Dan Pollock wrote to me
recently, because he was looking for some old friends from those earlier sixties years. He currently
writes for Vintage Guitar Magazine and will soon have his own book, "Blues for the White Boy" published. Turned out
he was a goldmine of information and photographs, which
of course, I will have to include right here:
I think I was on the Strip a little before your time. "Dino's", "PJ's", and "The Crescendo" were still there. It's now "The Comedy Store" but originally it was "Ciro's" and I worked there with comedian Redd Foxx when it was divided in half. We were working the "left side" called "The Living Room" which featured jazz and on the other side of the partition, it was called "It's Boss" that was rock and roll. Those were great times. I played The Strip originally in 1961 at "Pandora's Box" with bongo player Preston Epps then Gazzari's with Joel Christie and I can't remember the name of the club that I played with a guy I call "the ugliest man in show business", Jody Rich. I'll have to send you a picture of him. I'm working on getting a package ready for you. I was at the Sunset Towers not too long ago to meet an old friend, a legend in his own time, saxophonist, Joe Houston who was a big west coast star in the 1950's and he's still working. You've probably never heard of these people but we all worked The Strip when it was HAPPENIN'!! Do you live near there??
Sam & The Goodtimers, 1966
I was with Sam & The Goodtimers when I got out of the Army in 1966. It's basically, The Ike & Tina Turner Revue band but we quit Ike after he was getting funny with the money and were fed up when he kicked Tina's ass when she asked him to please pay us. We were the house band at the famed "Califonian Club" at Santa Barbara (MLK Jr Blvd) and Western in Los Angeles where this photo was taken. We then moved to a place on The Strip called, "Soul'd Out" and everybody in town used to line up to get in that place! From left to right:
Sam Rhodes (bass),
Thomas "Nose" Norwood (hidden) drums, Rayfield Devers (baritone
sax), Clifford Solomon (tenor sax), Billy Bryant (trumpet), me on guitar.
Bobby John is out front doing the vocal. Hidden behind Sam is pianist, Ernest
Lane. After I left the band, they went on tour with The Monkees of all people!
Regarding Keith and David Carradine:
Here is a portion of Chapter 13 from my book, entitled, "Mister Daniels and Mister Cain". I thought you might enjoy it and maybe it's something that you can identify with. I'm a songwriter too and one of my tunes is at the end of this portion. It was great therapy writing it.
(all is copyrighted but I don't have the icon)
If I was playing in a bar or lounge, I'd drink too. I was noted for becoming one of those drunks that can be intoxicated but not show it by slurring their words or falling down or puking. It's hard to imagine but I only did that a few times. Most often, I was functional. I'm proud to say that I'm a pretty good cook and would rarely go out for dinner because I didn't think the food would be as good as mine and I wasn't about to pay for the ambience alone. On rare occasions when I would venture out to have dinner, I always avoided any restaurant that didn't have a bar and I would drive past four or five very good dining spots to get to one that had a sign that said, "Coctails". I did that for years.
I was also a member of "The Cardinals", a club my mother dreamed up or maybe she got it from somebody that used to come to their parties. The initiation into this club was simple, yet demanding and I've seen many a person who could hold their liquor pretty well pass out drunk for missing the ques by the moderator. I passed the initiation on the first "go 'round" and for the first time, I saw some pride in my mom's face for her son, who up until the time I joined this little club, hadn't really accomplished much at all in life. I'm going to reveal the secrets to the initiation here, something that I'm sure will piss her off.
The moderator goes through the series of drinks that will make or break you first, so you can see how the ritual is performed. You are told that the glass must be empty after each of the three excercises and to have a very keen eye. If you're not very observant, you're in big trouble from the get go because if you miss something, it's all over and you have to go back and start at the beginning. You are never told what you have done wrong. After the moderator completes the ritual, then it's the plebe's turn at it and this is where the fun begins.
A rocks glass is filled with about three fingers of the liquor of choice and it is held up to the lips by the thumb and forefinger. The greenhorn states, "Here's to The Cardinals once, poof" and one gulp is taken. The glass is placed back on the table with one audible sound. Then you stomp your left foot once, your right foot once and then you stand up and sit down once. Now you have to take the glass with thumb and two fingers and say, "Here's to The Cardinals twice, poof, poof" and two gulps are taken and the feet are stomped twice and so on. On the last leg it's your thumb and three fingers holding the glass and "here's to The Cardinals thrice, poof, poof, poof" and hopefully they would be able to finish the excercise but most of them never did. It doesn't sound like much but I've seen many a heavyweight go by the wayside trying to gain entry into this exclusive club.
When I came back to California after my discharge from the Army, I had a passenger in my Thunderbird, an army buddy from Redstone Arsenal named Brendan Patrick Vaughan who was an Irishman that was raised in Manchester, England. He had enlisted in the Army to expedite his U.S. citizenship and he was going home to California for a leave and hitched a ride with me. He spent a couple of days with us in our apartment above our bakery in Compton. He could hold his liquor just about as well as I did but he made the mistake of wanting to become a Cardinal and demanded that he be considered for membership. My mom set him up and before I knew it, this guy was all tangled up in the clotheslines on a little patio we had above the business and he almost fell off the roof into the parking lot while he was trying to hit on my sister, Toni. He never got past the first step and never could figure out what he was doing wrong. The next morning when he was halfway sober but with an aching hangover, we told him what his mistakes had been. He wanted to try again but I forgot to mention one of the other "cardinal" rules. If you miss the first time, there are no second chances.
I should go back to duck hunting so I can mention an incident, this time involving my going through a quart bottle of George Dickel sour mash. A deputy friend of mine and I were selected by lottery to be able to hunt a federal waterfowl refuge in San Luis, located in the San Juaquin Valley and we drove up there for opening day of the season. It was a great hunt and we bagged our limit in no time. We decided to go into town and have a big feast at a restaurant that we spotted in a shopping center because it had a cocktail sign above the door. We parked in the lot a few car lengths from the entrance and as my buddy was approaching the door to the eatery, he turned around to see why I wasn't following him in. What he saw and heard was me blasting a bronze eagle on top of a tall flag standard in the lot with my Browning Auto-5 shotgun with number four duck loads, exclaiming. "it's a duck...it's a fucking duck"! We laid rubber accross the entire lot heading out of town before the cops got there. We went to the next town on the route home and went into some steak house and had a great meal. My hunting buddy was going to pay for the meal and drinks with his credit card and when the meal was finished, he asked me to sign for him while he went to the men's room. Instead of signing it, I took the whole clipboard to the car and again, we laid about fifty yards of Goodyear in the parking lot, making a dash for home. Nothing like a free meal and a host of drinks!
I was with the same deputy out on the town one night, hitting all the bars before we went over to "Cleck's", a popular hangout for people working in the judicial system. You can't believe how many policemen, prosecuting attorney's and judges that would get as drunk as "Cooder Brown" in this place and then drive home, only to throw the book at somebody for doing the same in court the next day. When we closed the place, we decided to go over to the Bureau of Investigation at the Sheriff's complex and blow into a breathalyzer just for fun. We both blew a 2.0, more than twice the legal limit! We just laughed it off, including the bureau's personnel and when my friend was back on duty the next day, he went out and resumed arresting people for the same offense. "To Protect And To Serve", my ass!
It's no secret that when you ingest cocaine and alcohol, it does awful things to your liver and cardiovascular system and I was no exception. One of it's symptoms is it raises your body temperature and you can feel like you're in the middle of the Mojave in the summertime when it's just about freezing around you. This happened to me many times and one time I scared my wife half to death trying to alleviate this symptom. It was in the middle of the night, about 3am and she was sound asleep in our bedroom. I had just driven in from Los Angeles and I was burning up after doing about half a gram on the way home. I was in the kitchen snorting a few more lines and gulping the Daniels behind each hit. She awoke to a clamor coming from the kitchen and by the time she got up and threw a robe on, I wasn't anywhere to be found. She observed the entire contents of our refrigerator on the kitchen floor, including the shelves. She searched the entire house and couldn't find me. She thought that I was looking for something to eat and when I couldn't find anything suitable, I had gone out to a twenty four hour drive through. She returned to the kitchen to replace all of the perishibles in the refrigerator and when she opened the door, there I was in a fetal position inside, trying to cool off!
I suffered two serious heart attacks and underwent triple bypass surgery in March of 1994, something I will never do again. My heart attacks were a result of my long time alcohol abuse and my addiction to cocain in the mid eighties in addition to it being in my gene pool. I used to do a gram of that shit at a sitting , at least three times a week, following each hit with a double slug of Jack Daniels. I would lay down on my back on the couch, chain smoking cigarettes during these binges and I would put my hand over my heart and I could actually watch it jumping up and down with the palpitations. After experiencing that more times than I care to admit, I'm still baffled why I was surprised when I had the attacks but somehow I separated my drug and booze induced symptoms, along with my family history of coronary disease, in my mind. I was always under the impression that heart attacks were painful and that a sharp pain would shoot down your left arm, giving you a signal of what was about to occur.
I wasn't experiencing any pain and my left arm felt fine. I felt like Fred Wesley was sitting on my chest and I could hardly get my breath. That was it. I was lucky enough to be in my car about two blocks away from my primary doctor when they hit me and I rushed over there. That probably saved me as I was immediately sent to Community Memorial Hospital and was flat on my back in surgery twenty four hours later after they stabilized me. My heart was severely damaged and enlarged and my back was still a mess from an injury I incurred while working for the Sheriff about twenty years before. I ended up on a Social Security Disability Pension and to this day, I struggle to keep my head above water just like I did when I was playing guitar for a living.
In 1986, I decided that I had all the cocaine and heavy drinking that I wanted in life and I went about kicking it's symptoms and the terrible prospect of withdrawal. I left my wife and son and rented a small bungalow at Silver Strand Beach on the Oxnard shore and locked myself in for almost three months. I refused to see anyone, including my family, other than my son who would come over and pass me some food and toiletries through the open door while I was standing behind it, peeking at him through the crack by the hinges. I faced the horrible task of kicking it alone and the sight of him, although he couldn't see me was my inspiration. I was too stubborn and proud to seek professional help. This is when I started to write and this book is a result of that long and lonely road I took to regain my sanity. I always thought that the voyage on that old scow going to Korea was the worst thing I could face in life, other than losing a loved one. That voyage to Korea was tantamount to taking a girl on a date in a small row boat on the calm waters of Lake Casitas compared to what I was about to face. In addition to writing down my memoirs, trying to explain my behavior to my son and myself, I wrote the following song as part of my therapy. I rarely perform it and haven't passed it on to others because that's just what it was....therapy.
"Mister Daniels and Mister Cain"
(words and music by Dan Pollock 1986)
Let me tell you about two old friends of mine
They've been with me for a long, long time
I'll introduce you to them, by their name
but whatever you call them, they're still the same
Mister Daniels and Mister Cain
I thought they were friends, tried and true
But now I know what they done put me through
Lost all my friends, ain't got nothin' in the bank
For all the coke I've blown and the liquor I've drank
Mister Daniels and Mister Cain
Once I was a young man, full of dreams and ambitions
But that's all gone today, I'm in a miserable condition
All I wanted was to be with my guitar
Make a little money, get me a house and a car
Damn you Mister Daniels and Mister Cain
All those years on the road, playing one night stands
Home is where you find it, it's where your suitcase lands
A forgotten voice says, "try this, it'll make it right"
So I did a million times, now I'm in for the fight
With Mister Daniels and Mister Cain
Now I ask myself why, why did you let yourself go?
All I can say is, hell I don't know
But I know deep down inside, my heart knows it's true
I just gave in to those goddamned two
Mister Daniels and Mister Cain
Nobody forced me at the point of a gun
To lie to myself and to everyone
Now I'm at the bottom trying hard to get up
Don't know if I can make it without a straw and a cup
Mister Daniels and Mister Cain
But there's two beautiful flowers, fragile butterflies
They're scared half to death 'cause I always stay high
They gave me some choices, more than a few
But the best choice I made, is to know that I'm through
With Mister Daniels and Mister Cain