid next door got a cheap Japanese Guitar and learned to play, so I took up drums and sang lead. British invasion bands were big with at the time so we named this group The Mods. We played a lot of Rolling Stone’s songs and practiced at Jim’s house. The Woman that lived across the alley from Jim heard us and hired us to play at a fire fighters alumni thing. Jim only had a snare drum which I used along with a large box which I kicked for a bass drum and a barbecue grill for a symbol so I Barrowed a set that a friend of mine, Bill, had for the gig. This was the only gig we had. It was a lot of fun though. Probably because it was the first time any of us had performed in front of people.
For a short time I was in a band called the Society. My friend Bill, Who’s drums I had borrowed, played drums another friend Willy played bass a guy named Phil, who lived down the street from me, played rhythm guitar and I sang lead and we were looking for a lead guitarist. A guy named Danny Pacheco who played drums with the house band, The Mile Ends, at a local teen club named The Fifth Estate, owned by Jim Museil who had JD’s up the street, said he would get us a gig there when we had our act together. I went on vacation with my family and when I got back the band was no more. ???
Sometime I was asked to join a band that a friend named Ernie Escalante had called Grass. They had a singer but he wanted two. He said if I could sing like Robert Plant I was in. I practiced some Led Zeppelin songs and did alright but the band broke up before I did anything. Grass played at a club in Tempe called The Mill. They sold records up front and had a club in the back. I did a phycadelic sign for them in exchange for some records. Tom Freeman who was later in bands with me was going to play drums with Grass in a battle of the bands because there drummer hadn’t showed up. It was in the parking lot of Tower Plaza Mall which had a Wallach’s Record Store were you could go in a booth and listen to records before you would buy them. So Tom went in and listened to Good Times, Bad Times the song they planned to play. There drummer got there in time so Tom didn’t get to play.
Several years later my brother Scott who had taken up bass guitar after having played violin in the school band and his friend Tom Freeman on drums and Bob Casciato on rhythm were jamming with Jim Carson and invited me to come and sing. They did a Neal Young song that I didn’t do very well. In spite of that I was invited to join a band they were forming. Eventually this band came to be known as Samurai. Eventually my wife at the time’s sister Peggy joined the band as a second singer. We did Stone’s stuff and some Beatles mixed with some other stuff. Peggy wasn’t in the band too long though; I think we only did one gig. Her husband thought it took too much of her time and made her quit. We carried on as a 5 piece. We played at high school dances and other gigs from time to time sometimes Bob wouldn’t be with us and people would say we sounded better than ever. So though Bob was a nice guy we ended up letting him go. Bob probably got better because he still plays guitar. We carried on as a 4 piece. We began to play more Rod Stewart things as his Voice was amazing to me. I gargled Brandy to try and sound like that. One gig we had a gig at the Squaw Peak Inn were New Times was located at the time. We did a Faces song a key lower than them but a guy came out and said we sounded just like them. Even though we did it a key lower I was happy.
At first we got a Custom amp as a PA system. We made some speaker boxes to go with it. My brother was cutting out the boxes with a power saw and asked to borrow Jim’s sun glasses to keep the sawdust from his eyes. When he put them on they were full of scratches and smudges since Jim never cleaned them. Scott jokingly said to Jim “no wonder you can’t see, these glasses are filthy.” Latter we got a Peavey PA system.
There was a battle of the bands thing at the State Fare where anyone in the show got an hour free studio time. So we joined just for that. We didn’t win but we got what we wanted. I don’t remember who won. D.R. Welk took a film of us at that gig. D.R. was a friend of Scott’s that played guitar was invited to join the band after that. We practiced a song Jim and I wrote called Here Comes The Train and a version of Bobby Daren’s Splish Splash that we did and one other to get ready. Two of the guys in that band, DR. and Tom, now have recording studios. We played a gig at Gerard High School as that group. Steve Smith a friend of mine who was in a local band that I liked, Poland, was at that gig to listen. Soon Jim got into heroin and missed some gigs so we had to let him go. Jim hung out with some undesirable characters then. I later heard that he got his guitar stolen by someone when he was at a party, and later was shot to death. Taking the wrong path can lead one in directions never intended. But looking back Samurai was one of the most fun bands I was in. I sometimes think I should have tried to help him but that’s water under the bridge.
After that we got a friend of D.R.’s to join the Band as a second guitarist, Ralph Dykes. We changed the name of the band to Spooo at D.R.s suggestion. I still think another we thought of would have been good, Studebaker Hawk. We also considered The Brookline Dodgers. We began by doing songs by Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, The Allman Brothers and others. Guitarist Bruce Cannole heard the band doing In Memory of Elizabeth Reed by the Allman Brothers and complimented us on having two good guitarists. Where I had been more or less the leader in Samurai, D.R. was the leader in Spooo. We soon began to do originals written by D.R. and myself. We practiced in a room that was approximately 10 feet by 10 feet at full volume with large amps. It’s amazing that I can still hear. We played at some high school dances a couple of George McGovern for President events among others. One Gig we did was at a local high school’s back to school gig. I found it ironic that we played Schools Out by Alice Cooper. Another was a New Year eve gig at a high school. Since it that night we drank beer behind our amps. D.R. was very into Frank Zappa so our originals had time changes and were in odd times so we didn’t go over with kids that wanted to dance and hear songs they were familiar with.
One night my friend Steve Smith invited me to a party. He had been touring as roadie with Quick Silver Messenger Service. Harold Aceves had been their drummer. Scott and D.R. were with me. Steve took me into the bathroom and gave me a snort of cocane. That was one of the few times I had cocain. They had some musical equipment set up in the living room so we jammed on a Bloodwin Pig song and some others. It was Scott on bass, Harold on drums, me on vocals, Steve and D.R. on guitars. We actually sounded pretty good. Maybe it was just the drugs.
We considered moving to Las Angeles and made a trip over there to check things out. We ended up going to Disney Land and camping out with some friends who lived there. We never did check things out. D.R. and Tom went to a concert that made them decide the band needed a better bass player. We tried some people out. One I remember, Tom thought he was pretty good but D.R. said Scott was better. That told me that it was D.R. that had decided to replace Scott. I decided to quit the band after that. Soon Scott and Tom were jamming with another guitarist that D.R. described as “just another Eric Clapton.” D.R. soon married my sister in-law Peggy and they eventually formed the Phoenix band Blue Shoes. After seeing Blue Shoes play I said to D.R. that I Liked Rock and Roll and he said he did too. Scott and Tom moved to Oregon soon after the band broke up. Scott continues to play bass. He has been on several CDs and played in a band with Mick Avory when he lived in Europe. Avory was in the Kinks and did the first gig with the Rolling Stones, he also played on one of the first albums I owned “Kinkdom”.
My marriage was coming to an end around that time and I eventually joined up with Brad Buxer and Paul Sanchez in a band they were forming that came to be called Berlin. We tried out several bass players one of which had ben with Ernie Escalante’s band. We played a few gigs But I was eventually asked to leave because I didn’t sound like Jon Anderson of Yes. The bass player George Gillmore quit and told me about a band that needed a bass player and a singer called Flight. So we joined them and played a few gigs. The biggest thing we did was open for Spirit, a band in with their best days behind them. Also on that bill were some of the guys that would go on to form the band Mr. Mister. Eventually Brad and Paul were putting together another band. They came to hear Flight at a gig we had with their new manager Ed. It turned out that Ed wanted to see and hare me. This was an audition for the band they were putting together, though I didn’t know it at the time, which came to be Copenhaver. Their new bass player was Stewart Golladay and the drummer was Gene Gilbert who was the brother of Gary Gilbert who had played with Mike Bruce before he went on to be with Alice Cooper. Gene could also sing. I joined as the lead singer; members of Flight went on to form The Freeze Band, a band that put out an album. This band was different in that they had a manager who played a mager roll in getting jobs and selecting songs. We Played at various gigs around town and eventually went on the road with a booking company out of Chicago, thanks to Ed. We played several gigs in the Midwest. My favorite was a gig we had in Austin, Texas. While in Austin we went to a taco place to eat. The girls at the counter kept laughing. Ed asked what they were laughing about, and they said “it’s because you-all talk so funny”. When we got to Lawton, Oklahoma things were looking up. At first they said we could play as loud as we wanted but when we vibrated the glasses off the shelf behind the bar they told us to turn down. At the gig that night the police showed up and took us away because Brad was a minor and we were playing in a place that sold alcohol. After that the booking company decided to let us go. Ed had evidently not told them some of our members were minors. When we got back to Phoenix Paul decided to get rid of Brad. A new keyboard player was hired and we did a few gigs. I decided to quit since I didn’t agree with getting rid of Brad. I talked to Brad and soon we were forming a new band. Before long Stewart and Gene joined us. Brad and I wrote a few songs. Brad made some remarks about my girlfriend and future wife, so I quit. The other guys in the band especially Stewart felt the need for a guitarist, so after running across Bruce Cannol Who asked if I knew any bands that needed a guitarist I suggested he get in touch with those guys. Soon Bruce was in the band along with a friend of Gene named Pat, on vocals. I went to a few practice sessions to listen since they were doing songs I had written with Brad. I got the impression that Bruce didn’t like Pat and he wouldn’t play Brads songs. It seemed he was just biding his time. Eventually that band ended. Bruce went on to be in Billy Clone and The Same and Brad went to ASU to study composition. Eventually Brad and Bruce would come back together in the Jetzons with Stewarts Brother, Steve, on drums and Former Billy Clone member Damon Dorion on Bass. I did there Jetzon’s logo, took Pictures of Brad and did some ads for them. Brad told me at that time there fans would be more impressed if he was on heroin than that he had studied music at ASU. They cut a short album at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank California with Mike Condello producing. Eventually they broke up. Bruce and Damon went on to play in several Phoenix bands. Brad went on to play with Matthew Wilder of the one hit Break my Stride. He eventually played and toured with Stevie Wonder’s band before spending about 10 years as Michal Jackson’s music director and keyboard player. I decided that Rock and Roll was for those younger than me (this was a few years before The Cars) and didn’t join any other bands and got married. I had drawn all this time so after seeing some paintings in Scottsdale started painting. I wrote and recorded some demos but never did anything with them. I sometimes play Drums with friends and have remained a longtime friend with Ralph who played guitar in Spooo.. Scott now lives in Mexico and continues to play bass.
I sometimes think that some people get in bands for the wrong reasons. I feel that the main motivating factor should be the love of music and creating. Some get in bands for the girls or hoping to get a lot of money. It would be nice to make a living doing what you like but it doesn’t always happen. As for the girls, most are not worth the time. They go after bands for all the wrong reasons. My brother was in a band with Mick Avory of the Kinks and made records with members of the Tonight Show band but he seems just as happy playing with Mexican bands. Mike Condello who was the music director for the Wallace & Ladmo Show and produced the Jetzons album along my friend Vince Welnick who played with the Tubes and the Grateful Dead, both committed suicide. I don’t know why but being successful didn’t bring them happiness.
It’s the same with making art. It should be done for the love of it and creating something. I used to think of painting as a way to get rich and famous. But I have always drawn and was happy doing it. Some make it and never step out of the box. It’s much better to be like Picasso and just do what you like. It doesn’t matter if you make it. It’s the fun of creating that should drive one.