Friday, April 10, 2009

(Part 43) LSD, Downers, And Vietanm...A new Beginning


1965 was a big year for me. I took my first LSD trip and started using downers on a regular basis. My first acid trip was with Danny Hutton, who went on to Three Dog Night fame. It started in Hollywood and ended after dawn at Venice Beach and then back to Hollywood. When it was over I was different. My use of downers gave me a sense of well being like nothing I'd ever known in my life. The tension I was used to was gone when I was loaded and I loved it. I felt as if I could do anything. I was addicted from the very first time I used them. When I mixed them with booze I would fight anyone anywhere. This became a trademark of mine over the next number of years and got me into a whole lot of trouble.

After being bounced off the wall by Randy Wood at Mira's offices I vowed that no one would ever touch me again in the music business and I made that promise stick without exception. As far as LSD went it altered all of my perceptions about everything and I used way too much of it.

After Chris Lucey was finished I figured I was too at least where Mira Records was concerned, but Pam Burns kept after to me to go back and cut a single for Mira, telling me that Randy was ashamed of what he'd done to me and wanted to make it right by letting me make a record of my choice under my own name. I was being confronted with a number of issues and had received a letter from my mother containing my draft notice. The war in Vietnam was really starting to escalate and I was going to get sent there. " Jesus Christ man just what I needed," I thought, when I first saw it and found out I was 1-A which meant I was on my way there period.

This fact, as you may have guessed, was the reason I wrote the song "Vietnam." Randy Wood was not too keen on this selection, but said, "If that's what you want to cut then go ahead." I wrote "Metropolitan Man" as a b side and gathered the guys from "The Leaves" together to record the two songs. The Leaves were also on Mira and had recorded my song "Girl From The East" off the Chris Lucey album for their album after scoring a cover hit with "Hey Joe". I was lucky to have their help and the record came out pretty well I thought. There were 2 versions of "Vietnam." I wrote the song at the end of 65 and made ademo of it with just me, guitar, and harmonica. The version with a band was cut in early 66.

As promised, it was released on Mira-Mirwood, but was never promoted whatsoever. Randy was reluctant to back an anti war song on his label so the record just died without ever getting a chance. I once asked a group of LA DJ's at the Whisky A Go Go (Reb Foster) why they never played any of my records in L.A. and one of them told me I was using the politics of anti war demonstrations to further my own career. He (Foster) was referring to the anti war demonstrations that were beginning to occur on the Sunset Strip with great regularity at the time. They all laughed when he said that and chimed in, "Yeah, you're too political." Then they all laughed some more and went back to talking to each other as if I wasn't there.

That was pretty much the story with LA radio and me, I never got any airplay. There was a lot of resentment toward me, because of the Tony Alamo days. The big ads and then nothing. People used to say, "Oh, you're the guy who had all that publicity and then blew it." I heard that a lot from music industry people in L A. I was kind of the has been who never was to them and they didn't let me forget it, ever. Randy had kept his promise alright, but had managed to kill the record anyway. I never knew whether he did it on purpose or just didn't get the point with "Vietnam". Hell there was a war going on and a lot of people didn't like the war so one would think that a song as relevant as "Vietnam" would have had a real shot if Mira/Mirwood would of gotten behind the record.

I don't recall the contracts if there were any regarding "Vietnam" and "Metropolitan Man" so I can't say much about it. Knowing Randy though I'm sure there's something about it somewhere, but I don't know what. Randy and I just kind of had a love hate relationship that went on for quite awhile. It was basically Pam Burns that kept any balance going between Randy and me. She was stuck in the middle, because she worked for and liked Randy, but she really believed in me so she was always the one who kept things from going out of control around Mira. As usual I made no money for recording or writing "Vietnam/Metropolitan Man" and unfortunately I was getting used to that so it kind of seemed natural. I just liked writing songs and making records whether I got paid or not and I just kept doing it whenever I got the chance. It proved to be a bad way to do business.

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