Bob Writes a little Dinner Music

There were at least ten of us sitting around the restaurant table. It was an impromptu dinner, decided upon on a whim. No vote, no forethought, just a bunch of like-minded people who found themselves together and decided they were hungry.

There was Steve Lalor, a guitarist from Seattle who was in a band we were all sure was going to make it, called the Daily Flash. There was Chris Ethridge, multi-talented bassist for the Flying Burrito Brothers and studio cat who had played with a lot of our favourite artists. Chris was a good old boy who lived in the canyon and whose door was always unlocked, always inviting.

There was Don Gallucci, just hired as a staff producer at Elektra and freshly arrived in L.A from Seattle where he had been the leader of a huge Pacific Northwest band called Don and the Goodtimes. Before that, Don had been in The Kingsmen and had co-written the flipside of Louie Louie (Haunted Castle) with Kingsmen singer, Jack Ely.

Across the table was Travis Fullerton, a formidable drummer, who had fallen in with Roxy after our original drummer was let go. Travis is a hell of a guy who toured or recorded with Stephen Stills, Martha Reeves, John Lennon, Mount Rushmore, Quicksilver, Bonnie Raitt, Sylvester, Billy Joel, Lee Oskar, Rita Coolidge, Graham Nash, Roy Buchanan, and many others and played on about 30 albums. When we met him, he was Little Richard’s touring drummer. Sandi, Travis’s wife at the time, went on to become a director of Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and  The Arsenio Hall show.

The table was rounded out by the presence of Jim deCoq, guitarist for Roxy and a wicked player, Randy Bishop, who would become my writing and singing partner in The Wackers after we folded Roxy’s tent, and CSN&Ys Graham Nash, who was dating the one woman at the table and whose star was rising rapidly, Rita Coolidge.

Rita, whose musical talent was matched by her prowess in the kitchen, a warm inviting place where we spent many an afternoon eating Reet’s home made cornbread and trying hard to swallow the 15 or so natural vitamin pills she made us take whenever we ate there. There was a spinet piano in the kitchen, and more than once, we would gather around it with her and Graham, and once with Reet’s sister Prissy and her husband, Booker T. Jones.

I was sitting there looking at these great musicians and a singer who was so good, that every time I sang with her was like a singing lesson I couldn’t afford. I was in awe that I was there at all.

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There was one more person with us that night. A man who was the reason we were all together, all friends, and all happy to be there in that forgotten Hollywood restaurant. He was a person of immense charm and grace, wit, and talent. A lover of music who was soft spoken and always, always, encouraging and open with his wisdom and advice. When he spoke, everyone listened.

At the head of the table, was Elektra Records Head of A&R, David Anderle.

We were sitting around the table after dinner making small talk and drinking coffee, port, cognac, and other after dinner delights, when one of our party made an obvious, yet normally, unspoken statement at gatherings like this.

“Too bad we don’t have a studio to go play in.”

Anderle looked up from his coffee and addressed the table, “I have a studio…at least I have the key to a studio.”, he said quietly. “Does anybody have a song?”

I have no idea what prompted me to pipe up at the table , surrounded by people who were far better known and far more capable than I.

“I do”, I said.

Anderle considered this for a moment, and then said, “Order the last round of whatever”, got up, and began walking toward the foyer. He hesitated, then looked back over his shoulder at us. “I’m going to make a few calls and see if I can dig up one of the engineers.”, then turned back toward the foyer and a pay phone.

I started to scribble madly on a napkin. I didn’t have a song, but I damn well better have one before we get to the studio.

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05-the-house-on-horseshoe-canyon-blvdI’m not sure how many hours we spent in Elektra’s studio that night and early morning, but it couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 hours., maybe 5, but I know I was home on Horseshoe Canyon Road off of Lookout Mountain in Laurel Canyon before the sun came up. I didn’t get to sleep right away, though.

The session was one of the most relaxed I had ever been a part of. Although most of us had never worked together before (and would never work together again with the exception of a bunch of wonderfully enjoyable gigs opening for the likes of Rod Stewart and others) it felt like we had been on the road and recording together for years.

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Elektra’s studio was small in comparison to most of the studios of the day. Like Sunset Sound, it was intimate and comfortable, almost like a living room or basement den. The only thing missing was a fireplace. There were beautiful oriental rugs on the floor, and even the movable suspended baffles and other trappings were colourful, warm, and made the room feel like a fuzzy slipper at times. The energy in the room, however, was nothing other than electric. The Doors, The Stooges, Bread,Delaney and Bonnie, A few Rolling Stones, Gram Parsons, Judy Collins, so many more. The studio was full of great music and miraculous vibes, as comfortable as your own living room, yet steeped with history and an almost unworldly energy.

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I had miraculously written some lyrics and, come up with a melody while writing the words. And, considering the experience of the majority of the players, opted to go for a feel and attitude as befitting Rita’s voice and background in bluesy gospel and country tinged secular, down-home warmth. Chris had the slow solid bass, Travis was likewise versed in soul fueled sessions, and Jesus, we had David Anderle at the producer’s desk. Since he graduated from USC in ’62, and had gone to work for MGM/Verve in 1965, David had found and signed Van Dyke Parks, Danny Hutton, Cory Wells, and The Mothers of Invention among others, and then, managing Parks and Hutton, helped Brian Wilson organize Brother Records and helped run it. It was Anderle who introduced Van Dyke Parks to Brian Wilson at a party. While at Elektra, David produced Delaney and Bonnie, Rhinoceros, David Ackles, Judy Collins, and Diane Hildebrand. He also brought many of them to Elektra, as he did with Bread.

A few friends dropped in while we were recording my hastily written song, including Priscilla, Rita’s sister, and Prissy’s husband, Booker, which leads me to think that Book may have played the Hammond. I know Don played the great grand piano part, including the beautifully southern inspired opening. Steve and Jim divvied up the licks and solo chores, splitting the solo between them, and Randy kept a steady acoustic feel under the rest, a soft bed to inform the song. Rita and I sang in a booth, corrected the errors (mostly, hell, probably all mine) with a few punch-ins, and then, when David was satisfied with the track and the lead vocals, added Rita Randy, and Graham and myself on backing vocals, David and the engineer were mixing on the fly, and 15 minutes after we all crowded into the booth for a few playbacks, I left for home with a 7 inch reel to reel tape of the song.

Oh, to experience a session like that again.

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The last time I saw David, I was sitting on a sinfully comfortable chocolate brown suede couch in his den. It was 1971.

On this voluptuous couch that was already threatening to envelope me into it’s soft, inviting folds, sat Randy Bishop, and one of David’s projects, a young man from Eureka California named Michael Stull, and myself.

We were there to ask David’s advice. Although Randy and I wanted to form a new group, we had sung with Mike just fooling around and discovered a kind of magic. Instant communication, the harmony parts coming without thought, each of us finding our part without effort, and hearing a blend as good as any we had heard from our musical heroes. We wanted to pursue it. Mike wanted his blessing, which David gave. The one thing that was up in the air was also something Mike wanted to do. We asked David’s advice, and he said “Why not?”. Sooo…

Less than 2 weeks later, we packed up and left Los Angeles for Eureka, California and became Wackers without an ‘h’.

…and if you haven’t heard it before, or even if you have, this is Dave Bingham’s incredible remastering of the song we cut that night, along with a video he put together and sent to me this morning. If it weren’t for Dave, music I have written over the years may never have been reintroduced to me, and finally get the opportunity to be released into the world as they were intended to be. My unswerving and never ending gratitude to the enormously talented Dave Bingham.

I just had to share ….

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Any Questions or comments, please write them in the Reply Section below.

Your Comments Are Welcome

Segarini’s regular columns appear daily in the Kosher aisle at Flerd’s Food Barn in Encino California around 4pm or so.

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” 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 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

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