the Peppermint Trolley Company – ‘It’s a Lazy Summer Day’ in the Summer of Love

August 31, 2016 in Events

During the winter of 1967 my brother Jimmy and I continued to drive into Holly wood

Three weeks later...

Casey Cunningham, Jimmy Faragher, And Danny Farsagher

on the week-ends to record with Producer Dan Dalton. In addition to cutting three sides
as the Peppermint Trolley Company, we sang and played background for other artists.
A 45 single of ‘She’s the Kind of Girl’/’Little Miss Sunshine’ was released on Dalton’s
Kelly label before being picked up by Acta Records.

In the meantime the world around us seemed to accelerate. Along with our drummer
friend, Casey Cunningham, and new found buddy, Patrick McClure, we became active
in the Peace Movement and, dare I say it, slightly psychedelicized.  We were listening to
a wide range of artists, including the Doors, the Jefferson Airplane, the Paul Butterfield
Blues Band, Phil Ochs, and Laura Nyro.  We understood that Acta had signed us with the
expectation that we would deliver light pop fare (a genre that is now refered to as sunshine pop).
Although we were confident we could provide that kind of sound, we were filled with creative
energy and chaffing at the leash. Our dream was to form a real band with Casey on the drums
and to come up with an original sound.

In May Jimmy wrote a song that seemed to encapsulate the moment. It was called ‘It’s a Lazy
Summer Day’.  Melodic, dreamy and innocent, it was like a flower-child anthem. The three
of us played it for  Dan and his wife, Lois Fletcher, and they both loved it. Within the week
we were in Moonglow Studio to lay it down before summer. It was the first PTC record on
which we cut our own basic track, which was recorded live with Jimmy on bass, Casey on
drums, and me on the Hammond B3. Danish singer/songwriter James Fleming Rasmussen
played the acoustic guitar. The vocal arrangement was done on the spot as we stood in frontLazy summer Day(2)
of the mic.

As we listened to the rough mix, the excitement in the room was palpable. By God, we had
our own sound! The harmonies and counter points were sophisticated and psychedelic, while
the organ intro and outro gave it a baroque flavor.Yes, it was light and breezy but it was also
organic and honest. Amidst  the song’s carefree innocence a darker reality was implied – ‘No
one wants to start a fight/ So let’s take a walk tonight.’   It was like a blossom in
the barrel of an M16. We’d managed to stay in the ballpark while pouring a little magic
mushroom powder into the soda.

Acta president, Kenny Meyers, was crazy about it and decided to do a rush release. By July,
‘It’s a Lazy Summer Day’  was pressed and ready to be shipped (Listen here.) One
morning, three weeks later I received a phone call  on my folk’s phone. On the line was Bob
McCormack, the program director for radio station KMEN 129 in San Bernardino. He had
just read the rave reviews of our record  in Billboard, Cashbox , and Record World. Man, was
he pumped.  ‘Danny, we’re going to bring this one home for you guys!’ he told me. That
day we heard ‘A Lazy Summer Day’  on the radio. The Summer of Love was in full swing.

PTC with T. Michael Jordan

Peppermint Trolley Company with KMEN DJ, T. Michael Jordan


Bones (the rock band) video of hit – ‘Roberta’

March 3, 2016 in Happenings

Bones cover

Album photo and design by Phil Hartman


My brother Jimmy and I led four different bands.
Although each group was fun to be a part of, the experience as a member of Bones was probably the most exciting. We were four young guys chasing a dream full throttle in a rapidly changing world. Oh, those halcyon days!

The four of us, Jimmy Faragher, Casey Cunningham, Greg Tornquist, and myself, were already a seasoned studio band, having charted a hit record in 1968 with Baby, You Come Rollin’ Across my Mind, and recorded a future cult classic with the eponymously titled album,  The Peppermint Trolley Company.  However, there is no resting on one’s laurels in the music business. We were creatively restless, and felt boxed in, confined within the four walls of the studio. Full of fire and eager to take our music to the streets, we chose to walk away from our contract and not look back, changing both our moniker and our direction.scan

It took us a couple years of wood shedding and playing dives to find that direction, but find it we did. We became a great live act. Crowds flooded to venues like Gazzarri’s, the Whiskey, the Topanga Corral, and the Venice Beach House to listen and dance to Bones. In concerts as an opening act for artists like Little Richard,  Alice Cooper, Canned Heat, and the Eagles, the band always projected a visceral excitement that was contagious.

Through it all we remained a tight recording unit, always arranging  our songs as if we were making records. We great material to work with. Jimmy, the main writer in the group was churning out quality song after quality song. In 1972 the groups first album, Bones, produced by Richard Perry, was released on Artie Mogul’s Signpost label. The following year, after adding our former Trolley mate, guitarist Patrick McClure to the band, we released a second LP,  Waitin’ Here, produced by Vini Poncia (Future producer on three of the four Faragher Brothers albums), on MCA.Bones - 1973 - Waitin' Here


Roberta, the hit single, and first release, was the result of  a spontaneous and unrehearsed rendition of the Huey Piano Smith song at the suggestion of producer Perry. He’d heard me singing the tune and thought it might capture some of that live excitement.  It’s the rock and roll side of Bones.

The band’s hybrid sound, an amalgamation of rock, power pop, and soul, was way ahead of it’s time, and provided a template for the Faragher Brothers to step into. The music biz connections the band had cultivated didn’t hurt, either.

So why does Bones seem to be lost to history? I believe part of it is the lack of visual documentation. There are simply very few photos and, unlike both the Peppermint Trolley and the Faragher Brothers, there is no footage of the band (Strange to contemplate a world where folks aren’t catching every moment with iPhones or video cams!). Being more of a counter culture phenomenon Bones never appeared on television. Thankfully, the music still remains.

With pride I recall how committed we were to the idea of peace and social justice. We not

Bones - Opening for Peace Rally - Oceanside, CA - May, 1970

Bones – Opening for Peace Rally – Oceanside, CA – May, 1970

only talked the talk, but in performing pro bono at numerous peace rallies for the cause, we walked the walk. We were a band of brothers. On a mission. Committed to the power of rock and roll and its ability to bring people together. We lived together, made music together, and at times,  starved together. Through the good times and the hard times we had each other’s backs. Bones lives!

Watch Roberta video.




Former Peppermint Trolley Co. and Bones Member, Greg Tornquist recalls meeting B.B. King

May 18, 2015 in Events, Happenings, Thoughts

BB and Greg 1  111111








Received an email yesterday from Greg Torquist, my former band mate in both the Peppermint Trolley Company and Bones in which he recalls our opening for B.B. King at the Whiskey a Go Go in the early seventies,  as well as a later chance meeting with the great man.

Hey Bones Brothers!

I was saddened to learn that BB passed away yesterday.  Age: 89.
We met twice.
The first was when we opened for him at the Whiskey.  Maybe 1971 or 72 ?
Shook hands with him in the dressing room.  I’ve never forgotten his catcher mitt handshake.  After our set when we were heading up the stairs and he was coming down he stopped and complimented me on my playing.  May have been the slide on ‘He Said’.  BB knew songs.  We played good ones and he couldn’t have escaped our roar because you could hear the band on stage in the dressing rooms.  I think he just dug good music.
I wore that compliment like an invisible badge of honor.  Still do.
Then we were introduced by a friend in LA about 3 or 4 years ago.  We met in an optometrist office.
Spoke for around 20 minutes.  Privately.  I explained that I had written a musical called Mississippi and asked for his advice.  He was encouraging.  Enthusiastic even.  Told me to send a copy to his bodyguard so he could actually listen and read it.  
I never did.  Writers angst that it wasn’t quite good enough.  I am rewriting even now.  Oy!
What a wonderful man.  Not just a trail blazing iconic musical hero but a great man.
gBB and Greg 2   111111

BB and Greg and Nic   11:11:11 copy

The Faragher Brothers ‘Givin’ It Up’ and Gettin’ Funky

April 3, 2015 in Events, Happenings, Thoughts

The Faragher Brothers ‘Yellow album’ is jam packed with great songs. The LP is a harmonious blend of grooves – soulful. jazzy, mellow, steppin’ – but each  one stands on its own, shining like a jewel.

The Faragher Brothers performing Live at The Roxy - Spring 1976

The Faragher Brothers performing Live at The Roxy – Spring 1976

‘Give It Up’  shows off the funkier, grittier side of the band. Recorded in 1975 at Richard Perry’s Studio 55. the players are: Danny Faragher -B3 organ, lead vocal, Tommy Faragher – clavinet, bg vocal, Davey Faragher – bass, bg vocal, Jimmy Faragher – bg vocal, Patrick McClure – electric guitar, John King – drums, Charles Crewes – talking guitar, Vini Poncia – producer.

‘C’mon! C’mon! C’mon, Baby! Give it on up!’

‘Get ready! You got to get ready!’



Watch and listen to ‘Give It Up’ video.

The Faragher Brothers outside Brothers Studios in Redondo Beach, preparing for the concert at the Roxy

The Faragher Brothers outside Brothers Studios in Redondo Beach, preparing for the concert at the Roxy

One Last Time in Harmony

May 1, 2014 in Events, Happenings


In 2008 we five members of the bands- the Peppermint Trolley Company, and Bones – Jimmy Faragher, Greg Tornquist, Casey Cunningham, Patrick McClure, and myself, Danny Faragher (We affectionately refer to ourselves as Bones Brothers) were reunited. It was the first time in thirty-five years. Though the decades had passed, our friendship bond, based on a unique shared experience was as strong as ever.  Oh what a joyous occasion It was! We played and sang Jimmy’s beautiful tune – Harmony from the album – Waitin’ Here. Little did we know that it would  be the last time we would stand together. In March of this year we lost Patrick.  Here are some moments from that day caught on tape combined with some rare photographs compiled and edited by Bryan Faragher into this touching video, a moving tribute to Bones Brother Patrick McClure. Our thanks to Michael McClure for supplying many of the superb photographs.

‘Broken Hearts and Hopeful Dreams’ – Remembering Patrick McClure

April 18, 2014 in Events, Happenings, Thoughts


I Remember Long Ago

It was the spring of 1967. A whirlwind of change was in there air. The art scene, music  in particular, was exploding with creativity. Conversely, the war in Vietnam continued its steady escalation, and the draft hung over young males’ heads like a sword of Damocles. Having become increasingly distressed by the conflict, and  committed in my opposition, I planned and carried out a one-man anti-war protest at the school  I was attending. San Bernardino Valley College was a very conservative campus, and as I stood on the walkway with homemade placard in hand, very few students offered any words of encouragement. Most were apathetic, and an angry few met my demonstration with outright contempt and hostility. Some were even confrontational, yelling point blank in my face – the spittle flying. I was feeling truly alone in my forlorn folly when I was approached by a guy with an easy going manner. The eyes behind the wire rimmed glasses were intelligent, inquisitive, and friendly. He introduced himself. His name was Patrick McClure. Right away he let me know that he was in solidarity with what I was doing. As we became engrossed in conversation, the act of chatting served to break the tension.

“Fuckin’ commie lover!” a passerby shouted, extending a middle finger.

The insult was like water off a duck’s back. I was otherwise engaged – thank-you much!

My friendship with Patrick appeared like an oasis in a vast wasteland, and In the weeks that followed, we became fast buddies. I learned that he and his family had moved to Redlands from Santa Cruz, and that they lived just several blocks from my folks. In addition to similar political views, we also shared a passion for music. Being from the Bay Area, he was much more exposed to the San Francisco scene. He had a copy of the Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow.  I remember lying on the floor in his room, listening to the record, marveling at the sound which seemed to encapsulate the spirit of the time. He’d figured out and could play Embryonic Journey on acoustic guitar. I could see that he liked to tinker with music: Take it apart, analyze it, understand it. I admired this immensely. We also hung out at my little pad in Riverside where I introduced him to my brothers and friends. We jammed, talked,  and, I’m embarrassed to say, even tried smoking banana peels, getting nothing but headaches and charred throats for our trouble.

I discovered that Patrick not only talked the talk – he walked the walk. In June, he was with us to share the beautiful  experience that was the  Monterey Pop Festival, and one week later stood alongside my brothers and me as the police mounted their vicious attack at Century Plaza. These seminal events served to strengthen the bonds. We developed a strong sense of knowing we had each other’s backs.

A Lazy Summer Day


Rehearsing for first concert. From left to right, Patrick, Danny, Casey and Jimmy.

My brother Jimmy and I had a recording contract as the Peppermint Trolley Company, and had brought our friend Casey Cunningham into our group to play drums. In July, our single, A Lazy Summer Day, was getting some airplay locally and our manager booked us on a concert as the opening act for Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin at the Kaiser Dome in San Bernardino. We needed a guitarist, quick, fast, and in a hurry, and asked Patrick to join the band. To our delight, he agreed. Pat’s parents and siblings were out of town so we holed up in his house and woodshed like crazy for a week straight, managing to put together a set of perhaps eight or nine songs. Try as we may, there was just no hiding the fact that we were green. I know that it was difficult for me, so I can’t imagine how daunting a task it must have been for Pat. To have never even played in a band before, and to be suddenly thrust on stage in front of five thousand kids is a scary proposition. That takes balls – or naiveté… or both! (read more at the Peppermint Trolley Company bio)

On the night of the concert, we managed to complete a very jittery performance that was largely held together by Casey’s solid drumming.  I’m sure we were dreadful, but at least we’d gotten through it and survived. To top off an absurd night, Big Brother was a no show. The promoter, a program director of a local radio station, pleaded with us to get back on stage.  We replied that we had no more material worked up, that we’d shot our wad, and weren’t eager to repeat the experience. By serendipity, some musician buddies of ours, a band, were in the audience at the time and took the stage to perform some covers. This appeased the crowd somewhat, but then our friends began cracking smart ass jokes about the incompetence of the radio station. As a result, the promoter, who was livid, dropped our record from the play list.

A few weeks later we opened for the Buffalo Springfield at the Swing Auditorium. This time the headliner showed up! I felt a little better about our performance, but knew we were no great shakes as an act. Shortly after this we made the move to Los Angeles. There is a photo of the four of us posing in front of Casey’s Chevy van. The picture was taken in Redlands just minutes before we took off. We look like babes in the wood.

Sadness Within Your Eyes

In front of Buster. Redlands boys L.A. bound

In front of Buster. Redlands boys L.A. bound

No sooner had we settled into the Silver Lake rental house, when our manager landed us a featured spot as a hippie band on the Beverly Hillbillies. There we were on the tube all decked out in whatever silly wigs and mismatched apparel the Paramount costume department could find. It was a kick, and we made a little cash, but there was always that nagging feeling that we needed to get to work and  come up with some new material to keep it all rolling. Patrick was pretty disciplined about sticking with a musical idea and developing it until it was a completed song.  Jimmy has spoken about how much he was influenced as a songwriter by Pat’s dogged example. I recall our trying to work up a couple of his tunes, but deciding they weren’t quite right for the band.

In October, Patrick shocked us all by announcing he was leaving the group to get married. Shortly after this Greg Tornquist joined to take over the guitar slot. Sounds like the end of the story, doesn’t it? The irony is that Pat would have much more creative input to the PTC after he left than before. He continued to be a frequent presence at the band house, and both he and Jimmy began what was to be a creative surge. The first collaborative effort was Pat’s Song – a beautiful and deceptively simple melody. Jimmy, after being frustrated with his first attempts to put words to it, decided to write the lyric about Pat’s leaving. It was a perfect match. The result was both sophisticated and poignant.

You don’t have to tell me. I already know.
Sadness within your eyes says it’s time to go.

Many more tunes were to follow. I still carry the image in my head of Patrick and Jimmy sitting in the living room , guitars in hand,  facing each other as a new song came to life. Patrick would be involved in the writing of seven of the band’s nine original songs on the1968 Peppermint Trolley Company album.

Pat wasn’t one to come up with a chord progression first and write a melody over it.He would start with a fragment of a melocic idea, and let everything ripple out from that center, exploring different chord progressions and key modulations along the way It was a process that seemed to be driven equally by emotion and intellect. The result was something interesting, but always honest, and straight from the heart.

Sunrise was  penned solely by Pat.  It is a song that spoke to me, and which I had the good fortune to sing lead on. Years later he provided the back story of its creation. He’d been up north dealing with the draft, and had driven back through the night. Just before dawn he pulled off to the side of the road, grabbed his guitar, opened the back door of his bread truck, and sat there strumming as the sun rose. The words and music came simultaneously, and the song was completed within minutes.

Today let me down but I know that the sun will shine.

These lyrics bear the imprint of a McClure song: Sad, but always hopeful. In my opinion these tunes are timeless. In a just world they would be recognized as the musical gems they are.


Pat also became a good guitar player. I think his strongest suit was acoustic finger picking, and a lot of his songs were based around this style. He was floored by Mason Williams’ Classical Gas when he heard it on the radio, and after figuring the song out, he went on to compose his own piece in the same style (I wish I had a recording of it). A finger picker, yes, but he also grew as an electric player and became proficient in the blues slide style.  In 1972 he became the fifth member of Bones (Same band, different name).  The Waitin’ Here album features some great guitar licks by both Greg and Pat.  The cut, Harmony, features the duo of Greg on acoustic, and Pat on electric slide backing Jimmy’s haunting lead. It is a beautiful example of Bones’ ballad sound. (Read more at the Bones Bio)

Patrick also played electric guitar on several tracks of the Faragher Brothers first album – the ‘Yellow Album’ This was a completely different style –  R&B and soul – but he’s right in the pocket, scratching out solid and exciting rhythm on tunes like Best Years of My Life.   (Read more at the Faragher Brothers Bio).

I deeply regret that after the mid Seventies we fell out of touch. One thinks – “Oh there’ll always be time to reconnect.” –  but time melts away. Thanks to his brother Michael we got in touch with each other about seven years ago and began corresponding via email.Patrick mailed me a CD of original songs. I loved it!  As a songwriter he still had the goods.  In 2008 the five of us Bones brothers were reunited for Greg’s wedding where we performed Harmony. Sadly, it was to be the last time we would all  be together.

He fought valiantly for years to beat the odds in his battle with cancer.  I believe he fought so hard because he loved life so dearly. It was inspiring to hear family and friends testify to his loving and unique character at the event celebrating his life. He was a wonderful brother, father, friend and colleague.  He possessed an artistic soul, a keen intellect, and a generous spirit. He was also a man of action, a man who loved biking, playing baseball and soccer, and traveling the world. In short, he was a renaissance man.

I look at a photo of Pat and  I see a person who engages the camera, just as he engaged the world – with confidence, energy, and curiosity. Someone who is comfortable in his own skin. Someone who is able to reconcile the yin and yang of being both a realist and an optimist.

I thank my lucky stars that he approached me that spring day so many years ago. He was a friend, band mate, and fellow activist. Oh how we sang the good song and fought the good fight.  We were young artists driven by the creative urge, and the world was our oyster.  How  I cherish those memories. How I will miss him. He was a brother, and I loved the man.


On the Waitin’ Here LP there is a song written and sung by Pat. It’s called More or Less. It has become my favorite cut from the record. The tune hearkens back to that Northern California sound of the mid to late sixties. It begins with a fingered guitar weaving a woodsy spell  followed by Greg’s mystical flute part answering the call before Patrick enters to sing the simple and direct words that say so much.

Love in life is all I want
Not a car or a restaurant
And so I love you more each day
You help me find my way

 The rain will fall upon the land
No matter where you chose to stand
The sun will come again one day
To help us find our way

And it’s more or less as it seems
The broken hearts and the hopeful dreams
My question is – Will our dreams come true?
Come true

 We are all stardust.




A Plunge into the System – Part 1

November 13, 2013 in Happenings, Thoughts, Uncategorized


It’s the fall of 1967. The ‘Summer of Love’ has come and gone.  Jimmy, Casey and Danny of the Peppermint Trolley Co. set out to recruit a new guitarist. A carefree act of celebration plops Danny and a buddy into hot water.  Strong bonds of friendship and a sense of humor helps to get the boys through the ordeal. 

Another Fine Mess

The mattress was thin. I could feel the cold cement floor beneath. I’d unrolled it a few minutes before, just prior to the lights going out. Now, in the dark I could hear the low muffled breathing and shuffling of forty other men – men I would be spending the night with behind bars. It was quiet, but it was not the silence of serenity, for everyone’s brain was probably humming like a high tension wire.  No, we were mum because one of the guard’s had yelled  “Lights out! And I don’t want to hear a fucking sound!”

I told myself, Hey, this is just an adventure into the unknown. Disassociate yourself from what’s happening, and you’ll be fine. You might even learn something. I tried looping a comforting melody in my mind.  It was no use.  I kept hearing the metal door being slid shut behind me, and the keys jangling as they turned the lock. I felt like a caged puppy. I longed to be in my girlfriend’s arms, and to feel her hand gently stroking my head.  As I lay there in agitation, my mind flew back over the chain of events of the last thirty hours. It had begun one hundred twenty-five miles north in Los Angeles.


In front of Buster. Redlands boys L.A. bound

In front of Buster. Redlands boys L.A. bound

Fade to Black

Jimmy, Casey and I sat watching the little rabbit-eared black and white television. Joe Pyne, a locally syndicated talk show host had brought one of San Francisco’s Diggers on his program as a guest. Angry, narrow minded, and right wing, Pyne was years ahead of his time. As usual, the host was acting the boorish bully, hurling epithets at his guest as the peanut gallery laughed and applauded each familiar insult. “Why don’t you take a bath, dirt head?!” Pyne asked. “Ah go gargle with razor blades!”

“How much would you pay to watch Joe Pyne and Al Capp run a three legged race together?” Jimmy deadpanned.

Capp, the cartoonist, once a liberal, had made a hard right turn, and was now a rabid conservative. He, like Pyne wore a wooden leg.

Casey and I cracked up. It was one of those off color, slightly shocking jokes my brother liked to throw out. One could not help but laugh, but always with a twinge of guilt at being complicit in its inappropriateness. Jimmy’s dark and caustic sense of humor was in sharp contrast to the idealism, and romanticism of his song lyrics.

We were a band. Jimmy played bass and sang lead, I handled keyboards, harmony and second lead, while Casey played drums. My brother and I had been in bands together for four years, and the three of us had been a unit for about eight months. Just recently, we’d added our buddy, Patrick, on guitar. We may have been green, but we possessed what few young groups ever acquired –  We had us a record deal.

We’d moved from sleepy Redlands, California, just a few short weeks before to try our luck in the big city. The Silver Lake rental house we lived in may have been a rat infested dump, but it was our rat infested dump, and we were excited about our new direction. Life, though, always seems to throw you a curve when you least expect it. Pat had come bearing bad news. Our spirits sank with the late afternoon sun, as he informed us that his girlfriend was pregnant, and that he was leaving the band to get married.

After he left, the three of us had sat there in the retreating light, feeling numb. Many minutes passed before one of us flipped on the lights to break the gloomy spell. We began to brainstorm, going through a list of possible replacements. No one available from back home was up to the standard required, and none of the musician’s we’d  met in the Hollywood recording scene seemed to fit. I dreaded the thought of auditioning strangers. Feeling exhausted, and needing diversion, we’d turned on the idiot box.

Without saying a word, Casey suddenly got up and turned off the TV. Joe Pyne’s angry face disappeared into a tiny white dot which soon faded to black.  Knowing he had our attention, he wiggled an index finger vertically and declared “I have the solution. We’ll recruit Greg.”

Greg was our dear friend from Redlands. He and Casey had played together in a Stones cover band in high school. A folkie, he was great at finger picking, and could sing harmony. Yes, I told myself. Greg just might work out. True, he hadn’t played much lead guitar, but, hell, he could pick it up. The problem was –  he’d just started the semester at San Diego State. He was living in the dorms for which his dad had probably had to shell out for.

Jimmy was quick to respond. “Hey, man, Greg’s in school. Why would he want to chuck everything and join us.!”

1968 Party at Benton Way

House warming party for the Silver Lake band house. August, ’67
Jimmy mugging in front. Patrick standing 2nd from right. Greg, 4th from right. Emily in straw hat.

“Hold on!” Casey replied with a calming downward motion of the palms. “I think we have an excellent shot, especially in light of what’s happened in his love life recently. You know Greg.  He’s capable of making sudden sharp turns.”

He was referring to the fact that Emily, the love of Greg’s life, had thrown him over for another guy just the week before. The word was he was heartbroken. After all… Emily, who was a student at UCSD in La Jolla, had been the reason Greg moved to San Diego. Casey was always analyzing, always strategizing, and always several steps ahead.

“Well, I guess it’s worth a try.” Jimmy said.  “Okay, let’s give him a call.”

“Absolutely not!” Casey shot back. “We’ve got to drive down there tomorrow and talk to him in person”

“I agree.” I added. “On the phone he could just say no, or tell us he’ll think about it, which would amount to the same thing.”

“That’s right! We need to do some friendly persuading. We’ve got to sell him on the idea.” Casey said.

Jimmy laughed – “Yea, anyone thinking clearly would have to say no.”

We all agreed on the plan.


A Breeze Down the Coast

In the morning I awoke to the delicious aroma of pancakes. I threw on some clothes and ran down the stairs. Stepping into the kitchen, I saw Casey pouring batter, and flipping cakes on the electric griddle.  Jimmy was brewing  a pot of cowboy coffee.

“Eat ‘em while they’re hot and hardy, boys, we’re taking a little drive” Casey declared.

The three of us descended the steep stairs, which were so typical of the Silver Lake neighborhood in which we lived, and jumped into Casey’s silver ’66 Chevy van, which we called ‘Buster’. Giving names to inanimate objects, be it a car or a coffeepot, served as a reminder  that life should be an adventure. Jimmy had called shotgun, so I sat on the engine cover between the two bucket seats. It was always a butt warming experience, but as it was late October, and the air was cool, it would be just fine. At the bottom of the hill we made a left on Sunset Boulevard, skirted around downtown and caught Interstate 5. Within minutes we were slicing southeast through Orange County, ground zero of the country’s conservative movement. We’d started with a full tank of gas, so there would be no need to leave the safety  and anonymity of the freeway, and risk our being hassled by overzealous cops.

“We should have an old ‘Reagan for Governor’ sticker we could put on and take off.” I said.

Suddenly, Jimmy cranked down the window, extended his right arm toward the windshield, and turning his face to the right with raised chin, began yelling… “Heil Reagan!”… “Heil Reagan!”

Casey and I joined in with gusto. “Heil Reagan!”… “Heil Reagan!”

South of Dana Point the highway drew closer to the ocean, hugging the coastline. I looked to the right. Beyond marshy wetlands, the blue Pacific came into view.  A brown pelican was scanning the sea. The sight took my breath away.

“There she is… Ah… Mother Ocean.” I said with a sigh.

“Yes, and Father Sky!” Jimmy joined in with a quasi reverent tone.

“Oh. Brother Mountain, Where art thou?” – Casey chanted.

“Shut up!” I shouted with a laugh.

Jimmy reached into his pocket, pulled out a joint, and lit up. He took a hit, and passed it to me. I partook and passed it on to Casey.

Releasing my breath, I said – “I hope Greg will be open to it.”

Jimmy and Casey both nodded in agreement.

It was unspoken, but I knew all three of us felt a bit manipulative. After all, we were carrying out an ambush, albeit a friendly one. Using the element of surprise and a spirit of camaraderie we intended to get him on our bandwagon.  A cynical observer might  look at the situation and say to Greg “They just want to get you down in the same hole that they’re in.” to quote Bob Dylan. Indeed, Greg would surely lose his student deferment from the draft like the three of us had. But look at the opportunity we were offering. It was chance to make records, to be creative, to live the life of an artist, outside the system. Hey, the four of us were all on the same wavelength!  We knew it, and soon he would, too.

Casey took a drag and turned his head our way. His face was framed by wiry black hair, and sunlight danced in his light blue eyes. “I just hope he doesn’t fall in love with someone else. Have you ever known Greg not to have a girlfriend?”

We pondered for a few moments until Jimmy broke the silence,

“Hey! Don’t Bogart that joint!”

“Whadya mean…‘Don’t Bogart that joint’?” Casey asked.

“Well, what do you mean…’Whadya mean… Don’t Bogart that joint!’?”

“Well, what do you mean…’Whadya mean, Whadya mean…Don’t Bogart that joint!’?”

They carried this out several more times, getting broader with each extended line. It was definitely pot humor, but I couldn’t stop laughing.

Jimmy and Casey

Jimmy and Casey


Selling the Idea

 We pulled into the Cal State San Diego campus, around 2:00 p.m , and soon located  his dorm room. We knocked on the door. No answer. A student in the hall said he thought Greg was in class, and would probably be back soon. We walked around, killing time until shortly after 3:00, when we spotted a dark haired figure coming down the walkway. It was Greg!  We hid behind some shrubs, and just before he reached the steps, Casey, donning crazy google-eyed glasses, popped out from behind, and tapped him on the shoulder.

“Pardon me, but could you kindly direct me to the R.O.T.C. headquarters?”

Greg turned. Caught by surprise, he shouted “Casey?!  Casey! What the hell are you doing here?”

I approached from the other side. “Have you heard the good news about the kingdom Christ has in store for you?”  I asked with the creepiest smile I could muster.

His brown eyes got bigger. “Danny!”

Jimmy appeared from behind a tree, showing an open wallet.  “F.B.I.! We’d like to have a few words with you, if we might.”

“Oh my God! Jimmy? You guys. I can’t believe you’re here.”

After he’d calmed down, we began to talk seriously. We gave him our spiel. Patrick had left the band. We needed someone to fill the slot, and he was the perfect fit. We were scheduled to begin recording in about ten days. The record company was excited and totally behind us. We had a great producer. We’d met  a community of creative people – singers, songwriters and musicians. It was an opportunity to make music and be free. The only caveat was that we needed to know right away.



“Take all the time you need.” I said. “Take  five minutes!”

Everyone laughed.

His mind in high gear, Greg suggested that we go for a drive, get away from the campus, and let the information sink in.

“I was planning on going over to Emily’s in La Jolla to hang out. Why don’t we go there?”

“Emily’s?” I said. I thought you two were…”

“Split up? Yea, we are,  but we’re still close. She’s the only real friend I have here. Man, you don’t know how lonely it gets in that dorm room.”

I realized I’d been harboring a slight resentment toward Emily. My instinct was to circle the wagons around a buddy. The split, however, seemed to be mutually accepted. If Greg was cool with it, then I’d sure better be.

We all hopped into Buster. Greg, receiving the V.I.P. treatment, rode shotgun. I retained my spot on the engine, while Jimmy lay down in the back.  We were off  to La Jolla.

Emily lived on the UC San Diego campus, sharing a dorm room with Betsy, another high school friend from Redlands.  Some curious co-eds eyeballed the four of us as we walked down the dormitory hall. We crowded into the room, feeling slightly awkward at bringing our male scruffiness into the clean and tidy feminine space. We greeted and hugged the girls.

Emily sat in front of her desk. With her short strawberry blond curls, blue eyes, and porcelain skin, she was as pretty as an old fashioned doll, but she could hold her intellectual ground with anyone. Betsy was kicking back on the bed. Her honey colored hair was cut in bangs that nearly reached her big brown eyes. She had a wicked sense of humor, and those eyes lit up as she joked about a horny professor.

“He’s definitely a ‘hands on’ kind of teacher.” She said, using air quotes. “He really ‘reaches out’ to his students, especially those wearing  skirts.”

We cracked up.

After some chit chat, Emily turned to Greg and asked, “Are you up for going for a swim at Black’s Beach?”

She explained that it was a great beach. The location also happened to be a notorious nude bathing spot. One had to descend a high bluff to access it, so it tended to be more private than most.  It was nearby, and lots of students went there to skinny dip, especially after dark.  It was a thrill just walking down the trail to get to it.

Greg turned to us and said,  “You guys want a little adventure?”

“Sure!” we said. “You only live twice.” Casey added.


Black’s Beach

 We followed the girls’ VW Bug the short distance to the sea,  and parked on a bluff.  Standing near the edge, I could see the waves rippling frothy white to the shore, and  hear the water hissing as it retreated  back to the sea.

Emily called out, “The trail ‘s over here. Watch your step!”

By now it was dark. It was a moonless night and the pathway was steep. I imagined that we were Eighteenth Century smugglers trying to evade and outwit the Red Coats. The trail twisted and turned, inevitably winding its way down to the beach.

I saw the figure of a man running into the surf.

 Who was game?

 The girls passed on taking a dip. I think they were put off by the fact that we were not alone. Casey, who, surprisingly, had a strong streak of modesty in him, declined, as well. Jimmy, who was always fighting a cough or cold,  thought it best to take a rain check. That left just two of us.

Greg turned to me, “I’m going in!” he said.

“So am I!” I replied. I was genuinely eager, but I also thought that the act might serve as a symbolic ritual to seal the deal.

In the dark, Greg and I shed our clothes, stashed them behind the railroad ties at the foot of  the bluff, and made a dash for the surf. The water was cold, and my breath quickened at the shock, but to my naked twenty-year-old body it felt all the more invigorating. There was always something restorative about jumping into the Pacific, something that brought clarity of thought, and moments of epiphany. The dark, moonless sky delivered an extra thrill to the game. I dug my toes into the sandy bottom. God, I felt free!

We dived beneath a wave, emerging to a surface that foamed, and shimmered in the starlight. We found ourselves next to the man we’d seen running into the water. He was extending his arms for balance, and keeping his head above the waves. Older, perhaps thirty-five, he was wearing wire rimmed glasses, and a cigarette dangled at the far corner of his mouth.  His few words of greeting told us he was British. His name was Paul. We made small talk as we caught our breaths.

Black's Beach

Black’s Beach

Suddenly, we saw two flashlights making their way along the beach to the right. We gasped. Oh God! It was the cops, and they were approaching our friends. The three of us got low in the water. Perhaps they’d ask a few questions and move on.

The minutes went by. Had they found our clothes? I began to shiver. I hugged myself  to get warm. Greg and I looked at each other. More time passed. Had they seen us? At one point the flashlights turned seaward, making a sweep over the waves. We ducked lower into the water. What the hell was happening? Had they found Jimmy’s stash? Were our friends being arrested? My instinct was to stay put, to wait it out, but my teeth were beginning to chatter. I turned to Greg.  In his eyes I could see the same deep fear that I was feeling. His lips were turning blue. All three of us were freezing. We were trapped, naked in the water with our backs to the sea, and nowhere to run.

Paul suggested that he go speak with them, adult to adult. Perhaps it would smooth the way for us to get out, and possibly get off with just a reprimand. Not knowing what else to do, and thinking that the cops had spotted us, and were just biding their time, Greg and I gave our nod to the idea.  Paul began wading to the shore.

Greg turned to me and whispered, “Danny, whatever happens, I’ve decided I’m coming with you guys. I’m going to join the band.”

The story continues on Part 2







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