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Memories of Gold

    I remember the first time I heard "ONE" on the radio. We were in Illinois, doing a fair venue and I was walking around the stockyard area. There, way back on a wood crate behind a prize bull in the back of a pen, was a small radio with "ONE" coming out of it. The disc jockey was hyping our genius and calling us the "new super group" and so on. That moment has stayed with me throughout the years. A wonderful moment; a moment every aspiring musician should have. We were a hit. "One" went on to be #5 in the nation, and #1 in a lot of major American markets. The picture below is of the presentation of the gold album and gold single. I don't look too happy, do I? A wonderful achievement to do something that so many people liked. Such a wonderful reward. The gold records, yes, but I'm mainly speaking of the adoration of the fans. Shallow, weak, and other adjectives come to mind that others may want to use to describe as mere vanity. Some of that may be true, but we were ALL truly thankful for the warm embrace given to us by so many people, nationwide. Thank you, America. Thank you for liking our music and for giving me the life of rock n roll that I SO wanted. It has been a blessing, a joy, and a dream come true. Everything and more than I imagined. Oh, I still have aspirations for MORE. There's always more to be done, thank goodness. I just want to make it perfectly clear how much all of YOU have affected my life. With all my efforts and fortitude, it would be diminished greatly without your validation. The smiles I see every night from the stage are the real payback. THAT IS WHY WE DO IT. The smiles AND the money. Nyuk nyuk. Okay, you caught me. The way I look at it is this: There is NOTHING better than playing music, unless it's playing music and getting paid for it. Call me shallow, but that's the stuff of dreams to me. Life is good. Someone once asked Ray Charles why he charged so much money for playing. He answered, "For playing? No, no. You're paying me for the traveling. I'd play for free." There it is in a nutshell. Well, kinda. Maybe there's a little more to it than that. But that's basically it.

   Take a look at our first Gold records presentation back in 1969, then scroll down for more exaggerated, self-enshrining stories.


Below: A much better quality picture that includes Dunhill Records President, the late, Jay Lasker on the far left. Jay was a sweetheart of a man and a marketing genius. (thanks to Jamey Dell for the photo by Ed Caraeff)


   Sometime in 1969, we played a gig at an outdoor amphitheater in Seattle. Although we now had a hit album and single going on, we were just then reaching the stage where we had enough drawing power to be the headliner. On this gig, we had a new and upcoming solo artist open the show, then us, followed by a new group from England that was starting their first U.S. tour. The opening act was James Taylor. The group after us? Led Zeppelin. Nice card, eh? Not a chump on the stage. James was great, and the Zeppelin were just starting their climb to fame, though Jimmy Page was already an established artist, having played in The Yardbirds and so on. This was one hell of a surprise show, not to be forgotten over the years. A surprise for the audience and for us. I love James Taylor. Man! What a voice and style. Led Zeppelin? Probably the greatest so called "heavy metal" band of all time. The first one. They were more melodic than metal bands. We played a few shows with them, one in New York City. I've got a poster from that one somewhere. Great times. Proud times and exciting times. Oh, one more thing, we were all staying at a place in Seattle called the Edgewater Inn. The hotel room windows actually opened up to Puget Sound, if I'm not mistaken. You could get fishing poles from the front desk and fish away. There's a story involving Jimmy Page with a sexual connotation to it that can't be repeated here. You fill in the blanks. Factor in some "pot" and rowdy English pop stars, add a big fish caught through the window, maybe a drink or two or three and .... well ... just take my word for it. IT HAPPENED! Don't believe me? Check with Greenspoon. He'll be glad to verify Page's genius. Rock guys love to originate memorable craziness and thus was the agenda for the evening.

   In 1969, we would cross paths with Jimi Hendrix again. It must have been in the late fall, sometime September or October. This time it would be at Devonshire Downs in North Los Angeles, just before you reach the mountains off the 405 freeway. It was another Pop Festival, spread over a few days. (To read more about a jam session I had with Jimi in Hollywood, click here to go to the TRIBUTES section of this web site.) Jimi played on a different day than we did, but a few of us came out to see him anyway. Our photographer Ed Caraeff must have taken this picture. I have another one almost identical to it in black and white. Floyd and I were standing just off stage right. A very windy day, as you can see from the foam on the microphones and Mitch's hair blowing. Jimi was great; he was always great. He was playing his white Stratocaster and wearing a headband scarf wrap, though his hair was not at full "experience" length. Mitch was on drums, and Billy Cox played bass.

   Woodstock had just happened and, unfortunately, we already had commitments to other cities and venues to perform in. We had been in England during June, and hadn't been back home that long. Our career was just beginning. A disappointment for me to this day that we "JUST" missed it. Jimi's hairstyle and white Stratocaster seem to verify that this was just after Woodstock, which took place on August 15 - 17th, 1969.


   This had been a glorious year. One that had included our climb to fame, success and acceptance by the American public, plus meeting and hanging out with our peers. We had finished our second album titled, "Suitable For Framing." During the making of these first 2 albums, it became evident to us just how much Richie was capable of doing as a producer, when allowed more input. Actually, we only suspected. Time was to reveal what a great talent he really is. Gabriel was talented, as well, and had hits with Steppenwolf before us. We chose to continue on with Richie and Bill, one of the best decisions in our career, in my opinion. We're indebted to Gabriel, who was a good song finder, among other things. He was killed in a motorcycle accident a few years later. Bill Cooper's engineering and interaction with the musicians was stellar. It's very hard to describe just how important he is. Critically important, really.

   Oh, I forgot to add that we recorded a live album called, "Live at the Forum" that year, too.


Maybe you remember it.

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