Part II of the Upside of R&R Home

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The Upside of R&R Home


   It was 1974 and we had changed management firms. We were now with Caribou Management, which was Jim Guercio, Larry Fitzgerald and Howard Kaufman. Jim had been the producer and manager for the group "Chicago," for a long time. Larry went on to manage Toto and Vince Gill, among others. Howard, at HK Management has Don Henley, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Chicago and Jackson Browne, to name a few. The Caribou management firm had a place called Caribou Ranch, located in Nederland, Colorado, just north of Boulder. It had a full-blown multitrack recording studio, a central ranch house where meals were served, as well as cabin accommodations, horses, a few old army jeeps that didn't require a key to start them, and acres of mountain land, including a ghost town, to roam and explore. A beautiful place. Elton had just done an album there and we were about to make our next album at Caribou. It would be called, "Comin' Down Your Way" and would be released in May, 1975. Jimmy Ienner once again, did the producing.


   Although there were a few good songs on this album, I found it to be one of the most disjointed, scattered and unprepared efforts at recording that we ever made. Out of the entire album, the only song that does it for me is, "You Can Leave Your Hat On." A great song, with a really terrific vocal performance by Cory. Randy Newman speaks loud and clear to him. I felt like we "copped" a great track for that song. Real moody and sneaky sounding, with an oozing kind of low-down sexy guitar fuzz thing, with just a bit of tongue-in-cheek, as well. Randy is such a killer writer. He's amazing.

   There's another song on the album called, "When It's Over" that spoke to me about the group in ways that I just wasn't ready to hear. The lyrics didn't really address our situation, but in my mind, they did. The ranch was fantastic, but the band was disorganized and just plain old "not together." This was the epitome of an "unmusical" endeavor to me. I'm amazed that it was ever finished. It's a tribute to Jimmy Ienner that he kept it together enough to wrap it up. This album was my so-called "swan song" with the group, at least for the 1970's. I never received a gold album for it, although it did turn gold. I would be gone before it was even released.

   Let me allude to a couple of stories that are still funny to me. Consider this the last of my "war buddies drinking" type stories, albeit drugs.

  1) Although psychedelic drugs were not a problem within the group, Jimmy and I had taken LSD numerous times back in the 60's, before Three Dog Night was formed, and then once again about 1970, when we were in Tacoma, Washington, touring with Steppenwolf. Having a day off, we got up early, took the "acid" and drove off in a rental car into the beautiful wooded area just outside of Tacoma. The drug was "coming on" as we pulled over and ventured down deep into the forest. There was a little brook that was bubbling and gurgling so loud that it sounded like it was talking to us in surround sound. Ever since then, we have referred to it as, "The Babbling Brook." I have a picture somewhere of a solid green forest, with this "red thing" right in the middle of it. The "red thing," being Greenspoon. He looked like some sort of high contrast rooster, as he was perched up in one of those trees in a "hippie's daze." I'm not sure if this episode is the reason I used to call him"Super Rooster" or not (due to his flaming hair and inherent wireyness), but it could have been. If I remember correctly, we even stripped down naked and wandered through the forest "au natural." Not terribly uncommon back in the days of the Haight - Ashbury. I ended up with tears in my eyes, because it all looked "so beautiful." I even tried to phone my mom from a tree, because I wanted her to see it. (brilliant, eh?) Finally, at the end of the day, we were digging around in the woods and found this ONE piece of wood that looked so fantastic that we just had to take it back to the hotel with us. Somehow, we had come to some amazing revelation that this particular piece of wood held within it ... "The Meaning of Life." Oh yes, LSD can make quite an impression on you out in the forest. Profound shit. We ended up back at the ubiquitous Holiday Inn, pulling the 7 foot long, 4" wide branch, out of the rental station wagon and dragging it into the hotel room. Keep in mind that we were on the road touring. What the hell were we thinking we would do with it? We "crashed" and upon waking many hours later, decided to order room service. When the guy delivered it, he looked down on the floor at this huge branch in our shared room, that now had every bug in the world coming out of it, and asked us what it was. We looked at each other, laughed, and said, "It's the Meaning of Life." God, there were bugs EVERYWHERE!


Wait! I think I can simulate the "high contrast rooster in the foilage" picture that I just told you about. Hmmmm, let's see. I have this picture of Jimmy in the forest in Guam. Yes, with a little digital orneriness, I believe I can show you about what it looked like up east of Tacoma, Washington. Scroll down and take a look.












  Yes, that's pretty close (minus the sign). If you're really curious ... click on this "Meaning of Life" link to see the digital history of creating this simulation.

   2) I tell the first story as a lead-in to events of 1974. While at Caribou ranch and recalling our stupidity in Tacoma, Jimmy and I decided that we'd take LSD, just ONE MORE TIME, so we did. The plan was to wait till we were "high," then jump into one of the jeeps and head up to the ghost town that was on the property and see if we could make contact with a spirit or two. By the time we got up there, it was almost midnight and there was a full moon. We were a mess, and starting to get a tad spooked, although laughing. I took the lead as we stepped out of the jeep and said, "If there's anybody here, could you please make yourself known to us ..... IF YOU THINK WE COULD HANDLE IT!" And with that, we jumped back in the jeep and bolted back down the mountain to the safety of our cabins.

   That was the very last time I took a psychedelic drug and will never take it again. I consider myself lucky to have gotten through my late teen years, having taken it over 100 times. The way I see it, I was just too damn naive and too stupid to be scared. It was like a cartoon to me. Funny memories, but I'm lucky I didn't go crazy in the process. Never again. You've heard stories of people jumping off of buildings, thinking they could fly. Some may discount that as being sheer "bullshit," but to me, it's not that much of a stretch to imagine someone "conceiving" the feel of flying and thinking they could do it. It's a much more powerful, mind-altering drug than MOST of the public realized, then or now. Truly amazing, but very dangerous and unpredictable in its lasting effect. More than just a few of you know exactly what I'm talking about. An entire generation, really. Glorifying drug use is not why I'm writing this book. I fear for my own children, that they may fall prey to peer groups and the "current hip thing to do." This is NOT an endorsement for recreational drug use in any way. Just an old rock dude remembering some of the ignorance of his youth. Nothing more.

1974: Caribou

   Earlier in the year, we added a new member, Dick Kell, to our road crew. Dick is a wonderful human being, with a tender heart and a great sense of humor. From time to time in your life, you come across special people who stick out as a particularly "good" person. Dick Kell is one of those people. We had great times together. Here's a picture of him preparing for his future as an old man by practicing a "rocking chair sit-in" at Caribou Ranch. On the right: Dick on the porch of his cabin at the ranch.




Below, Jack Ryland doing his "monkey" thang, amid the icicles at Caribou Ranch.


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