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My brother Jack and I immigrated to S.Calif. as kids in ’57. Though we
showed some interest in music, like millions of others, the Beatles Sullivan
In 63 thru 65 we watched the Surf scene in
San Pedro, our next door neighbors were in a band called the Elements and built
home made skateboards. Seems like we saw a Beach Boy or two once on that
1st street address….but I coulda been dreamin…..
We moved to Upland , which is where we met Mark Anthony (as mentioned in my previous email) and briefly joined his band, The Hybrids. I know my brother saw Mark a few times thru the years….I believe the last time was in Nashville around 98.
When I was close to 14 in 68- our family moved to Oregon , where we finally formed a band in 69 that we named Heavy Martha….later just Martha, and we played throughout Oregon and Northern Calif. Mainly schools, community centers….but hey…we got paid.....a little bit anyway.
Since our agent Harry Arnold was also THE concert promoter in Southern Oregon , we worked a lot of concerts in the early to mid 70’s and met quite a few folks passing through. Others we shared actual playing gigs with went on to be in some bigger groups like Autograph, Masters of the Airwaves (Epic Records), and others. My brother is the Schmoozer of the family (and I the shy seemingly snooty lead singer), so he can name more names than I ever could hope to.
We used to travel back to So Cal in the summers and hit Hollywood most every summer trying to get into offices, to play and meet people in 70,71 & 72.
In 72 we did a demo at the old Wally Heider’s studio C,
also hit Mystic Sound Studios on Selma and generally
In 71 we were walking the streets with our acoustics, looking through Office Directories for Management Companies, Record Companies, and Entertainment Lawyers, ---finding them----and basically asking them if we could audition for them on the spot. I believe that it was a lawyer in Westwood that we played for, who really liked us and told us to hang on while he made a phone call. He then told us to get back to Hollywood and go see Nick St. Nicholas, who used to be in Steppenwolf but was starting a management company. So of course, that’s exactly what we did.
We played for Nick in a conference room. He liked it.
Called a couple of people in. We played some more. He called a couple more
people in. We played some more. Anyway…..seems like it went on for
awhile, but who knows? We finally ended up in his office, where he regaled us
with a couple of Hollywood party stories…one of which somehow involved David
Clayton Thomas of Blood Sweat & Tears. We then talked about contracts; I
believe that we were all underage, so Nick & a partner spoke of getting
parental permission etc. etc. It seemed like we were on our way.
The tricky part was that we had a “friend” that we had dubbed “Manager”
and he was, I’m sure,
At any rate they wanted to hear our “Electric” set, so our “manager” and Nick’s company set up an audition at the club- The Warehouse- in Anaheim .
Since we literally were “starving musicians”, we had shared a McDonald’s hamburger the morning of the audition and otherwise were subsisting on macaroni & Pork & beans and stuff.
Nick St . Nicholas didn’t show, he sent an emissary, we played our Electric set….all was fine.
I got off of the drums to sing an acoustic song…..got to the mike…. and fainted dead away. Oooops. Blew that one!
I believe that there were a couple more phone calls between our faux manager and Nick’s company, and we got the feeling that our guy was trying to cut himself in and not passing anything along to us that the company was telling him…….and pretty soon we just ran out of cash and time and went back home to Oregon. Till the next summer of course (sans faux manager).
And THAT is one of my brief Hollywoodagogoland encounters.
Oh yes…there’s more…..auditioning for Chuck Barris for the Gong Show- auditioning for the Dinah Shore show……and yes…..I even auditioned for “The Singing Cowboy” show at Burbank studios with a 4 minute “not even close to cowboy” song……and they let me finish! But I ramble………
Thanks (or shame on you) for encouraging me to write,
Betty……cool site you have here.
Rob Schwarz aka Robert Masters aka NewImprovedLove
The Imperial Dogs
Back to Faces 9
"Animals! Animals at Gazzarri's! We've never had such animals at Gazzarri's!" screamed club owner Bill Gazzarri's sister. And even when you consider that the former stripjoint had hosted everyone from Stark Naked & The Car Thieves to the Doors to Van Halen to everyotherheavymetalband to come out of El Lay in the '80s, the lady just might've been right.
This was March 28, 1974 -- and this was the Imperial Dogs' first gig. Prophetically, it was w-i-L-d. Equally prophetically, it got them permanently banned from the club.
Half the crowd was then then-usual Gazzarri's regulars -- razor-cut sharpies with backcombed hair just over their earlobes and shirt collars that stretched almost to their armpits. Real hep cats lookin' for some action in a Sunset Strip scenario that went out when the Byrds flew in circa 1964.
The other half was the friends 'n' fans of the band (vocalist Don Waller, guitarist Paul Therrio, bassist Tim Hilger, and drummer Bill Willett), which had been playing together -- first as Sugar Boy, then as White Light -- for the past two years.
When they got the call from forgotten promoter asking if they would audition for "a big party he was gonna be throwing real soon" by playing Gazzarri's for free, no one in the Imperial Dogs bothered to mention that repeated police visits over noise complaints had left the band without a place to practice for the last two weeks.
After all, this wasn't opening for South Bay sensations/Rolling Stones imitations the Clap at a rented-out Shamrock Roller Rink in downtown Torrance for an audience of 500 beer-soaked teenagers, this was a chance to play uptown, Hollywood, the B*I*G T*I*M*E.
Fortunately, the boys in the band had the foresight to tape the evening's festivities on a portable cassette recorder -- mono, no less, as stereo cassette recorders weren't on the market yet -- and the result was captured raw and alive! on the first four tracks of the Imperial Dogs' posthumous Unchained Maladies: Live! 1974-75 album that was issued on Australian indie Dog Meat Records in 1989.
As anyone who's actually heard this long out-of-print LP can attest, the audience hoots 'n' hollers when the Imperial Dogs take the stage, but by the end of the first song -- a double-time rendition of the Kinks' "Till The End Of The Day" that, taking a cue from the tune's intro, recalls James Brown's similarly motorheaded transmogrification of the '5' Royales' "Think" -- allofasudden nobody seems to find anything quite so got-damn funny anymore.
And … if you listen closely to the Imperial Dogs' original, "Needle & Spoon," a punky, junkie, minor-key blues in a Albert King meets William Burroughs vein -- you'll hear the female members of the audience scream delightedly at the precise moment that Don does a long, slow, spread-legged slide down the microphone stand, causing his skin-tight jeans to split at the crotch, exposing his shortcomings. This isn't what got the band banned from the club, though.
It was their failure to vacate the stage and promptly remedy the situation, coupled with the irrepressible Don's comment ("Yeah, I know my dick's been hangin' out. Didn't yer Mama tell ya, it's impolite to stare?") as well as the obviously feigned "apology" offered before the club would let the band return and finish the set -- meanwhile, Don had borrowed a pair of hot pink bikini briefs from one of the band's female fans -- that fried Old Lady Gazzarri's resistors.
The next time the Imperial Dogs played up in Hollywood was on November 11, 1974 at Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco, where the band, their friends, and fans used to drive up from their home base in Carson to dance to all the "glam-rock" records they loved, but rarely heard on the radio.
Curiosity piqued by Rodney's tales of "packs of wild girls that follow them around" (which is how they got the gig), Kim Fowley -- wearing one of the band's T-shirts that they'd silk-screened themselves -- took it upon himself to introduce the Imperial Dogs to a packed-to-the-rafters crowd of Hollyweird glitterati, including the band's spiritual godfather: Iggy Pop.
When asked what he thought of all these young Dogs doin' this Detroit-inspired material, the Igster replied, "You know that song 'The Bad And The Beautiful'? Did those guys write that? Man, that's a good song. I wanna record that." Unfortunately, the Igman's next stop was U.C.L.A.'s Neuro-Psychiatric Institute and it's doubtful he has any memory of that conversation …
But the main thing anyone remembers about that gig was that the Imperial Dogs planted one of their pals, Eric Saari -- a Carson guitar-hero who couldn't stand being out of the spotlight for more than five minutes -- into a wheelchair that they'd liberated in the name of the people and gave him a fistful of stage-blood capsules. Eric wheeled himself into the middle of the crowd that was sitting on the club's usual dance floor and proceeded to yell such bon mots as, "You suck!" or "Play something we know!" the entire night.
After about 40 minutes of this, the Imperial Dogs fired into "Lizard Love," during which Don -- in keeping with the song's S&M-theme -- took off his chromed-chain belt and after whipping himself, the stage, and everything else in sight, waded into the audience, and started beating on the wheelchair that Eric was sitting in, turning it over, and dumping him to the ground, whereupon Eric began spitting fake blood all over the place, sending half the people in the club running, screaming onto the sidewalk …
The Imperial Dogs couldn't believe the audience thought that was real! All they wanted to do was show that wanna-be outrageous Hollywood crowd what true decadence really looks like, and, of course, get people talking about 'em.
Nevertheless, the club had made so much money that night -- the band got paid something like $86 bucks from the door -- that they were invited back. On February 16, 1975, the Imperial Dogs played Rodney's for the second time. They didn't pull any stunts, but had the foresight to watch over who got in for free at the door, and took home about $113.
The Imperial Dogs were invited to perform at Rodney's a third time, but a couple of weeks after playing a Carson "hall party" on February 22, 1975, the band broke up.
But the Imperial Dogs' story doesn't end there. Fowley introduced Don to then-Blue Oyster Cult co-producer/co-manager Murray Krugman, who was looking for material for the band's next album. After listening to a cassette that the Imperial Dogs had recorded live in their Carson practice space, Krugman took a copy of the lyrics to a Don Waller & Paul Therrio composition titled "This Ain't The Summer Of Love" back to New York with him.
A couple months later, Fowley told Don that Krugman had re-written everything but the title and hookline ("This ain't the Garden of Eden/This ain't the Summer of Love"), that B.O.C. drummer Albert Bouchard had written all-new music, and they wanted to put the song on the forthcoming B.O.C. album.
So … Don took a piece of the writer's share, Fowley took Don's share of the publishing for putting the deal together, and the B.O.C.'s version appeared on their 1976 Agents Of Fortune LP, which thanks to the success of the "Don't Fear The Reaper" single, sold 1,000,000 copies and went platinum.
The song has since been covered by Swedish garage-rockers the Nomads, operating under the in-jokey nom de rock the Screamin' Dizbusters; by Australian neo-punkadelic outfit the U.V.'s, by L.A. metal-mongers Lizzy Borden, by U.K. eclectics Current 93, by L.A. rock-grrrls L7 on the soundtrack to the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" film, and interpolated into the second (1988) recording of "Swallow My Pride" by "Godfathers of Grunge" Green River, who ranks included future members of Pearl Jam and Mudhoney. (The song also provided the title for Steve Waksman's 2009 book, This Ain't the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk.)
In an attempt to capitalize on the B.O.C.'s success, Don -- who by this time had become one of the original staffers of the now semi-legendary, South Bay-based Back Door Man fanzine that was founded by Phast Phreddie Patterson in 1975 -- working with BDM staffers Tom Gardner and Gregg Turner (of future Angry Samoans fame) decided to issue the Imperial Dogs' original version of "This Ain't The Summer Of Love" b/w the I-Dogs' cover of the Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting For The Man" on the fanzine spin-off Back Door Man Records indie label in 1977. (The only other BDM label releases were two singles by the Pop! -- who'd later be signed to Arista -- and one by the Zippers, whose members included former Imperial Dogs drummer Bill Willett.)
About 11 years later, Australian indie label owner Dave Laing contacted Don and issued that abovementioned album's worth of live Imperial Dogs recordings.
And 19 years after that … San Francisco-based indie label owner Karl Ikola asked Don if he was willing to reissue this LP 'cause people now consider the Imperial Dogs to be "proto-punk" pioneers a la Cleveland's Rocket From The Tombs, Oklahoma's Debris, Canada's Simply Saucer, or Australia's Radio Birdman. (For the record, the Imperial Dogs not only predate all these bands, but also the Ramones, all the U.K. punk bands, and all the L.A. bands that came out of the Masque: the Germs, the Weirdos, the Screamers, Black Flag, et al.)
During the course of this conversation, Don mentioned the Imperial Dogs had also done a 1974 performance at California State University Long Beach, which had been videotaped on a (pre-Betamax) half-inch reel-to-reel in black & white and glorious mono, and that -- after viewing this once and HATING it -- he'd tossed it into a drawer for the last 34 years.
Since then, technology had advanced to where this antiquated video format could be easily digitized -- providing someone still had the original machine that the tape was designed to be played back on (and there's a company in Burbank that specializes in this sort of thing) -- that's what Don did.
After showing the results to the rest of the Imperial Dogs as well as several musicians and journalists -- all of whom were astonished by this historical/hysterical document, which provides incontrovertible audio-visual evidence that an L.A.-based band was playing punk-rock before there was punk-rock, the Imperial Dogs' hour-long Live! In Long Beach (October 30, 1974) was issued on the ID Music label.
For further information, press coverage/links, and several song-length clips (also available on YouTube) go to theimperialdogs.com
Pic of T-shirt
Rodney's Alley shot LP cover
Iggy at Rodney's
Kim Fowley at Rodney's
Barf Bag handed out at door
4 video clips
|© Copyright 2003 Hollywood a Go Go - All rights
January 6, 2003 - 2012