Bob – Writer’s Block, and The Story of Malibu Bobby

Dear Diary …

The current case of Writer’s Block continues well into its 2nd month. It is a horrible feeling, not being able to put words into sentences that tell a coherent story, staring at a blank monitor screen for hours on end, wondering if I will ever be able to write again.

It happens to writers on occasion. It is visual laryngitis , intellectual paralysis, which has no known cure. Like the common cold, all you can do is wait it out, taking steps suggested by friends that may have worked for them, but do not work for me. The words cannot be forced, bribed, or cajoled into forming sentences that eloquently, humourously, or intelligently convey what is on your mind.

It is like being trapped at the bottom of a well, unable to cry out for help.

…and rather than leave the page blank, I have, this week, decided to reprint a column from 2011, when the juice was flowing and I could write three of these a week. At least there are some new links and pictures for your dining and dancing pleasure.

There are still more stories to tell, laughs to share, and adventures and opinions to commit to paper …and as soon as I can …I will.

In the meantime ….

An Untold Story of Rock – Malibu, Tequila, and the Little Red Ball

Found this on You Tube over the weekend. The radio stations I grew up with in Stockton California. There’s even a small interview with Johnny Hyde, the number one jock in Sacramento, (45 miles or so north of Stockton) and seeing him reminded me of a story I haven’t told you yet.

August 1966

Sacramento was the nearest large city to Stockton. Sure, we had KJOY, the local whitebread AM station with a studio in the Hotel Stockton, but our station of preference in Stockton was KSTN, a more colourblind outlet that played a lot of blues, R&B, and some country along with the hits of the day. I cut the first demo I ever recorded there, in the middle of a piece of Delta farmland surrounded by cows, migrant workers, and Italian farmers.

The road and driveway were not paved when I used to ride my bicycle out there to watch the jocks spin records and then go home with a stack of 45s they would give me every time I visited. I first met Canadian radio legend Earl Jive at KSTN. I think he went by the name ‘Pete Moss’, stolen from a fine, silt-like topsoil that covered the delta farmland (peat moss) and could cover everything in your house when the wind blew. It was so fine it could get in through the tiniest of cracks, and God help you if you left a window open. Then again, Pete Moss may have been the local moniker used by Jack Daniels (Gee…where do they get these names?) whose real name was Floyd Thackery, one of the people along with Bill Drake who created the ‘Drake Format Stations’ of the ‘60s when they worked together at KSTN.

Johnny Hyde…

By the time I was running up and down California with the Family Tree I had a fairly decent reputation in the San Joaquin Valley as a rock and roll guy of some renown. Our only real equal in the area was a band out of Sacramento called the New Breed, anchored on bass by a very young (and capable) Timothy B. Schmidt. The New Breed and the Family Tree had a mutual friend in Sacramento’s Johnny Hyde. John was THE disc jockey in Sacramento, first at KXOA, and then later at KROY, the station that brought surf music and the Beach Boys inland where they spread first to Nevada, then Idaho, and beyond. I lived 75-80 miles from the Pacific Ocean, but there was a surfboard strapped to the roof of my ’56 Chevy for a couple of summers thanks to KROY.

The New Breed

When the British Invasion hit, they were the leaders. They played the records first and often, going deep into albums where most AM stations were only playing the hits. Johnny Hyde formed a club called “The Gear Ones” or something like that, and they had meetings and membership cards and listened to the latest releases and occasionally had bands play and sign autographs and talk to the kids. There was screaming and everything. These meetings would sometimes have hundreds of attendees, and led to KROY putting on some big shows at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, the scene of the Beach Boys first live album and the last stop on the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s final mainland North American tour (They played Hawaii the next night to wrap it up).

The Family Tree onstage at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium

It was at one of these get-togethers that I met Timothy B. and the rest of the New Breed. I had just gotten back from Hollywood, a 4 or 5 hour drive in those days, and had bought the latest Beatle album from Lewin’s Record Shop on Hollywood Blvd, a British import on Parlophone Records called ‘Revolver’, which contained a couple of tracks not on the American release. John asked me to bring the album and play the 2 cuts and talk about the Beatles (I was the local authority) and hear his favourite Sacramento band, the New Breed, whose Green Eyed Woman and later, Want Ad Reader, were both local hits in the Sacramento market.

After this particular gathering, Johnny walked me out to the parking lot and noticed a large group of kids huddled together. As we got closer he realized what they were doing. They were gawking at a brand new 1966 Jaguar XKE Coupe, a Cobalt Blue beauty with wire wheels and a futuristic look that no other car could match at the time. His eyes got wide and he said, “Someday I’m going to drive one of those things”, drool began to form on his lower lip, “it looks like it’s moving just sitting there.” I grinned a big-ass grin. “Hey John”, I said, tossing him the keys, “Wanna drive one now?”

I had bought the Jag with the help of my dad and a suitcase full of small denomination bills from Family Tree gigs we had performed up and down the coast for months. As it turned out, the car was responsible for a road trip that would not only be exciting, but also remind me that I was still a hick kid from a small farm town.

On the Road Again…

A week after I had let John drive the Jag around Sacramento for a little while, we found ourselves flying down Highway 99 on our way to Los Angeles. John had received an invitation to a party in Malibu to celebrate an artist on an Independent label’s uncanny feat of having 5 albums in Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, 4 of which were in the top 10. John had helped this artist break out of the West Coast by championing his records on the radio. The albums were collectively outselling the Beatles 2 to 1. After I let him drive the Jag, he asked me if I wanted to come along on the trip as long as we drove down in the XKE. Sounded fine to me.

We made the trip in record time, of course. The Jag was kind of a dog until you hit around 80 miles an hour…then it would smoke anything that came close to it. Corvettes would throw a rod trying to go 130 miles an hour for more than a minute or 2. The Jag could clock that for hours without a hiccup. We poured out of the Grapevine into the Valley around 8:00 pm on a Friday night, blowing past the rest of the traffic while John punched the buttons on the radio.

After checking into our motel on Sunset, we got back in the Jag and headed to Tiny Naylor’s, a Drive-In at the corner of Sunset and LaBrea that had great burgers and milkshakes and the added attraction of car-hops on roller skates. Ours had to bend down so low to put the tray in the window of the car we could see down her blouse. She asked the car for a date. It was a really hot car.

From Tiny’s we cruised the Sunset Strip, drove up to Griffith Park and walked around the observatory looking for the locations used in ”Rebel Without a Cause”drove back down to Hollywood Blvd. and past Graumann’s Chinese Theatre, (you know, the place with all the hand and footprints of movie stars cast in cement), I pointed out Cherokee Comics and Lewin’s Record Shop to Johnny, then past the Pantages and Egyptian movie palaces, and then we swung out onto Vine Street to stare at the oddly round Capitol Records building. After that, we parked on Sunset and closed the bar at one of the clubs on the strip, the name of which I forget. We were in L.A and ready for the big party Saturday night in Malibu.

Malibu Bobby…

We had a late lunch at Aldo’s on Hollywood Blvd. A favourite haunt of L.A record promo men back in the day, the reps were usually there during the week, especially Tuesdays when they dropped new releases off at the radio stations, but even on a Saturday, Hyde expected to see at least a couple of guys he had spoken with on the phone for years. He wasn’t disappointed. A Crab Louie, a martini, lots of bad jokes, shop talk, and a couple of Jack and Cokes later, we headed out the door and began our leisurely drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to the house on the beach where the party was already in progress. Hey, it’s California! When you throw a party and you live on the beach, you start early.

The sun was just beginning its descent into the Pacific when we pulled up in front of the house, which was right on the PCH. From out front it didn’t look like much, but upon entering it turned out to be a fair size inside. Decorated in Southwestern furniture and Mexican and Indian artifacts, it was cozy on one hand and kind of intimidating on the other. There was food everywhere, and liquor and mix bottles covered almost every available flat surface. There were bartenders and servers who stood out in their black pants and skirts and white shirts and blouses. Everybody else was deeply tanned, good looking to a fault, and dressed in the latest Fred Segal and Carnaby Street fashion. The men all looked fit, and the women…the women were ALL beautiful. Maybe I should have dressed a little better, I thought, and maybe I should have had some weight training and splashed on a little more cologne, and where’s my Binaca? My brain added.

So here I am. The hippest guy in Stockton California and I feel like a Rube at a carnival, someone who was sure to buy some swamp land in Florida or a bridge in Brooklyn before the end of the night. Confidence is an amazing thing; it takes years to gain but only seconds to lose. I grabbed a shot glass off of a passing tray and threw the contents down my throat. Hello tequila!

John finds me and with the host in tow, introduces me to a man I recognize from countless television appearances over the last few years. It is Herb Alpert, and we are here to celebrate his ownership of Billboard’s Album Chart. 4 of the top ten LPs are Tijuana Brass albums, with a 5th in the remaining 90. We shake hands. He is cool. He introduces us to his partner in A&M, Jerry Moss, and they tell us the story of how they started A&M records with $750 out of Herb’s garage, originally calling the label ‘Carnival’, then changing it to their initials after finding out there already was a Carnival Records. They promo’d the first single out of the trunks of their cars, and the rest, of course, is history.

By now the sun has set and the party is in full swing. There are movie and television people here, and I recognize several of them. Everyone is friendly and I start to feel a little better about being here. Eventually I find myself in the kitchen, still my favourite place to hang at any house party. I turn to the counter to make myself a drink and literally bump into someone who leaves me speechless. I am pressed up against Carol Wayne, known to me (and to everyone else who watched the Johnny Carson Tonight Show) as the Matinee Lady from Carson’s Art Fern sketches.

She is stupid gorgeous and nowhere near the ditzy blonde she played on television. When I started living in L.A instead of visiting, I became friends with her then husband, rock photographer, Barry Feinstein. Once, when I was put on hold when I called him at his A&M office, I got stuck with Carol who was also on hold. We talked for a few minutes, had a laugh or two, and then Barry picked up and she was gone. I never saw her again, but that night in Malibu she charmed me for life.

We had a drink. She introduced me to a beautiful young woman who, though she was more my age, seemed like a MENSA member to me, and I must have appeared to her as the son of Elmer Fudd, dressed like a farmer and wearing a hat with ear flaps. The tequila tray went by again and I grabbed 2 this time. Liquid courage, which would have helped if someone else didn’t stick a line of coke under my nose immediately afterwards and just before the hash pipe was passed to me. Normally, spread out over hours instead of seconds, this would not have been a problem. Normally.

I found myself clinging to a hallway wall feeling my way to a quiet place to write my will and die. I have a bad case of what we used to call the whirlies; everything is spinning around but me. I find a door, I open it. It is a dark, quiet, bedroom. I manage to fall onto the bed and close my eyes. That doesn’t work. I open my eyes and look around for something that is not moving around like the rest of the room. There, directly above me, is a ceiling fan. It is not moving. I focus on the light fixture at its centre and slowly the room calms down and the spinning stops. I instantly feel better. I figure a half hour or so here, and I’ll be able to get back to the party and find the MENSA member and prove to her I’m not a goof. It seemed like a fine plan…right up until someone threw open the door and hit the light switch. The dark light fixture I was staring at began to glow like the sun and the blades of the ceiling fan started to whirl around with complete abandon. I had to get out of here. The couple who had turned on the fan were blocking the doorway, so I stood up and noticed the sliding glass doors next to the bed that led to the beach. I got them open and began to run/fall/trip onto the sand and move toward the sound of the surf. A minute later I was laying on the nice cool sand, the waves making a soothing sound as they gently caressed the beach, and an odd gull made that wonderful sound that tells you you are at the beach. I closed my eyes.

Johnny to the Rescue…

I don’t know how long I laid there, but the next thing I knew I heard my name being repeated over and over. It was Hyde. “Jesus, I’ve been looking all over for you. Are you all right?” I opened my eyes. He was about a foot away from my face. “GUH!” I yelped, sitting upright. John started to spin.

“We’ve got to go, man. Where are the keys? We’re blocking people in the driveway.”

I fumbled through my pockets until I found the keys. “Here”, I said, “Quit spinning.” He kept spinning. I focused on the back of his head and followed him up to the car.

I will do damn near anything to avoid throwing up. I find it a heinous act of cowardice, even though my cousin Eddie used to do it every couple of hours when we drank together like releasing water through a sluice in a dam so he could take on more water, or in our case, alcohol. I refused to give in. We get to the car. John unlocks the passenger side door and guides me into the Jag. I am desperate to find something to focus on so I don’t experience a technicolour yawn, or serve up a singing lunch. When John gets in and starts the car and turns on the radio, a little red ball lights up in the dash. It is the radio, and the ball indicates what frequency you are tuned to. I focus on it. The spinning slows, then stops. I am saved!

Less than 2 minutes later we are headed back to Sunset on the PCH and everything is fine. The little red ball is perfect to focus on, and I am feeling better than I had in hours. Still, my stomach is queasy, but as long as I keep focused, the whirlies are held at bay. Like I said, I hate throwing up. I can hardly wait to get back to the motel, crawl into bed, and wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, and stable. I had never suffered the ignominy of hangovers and had no doubt Sunday morning would be any different. Staring at the radio’s little red ball indicator, I started to relax a bit, knowing the ordeal would be over soon. Then…John punched a button on the radio and changed the station.

I barely got the window open in time.

=0=

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

Your Comments Are Welcome

Segarini’s regular columns always hit the post, leave no dead air, and give away concert tickets to the seventh caller

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands Us, The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, The Segarini Band, Cats and Dogs, and The Anger Brothers, 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.

2 Responses to “Bob – Writer’s Block, and The Story of Malibu Bobby”

  1. jim Schwartz Says:

    its peat dirt bob………..catches on fire, dust gets in everwhere, blots out the sun

    • I mention that in the column. My family was in the produce business back then, but I never heard it referred to as ‘dirt’. Earl called himself, “Pete” Moss, but later in the same paragraph, it mentions the actual ‘peat moss’ he took the name from. I forgot it catches on fire. Thanks for that.

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