In The Land of Free, we still keep on Rockin'

Plain and Fancy

"I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free"

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Six Feet Under - In Retrospect (1969-70 us, chilling, spooky garage psych)

As Bar Mitzvah presents, Jerry Dobb receives an Acetone electronic organ with Kalamazoo Amplifier and Scott Julian receives an Epiphone electric guitar and amp. The friends decide to form a band in the archetypal New York City suburb of Colonia, New Jersey. First band is named the Marc 5 (for no reason that I can now remember - no one named Marc in the band). The band consists of Jerry and Scott, Bob Briendel on bass (he had no idea how to play. Scott showed him where to put his fingers), Phil Mazuski on drums and the only real musician, Joe "Musky" Muscolino on saxophone. 

The band had a repertoire of about 10 songs, including "Summertime," "Tequila" and "The Batman Theme." Playing a private pool party and someone requested "Moon River." Musky knew it, so we faked it behind him. It was pretty awful, but the guests were too drunk to care and actually gave us an extra tip for playing it! The thirteen year olds in the band hook up with a seemingly much older, 17 year old singer named Pete (don't remember his last name) and change the name of the band to the Sonix. Pete is an R&B enthusiast and the song list changes to include "I Got You," "Mustang Sally" and other soul songs. Pete performs James Brown style with spins, splits and yelps. 

The hand uniform is pointy-toed black shoes, black pants, pink Italian high-roll collar shirts and burgundy button front sweaters. The band decides that they'd like to follow a more hip and hippy style of music. Pete departs and the group reforms as Six Feet Under. Phil is replaced by Ritchie on drums. Bob, who never really took to music, is replaced by Duanc Ulghcrait on bass. Joe leaves for an established soul band. A girl singer (name unknown) briefly comes and goes. Ritchie, while an excellent drummer, proves to be volatile and is replaced by Hector "Tico" Torres fromSayerville N.J. Where did the name Six Feet Under come from? Well after the Sonix, the hand wanted a new hipper name. 

The first thing decided was that the name shouldn't begin with "The." After some brainstorming, someone mentioned that the British band Ten Years After didn't start with "The" and was kind of cool. So we started coming up with phrases that fit that pattern; a number, a noun, and an adverb. We also wanted a name that was kind of dark and slightly threatening, like the Grateful Dead. Ultimately someone came up with Six Feet Under, and we immediately realized that it was the perfect moniker. Later, when Nannette joined the band the sound softened a bit, but the name stuck until the end.

When the dust settles it's Jerry on organ and vocals, Scott on guitar, Duane on bass and Tico on drums. Tico plays a drum set that belonged to his dad, circa the mid-1940s. The bass drum was oversized and the tom-toms were nailed onto the bass. A friend of Tico's paints a beautiful oil painting of a woman's head floating above a grave with ghostly hands reaching up, trying to retrieve it. This is cut out and inserted into the front of the bass drum. A simplified line drawing of the painting is used as a promotional hand-out.

The band plays at least one night most weekends and improves. Gigs include dances, Rutger's University fraternity parties, battle of the band competitions and local festivals in and around Northern New Jersey. The songs now include a lot of Doors material, Cream, Hendrix, and the signature song, a relatively faithful rendition of the complete "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." The First original songs appear, including "The Six Feet Under Theme" and "Karen." Around this time the opportunity to record appears.

Fifteen year old Nanette DeLaune joins the band as "chick singer" a la Grace Slick. Jay Crystal begins as drummer. While preparing to record the band continues to play gigs, many times two a weekend. The material now includes songs by the Jefferson Airplane, Rolling Stones, Santana, Ten Years After and Blind Faith. Show stoppers include a rousing version of "Soul Sacrifice" and a 15 minute set of songs from the Who's "Tommy." Original material is written by Jerry and practiced. 

The band records at the Scepter Studios. Jerry uses a Hammond B-3 with Leslie tone cabinet for the first time. "Inspiration In My Head" is "released." The band is angry because the extended instrumental break at the end of the song is edited out. Friends and relatives convince a local record shop to order the single and buy a few dozen copies. A local radio station plays it once on the air. The band listens in a car and can't believe that they're on the radio. Nothing else happens. The band goes back to the studio to record more songs. 

By late fall of 1970 the band decides to split up. Jerry, Scott and Duane head to college. Jerry assembles an ad-hoc band and records some solo songs. These are never released. Nanette does some further recording also, but nothing comes of it. Jerry studies filmmaking at college and ultimately becomes a corporate video manager. Scott ends up as a chef in a prestigious hotel. Duane becomes a candy salesman. Musky lands in Utah where he plays and books local bands. Don't know what became of Nanette, Jay, Bob, Phil, Ritchie, or Pete. But Hector "Tico" Torres, the guy who wasn't good enough to record, hooked up with a younger boy from Sayerville named Jon Bon Jovi and the rest, as they say...
by Jerry Dobb

1 Inspiration in My Head - 2:28
2 Freedom - 4:07
3 What Would You Do? - 3:43
4 Baby I Want to Love You - 8:08
5 In Retrospect - 4:04
6 Fields - 3:04
7 Running Around in the Sun - 3:28
8 Black Movies - 3:20
9 Six Feet Under Theme - 2:46
10 Suzy Q - 6:18
11 City Blues - 5:12
12 In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (D. Ingle) - 11:52
13 Basement Jam - 0:47
14 Sonix Commercial - 0:58
15 Inspiration in My Head - 2:51
16 Freedom - 4:30
17 What Would You Do? - 5:53
18 Fields - 3:05
19 Boogie Man Bash - 0:44

6 Feet Under
*Jay Crystal -  Drums
*Nanette DeLaune - Vocals
*Jerry Dobb - Keyboards, Vocals
*Scott Julian - Guitar
*Hector Torres - Drums
*Duane Ulgherait  - Bass
*Richie - Drums (only on track #9)

Free Text


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