Segarini: Frazier Mohawk – Send in the Clown

Frazier Mohawk December 12th1941 – June 2nd 2012 Part One

I fucking hate this. Why, in a world that seems to be filled to the brim with nasty, violent, inherently evil, sociopathic poltroons and spurious, self-absorbed, toxic, miscreants, does God or whatever the serendipitous woozle in charge of Universal Order turns out to be, pluck the benign, the innocent, and (in this case), the creative, unique, bordering-on-zany/wacky/nutcase persons of interest, off this mudball and into the Great Unknown? Snuffing out not only another Bright Light, but someone whose very existence inspired creativity and impacted positively (sometimes by NOT doing what he did) on the people around him. Yeah, everybody dies, but sometimes, I think that was an oversight the Grand Woozle made when he/she or it was creating either the Aardvark or the platypus…I mean, really.

My personal experience with Frazier was a series of cameo appearances in each other’s lives. We weren’t fast friends, we didn’t work together, per se, and even though we knew the same people and went to the same places, our circles just touched one another occasionally. His, the very heart and soul of the musical revolution taking place in L.A, and mine, a part of that revolution’s effects on the world of music. Frazier was part of the tornado, I was just another piece of flotsam picked up by the wind he and his brother’s in arms created and hurtled into the sky. Unless you were there in Los Angerles and San Francisco, and New York when the ’60s came to a head, it is hard to imagine the incredible energy and socio-political shift that occurred. Plato (427 – 347 BC) had said “Musical innovation is full of danger to the state, for when modes of music change, the laws of the state change with them”. And when you’re right, you’re right. One minute the establishment was the establishment, and the next minute they were the enemy. It was Us against Them. The Man wanted to take our music, and we all swore that he would not. Frazier was part of the Rebel Alliance, faced off with the Empire, armed only with talent, fearlessness, creativity…and the youth of a Nation. He existed as part of a sleeper cell of unique and creative individuals determined that positive change in the world would start with the music and be spread by and through the people. Frazier managed to impact so many who would go to the front lines of the musical upheaval, yet he would remain mostly in the background, an instigator in a Jester’s costume, a visionary disguised as a clown.

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Frazier Mohawk was born Barry Friedman in Los Angeles, California in 1941. He attended Happy Valley boarding school, which was run by a spiritual man named Krishna Murti and author (Brave New World), humanist, satirist, and early advocate (and user) of psychedelic drugs, Aldous Huxley. Already, his background was infused with an incredible launch pad. Mohawk’s godfather had been a ringmaster with Ringling Brothers Circus, and his godmother, a publicist for the same company. In 1956, when he needed an after-school job, his godmother secured him the position of assistant to the producer of the Chucko the Clown TV show, which was being produced at the ABC Studios around the corner from his school. He also eventually worked on a show called Stars of Jazz, which, like the circus themed show, made a real musical impression on the young Mr. Friedman. After the television experience, He got a job with the DeWayne Brothers Circus but by 1959, he had purchased a travelling show called The Mother Goose Menagerie, complete with 35 live baby animals in storybook settings, which he toured around California and the southwestern states to county fairs and shopping centres. Such ambition at such  tender age.

From there, Barry Friedman bounced around like a super ball. Running off to Europe, he photographs the Moscow Circus and sells the pictures. In 1962, he returns to the U.S and becomes the publicist for L.A DJ Bob Eubanks , who owned (with fellow DJ Reb Foster) the Cinnamon Cinder teen dance club chain in Southern California, and when the clubs got their own television show, he became the talent booker and soundman, insisting that every act perform live and not just lip-sync their records. His live sound prompted one of the house bands, The Pastel Six, to invite him into the studio with them, leading to his first forays into record production. By 1964, he was still working for Eubanks.

When Eubanks promoted The Beatles’ Hollywood Bowl concert on Aug. 23, 1964, Mohawk became the publicist for the event, handling all the press conferences for the group including a particularly memorable madhouse gathering at the Cinnamon Cinder club. Derek Taylor, The Beatles’ publicist, would later recommend Friedman to Brian Epstein as U.S. west coast publicist for some of his other acts including Cilla Black.

From Marty Melhuish’s Frazier Mohawk bio: “I closed the deal with Brian Epstein one afternoon at the Beverly Hills Hotel,” recalls Mohawk, who would open his own publicity company Hoopla, which among other things promoted the film Black Like Me. He also worked as publicist for Ike Turner for about 18 months. “I was at his house almost every day with Tina making me breakfast and listening to a whole lot of good music by people like Etta James and Sam Cooke who would drop by the house.” He was 22 years old.

After working with Turner, he got a job doing publicity for Doug Weston’s Troubadour and started to meet and befriend a lot of people in the folk community. By then, this included the gang that would eventually bring him into the sphere of influence led by one of the greatest record men of all time, Jac Holzman. A loose knit, drug fueled, hippie equivalent of the Algonquin Round Table, a moveable feast of brilliance, ideas, tom-foolery, and intelligentsia disguised as lay-abouts, musicians, visionaries, and pranksters, and Jac himself, a dignified, organized businessman with a passion for music rare in the offices of the captains of the record industry, and whose scruples and sense of fair play and compassion for his artists make him, to this day, a unique individual in a sea of commerce driven opportunists. It was always mostly about the music with Jac, and because of that, the people who were making real music gravitated toward him, his label, and his merry band of Rebels with a Cause.

At the time, Mohawk was living down the street from Dickie Davis who handled the lighting at The Troubadour and was sharing a garden apartment with a young folk singer by the name of Stephen Stills. Frazier: “I guess it was getting a little crowded at Dickie’s so Stephen ended up at my place which was right in the middle of Hollywood on Fountain Ave. Stephen and I started talking about putting a band together. I told him to wish up a band and we started contacting the people and bringing them into town. Richie Furay came out and Stephen kept talking about this guy Neil Young he had met up in Canada. We had originally flown Kenny Koblun down from Canada but he freaked out and flew back.”

The rest is a piece of history some of you may already be aware of.

From a recent interview with Frazier in England’s UNCUT Magazine, here’s the whole story and a great deal of insight into Neil Young,“Buffalo Springfield was Stephen’s group, so I got to hear about Neil through him. The whole thrust of the group was “Look Stephen, if you want to put a band together I’ll help you do it.” That’s really what it was. He wanted to put together the people he knew and had worked with in various places. It was unfortunate that he had all these great performers who all could work as a single act and were talented, but as it turned out I think we found out that he didn’t play well with others. He preferred to play with himself.

They were never going to last long on Atlantic. If they’d signed with Elektra it would have been a different story, I think. Elektra was more nurturing and [label boss] Jac Holzman had a great understanding of music and musicians. His approach was damn near religious.

So I first met Neil when Stephen met him in LA, driving his hearse. He was just right across from the liquor store, in the parking lot near Schwab’s [Drug Store], right where Laurel Canyon comes down and meets Sunset Boulevard. I just thought he seemed like a nice enough fella, very skinny. Stephen thought a lot of him. He’d worked all these folk clubs and that’s where he’d first run into Neil. He knew a good songwriter when he saw one.

Ken Koblun was in the first version of the Springfield, but he ran away. He left a note on his pillow saying “Sorry, I can’t do it,” and went home. But having lived in Canada myself now for thirty years, I knew exactly where he was coming from. I would have fled too. LA was crazy, while Canada had a degree of sanity about it. It was much more grounded.

The Springfield lived and rehearsed in my house. It was a wonderful house. It had 25-ft. ceilings and was basically one huge room, built by a heroin addict musician whose name I can’t remember. She was arrested and dragged out of the house, after which it came up for rent. It was originally built by Thelma White, who sang with her All-Girl Orchestra in the ‘40s. It had beautiful stained-glass windows and a huge cement bathtub in the middle of the room, with the story of Don Quixote in tiles around it. It was all staged in front of a huge fireplace that took up the whole wall. It was an amazing place, with crystal windows that would create rainbows across the whole room in the mornings. It really was spectacular. I had my bedroom, which was a loft that sort of overlooked the rest of the place, and there was another bedroom in the back. I remember Ken [Koblun] was back in there for a minute. I’m not sure where everybody else was, they must have been there just in sleeping bags.

As far as the eventual name for the group, Buffalo Springfield, we pulled up in front of the house one day when they were repaving Fountain. There was a steam roller there and on the back it said Buffalo Springfield. I said, ‘Hey, that’s the name!’ I pried the sign off, took it into the house and nailed it on the wall. Buffalo Springfield, one of the most influential groups of the 60s, was born.

We eventually found a motel and put everybody up in this motel on Sunset. The motel had a little theatre, with maybe 25 or 30 seats and a little stage, and that’s where Buffalo Springfield rehearsed. It was a wonderful place. I’d watch them work up those early songs, when the whole process seemed to be sans effort. Everything seemed to just fall into place. “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” was a pretty good song. There was an honesty to Neil’s poetry, in that it wasn’t written for effect. It was very direct and made sense. There were so few groups around that it was just assumed that everyone was going to be successful and drive Porsches.

When they began playing live, The Springfield were very good. I never liked the Whisky A Go-Go much, the floors were always sticky. But the Springfield always got big crowds there. And they started getting groupies there. In fact I think Dewey [Martin] got the most, he seemed to be a pro at it. Because he’d been on the road a lot, he understood the process, whereas Neil and the other lads were still figuring out who to say ‘No’ to.

I tried to promote them as having their own personalities. And I also sensed that this was not for ever. So it was important for each of them to be able to have their own successful solo careers when they came out of it. Buffalo Springfield was basically a vehicle for each of them to go onto something else. Neil had his long hair so it was a matter of exaggerating the sense of style that each one of them had. That idea really came from The Byrds, in that David [Crosby] had his cape and they all had their own thing. I would make suggestions as to what kind of things Buffalo Springfield would wear, but it was all very organic. It just kind of developed. Everybody sort of fermented together at the same time and that’s why the blend worked. My choice for drummer was actually Billy Mundi, who was far superior, but Stephen didn’t think he looked right. He had to have a certain look. Did I see Neil as a loner? Oh yeah.

Neil once said I should have stayed with the Buffalo Springfield longer. And I thought that too, but I gave them up at gunpoint so I didn’t have a choice. I was in New York putting on a little Eastern tour with the Springfield, and we were out there with The Byrds. I’d be talking to promoters as we were going about. One day [Atlantic producer/manager] Charlie Greene (pictured here with Brian Stone) showed up and asked me out to dinner. So he picked me up in his limo, which I was pretty sure belonged to Ahmet [Ertegun, Atlantic boss] because it wasn’t a rental and he was the only guy I knew in New York with a limo. We drove around and around and Charlie would be talking, saying how he thought he could do a better job with the band. He had a silver revolver that he’d taken out of his waistband and had put in his pocket. The whole time he was talking, he had his hand on it. Eventually I said: “Hey Charlie, how about dinner now?” And he pulled over to a hotdog stand, reached through the window and bought me a hotdog. Then he said “Look, I’ll give you $1,000 for the band”, to which I said no. I think I said I’d think about it, but all I wanted to do was get out of there. So through a series of things, Charlie had written out an ‘agreement’ on a paper napkin. And I hadn’t signed it. As I was finally getting out of the car, and that was the only way I could get out, he stuck $1,000 in my pocket. I said “No no, I really don’t want this.” Charlie said “No, you keep it.” And that was the last I saw of The Buffalo Springfield. Charlie more or less said that if I came back around, I’d be dealt with. It was scary as hell. I never told the band what happened. And to this day, Neil and the others don’t know it happened. It was that whole Sonny Bono group of people at Atlantic. Ahmet was a very aggressive and forceful businessman and he got what he wanted. Yes, he had great ears and did wonderful things with music, but I certainly wasn’t happy.

I was the one who introduced Neil to Jack Nitzsche. He lived way up on top of a hill in the Hollywood hills. I did actually record Buffalo Springfield once at Capitol Studios. The guy who had the tapes was Peter Asher, who set it all up through Apple Corps. I would love to hear those recordings now, they were great. We only did four or five songs, but I can’t remember what was on there. I just know it was all good. Only Peter Asher would know if they’re still around. The band were real easy to produce. None of us really knew anything so we were all learning together.

I remember the time after Neil had had his first epileptic seizure. It was at the World’s Fair at Hollywood Palladium, I think, and he was in this garden apartment being nursed back to health by a herd of lovely ladies. I thought Ah, now I get it. [Producer] Paul Rothchild once told me that you can always tell how successful a group or artist is going to be by the quality of their groupies. If there are smart women around them, it’s a good sign. And Neil had smart women.

Neil’s in a class by himself. And there’s a lot to be said for longevity. Jackson Browne is another guy who’s stuck to his musical guns and has kept his purity and honesty. There are only a few of them around. Neil is one, but Stephen isn’t one. Stephen’s a real good player and musician, but I don’t get the feeling he’s terribly religious when it comes to his music. He always wanted to be very rich.

As for what happened next, I have to say I was surprised that no one got killed in CSNY. When you look at all those personalities together, there was a lot of tension going on. But maybe that’s what made it work.”

From Marty Melhuish’s Frazier Mohawk bio: “By the mid-60s, having moved up into Laurel Canyon, Mohawk went to work running the production and publishing companies owned by Randy Sparks, who handled the groups The New Christy Minstrels and The Back Porch Majority. One day Mohawk read in Variety that there was a casting call for four guys to play a rock group in a TV series. One of the artists signed to Sparks’ company was Michael Nesmith and he was one of four musicians who Mohawk bundled off to the audition. History shows that Nesmith ended up with one of the spots open for the TV show soon to be called The Monkees.

Mike Nesmith actually became the catalyst for Mohawk’s move into record production. Nesmith had written a song titled Mary Mary which Mohawk had taken over to Elektra Records. At the time, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was recording their sophomore album East West (Elektra 1965) and Mohawk (under his given name Barry Friedman) ended up producing the tracks Mary Mary and Two Trains A Running on that record. He subsequently left Randy Sparks’ company and became  an independent producer. “I produced these very strange blues records because, honestly, I didn’t know what blues was. I didn’t in fact know that Butterfield was a blues band. I thought they were just a bunch of psychedelic people with a drummer with silver pointy shoes. So I brought in these kind of Yma Sumac singers and did these very strange things and they ended up having this crossover record [Mary Mary].” Another of the groups he produced during this period was Kaleidoscope (Epic 1968) which featured guitarist David Lindley.

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Mohawk had become friends with Paul Rothschild who had become executive producer at Elektra. That same label, to which he had originally tried to sign Buffalo Springfield, eventually hired him as in-house producer on the west coast. With Rothschild, Mohawk put together the group Rhinoceros which included Jon Finley, Mike Fonfara and Peter Hodgson of the Canadian group Jon-Lee and the Checkmates, Billy Mundi (Frank Zappa), Danny Weis (Iron Butterfly), Doug Hastings (Buffalo Springfield) and Alan Gerber. The concept of a “Super Group” was to put together people who had come from other established groups but were all lead performers in their own right. In the subsequent advertising campaign for the group’s debut album for Elektra, Mohawk arguably coined this phrase Super Group for the first time. Satin Doll/Monkey Man

It was this period of Frazier’s life where we crossed paths. When Roxy (pictured here with Jac Holzman-rear, centre, John Haeny-with husky, and John Frankenheimer – manager-far right) (the precursor to The Wackers) were brought to Elektra by the marvelous Patty Faralla, I was introduced into this wonderful maelstrom of intelligence mixed with mayhem, lunacy, and dumb-luck. In retrospect, I’m surprised so many survived the insatiable quest for the edge that drove everyone to heights (and depths) that would scare even the bravest of laymen. I had met Patty when I was in The Family Tree and we both were with RCA Records. It was Patty who had introduced me to Harry Nilsson and so many other Hollywood folks who would go on to become well known or worse, wildly successful. When The Tree was dropped by RCA, Patty had already moved on to Elektra and called me and asked if I would come back down to L.A with my new band and do a demo for her to play for Jac Holzman. Of course I would. We drove down and recorded two new songs, Changed My Mind and Bird. Imagine my absolute surprise and delight when the engineer/producer turned out to be John Haeny (another great story I’ll tell one day) whom I had met at a Beau Brummel session in San Francisco years earlier, produced by Sylvester Stewart (Sly Stone) at Coast Recorders, and who had also engineered the Autumn Records demos with Sly which I wrote and sang with the band US. John produced and engineered the demos at Elektra and within hours we had a deal with Jac Holzman’s amazing label. I met Frazier for the first time during that trip, but had seen him and heard about him previously. The man had a perpetual gleam in his eye and a killer mustache. He and Haeny also had the best pot and coke I think I ever did…it’s so hard to remember, so…yeah…probably the best.

There were so many great people connected to Elektra at that time. David Anderle, Patty, Suzanne Helms, John, so many others whose names slip my mind, not to mentioned the East coast guys and women we would meet later.

While Frazier was there an amazing idea and experiment was put forth by him. From Jac’s incredible book about his life in the music industry, Follow the Music, comes the following. I hope he forgives me. I couldn’t reach him in time to get anything new. If you like books about the music biz, this is easily the best of the lot in capturing the ‘60s and ‘70s and beyond. Written as mostly conversations between the principals gleaned from hours and hours of interviews, it puts you in the room like no other book I’ve read about the era. A few years ago when I told Jac I was disappointed neither Roxy nor The Wackers were even mentioned in the book, he said, “Well, you were never much of a problem.” Well I never!

I lived just one street over in Laurel Canyon when this was all happening. Most of the rock illuminati lived on Ridpath which was just up the hill and ran parallel to Lookout Moutain Rd. which is the street I lived off of on Horseshoe Canyon Blvd. We could hear Paul Rothchild’s stereo clear as a bell some days, remember the Stones incident with relish, ditto the Barry McGuire silliness.

Here’s an excerpt, which includes how Frazier got his name, a whole lot of great stories about him and what he was like, and how they found what was to become The Elektra Rock Ranch, Paxton Lodge. These people were true, honest to God, Rock Stars! Nothing like what passes for one these days.

From Follow the Music, by Jac Holzman and Gavan Daws. The whole book can be read here, but do yourselves a favour and buy a copy.

From Jac Holzman’s book, “Follow the Music”:

JACKSON BROWNE: So there were interesting houses we could walk to. Or we would catch a ride to Peter Tork’s house on Willow Glen. Peter had been a dishwasher at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach and now he was a TV star, a Monkee. My friend Ned Doheny and I would say, “Let’s go up to Peter’s house, see what’s going on.” Sometimes you would walk in and there would be twelve girls in the pool, naked. And they were beautiful women, people of substance, not bimbos—not that we would have minded if they were bimbos. One time Jimi Hendrix was up there jamming with Buddy Miles in the pool house, and Peter’s girlfriend was playing the drums, naked. She was gorgeous like a Varga girl is gorgeous, this physically flawless creature. She looked like the drawings of Indian maidens that they airbrush on motorcycle tanks. I don’t think she was as good a drummer as she was an object of desire, but she was something.

Barry Friedman was on Ridpath too, about a block from Billy James, two blocks from Paul Rothchild.

JOHN HAENY: Barry was one of Jac’s little West Coast club of fanciful folk.

PAT FARALLA: Elektra on the West Coast was a real safe house for creativity and for eccentric people.

JACKSON BROWNE: Barry had this wonderful carny mentality. He had been in the circus, a clown and a fire eater.

NED DOHENY: Diablo the fire eater.

MARTY RICHMOND: He also had the amazing ability to get out of any ropes you could tie him up in. He wouldn’t let us watch him doing it, but he could be loose in fifteen seconds or less.

NED DOHENY: He used to drive around town in a sports car dressed in a gorilla suit.

BARRY FRIEDMAN: It was a King Kong suit. It came to me by way of this Las Vegas hooker. Her husband Scotty was one of the original King Kongs, he did all the stuff on the Empire State Building. A great suit.

JUDY JAMES: Once, Barry phoned everyone and got us all to drop the needle on the new Stones album at exactly the same moment, so that the canyon would echo with music.

BARRY FRIEDMAN: One night it was full moon, we’re all sitting around in various states of decomposure, and a voice is heard echoing over the canyon, “This is God speaking. I have a message for you.” And He gave His message. Well, thousands of people throughout the canyon were somewhat freaked by this experience and talked about it for days. It turned out it was Barry McGuire, the ‘Eve Of Destruction’ guy, who had set up this huge sound system, I think at the Mamas and Papas’ house up at the top of Lookout, and blasted this diatribe to the stoned minions below.

JUDY JAMES: Many times I sat on the steps of Paul Rothchild’s house with Barry, talking. On a Saturday afternoon, before the night, before the music, before the drugs, if Barry was straight and into talking, it might as well be to me—I had a degree in theater and philosophy, and I didn’t do drugs. Barry was a pretty interesting guy, a thinking, reading person, a watcher. And into sound, into how good the music could be.

JACKSON BROWNE: Barry produced Kaleidoscope’s first album. Brilliant. Another very great record Barry did, on Elektra, was “The Moray Eels Eat The Holy Modal Rounders.” The Holy Modal Rounders did extremely drug-oriented folk music. A lot of beautiful songs about being up for days and coming down—”Rockin’ around in that belladonna cloud, euphoria.” They were real freaks. If You Want to be a Bird

JUDY JAMES: I had an impression of Barry as a true hippie. In the way that Cass Elliott was a true hippie. They believed in what was going on. They believed in what Timothy Leary was finding out, and didn’t yet know the danger of it, that it was only true for five minutes and then you could be lost to the acid experience. Barry was at the center of a lot of stuff, drugs, recording, money spent on a loose, deliberate creation of that which the press was codifying as the Sixties, creating permission with money to go into the deeper darker side of the drug music culture. Bigger parties, more drugs, more permissions given, more permissions taken.

JOHN HAENY: Barry was in his late twenties. Most of the rest of us were younger, me for one, twenty-three. Some were much younger—Jackson Browne and Ned Doheny were still in their teens. Barry was sort of the leader of the pack.

MARTY RICHMOND: Undisputed leader of the band.

JOHN HAENY: There were social experiments at his house, where he pushed all the beds together in the living room, and all the people who were living at his house were going to start sleeping together.

JACKSON BROWNE: Orgies. Lots of bodies. The mechanics of that kind of arrangement are always problematic.

BARRY FRIEDMAN: One time Nico came in with a gun and grabbed some woman that one of the boys was in bed with by the hair and drug her out and made her run down the road, and we finally got the gun away from Nico and said, “Nico, why did you do that?” And she said, “Oh, some men like that.” The Marble Index

JACKSON BROWNE: You’d meet all sorts of great people at Barry’s house. That’s where I met Warren Zevon. I met David Crosby there. He and Stephen Stills and Graham Nash would come over and play their demo. I played Barry some of my songs.

JUDY JAMES: This really was a moment when musicians had an enormous determination to communicate what they were feeling, whether in music or in lyrics. You could hear that at the hootenannies at the Troubadour, in living rooms all over town. On Ridpath, too. People were forming various groups and allegiances and alliances, and they all wanted to make a record.

JACKSON BROWNE: The Band came out with “Music from Big Pink.” We had never heard anything like it. It was ragged, loose, but it was plugged into something so real. They recorded it where they were living, in this big pink painted house at Woodstock—more than a year before what we know as Woodstock—and we all went, “Wow, they made their record in a house!”

My friends had made some slick records that didn’t mean a thing to anybody. Producers were using the same musicians in the studio with very different artists, not finding what was unique about an artist and shaping the production around that. The session hack syndrome was looming, and it was the enemy. We were thinking, “How do you get in the studio and make something that sounds like itself?”

We were taking “Big Pink” as a road sign. Being with all those guys in the canyon, around Ridpath, gave birth to the idea. So we were saying, “We want to make a record, in a house, in the country.”

MARTY RICHMOND: One of Barry Friedman’s many talents was the ability to assemble bands. He could take a bunch of untried kids, and after a little weeding put together a going band. He had done it before, with Buffalo Springfield. Then, while he was working for Jac and Elektra, he was wearing the cloak of a real exciting record label. He was able to attract many aspiring musicians. He was interested if they were competent; but if they were also young, and especially if they were pretty, his interests became more intense. His living room was one giant bed, where all of those crashing at his house could mingle. In some ways Barry’s ideas had merit. He was convinced that any successful band contained a bond of love among all the players, which although not necessarily sexual was equally as strong. He was hoping to take a short cut, by introducing the sex and hoping that the love would follow.

NED DOHENY: Out of this snakepit of manic self-indulgence and general searching was born the Los Angeles Fantasy Orchestra.

JAC: Actually, it goes back to the Sunday morning of the Monterey Pop Festival. Nina, Barry Friedman and I were sitting in a coffee shop, infused with the heady good vibes of the festival, where flowers had been placed in the helmets of smiling motorcycle cops, and the lady mayor was making sure that everything remained peaceful and pleasant, because there was worldwide attention focused on her community.

I had been disappointed that the Doors had not been invited to Monterey, because wherever you went radios were playing ‘Light My Fire.’ Paul Simon, who was on the festival board, said to me that he was truly sorry they hadn’t been asked. I know I cared, but ‘Light My Fire’ was Number 1, and that certainly softened the hurt.

With all of this euphoria and those incredible performances from The Who, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, there was this pervasive feeling, fueled by the haze of dope that hung over the festival, that the world was slowly shifting our way. Barry had an idea, and he chose the final morning of the festival to lay it on me. He proposed a music ranch. Take talented kids out of the struggles of trying to make it in the city, give them fresh air, good food and the freedom to create whatever music came to them.

It just struck me as a worthy notion, and out of that enthusiasm came a “Yes.” With the Doors and Nonesuch, Elektra was throwing off enormous amounts of cash, so money was not the issue. And I was much more inclined to be experimental if it made any kind of crazy sense whatever.

Barry had produced one of my all-time favorite albums, the first Kaleidoscopefor Epic. He had been there early, trying to help me sign Buffalo Springfield. He had taste, and I knew that I would just have to give him his head and pray it would work. I also felt my presence during the project should be kept to the minimum. Elektra was too big for me to be everywhere at once. Kaleidoscope – Keep Your Mind Open

JACKSON BROWNE: Jac went for the idea that we would have a repertory recording company, a loose aggregation of musicians that all responded to each other—the band, or the rock community, however large a circle you want to draw. We were all interested in making our own albums, and we were all going to play on each others’ records.

MARTY RICHMOND: Jackson played guitar and piano and wrote songs. Rolf Kempf played piano, organ, guitar, and—oddly—accordion. He had had polio as a child, and he walked with a brace on his leg and a cane. Jack Wilce played banjo, mandolin and guitar. He had also written one song. Peter Hodgson signed on as the bass player. Ned Doheny, an heir to the Doheny oil fortune, was to play electric lead guitar.

NED DOHENY: It was a major adventure for a credential-less kid. I had originally auditioned for Barry before Ridpath, in some hotel room on Sunset Boulevard. I hooked up a little amplifier, played some Eric Clapton stuff, and was hired. At that time Barry was looking for somebody to play with someone named Jackson Browne, who I thought must be a huge black man. Imagine my surprise when I met him in Laurel Canyon and he was a small white person in his teens.

MARTY RICHMOND: All of the above had been spending a lot of time at Barry’s house.

JACKSON BROWNE: The coolest thing we could imagine was being off where we could work on ideas and not have problems and we could get unlimited experience in recording and trying things. Cool. Pat Faralla, a very funny and astute woman who worked for Elektra, said to us: “Why should the world give you a house in the mountains? You have a problem with the clock? Are you, like, refugees from the rigors of studio life? Have you guys ever been in a studio?” Nobody appreciated her saying that. But it was true.

MARTY RICHMOND: Jackson had cut demos at Elektra. He knew the minimum basics of recording. The rest of them were going into it blind.

JACKSON BROWNE: We were all such whelps.

MARTY RICHMOND: The times were ripe for the plucking. The project was budgeted at around fifty thousand dollars and Jac approved it. Barry began scouting for a place.

NED DOHENY: Originally Barry told me he wanted to record Jackson’s first album in a cave outside LA. So he was off to a flying start with bizarre methodology.

MARTY RICHMOND: Then he started looking in the San Fernando Valley. After several weeks he had nothing, and the search began to lead north.

JACKSON BROWNE: We drove up to Bolinas and looked around and didn’t find anything.

MARTY RICHMOND: Finally, in some desperation, an ad was placed in the Los Angeles Examiner. A man answered, with a place for rent up in northern California on the Feather River, called Paxton Lodge.

BARRY FRIEDMAN: He was a bill collector, a guy about seven feet tall and a good three hundred-twenty pounds, and his son was just a little bigger.

JAC: Paxton was in beautiful mountain country—gold country—and, incidentally, on the stretch of Western Pacific railroad track where I had my adventure with the nun in 1955, so I already had an emotional connection with the place, a soft sweet memory.

MARTY RICHMOND: The only drawback was that it was five hundred miles from downtown Hollywood. Did they all want to stay in the Disneyland that is the Hollywood record world, or did they want to relocate to the woods and live in sylvan splendor? Barry took the plunge, and with Jac’s OK the lease was signed for six months, with an option for six more.

JAC: The lodge was built by Western Pacific early in the century, as an overnight resort stop. When the railroad gave up on the place, it fell on hard times.

BARRY FRIEDMAN: It became a resort hotel for like little old school teachers, who would go to collect this rare kind of butterfly that was only found there. Then it became a brothel and a gambling place, with secret drops in the walls where they could hide the money when the sheriff came.

JACKSON BROWNE: Then a speakeasy. Then an alky dry-out farm. Then nothing. Just this old empty hotel in the mountains. Small. Nothing as big as “The Shining.”
JACKSON BROWNE: About this time Barry changed his name to Frazier Mohawk.

BARRY FRIEDMAN: I think I owed American Express a lot of money and they kept coming around, and they sent someone to the door and asked if I was Barry Friedman, and I was very stoned at the time, and luckily Danny Kootch was there and he said, “No, no, he’s Frazier Mohawk.”

JACKSON BROWNE: God knows, in rock and roll we all have the right to call ourselves what we will.

=0=

Roxy spent time at the Rock Ranch following its initial madness. That story, Frazier’s continued impact on music, anecdotes from some of his friends, and his incredible journey to a whole new life when this column concludes.

=0=

To be concluded with a special bonus Column later this week.

Segarini’s column appears here every Monday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, The Segarini Band, and Cats and Dogs, andnominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late GreatMovies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now sadly gone), and now provides content for radiothatdoesntsuck.com with RadioZombie, The Iceage, and PsychShack. Along with the love of his life, Jade (Pie) Dunlop, (who hosts and writes “I’ve Heard That Song Before” on RTDS), continues to write, make music, and record.

15 Responses to “Segarini: Frazier Mohawk – Send in the Clown”

  1. If I didn’t have so much to write, I would read more, starting with Holzman’s book. And to think that when I was young, I thought I had all the time in the world.

  2. billyjames Says:

    Bob — thanks for your thoughts, for your music, for your reminiscences that take me back to those times and places — in a way, the Grand Woozle’s taking of Barry has brought us back together — even if only through a bunch of zeros and ones…

  3. Brilliant read. Looking forward to more.

  4. Chris Darrow Says:

    Great article on Barry. I was in the Kaleioscope recording Side Trips when I met Barry and got back in touch with him a number of years ago after he moved to Canada. It is sad when any special friend passes on. You did a wonderful job of capturing his spirit, which was his greatest contribution.

  5. Martin Melhuish Says:

    You put your heart into this, Bob. An amazing tribute to a lovable, eccentric who ran away with the circus at an early age and, in so many ways, never left the Big Top and the acrobats, trained animals and clowns behind. I laugh to think he may have drifted so easily into the world of music because there were actually few discernible differences.

  6. Just a footnote to the Springfield story. I was working for Rolling Stone and had known Barry from his circus days, when I booked him onto “The Steve Allen Show” as a fire-eater. Well, on this day I joined him at what I thought was Doug Weston’s house on Fountain Avenue (the one with the bathtub in the living room). Anyway, Barry was there with Steve Stills and on the phone. They were trying to find Neil (or maybe Bruce Palmer) in Canada, calling all over the place. Barry had just left Randy Sparks and was using Randy’s credit card to pay for the calls. So, Randy, if you’re reading this, take a bow. And, yes, the steamroller was parked outside. Barry/Frazier was rock and roll’s Forest Gump. He was always in the right place at the right time and none of us forgot the experience. –Jerry Hopkins

    • Jerry! Wow…Amazing. I too thought that place was Doug’s. Randy Bishop and I went over there one night after a Hoot at the Troub after Weston invited us over, We rode over in Doug’s big-ass Oldsmobile with the custom bench front seat that rolled all the way back flush to the rear seat. You had to sit back there with your knees under your chin and your feet on the seat because Doug was so damn tall.
      I used to drive down Fountain all the time and can remember when the street was torn up for weeks while they repaved it.
      I guess Doug liked the house so much he just told everybody it was his.
      That tub was incredible…there were always naked people in it….

  7. Rick Whitelaw Says:

    Thanks for this Bob! A very enjoyable read about a special man.

  8. Sweet! Great reminiscences. Thanks Bob!

  9. Sandy Keane Says:

    I met Frazier when he first moved to Toronto, and during the time he was starting a circus themed performance group called “Puck Rent-A-Fool” which morphed into Puck’s Canadian Travelling Circus, and eventually into life at the farm/studio .
    Frazier was living in a house on Madison where he either didn’t have a doorbell or didn’t like the doorbell, and had rigged a mannequin’s hand with an articulated index finger that would beckon him to his door when someone pulled on the string he had rigged down the staircase and through the front doorjam. I also never met anyone else who sold advertising on the side of a cow. He was a unique and fascinating character. Thank you for the wonderful write-up.

  10. Memorial Date: sorry – forgot to include: Saturday, June 16 at 4:00pm – 9:00pm

  11. HEY BOB – Thanks for this. Frazier told me many stories but I didn’t know more than half of this stuff. I like your writing style and I’m grateful you shared this with everyone!

  12. Hi there, You’ve performed a fantastic job. I will definitely digg it and in my view suggest to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this site.

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