The best way I can describe these audio segments is to explain the story as briefly as I can.
My boyfriend, Cooker, and I decided to go up to Bremerton, Washington to take a break. We had been waiting and waiting on a record deal with Sceptor, and it finally came through, but then there was more delay as we waited to get time booked in Wally Heider's studio. We decided to leave town for awhile in an attempt to get away from the strain this had created. Cooker's best friend, Ron Davies, was from Bremerton, and had taken Cooker up to there to visit. He fell in love with the place and wanted me to see it, too. We decided to go to Bremerton and wait on that very important phone call from his record company telling us that the studio was booked and that the recording sessions for Cooker's album were to begin. We knew it would take a month or more, so we went on up to Washington to wait for the phone call.
After several weeks of living on pins and needles and worrying that they may never call, we finally got the news. "Get down here as fast as you can! The sessions are booked." We were over-the-top excited! This was Cooker's first big break-his first album! Somehow, we had succeeded after all the BS and promises. Man, we were so relieved--so flippin happy! We had been living on peanuts in Bremerton-living in a tiny little cabin just a few yards from the beach where we gathered up our allotment of oysters everyday. I don't recall the maximum, but it seems like it was 15-20 a day per person. I went to the Bremerton library and checked out recipe books, so I could discover different methods of oyster preparation. We ate oysters every-which-way-but rotten, and sometimes even grazed on them raw as we gathered them off the beach.
Cooker would play pool almost every evening in a little bar that he walked to down the road. He won games more often than he lost, so that was our cheapo wine money, and occasionally a chicken dinner, but after loads of free oysters, and barely making ends meet, we'd had enough of Bremerton, and we were more than anxious to roll tape back in Hollywood. We packed in a flash, grabbed a bottle of wine for the road, and headed for the airport.
We drank wine on the way to the airport to calm our nerves. We were both wound up like clocks about the up and coming sessions, but I was especially anxious about finally meeting Dick Monda, Cooker's producer. Dick and I had talked on the phone, and he sounded like a great guy, but I had never met him in person--just heard all these great things about him from Cooker. That goofy old song, Chick-a-Boom, Dick had on the charts under the name of Daddy Dew Drop. I used to get so mad at myself for singing that song obsessively; what should I do when I meet him, slap him? Now I was going to meet the guy who wrote the dang thing.
Dick was meeting us at the airport in L.A. I would also be meeting Ron Davies for the first time. I had loved Ron's work for so long. He was such a great writer, best known for "It Ain't Easy" by Three Dog Night, and they named an early album after that song. We were to meet up with Ron later on that night in L.A. Cooker had admired Ron, too, for a long time before they had even met. In fact, Ron Davies had become one of Cooker's idols. I believe Cooker actually tracked him down, confronted him by saying, "Man, you're such a great writer. I just wanted to shake your hand. You are my idol."…and they had been best friends ever since until we lost Ron three years ago. He was living in Nashville when he died suddenly from a massive heart attack, but they remained friends for over thirty years.
Cooker and I had another drink or two or three or MORE at the airport calming some more nerves. We finally boarded the plane and when we were high enough in the air, we drank our jittery little asses off. "Look out, L.A., here we come!" Dick met me at the airport, all right, but I didn't exactly meet him. Since he was a big strapping guy, compared to Cooker's tiny little frame, Dick was the one who had to carry me off the plane and into the terminal. I had calmed every last nerve quite successfully. That was Dick's first impression of me--drunk as a cock-eyed skunk. Geez, and I had been so worried.
I don't remember the ride from the airport to the Landmark Motel where Dick had reserved a room for us. I bet we rode in his Bentley. I'm sorry I missed that. I used to sit in that car when it was parked in Dick's garage, but sure don't recall riding in it the first time. I was always going to buy that Bentley from him some day--soon as I came up with $3000. "Is that Bentley deal still on, Dick? One of these days, I'll have that three thou."
I had come out of my stupor when we finally walked into the Landmark lobby, which was hoppin' with musicians. Ron Davies was there to greet us upon arriving. I was vertical when I met Ron for the first time--hung over, but standing up all by myself. Dick said his good-bys and the three of us, Ron, Cooker and I, went to our room and ordered drinks through room service. Davies had little white crosses on him, which I needed desperately to help perk me up. He said he had coke on the way to the Landmark, so the boys proceeded to play and sing while waiting on the delivery. When it was finally time, Ron left for the lobby.
The Landmark was full of music people that night. Stevie Wonder's horn players were marching up and down the corridors blowing at top volumes. A&M execs had something going on. The entire motel was like a big party--long hairs everywhere, guitars, groupies, music blaring out of almost every room. There were no so-called normal guests staying at the Landmark--none that I could see. If they were there, they were keeping out of the limelight in another "wing."
When Ron returned from the lobby, he was accompanied by Joe Cocker. They had recognized each other as both being A&M artists, struck up a conversation and Joe had decided to follow Ron back to our room. The three of them, all with very unmistakable voices, immediately got the ole musical ball rolling--Cooker on slide guitar, Ron on acoustic guitar and Joe on invisible guitar. They were all singing off key very loud-but those three voices were awesome together. I felt pretty fortunate to be alone with those remarkably talented men, so I turned on my little cassette recorder to preserve some of those moments.
I had wished that my sister, Dixie, could have been there that night, too, but she was back in Illinois. I was in heaven listening to those three guys-what a treat, so I called her to boast about how lucky I was. When I got her on the phone, everybody else wanted to talk to her, too, so I passed the phone around. When Joe got on the phone, he asked her to marry him! Then the three of them serenaded her by playing their guitars still singing off key. She told me later, that our cousin, Sharon, and an old friend, Connie, were also at her house that night--each one on a phone extension, jumping up and down, absolutely freaking out over who was on the other end of the phone.
After the call ended, the guys continued the jam session. They were in the middle of a song called, "You Got to Move" when suddenly we heard loud knocking at the door. The person said he was the motel manager. Joe opened the door and the manager said, "Hey could you tone it down a little, we can hear you all the way down the hall." Joe muttered something back sarcastically, and the manager exploded. He obviously had had a bellyful of Joe, and was out to take him down, but Stevie Wonder's horn guys had been blowing at mega decibels outside in the hall all night. There were parties everywhere! These three guys had been playing acoustic guitars, but the manager didn't care and continued ranting bursting into the room pointing his finger and shouting, "I've had it with you, Cocker!" and Joe yelled back, "Give me the key to my room or I'll shoot ya!" The manager went ballistic, "You're outta here! You're all out! The whole group!" So the four of us were all thrown out of the motel that night and of course, I have it all on tape--about eleven minutes worth. The last words spoken on the tape were by Ron Davies. He looked at me and asked, "You have that all on tape, too, don't ya?" I nodded. "Well, save it for posterity."
...But the night continued:
After being thrown out, and after calling Daddy (Dew Drop) with the news, we decided to ride around, soothe our feathers a little in the night air, but since it was pouring rain, we decided a club would be a safer haven. We could blow off a little Landmark steam-lick our wounds a little, and we soon found ourselves out in the Valley at a little club called the Palomino where Lynn Anderson and Roger Miller were performing that night. Cocker lost one of his sandals in a mud puddle on the way to the door outside the club, but he just kept on walking. He didn't care. It was too big a hassle to go back find it. His green satin pants had gotten soaked and splattered with mud, so what?
When Roger Miller announced that there was a celebrity in the house, he requested Joe go up on stage and honor the crowd with a song. We expected him to go up and grab a mike, but nope! Joe Cocker sat down at the drums and banged away-one sandal, muddy satin pants-didn't matter to him, or to anybody else really. It would be my guess that Joe had never played drums before. Didn't sound like it. After one so-called "drum solo," he came back and sat down at our table. Not a lot of audience response after that other than perplexing looks throughout the crowd.
Roger Miller had the entire audience captured in a beautiful and moving song later that night. It was a soft and tender ballad, and as Roger so eloquently reached a poignant moment in the song, and it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop, Cocker suddenly belted out in that unmistakable voice of his, "SSSING THE BBBLUESS!" …and he kind of dragged it out slowly like an old drunken blues dude would do. The magic was lost for Miller as everyone had again turned their attention to our table, but it was a precious-gem-of-a-moment for me. Cocker's timing was impeccable. I will never forget the weight of that moment--it was genius. Probably happened a little unconsciously for Cocker. Whatever, it was brilliant timing. Completely stole the show from Miller--just three little soulful words perfectly and magically dropping into our heads. We may have needed that.
As the night wore on, we became so blasted, so wasted! I don't remember leaving the club, and nobody seems to know what happened to Cocker. We lost him, or maybe he lost us. Somehow Ron, Cooker, and I made it back to our new hotel room, the Hollywood Roosevelt where we lived happily-ever-after for two weeks rolling tape at Wally Heider's.
The audio , a slice of the Hollywood pie, circa
was taped at the Landmark Motel.
In April of 2008, a video was created for YouTube from the original audio. Link is below:
My Email: Hllywd4ever@comcast.net