I was born in LA and then moved to Morocco at the age of 2. We lived there until I was 10 years old and thus learned to speak French fluently along the way. We then moved to Dickinson, North Dakota just as a culture shock treatment… never having laid eyes on mayonnaise or peanut butter or super markets or snow! I learned to sled ride, learned to speak English (just in case I needed to talk to someone), learned to freeze to death and learned to sing “Our Father” from the TV (TV shut down at midnight back in the day and the song they used to close the programming was “The Lords Prayer”). So after about a year of total culture shock AGAIN… we moved to Albany (New York), Syracuse (New York), Kingston (New York) and then ended up in Washington, DC in ’63. 1963… that was the year Kennedy was shot and we went to the funeral, of course, because it was in DC.
After all that we moved to Madrid, Spain where I learned to speak Spanish fluently and also what girls were all about! I had my first group called ‘The Beautiful Beasts’ and we played all The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Kinks songs (‘Day Tripper’, ‘Satisfaction’, ‘You Really Got Me’ etc). I was the drummer and the singer at the ripe old age of 14, 15 and 16 or thereabouts. We then moved back to the USA to North Hollywood, California… better known as Los Angeles. BUT North Hollywood for short where I went to North Hollywood High School.
During those hippy years and days me and Cary Vignal (who I’m still hoping to find one day if he’s not dead yet) would travel up and down the coast to San Francisco while the radio played “if you’re going to San Francisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…”. I remember on one trip we got arrested for being away from home under the age of 18 without written consent of a parent… but really it was because we had spent the night on the beach with the Sherriff’s daughter unbeknownst to us! Fortunately, it was all still pretty innocent back then and she escaped none the worse for the wear; in other words we didn’t do anything bad, we were just kids having fun and loving life. Oh, I forgot to mention my very first traumatic experience. (Sonya’s note: This is very sad.) When I was around 8 years old and still living in Morocco, our parents bought me and my brother a donkey. We called him Pepino and he was a very young, beautiful, full-of-life donkey, which we tied up in the garage so he would not escape and hurt himself. Unfortunately, the way we tied him up, which was around the neck and to an overhead beam in the ceiling, led to his demise. He spun around too many times and the rope tightened around his neck and he hung himself. We never got over it. To this day we are sad about our beloved donkey and that we never got to play or ride around on him.
Anyway, back to… up and down the California coast in the heyday of the hippies and then not long after that is when I decided to go to the coast of Spain, La Costa Del Sol, where I ran into Richard Rottersly and a bunch of other London cool cats who invited me to London to form a group. So, yeah, I went and ended up on the streets of London, most of the time trying to stay alive while singing ‘The Times They Are A Changin’ (and all the other Dylan and Donavan songs I knew) at 6AM rush hour subway traffic. The cool thing about the London subways is the walls are marble and create the perfect reverb for singing so by 9AM my hat was full of change and I was ready to meet the day by going to the corner shop and buying sausage and mash or whatever other breakfast food I could find or just eating out at a restaurant. After all I could easily afford it; I’d made about 30 or 40 pounds in about 3 hours and back in ’69 that was a lot of money! I mostly worked Piccadilly Circus with bongos and some freaky lookin’ red headed guy dancing around making a total ass of himself but the tourist loved it and filled our blanket full of $$$$. Then we’d scurry off to the subway and hang with all the heroin addicts. That was the first time I’d ever seen a junkie… they are a sight… what a mess… but we were too young to care or judge or hate so we all hung around like one big happy family.
I worked next to the very best buskers in London, at all the top spots, and I distinctly remember I lived in Chelsea in a flat with a few other artist types and the most memorable of all was the English girl. She was so… read more