Saturday, November 29, 2008

Randy California


In 1976 I went to a KSHE Birthday party at Kiel Auditorium. KSHE was our local FM rock station and hadn’t been totally corrupted yet by corporate interests and musical tunnel vision.

The bands were Quicksilver Messenger Service, Iron Butterfly and the real reason I was there – Spirit. I know what year it was because they had just reunited and were touring a new album, “Spirit of ‘76”.

I was there with my brother Patrick. Between sets he and I walked to the front of the stage. I couldn’t believe it but Randy California was sitting on the edge. He was flattered that I knew and owned all the Spirit records. I even had his first solo record “Kapt. Kopter and the Fabulous Twirly Birds.”

Randy California was given his name by Jimi Hendrix in 1966 when they played together in a band called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. There was someone else in the band named Randy and California was from L.A.

He asked Patrick if he had any of the records. My brother said he didn’t have any of them. California asked him why and my brother told him he couldn’t afford any. He took us back stage and gave my brother 3 of their records.

The band's drummer and Randy’s step father Ed Cassidy was being interviewed by a friend of mine named Patti Dewing.

Patti was a freelance rock critic who gave my band several flattering reviews. She was practically homeless and barely eked out a living sending articles to the New Musical Express in England.

She shared a home for a while with a good friend of mine named Randy Satterfield. Randy is the most knowledgeable person I’ve ever met when it comes to art. I’ll do a story about them both later. But I digress-----

When we were back stage Ed Cassidy threw the sweetest smile my way and I always wondered if he was gay.

In 1997 Randy California and his son were visiting his mother in Hawaii. His son got caught in a current. Randy saved him but drowned in the process. It’s unfortunate that bands biggest hits are usually their worst songs. I hate it that they’ll be remembered for “Nature’s Way” when their other material was so ahead of its time. 

9 comments:

dominic said...

shit- he's dead? no wonder they're not touring any more. thanks for the memories.

Doggie said...

I knew you'd be the one person to comment. You turned me on to them.

Patti said...

David, I came across your blog by chance. Congratulations on a worthy project! FYI, I contributed to MELODY MAKER, not the NME. The MM was put to bed for the last time at age 75, c. 2000, but the MM Classifieds continue in the NME because so many famous Brit bands were formed through them, e.g., Led Zeppelin (MM published my Zep at the 'dome review in May, '77).

My last article to appear in MM was in '78. Prior to that, I'd contributed to CONCERT NEWS: The World of Rock (St. Louis); after MM, to THE PRAIRIE SUN, a five-state Midwest pop culture paper, and AMPERSAND, '79-'81, an LA-based national newsprint pop culture mag distributed through college newspapers. (I just discovered that THE HARVARD CRIMSON(!!!) somehow wound up with my Queen review from AMPERSAND back in 1980.)

The "death" of the music biz in the early '80s ended my music journalism career, but in 2004, I discovered that a Brit author had cited my first piece for the MM, a John Denver at the 'dome review, '75, in his Denver bio, MOTHER NATURE'S SON. The book's a potboiler, but hey, how many rock critics wind up in hardback (paperback available, too)? It would seem my work is having an afterlife . . .

Hope this finds you well, happy, and continuing to use your considerable intelligence and creativity productively.

Patti Dewing

Anonymous said...

P.S. Re the preceding, forgot that I'd written a "think piece" entitled "The Rock Pages: Seeds of Change" for the ST. LOUIS LITERARY SUPPLEMENT, published Aug '77. Guess that pretty much covers it with the exception of the local paper using my Jerry Garcia Band review from back in the day when Jerry died. Patti

Anonymous said...

Gonna find away home to the animal zoo!

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Doggie said...

Wow is it good to hear from you Patti! I've lost so many people over the years I'm not sure who's still alive. I'd like to communicate. If you get a chance email so I can respond personally.

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