The Third Day 1st Ten Pages

Vlad was lying in the rubble of a bombed out building amid the chunks of concrete and twisted steel. The buildings look like tattered paper, their facades ripped off and their interiors exposed, furniture still inside and the rooms look strangely like doll houses, blocks of concrete with steel sticking out of them twisted into abstract sculptures of war. Bricks and concrete pour into the streets like frozen streams. All shades of gray, black and whites, war bleeds the color out of life.

Vlad wasn’t trying to blend into the rubble so much as to become part of the rubble. His rifle jutted out in front of him looking like nothing more than an errant piece of pipe. His face was caked in dust, his lips were parched and cracked “Pfft”. He spat out some concrete dust as soundlessly as he could. He lowered his head back to the sights of his rifle. If someone spotted him up here they’d send a patrol to flush him out. He had a vision of an armed militia bursting through the door to the roof, machine guns blazing as Vlad scrambled across the rubble like a wounded spider trying to get away until his body gave out to the invasion of the bullets, and fall dead. The crimson of his blood pooling on the gray-white powdered plaster before soaking in, and absorbed away until it became nothing more than a dark blotch, part of the lifeless color of war. Even worse, he could imagine all someone on the street below had to do was simply aim and fire a rocket launcher toppling what was left of the ravaged building. These scenes played over and over again in his movie mind.

The sky was starting to lighten to a robin‘s eggshell blue, he could hear the twitterings of the first birds of morning, the sound of the birds, the last remnant of when life had been normal. Sarajevo is a beautiful ancient city of traditions, culture and history. It looks like any other European city. A Platz at the city’s center, ancient architecture, balconies lined with plants, the streets, empty at this time of day. Along with that history came rivalries that were long submerged and simmered for generations, and when the lid was thrown off, war came. Vlad saw a mangy looking dog sauntering down the street, stopping occasionally to forage in the rubble, suddenly the peaceful morning is shattered by the first gunfire of the day, the dog’s head snaps up looking in the direction of the gunfire, his ears perked up, at the sound of the next volley of gunfire the dog scampers off.
“Even a dog has sense enough to avoid war.” Vlad thought to himself.
No more of the birds would be heard either that day Vlad knew, leaving not silence, but an eerie emptiness.

This was the third morning he was lying in wait. The third morning without sleep. The third morning without eating. The third morning without a cigarette. The third morning without his wife, his daughter. And the third morning of going over the events that brought him here to kill his best friend, his life had become an act of remembering.

The last argument I had with my wife before I left, we were in our kitchen trying to keep our voices down so our daughter wouldn’t hear us fighting. My wife Kaja, the war and its deprivations had scrubbed her face of make-up down to its sheer beauty, her blond hair cut short, her clothes, once fashionable were worn but assembled for as much style as possible, she looked haggard, but her eyes shone with life and love, her smile brightened my world and my life. She was still beautiful the war hadn’t been able to take that away.
“Why does it have to be you Vlad?” She demanded.
“Because no one else can, no one else knows him like I do. Maybe I’ve been stalking Janus all my life, or maybe providence put me here to study him, someone to know his habits, traits, idiosyncrasies, to be the balance to his counter balance.” What I had said was true, and with each passing day it became more and more true, it seemed I was put next to Janus for a reason. Even from the beginning we were destined to be friends or rivals, we were a little bit of both.

I was thirteen when me and the other members of the national shooting team first heard of Janus. It was a time of great hope in our lives we were training for the Yugoslavian national shooting team. I had been recruited because I was thought to have been one of the best shots in Yugoslavia, but so had the other members the team, it was a great honor for us to be chosen. I was elected captain of the team because I was the best shot on the team, maybe in all of Yugoslavia. We had heard rumors of Janus before we ever met him. He was rumored to be the best shot in his province, and that he never missed.

One day shortly after that, we were out in the woods, our training field carved out of the forest, we were surrounded by lush, verdant trees. We were practicing on the firing line with our targets at the end of a rope and pulley system to deploy and retrieve the human shaped targets from the far end. We were all dressed in the team uniform, navy blue sweat pants with a white polo type shirt with the National emblem over our hearts. We were all shooting as one of the coaches walked down the line.
“Krystof!” He barked at one of my teammates, “aim at what you’re shooting at, don’t point the rifle and hope for the best!” We were of course the best shots in Yugoslavia, so we knew enough this was just a coaching tactic to motivate us. The coaches were all of the same mold, barrel-chested bullies, aggressive and belligerent, some ancient idea it would make men out of us. They acted as if they were drill sergeants and we their recruits. They thought they would tear us down and rebuild us in their image, they parsed out their praise for only what they couldn’t refute, excellence. It was our talent that made us rebels, we mocked and mimicked the coaches when none were around.
“Tomko! You’re not holding your breath as you squeeze the trigger, don’t jerk it!” and as he walked farther down the line I could hear him getting closer, “Ranko! Concentrate on what you’re doing! You can’t bully the bullet into the bullseye!” The coach got to the end of the firing line where I was just as I had finished my shooting and had retrieved my target. He grabbed it from me as I took it off the line and held it up as he looked it over. I could see the light shining through the holes, it was almost perfect only one errant hole outside of the bullseye.
“Vlad! Your shooting is exemplary!” I remember the coach in his overblown tones, “the head coach is right, someday you’ll lead this team to Olympic gold medals. Boy’s come look!” My teammates gathered round and all admired my shooting. It was then the head coach brought Janus out to the practice field.
“Boys! Boys! Settle down,” he said, “I want you to meet the newest member of our team, Janus. Janus is a remarkable marksman and I’m sure will be a leader in our goal to win at the ‘76 Olympics. Vlad as team captain you will make sure Janus is welcomed and acclimated to our team.”
“Yes sir.” The coaches stepped back and there was an awkward moment, he was dressed in a black leather jacket and a white button down shirt with far too wide of a collar, the fashion at the time. In the future the brilliant white shirt and black leather jacket would be a trademark of his, he was already developing his style. Janus saw my practice target.
“Not bad,” he said, looking at the target, “I bet I can shoot better than that.” Ranko being a friend and faithful to the team said, “Vlad is the captain of the team, and the best shot.”
“Are you the captain because you’re the best shot?”
“The team voted me captain.”
“Then it is an honorary title?”
“Let’s see what you can do.” I said, handing him my rifle. As I sent the target down to the far end of the firing line he said, “Your sights are a bit off but I think I can compensate for it.” Then Janus shot and when he pulled back his target, the bull’s eye was in shreds, five shots through the bull’s eye, it was clean; NO other holes.
“You always shoot like that?”
“Always.” There was another awkward silence then he said, “Let’s shoot again!” Because we had nothing else in common we shot, that was how it always ended. I shot well, Janus shot better, perfect.
The light was getting brighter in the morning sky, the sky was a now a robin’s eggshell blue. Soon the hunger would return, but he also knew the hunger would go away. Of more concern was the craving for a cigarette. He hadn’t had one in almost three days now. He hoped today would be the day Janus would return to his sniper’s lair. Vlad didn’t know how much longer he could hold out against the cravings, the elements, the boredom.

Vlad raised his head just enough to see a larger view of his surroundings. His city used to be so beautiful, the birds landing on the streets to pick at some errant morsel of food, the plants that lined the balconies, the architecture of ancient buildings. Now…all smashed, rubble pouring into the streets like a waterfall. Buildings methodically bombed by artillery, then ransacked by militia and burned, left for ruins and sniper’s nests. He hoped Janus hadn’t detected his stalking and changed positions, or he wasn’t now in Janus’ cross hairs at this moment. Vlad lowered his head back down to the sights.

With Janus on the team we became unbeatable, Janus lead us in victory. As the best marksmen on the team we were destined to either be friends or rivals, maybe we became a little too much of both. The memories were like snapshots in his mind that he liked to take out, look at, and remember those times.

One summer I had broken my leg I was laid up in the hospital my leg up in a sling. One afternoon Janus came in carrying a bunch of magazines.
“What happened there, tiger?” He asked, knowing fully how I’d broken my leg.
“What’re you doing here?”
“Visiting a fallen comrade.”
“What about the others? Are they here?”
“No, the coaches wouldn’t let them come, they’re making them practice.”
“Why aren’t you there?”
“I don’t need the practice as much as they do.” And he smiled slyly, I couldn’t tell if the coaches let him come or if he had snuck away.
“We may go back to find them better shots than us.”
“We won’t be gone that long. So, what’re you doing here?”
“Oh, remember when you’re a kid and some kids come back from vacation with casts on, and everybody gathers around signing the cast, I was always jealous and hoped I’d break something so everybody would gather round me and sign my cast.”
“I just thought it was time to join them.”
“Looks like you did it a little too well, it‘s laid you up and I‘m the only one here. Is it everything you thought it would be?”
“No, it hurts, I’d trade places back in a minute.”
“Well, you’re lucky you didn’t break an arm or the coaches would be having fits and you’d be off the team.”
“Then you’d have no competition for the number one position.”
“Ahhh, that’s not much of a worry anyway!”
“It isn’t, is it?” I threw one of my pillows at him, and he grabbed it and tossed it back, just goofing around for a minute before I noticed the magazines he’d brought with him. “Are those my computer magazines?”
“Look in the middle, I smuggled you in a Playboy.”
“How’d you get it?” I asked, amazed at such a prize.
“The old man’s a bureaucrat, they get everything, even decadent capitalist literature, so I liberated it from the state for you. So, where’s that pen? I want to be the first to sign that cast.

Over the years we had become best friends vacationing with each others’ families. One summer I went to Janus’ family cabin in the woods. It was a typical wooden hunting lodge, wicker furniture, rustic furnishings, hunting trophy’s on the walls, a fancy wood cabinet filled with rifles, and stairs that went to the upstairs bedrooms, the railings made of tree branches or made to look like them, a big living room table and big overstuffed leather coaches around a sunken living room near the fireplace. Janus’ parent’s were well off.

Janus’ father was older in his late 50’s or early 60’s with gray hair, a neatly trimmed mustache. It was made clear that dinner would be formal, a jacket and tie. When I came downstairs Janus’ father was sitting stiffly at the head of the table, which was set with a white tablecloth, china, crystal goblets. Janus came downstairs wearing his usual white shirt and leather jacket.
“Janus, go back upstairs and into the proper attire for dinner,” his father said, sternly.
“But this is going to be my trademark, so people will remember me after I’m dead.”
“It’s easy to die when you’re young and immortal,” Janus’ father grumbled, “people will remember you for your deeds not your clothes. And as for dying that’s not going to happen any time soon, is it?”
“Probably not.”
“Very good, since we’re in agreement that when you’re at the dinner table you will wear a proper coat and tie like you’re friend here, Mr. Smirtonev knows how to dress for dinner. Please go change.” Janus went back upstairs to change. Janus’ father smiled weakly at me, he seemed embarrassed, “so, Mr. Smirtonev, how do you like being the captain of the shooting team?”
“It is a great honor the others have bestowed upon me.” Which was the stiff formal answer the coaches demanded if I was ever asked the question.
“Good answer, that attitude will take you far in life.” There was an awkward silence both the old man and me didn’t know what else to say, the shooting team was the extent of what we had in common. Janus came back downstairs dressed as his father had decreed, and took his place at the table.
“There that wasn’t so bad was it? Why do we have to go through this every time Janus?” It was a rhetorical question, Janus sat there glumly, his father raised his glass in a toast, Vlad and Janus followed suit, “To my son, the only pleasure he has brought me in life is when he made the Yugoslavian National shooting team.”

Hour Glass Meeting Duane and Greg Allman


Greg Allman died yesterday (May 27, 2017) at age 69 from complications of liver cancer. John Morton met Duane and Greg Allman when they were still Hour Glass and playing the same clubs in L.A. as Hunger!

Hearing of Greg Allman’s death John Morton had this to say. “It’s sad to hear about Gregg Allman passing. A fellow compadre I would have loved to have seen him before he died. I’m lucky to have had the honor to play with him. I remember the first time I saw him singing in The Hourglass. He was doing their rendition of “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles. This gutsy, soulful voice with southern comfort charm. I’ll never forget how cool he was, long blonde hair playing a big hammond organ. I could see back then he was destined for rock and roll greatness. To see both him and Duane Allman playing up close was a sight to see. I know it sounds over the top but these memories come flooding in like it was yesterday seeing him perform. He really lived longer than anyone expected. He dealt with his demons, drugs, alcohol, wild women and partying. He had a liver transplant and contracted hepatitis c early in his career from sharing needles. And he payed for it in the end suffering with ill health. He said that music was the one thing that kept him alive. When he became too sick to perform he had no reason to hang on. Great epitaph for his final song. I feel like now there’s just fewer and fewer of us left to tell our story.”

Hour Glass which was the predecessor band to the Allman Brothers Band played at The Cheetah, we had played with them at a lot of other gigs. One night Duane Allman and I were standing around backstage waiting to go on and we started talking as the next act was getting ready to go on. A young guy went onstage with a Spanish guitar, wearing sunglasses. Duane and I looked at each other baffled.
“This guy thinks he’s Ray Charles,” I said. Duane looked at me and said sarcastically, “I bet he’s good!” We grinned at each other as the announcer said,
“I met this kid at a music store and his teacher said he was his best student and he played a few bars of a flamenco tune and I was blown away! See what you think. Oh and he can sing too! This my friends is Jose Feliciano!” Feliciano broke into Malagueña and then did a rousing acoustic version of “Light my Fire.” Whatever fears he may have had being on stage with some of the best psychedelic rock bands just melted away. He was a one man show and he had the crowd yelling and cheering for more. He was the best received act that night. The announcer stepped up to the mic and said, “what more can I say but this is his first performance and definitely not his last. This kid’s going someplace!” Duane looked at me and said, “Man, the proof’s in the putting!”

Duane had heard Hunger! play at other shows and it turned out he dug our sound especially on our opening with “She’s Not There.” We both agreed covers weren’t the way to go to become known. The Hour Glass was covering “Eleanor Rigby” which in my opinion was really shaping them into becoming The Allman Brothers Band. Although Gregg Allman was trying to sound like James Brown and the band sounded a little like Motown. It didn’t fit their image of long hair southern boys. This gutsy, soulful voice with southern comfort charm. I’ll never forget how cool he was, long blonde hair playing a big Hammond organ. I could see back then he was destined for rock and roll greatness. To see both him and Duane Allman playing up close was a sight to see. They hadn’t even scraped the surface of what they would become, a powerful, long twenty minute lead, jam band in which they personified the new southern rock sound.

I had a lot in common with Duane, two guys writing music trying to come up with an original sound. He played slide guitar like no one I had ever seen. I had no idea he’d become a legend in his own right. He loved playing. Music was a vast universe to him. We’d discuss and compare ideas. He liked the idea of throwing a touch of jazz into a song and dug melody lines and taking two guitars playing them off of each other like we did in Hunger! His main thing was getting his slide guitar to sing like a human voice. He said that’s what made the music come alive, and he hadn’t even played on “Layla” yet with it’s searingly beautiful slide guitar lead. Duane was actually shy, but man could he play the blues. He was showing me stuff backstage on his slide, stuff with just his Les Paul unplugged that blew me away.
“Man you’re great,” I said, “that’s phenomenal playing. You oughta incorporate that into your sound!”
“Where do you think I can take this?” He asked.
“As far as you want man! That’s definitely your own style.” From that moment on we began a great friendship even though it was short lived. I’d like to think I had a part in his decision to go to slide but the truth is it was already in his blood being from Florida and the South. A love for music was something that we both had in common. He was an inspiration to me and vice versa. I showed him my style and he showed me licks. I couldn’t play half the licks he knew, but we both had a love for what would become jazz rock. He liked syncopated rhythm and jazz chording that I was incorporating into one of our new songs “The Truth,” which Mike Lane had written. Duane asked me if he could borrow that rhythm and I said, “I don’t own it. It’s been played in jazz for years!” It was in 5/4 time with Am-Am 6th-A minor 7th in a chucka-chucka style. That eventually became the rhythm in the double lead solo on their song “Whipping Post” which became one of the Allman Brothers greatest songs. Whenever I hear that song it always takes me back to Duane and I just sharing musical ideas. Our friendship grew and whenever I saw him we’d be like old friends ready to tell each other our latest adventures. It was cool playing on the same stage together. They were rising in popularity and so were we. They spent almost as much time playing late nights at The Whisky as Hunger! did, honing their craft.

The last time I saw Duane Allman was when I returned to L.A. and living in the valley in the apartments. It was a surprise visit and I was shocked how he found me. I guess he just asked around, probably at The Whisky. We both played there a lot doing after hour gigs. Duane had found success with his new band The Allman Brothers. He introduced me to his new guitar player Dickie Betts. As I remember both of them were dressed Southern style, cowboy boots, hip hugger pants, fancy belts, his hair in a pony-tail, and Duane had his Southern drawl back. I was wearing sandals and shorts, Duane said he’d never get away wearing that in public but he envied me, “fame has a way of dictating your life but it’s worth it when you step on stage and deliver your best to an enthusiastic crowd. We got a new sound–people are calling it Southern Rock. So, how you all been John? Man it’s been a spell since I seen ya.”
“Man, we had some bad luck happen to the band,” then I went into the whole story about leaving and being involved with the mob.
“Shit, that’s a bummer, any way I can help ya, let me know. I’m here in town to pick up some stuff I got in storage mainly my guitars then Dickie and I are headed back to Florida. We’re picking up a great following. People really dig us in the South. We’re doing some gigs here and at The Avalon in San Francisco. Greg tried a solo act but he’s back with us now and we’re doing a lot of original songs more into the blues.” It was great to see he finally found success. I thought in my mind Hunger! would make it too, get new equipment and be back on stage. With a new album coming out and a strong following it would be our ticket to fame. I said to Duane, “yeah we had some set backs but I’m sure we’ll be gigging soon. Good chance we’ll be doing some gigs together.”
“Great man! Love to see you out on the road with us. Well you all keep in touch. You can reach me through my number.” He wrote it down and gave it to me but I knew how musicians were. By the time I called him back the phone number had been disconnected and there was no forwarding number. Aw yes, a fleeting moment in time. “Take care man. We’ll all see you soon.” I gave him a big brotherly hug, shook Dickie Betts hand and wished them well with a peace sign. We both smiled and I never saw them again.

Duane died October 29, 1971 in a motorcycle accident, I still can’t believe he was killed on a motorcycle. He never seemed to me like the guy that took chances.


This excerpt is from the forthcoming book “Strictly From Hunger!: A Rock and Roll Memoir” due out late in 2017 or early 2018. You can find other excerpts in this blog. If you would like to follow the progress of the book, you can on Facebook at Strictly From Hunger! or follow on Twitter @strictlyhunger.

Bumping into Jimi Hendrix


One of the differences in recording “No Shame” was that we recorded it in different sessions. Steve Hansen and I were going into the studio to record our parts for Mark Landon, we were walking down the hall when I bumped into this person carrying a guitar case, I said, “sorry man,” then I looked up and saw who I had bumped into. I had literally bumped into Jimi Hendrix. He was, gun slinging his Strat, wearing black leather pants, a black conquistador hat, Indian silver belt and rattlesnake jacket. I recognized him immediately. He was small in stature (but my being six foot five always put me a head above the crowd), he had his familiar afro hairstyle. We started talking, I explained that I played lead guitar for Hunger! I asked him why he burned his guitar on stage. He told me it was all about the current climate of the world with war. It was an expression of sacrifice in a small way that he could reach a mass audience. Like the burning Buddhist priest, the ultimate sacrifice to immolate himself. As far as I’m concerned the legend is for both the man and the myth. He may have been small in stature but he was a ten foot Buddha in how he projected himself, and he was very serious about peace and love throughout the world. He invited us in to watch him record, he was recording stereo versions of “Crosstown Traffic” and “Fire” both of which had been previously recorded for British release but in mono. He wanted stereo versions for the U.S. release of those songs, and he played the hell out of his guitar. Watching Jimi Hendrix play in the studio was magic. It was like the guitar was part of his body. It was just mesmerizing. There were sounds coming out the instrument that I had never heard before or since, he created a landscape that transported me someplace else. It wasn’t what he played, it was how he played. He was high on the music. In my opinion there’s no one that can come close to the power he possessed. I was just jaw dropped awe struck. That’s the closest I can come to explaining in words. He just wasn’t of this world. He had a presence about him like no one I’d ever known.

When he had finished doing the final mix on the songs I asked Jimi about his trademark upside down Stratocaster. He saw my Swept-Wing guitar and said, “you keep going man your going to be known for that Swept-Wing like I am with the Stratocaster. That body is something else! Where did you get it?” I told him the story of how I got the guitar. Jimi said he wouldn’t mind having one for his collection. He was pretty much locked in with Fender especially with his own sound. You know the really cool thing we were always playing the same venues but never at the same time. I still wonder to this day how great that would have been to be on the same stage with Jimi Hendrix, but back then I wasn’t aware of the legend he’d become. I just knew him as the guy who had a big hit with ‘Foxy Lady’. It wasn’t that uncommon to be associated with great musicians and artists on a daily basis. When he was done he said. “hey man, you want to use my amp? I’m done with my session, and it‘s all set-up.” That brought me back to the present like a deer in the headlights. I looked at him and said, “wow! Really? Sure man!” He smiled, walked out the session, put on his black rimmed hat and rattle snake jacket. Then put his Strat in his case and walked out like a gunslinger from Tombstone who had out gunned you and shot you between the eyes. Now that was a moment I’ll never forget!

I plugged straight into his Marshall amp with Arbitron fuzz and Octavia. I had no idea what an Octavia, Arbitraton fuzz and Vox wah-wah pedal were and was actually wary of messing with his personal setup and didn’t use his effects. I had never used effects so I ran straight thru the amp. It was sweet. I thought, ‘how can Jimi get such a controlled sound like that on stage?’ I recorded my part of “No Shame” with Jimi’s Marshall amp and at a lowered treble tone it had a punch and tone I couldn’t begin to achieve with my amp. It gave my Swept-Wing guitar this rich, full sound like I never heard before. I was super pleased with how my opening lead turned out, it had the punch and presence the song needed.

This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book “Strictly From Hunger: A Rock and Roll Memoir” by John Morton. The book is expected to be published in October 2017. For more information and to get updates on the publication visit and “like” the Strictly From Hunger! Facebook page.

John Morton & His Swept Wing Guitar


We were walking a thin line between ruin and success, fame and obscurity, and any one little factor could tip the balance either way. It was good fortune that Stan was able to get us an apartment right behind the Whisky, and being able to keep our equipment in the van at the gas station on the corner, except that my guitar and amp were stolen from the van. We had parked the van in the gas station and of course locked it up, but shortly after we started keeping the van there someone must have noticed or whatever because the van was broken into. They broke the back window of the van and were able to get out my guitar and Fender amp. They would have gotten more but luckily the attendant noticed something going on and when he back to investigate all he saw was a couple guys jump in a car and peel out.

We were playing lots of gigs so I needed a new guitar and amp right away. Stan took me to Hollywood Music and I picked out a tall Standell amp and I tried it out with Gibson and Fender guitar but they didn’t stand out with that big amp. There was also the fact that I had to pay Stan back with my gig money. Stan had a lot of connections and knew that Joe Hall of Hallmark guitars wanted to promote their guitars for endorsements to get their guitars known, and was giving away his guitar to known artists and up and coming bands to get that exposure. Stan did some calling around that night and within a day or two brought me a brand new blue Swept-Wing guitar with a black hard shell case. It was a unique design like nothing I’d ever seen before. It had a thin, long neck I could easily wrap my fingers around, a chrome whammy bar, brown tortoise shell pick-ups, a three way switch, a large white pick-guard and a futuristic body design that looked like a bird’s swept wing. This guitar was one of a kind. The first time I plugged in the Swept-Wing I knew I had my signature sound for Hunger! The design was so unique that every place I played fans wanted to know if the guitar was designed specifically for me. Stan said it was one of the first fifty made and Robby Krieger had one. How cool was that.

I later met Joe when Hunger! played in Bakersfield, California around March of 1968, it was a strange gig. We didn’t know how we were going to be received, and our first set was unremarkably. In between sets Joe Hall came backstage and introduced himself, he said, “maybe we can get the Swept-Wing off the ground and get people interested.”
“I’ll do my best Joe,” I said.

Before we started the second set Joe came onstage and announced to the crowd, “that tall guy there playing my Swept-Wing guitar is a friend of mine, give him a warm welcome!” That really broke the ice with the crowd, somebody yelled out, “Hey! You guys know any surf music?” I said, “sure do!” I cranked up the reverb and whammy barred all our Hunger! songs. Mike Parkison whirled that Leslie on his big Hammond organ and that night we were rocking. Hunger! became a psychedelic surf band. Joe Hall winked at me and gave a big okay sign.

It’s too bad the Swept-Wing never got the recognition it deserved back in the ‘60’s. Most guitarists never played any gigs with them because it was too radical of a design. I later learned that I was the only known artist to play the Swept-Wing onstage in the 60’s.

This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book “Strictly From Hunger: A Rock and Roll Memoir” by John Morton. The book is expected to be published in October 2017. For more information and to get updates on the publication visit and “like” the Strictly From Hunger! Facebook page.


Chapter 2: Looks Like Paradise to Me!

This is the chapter 2 of the work in progress “Strictly From Hunger: A Rock and Roll Memoir” by John Morton and me. We will soon have an update on the status of the book and some details about a forthcoming publication (if I haven’t said too much already).


Chapter 2:

All I remember about the drive to California is that it was long, hot and cramped. Only two of us could ride in the cab of the truck at a time while the rest of us had to ride in the back. We slept on the amps to keep them from shifting and because there wasn‘t any other place to sleep. Driving through Bakersfield it was so hot we propped open the van’s sliding door side panel with a mike stand so we wouldn’t pass out from the heat. As we rounded the sharp curves, the equipment shifted and I thought we were going to be crushed or we’d lose the equipment out the open door.

We made it to L.A. in one piece, equipment included. It was so hot and smoggy, the air was so thick you could choke on it. I had a headache for two weeks. I smoked a lot of weed back then and it helped me forget about the headaches. The place the girls had rented was in the North Hollywood Hills. When we all piled out of the van we looked like bums off the street, we were hot, sweaty, dusty and tired, and still had to unload the truck. The house was like Shangri-La, it was a beautiful place sitting on a hilltop overlooking the city. It had a veranda on the top section, downstairs it opened up to a patio with goldfish and exotic flowers. It was a very inspiring scene and it’s where I would eventually come up with our new sound. The girls showed up later in their air conditioned blue Mustang with their dogs. They were all dolled up, make-up and hair all in place. While we unloaded the truck they sat on the porch watching us while they smoked cigarettes. When we finished they said, “it’s about time!”

We quickly fell into a pattern. During the day it was really quiet, we usually all slept until noon. When we got up the girls would fix us breakfast, for dinner we’d get take out before they went to work, or some times we’d fix them a nice dinner with wine. We would practice at night, while Cookie and Lori were at work. The owner of the house had said ‘no parties’. Later they would bring their girlfriends home after work so there were girls, girls, girls, and we’d get high. We were PARTYING the whole time we were there. It was pretty ideal.

I quickly discovered the Sunset Strip. It was a wild and fascinating place, especially in the evenings. It was the main artery for what was happening styles and trends. I started hanging out on the strip mostly by accident, but over time I was hooked. I liked the idea of being an observer. There were executives going to their businesses, celebrities coming and going, actors in limousines, California girls in their convertibles, henchmen carrying guns, flower children in Beetles and vans, famous people incognito, stars that had lost their minds on fame, federal agents trying to control communism, hippies selling drugs and having a good time, and self-proclaimed messiahs carrying signs “Repent You Sinners.” To me Sunset was more a statement than a place. If you drove or walked down the street you were instantly famous because history was unfolding and everyone wanted to be part of such a groovy scene. Being over six feet tall it was hard to be inconspicuous, but I fit in because I looked the part. I had long hair, head band, torn jeans and a moustache.
Because of our practicing, we started drawing the attention of neighbors who began dropping by to see what was going on. Some of the first to stop by were Jamie and Miel, they smoked a lot of pot and told us they were clairvoyants. They told us there was a ghost inhabiting our house. One of the previous owners, Angela, who was a beautiful woman had died in the house. They talked us into having a séance and told us the ghost would present itself to the most psychic one of us in the house. Jamie and Miel made a pretty dramatic presentation out of it, they were calling in the spirits waving incense around the room and chanting in unison. It seemed natural to me because of my Hawaiian upbringing, When I was very young my father taught me about Huna which means — that which is hidden and that which is known. It was all about calling in spirit, ancestors, one’s that you love and healing! Actually in ancient times it was only known by the shamans and high priests. Hawaiians called them Kahunas. They practiced calling in good spirits and bad. What was ever needed for the tribes either to win wars or live in peace so through ignorance it was passed down as black magic and evil to modern times. My father taught me the good side of Huna so when the seances we’re going on I felt comfortable with it but the rest of the guys were caught up in a trance like state like something from a Hollywood movie. Then Miel said the portal was now open and we began to use the Ouija board asking to connect to the spirit. Pretty heavy stuff. The candles flickered and I saw this image of a beautiful woman dressed in white lace attire and a long royal blue silk dress. Miel looked at me and said, “you have been chosen.” I realized then what a clairvoyant was, I was tapped into the psychic phenomena. The guys thought it was fake and I was in on it. They had never had anything like that happen to them before. I was the only one who had seen Angela and I understood their disbelief. “I guess since John said he saw the ghost, I’ll go with his story” Tom said and the rest of the guys went along with it. Hey, it was Hollywood and anything could happen and we were open to new experiences. Tom lit up a joint and passed it around. The séance was over. After that, while we lived in the house, things continually moved around and were mysteriously misplaced. I even had a dream of a locket from the early 1900’s that I later found. I gave it to a dancer for good luck. We started referring to ourselves as Angela’s people as an inside joke.

There is a moment in a band when everything solidifies, gels, and you realize you are a unit, it’s a moment that binds you as a band, a band of brothers. The séance was that for us. It builds over time when you’ve been playing together for four or five years. You become pretty identifiable to each other. If one of you fuck up it affects each person. You want good things to happen and when it does it’s icing on the cake. There’s an electricity you experience on stage like you’re taken to another level and everything flows and the crowd is really into what your doing. There’s nothing like it. That’s why so many musicians are obsessed with their music. You just can’t get enough and if you’re young you really feel it. Nothing’s obscured or blocked and when the band experiences that together you become bonded at yet another level. Damn, I miss that and the spontaneity we had.

But we weren’t in L.A. for parties and séances. Like most other people who come to L.A. we were seeking our fame and fortune and we didn’t have a lot of time. The Outcasts were in Hollywood and our dreams were about to come true. We had to hit the ground running, but we had an advantage over everyone else, a guest spot on Dick Clark’s “Where the Action Is”, and the recording contract. First up was the TV show “Where the Action Is”.

I had watched “Where the Action Is” religiously in Portland and arriving at the studio was like a dream come true. Aretha Franklin, The Mamas and The Papas, The Four Seasons, and The Young Rascals were just some of the bands that had played on the show. To think The Outcasts were going to perform there was exhilarating. Walking into the studio was like walking on air. We didn’t even have any idea we’d be speaking to the man himself, Dick Clark. It was a mystery to me as to how we’d fit in the show, all I could gather is we’d be introduced and shine before the cameras. I was really in another world with high expectations and thinking this was really worth leaving Portland. While we were waiting backstage to tape our spot we were talking with the lead guitar player of Paul Revere and the Raiders, Drake Levin. A very cool guy. He had remembered Steve Hansen and I from hanging out at the D Street Club.
Drake said, “man I really picked up on your double picking style and I’ve incorporated it into my own playing to get that Northwest sound.”
“I’m humbled that you look up to me, a fellow Northwesterner.”
“Everybody gets their style from listening to somebody they dig. You guys go out there and knock ‘em dead!” He seemed really excited to see another Northwest band taking a chance at stardom. Or maybe he was that way with every new band that performed on the show, but he didn’t come across as being phony. He made me feel really comfortable and at ease. Maybe that’s part of the reason I never gave up on our success even at the great odds of failure. Just then Dick Clark came up to us, he looked like the guy I’d seen on TV, calm and likeable.
Then he said, “get your ass on the set Drake! I’m not paying you to bullshit!” Then he looked at us and asked tersely, “who’re you guys?”
“Uh, we’re The Outcasts winners of The Portland Teen Age Fair. Rick Desart said you were expecting us.” I said nervously.
Clark looked at us and said, “not another fucking Northwest band! I didn’t promise Rick Desart anything!” He paused, and said, “you guys can perform if we can fit you in.” Then he stalked off along with my idea of him as a nice guy. Paul Revere who had been beside Clark, said “we’ll try and get you guys in at the last and introduce you as hometown boys, but I don’t even see you on our list. Rick Desart hasn’t been very reliable in my dealings with him.” In Portland, Steve and I had been almost groupies of Revere. He seemed to have changed since we met him in Portland. He didn’t seem to recognize us, we must have looked crushed. We were a band far from home with our small city faces. Dick Clark had turned out to be a tyrannical jerk. After his tirade one of the cameramen came up to me and said, “you don’t want to get on his bad side, Clark’s a little Caesar.”

We waited all day. While we waited, we mingled and acted like we knew what we were doing. It was cool watching everything behind the scenes, talking to the set guys, lighting, and scaffolding, and guys moving the sets around. I was even asked if I wanted a job, they could have used a guy with my height. We sat in the audience watching the go-go dancers and performers rehearsing. We noticed none of the music was live. All we had was a lame recording of “Louie, Louie.” We were an ill-prepared embarrassment.

While we were watching from the audience Paul Revere came out. I watched his every move, trying to learn as much as I could. Paul Revere and The Raiders were the house band on “Where The Action Is” and would soon have their own TV show because of Dick Clark. The thing that struck me was Revere was all business, he knew what he wanted and he got it from Dick Clark. They couldn’t fit us in and we never appeared on the show. At least we still had the recording contract.

The album we were going to record was of cover songs. It had worked for The Kingsmen, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and the Sonics, so why not us? We were hot in the Northwest and had a good chance of selling albums on the Jerden label. Watching the other acts rehearse at “Where the Action Is” was our first inkling that our sound was out of style and out of date, and the California scene was into a new sound. As it got closer to the date we were supposed to go into the studio Rick Desart never showed up. Desart not showing up hurt because he said he would set up gigs and get us exposure in Hollywood. He knew Dick Clark, but didn’t have the clout to get us on the show. Who knew if the recording contract was ever real. He turned out to be a small time promoter. I never had trusted that he had any real connections in L.A., but I kept those fears to myself. With the TV appearance, and recording sessions gone, and no gigs in sight, our reason to be in L.A. was gone, our dreams had burned away in the heat of Hollywood realities.

The final blow came when we discovered we couldn’t use the Outcast name because there was already a band using the name in LA. There were a lot of bands named The Outcasts in the 60’s. Which wasn’t an infrequent occurrence with all the bands coming to Los Angeles vying for attention on Sunset, there were a lot of duplicated band names. We heard about one band with the name, they had a regional hit and were about to go national with an appearance on American Bandstand. To eliminate confusion and a possible lawsuit we decided to dump the name, The Outcasts. We thought how stupid we were to leave Portland for paying gigs and popularity just to end up with nothing in Hollywood.

With having our Battle of the Bands prizes evaporate we were quickly running out of time and money, and a reason to be in L.A. We had a band meeting and decided to stay in L.A. It was sheer determination and will driving us forward. Going on that set and being rejected by Dick Clark hurt, but we followed Merle’s advice and remembered what it took for us to get here. We had started as a high school band that was undisciplined, but we had become a good enough band that we toured in the Northwest, we had fans, a fan club, and although we had fucked up the Teenage Fair the first time we came back and won. Why would it be anymore difficult to be a success in Hollywood? We had experience, talent and our own rules to guide us. We didn’t give a shit if we failed, we’d get back up and go for it again. We were slowly on our way to becoming Hunger! But we weren’t there yet, we still needed a name for the band. Then we remembered our ghost Angela. After the séance we had been calling ourselves ‘Angela’s people’. When we needed a new name for the band it was natural for us to become Angela’s People. We liked the name because it gave people the impression of us as being a band from Los Angeles. The name did lead to some confusion though, people kept asking us where ‘the chick singer’ was.

About this time Lori and Cookie figured out that we had lied about hitting it big in L.A., but they helped us out for another month. Cookie told us one of the bars they worked at wanted a live band and they’d pay us $100 a night. That was almost half our rent. We went down to the club and auditioned, but the patrons were more interested in the dancers than the music. That was the end of that gig.

With dreams of fame and fortune still in our eyes, we were desperate to stay in L.A. To keep on the good side of the girls, we started driving them to the bars they worked at and we’d wait for them until they were done dancing for the night. We also fixed their meals, ironed their outfits, and took care of their dogs.

When we were running low on money, I started selling copies of the “L.A. Free Press” on Sunset. I’d sell them for ten cents and make two cents per copy. I figured if I sold a hundred copies I’d make two bucks, enough to buy lunch and a pack of Marlboros. It wasn’t hard selling the “Free Press.” I’d stand on a corner where there was a stop light and people would come over and ask for a paper. I usually made more money because people would give me a tip for almost every paper I sold. I made enough to keep myself in guitar strings and picks, I was even able to buy myself a couple new shirts.

One time a limo pulled up by my street corner, the back window rolled down and Nancy Sinatra leaned out and said, “I’ll take one of your papers please.” She handed me a five dollar bill and said, “keep the change.” I said, “have a beautiful day!” People liked “The Free Press” because it spoke the truth about the Government and the Establishment. They published graphic photos of the Vietnam War, and articles and pictures of police brutality in the U.S. I considered it supporting change and peace. The Free Press was read by people you wouldn’t have expected to read it. One time, I was crossing the street and a limo honked it’s horn at me, the chauffeur rolled down his window and told me his passenger would like a paper, but meet him behind a nearby building. I obliged (back then I never thought twice about being cautious, people still had a common trust in each other). Behind the building, the limo pulled up and from the back of the car out stepped the King himself, Elvis.
“I’ll take two of those son” he said, handing me a hundred dollar bill. “I pretty much stay out of politics, but I still want to know what’s going on in the world.”
“I, I don’t have change for that much.” I stammered.
“Keep it, you’re doing a good thing” he said and smiled as he walked into the building. When I got home and told the guys what had happened, all they asked me was, “what was I smoking?”

I never really gave that much thought about the authorities’ reaction to the “Free Press” until I got stopped by a couple of undercover cops who wanted to know if I was a member of the Communist party. They asked, why I was spreading such ‘un-American filth’? I told them I was a struggling musician just trying to make some extra cash so I could eat. They bought it and left me alone. Years later I found out that where I picked up my papers, the nightclub Pandora’s Box, was a hotspot for anarchists, and that the “Free Press” supposedly passed secrets and information through articles and ads in the paper.

We couldn’t get a gig anywhere on our own so we decided to learn some new material and go from there. The Beatles, The Animals, The Zombies, and The Doors were now on our setlist. We practiced late in the evenings. Mike Parkinson and I were kicking around the idea of changing our sound so we could get hired at different clubs with jazz and lounge music. One hot night I told Mike, “why don’t we meld that Jimmy Smith sound and rock sound together and see what we come up with?” We played “She’s Not There” with a heavy keyboard opening like Vanilla Fudge and guitar like The Doors. We said, “shit we’re onto something here.”

One night after practice, I was sitting on the front porch having a smoke when I saw a familiar face coming up the walkway that at first I couldn’t place. “I live just up the street from you guys and heard you playing.” Then I recognized him from the Battle of the Bands at the Teenage Fair. It was Jim Morrison. “What you got going here? Beautiful women coming and going, fucking far out live music and having a good time. Looks like paradise to me.”
“Yeah, but we can’t get any gigs.” I said.
“I’ll see what I can do, but you’re not going anywhere without original music in this town. It isn’t about just being a great musician,” he said, “it’s about projecting an image that is universal to everyone.” I thought to myself, this person, Jim Morrison, with such great insight and illumination in real life was such a totally different person onstage, one of fear and confusion. It was just a ruse to give people the spectacle they wanted to see. The guy I met had no ego. Jim was playful and poetic with a dash of sarcasm. It must be why people are so drawn to the mystique, that was Jim Morrison. I discovered he was just a regular human being trapped in a phenomena that wasn’t real to him unless he was high. There was a realness to him that I soaked in like a sponge to water.

After discovering that Jim Morrison lived just up the street from us I would drop by in when he got back from a gig in the early morning and we’d sit on the steps to his place getting high. I remember him joking about making it home without being followed. As I got to know Jim over the short period of time we lived next to Jim, The Doors had all the trappings of fame they looked and acted the part of fame from my perspective, fast cars, one that stood out to me was a Porsche convertible. I believe it belonged to Jim. The other cars just didn’t stand out like that beauty. Other times we’d sit in his living room, everything was orderly and in it’s place. Dark leather couches with ultra modern furniture, very relaxing. The marijuana and wrapping papers were on a glass table in an ornate wooden box he kept a unique etched lighter and cigarettes in a jeweled container. I remember a picture on the wall of some beautiful naked woman in a Spanish setting. Probably came with the place. A pool in back that never seemed to be used but had a nice sunning area with outdoor furniture. He must have had a house keeper because the place was always immaculate. Getting high with Jim Morrison was like a ritual taking place. For me it was a pleasure and honor just to be there. The house must have cost a fortune to rent. It wasn’t some flop house, get high pad. It was a perfect bachelor pad. The Doors were still on their “Light My Fire” high.

The more I went over there the more I got to know The Doors. Both Jim and Ray had remembered me from The Portland Teenage Fair and how I befriended them with my hospitality. It helped too that I was a nice guy and not taken in by their star status. Even though Jim Morrison had showed up at our practice there wasn’t that superstar connection. The truth is I never expected anything from Jim and Ray, and it was mutual.

Ray was there a lot, and I got to know him on a personal level, he was so profound in his speech like a well read scholar, and he was into LSD and liked to smoke weed. He was very open and introduced me to a real psychedelic world. He was really into God and the universe and not in a religious way. He had met with Timothy Leary and embraced his teachings. I later wrote the song “Open Your Eyes” with the talks I had with Ray in mind! The end of the song says it all, you can talk and you can be someone worth living in reality He seemed very serious and had a watchful eye on Jim, almost protective. Ray loved Jim and was willing to take care of him. He knew Jim was an alcoholic and did everything in excess. Drugs, booze, women and emotions. People took advantage of him. Ray said when Jim was on he was on and when he was off he wasn’t worth a shit!

Robby seemed like the quiet one, consumed in thought, almost shy. The flashy psychedelic clothing just blew me away and the shoes must have been high end Italian. If John Densmore was ever there when I was there I don’t have any recollection of meeting him.
Later, I told the other guys in the band that I had met Jim Morrison outside and he said we needed original material. I thought their reaction would again be disbelief, but they just asked “who’s going to write the songs?” I said I’d try it. I thought we had a chance at stardom, especially after meeting Jim Morrison. Talking with him gave me the feeling that success was there for the taking. It was then that I retreated to the back patio and started writing songs that would eventually become part of the Hunger! sound.

We had all met The Doors backstage at The Teenage Fair, but most of the band never really thought The Doors would become superstars. They were just another California band with a new sound. I felt there was greatness in them that was ready to explode on the scene. I think by the time we got to Hollywood and we discovered Jim Morrison lived nearby, the band thought it was a fluke. Somehow I knew in the back of my mind we’d cross paths again, call it a premonition if you will. The Doors were doing gigs late into the morning and were a working band that had moved up the ladder. We were mesmerized by The Doors. They led an incognito lifestyle outside of gigging, almost invisible and they liked that. I never saw a limousine parked in the driveway next door and I believe few people knew where they were staying. We wanted a taste of that lifestyle. We felt somehow that we could get it by being in the right place at the right time. For me it was a learning experience and I wanted to know all I could learn from Morrison’s experience and we grew a bond for a short period of time. He was willing to share and that’s how I came to trust in my own talent as a songwriter and musician. He made me understand that it was an uphill road to so called overnight success. He pretty much provided a roadmap to psychedelic rock stardom. I have to say Jim Morrison was a realist. He never took anything for granted in my opinion, and he gave the feeling that success was there for the taking.

Yeah, we were mesmerized by their stardom and the lifestyle. I thought we could work our way up the ladder. That turned out to be a pretty naïve idea because most of the rest of the band thought things would happen by themselves. There wasn’t the seriousness to take it to the next level which we saw in The Doors. Most of the guys were too busy partying, meeting California girls, and smoking weed. Mike Parkinson and Bill Daffern were the exceptions, they were interested in refining our sound. They were both experienced players who had done some fine work with The Kingsmen.

Later in the same week after I first met Jim Morrison we got a call to play at The Magic Mushroom. To this day, I believe Jim Morrison got us that gig at the Magic Mushroom which turned out to be very instrumental in our quick rise in Hollywood.

Another one of our neighbors, Julie, came over because she liked the music. It turned out she was an entertainment lawyer. It seemed we were drawing a lot of attention, at least in the neighborhood. Women lawyers weren’t as common in the industry as they are today and she had to have a hard nosed demeanor, sort of like Judge Judy. Her clients included Glen Campbell who was in the process of leaving the Wreaking Crew and starting his solo career. We had hoped that maybe she would like the band enough to represent us. Unfortunately, she couldn’t because she already had a full load of clients. She did say she had some friends she’d like us to meet, and the whole band should come over.
When we arrived at Julie’s house the friends she wanted us to meet turned out to be Boyce and Hart, the songwriting team that had provided The Monkees with some of their hits. They looked the part of being successful. They were finely dressed with perfect hairdos and cropped sideburns. Their faces were soft and shiny, I wouldn’t have doubted that they wearing make-up like they were ready to appear on a television show. Tommy Boyce had a gold necklace and gold cuff-links on his rich brown shirt and black boots shined to the hilt with yellow bell-bottom slacks. Bobby Hart wore tiger trimmed brown sunglasses with an expensive blue silk wide lapel shirt and black bell bottom slacks with patent leather white boots. They were really upbeat guys. I noticed this weird thing about them, they both laughed in unison when they spoke. They had a lot of projects going on with, television appearances, writing songs for TV shows and other artists. I thought at the time they were great guys to know. They wanted to hear us play. We didn’t play the pop and sunshine type of song they were writing for The Monkees. We played our best songs we had in our setlist, “She‘s Not There,” “Down by the River,” and “For Your Love.” We played them with the new sound Mike Parkinson and had I worked out. The big Hammond sound, driving guitars with strong vocals, and they dug our sound. They liked our versatility with jazz and rock and that unmistakable heavy sound and the preciseness of the phrasing to the songs. They told us L.A. is full of great musicians, but most weren’t going anywhere because they had no originality. Every band wanted to sound like everybody else. They said we were original and had a fresh new sound that alone could find us an audience and fans, and it would sell if we had the right backing. These guys had it together and the thought that we’d be successful in Hollywood had even crossed their minds was a mind blower. They also told us if we wanted to make it in the music business we’d have to persevere, and we’d need to keep creating, do our own material, and write songs to build a portfolio. This was beginning to be a common theme.

After we played for them we sat around talking about Hollywood and the music scene. The couple of hours we spent talking with them was probably the most knowledge of the music industry I learned at one time, they gave us the big picture of the music industry. No amount of gigging could have given me that kind of insight. What they told us was there’s actually a formula for success. So many bands in the 60’s had no concept of that. It was only about getting high and grooving to the music. I can’t count how many times we played with other bands and they were totally wasted. Most of them sounded like shit. Boyce and Hart said they knew this guy, Stan Zipperman, who worked for GO magazine was looking for a band to manage and asked where he could hear us play. We told them about The Magic Mushroom gig.

The Magic Mushroom was a really wild place, it almost rivaled the Whisky. Instead of girls dancing in cages, like at the Whisky, they danced behind black laced curtains, nude. A lot of high powered frequented the place and there were a lot of prostitutes posing as groupies. `The Magic Mushroon is also where the Dr. Demento show aired, and it was as hip as they come. A lot of top name acts played there, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Doors, Spirit, and Frank Zappa, but for some reason it never caught on. The Magic Mushroom was our debut as ‘Angela’s People’. For our first set we came out wearing our matching jackets and red turtle necks, we played our repertoire of cover songs. It turns out top 40 rock wasn’t very popular there, and we were booed off the stage. We watched as the band that came on after us took the stage, they wore beads, beards, and sandals they played gongs, and chanted “love is the word.” Backstage I jokingly said,
“we might as well go on in our tee shirts, nobody’s going to give a shit!”
“Yeah that goofy band with gongs and incense and chick singer are sure well received!”
“What are they called again?” Steve asked.
“The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.”
Mike Lane said “yeah, we can call ourselves The White Shirt Conspiracy!” We all kind of looked at each other realizing it wasn’t such a bad idea. Mike Lane always used to take off his jacket and roll up his sleeves and sing to the girls on a slow song. It was always the highlight of the last set. We started ripping off our jackets and turtle-necks all the way down to our white tee shirts.
“Damn we’ll fit right in! Sounds like that chick in Jefferson Airplane.” I said. We tipped off the MC and he and introduced us as the White Shirt Conspiracy. We headed back on to the stage and the crowd was chanting “Love is The Word!”

Playing in our tee shirts we led in with a heavy organ and biting guitars on “She’s Not There.” We took on a Vanilla Fudge sound letting the organ fade in, building the guitars followed by holding an A minor chord. We brought the crowd to their feet, and then Bill Daffern popped on the snare, slammed on the beat and everybody in the audience hit the dance floor. When we finished the song, the crowd went wild clapping, whistling and pounding on the tables. The crowd wanted more so we played Vanilla Fudge’s “You Keep Me Hanging On,” and finished with “The House of the Rising Sun.” The owner said he never had a band received like that and offered to hire us.

After the show, Stan Zipperman, the manager Boyce and Hart had referred us to, came backstage. He was an easy going, baby face, in his mid 30’s with a slight Jewish lisp, New York style. We listened tentatively as Stan rattled off his credentials.
“I’m a writer for GO Magazine, I’ve written for TV shows, and managed various bands, The Other, and The Crabs. You ever hear of them?” We all looked at each other drawing blank stares, we hadn’t heard of them. We kind of laughed amongst ourselves looking at each thinking ‘who is this guy?’
“It doesn’t matter, they’re going nowhere. They’re lackluster at best. The management company I represent has put out a lot of money with albums and songs that have tanked. We’re looking for a fresh new band with their own sound and you guys are going to be a huge success.” Luckily, he had missed the disastrous first set and was there for the debut of the White Shirt Conspiracy. We realized this guy was for real. He seemed honest and his accomplishments sounded authentic.
“The White Shirt Conspiracy is a powerhouse band, and I want to represent you. You guys aren’t just another band trying to make it in Hollywood, you really have something different going on.” I think Mike Parkinson’s big Hammond sound, which was tight and dynamic had sold him on the band.

He finished with, “I’m going to promote and advertise the shit out you guys. Are you ready for that?” Our jaws dropped, “I’ll keep you fed and get you paying gigs,” How could we say no? We were all in instantaneous agreement. We’d no longer be starving musicians. We had a manager!

With that bit of good news came a setback and it was of our own making and threatened to make us homeless on the streets of L.A. Cookie and Lori, it turned out, liked sex and they had slept with some of the guys in the band. It was the age of “if you can’t be with the one you love/love the one you’re with”. No wonder Jim Morrison had said it looked like paradise to him. But like most situations like that, it brought out tensions in the band. One night Mike Parkinson and Bill Daffern got into an argument about who was going to drive them to work. All hell broke loose when Bill blurted out “the bitches can drive themselves!” Cookie and Lori overheard this and came in and said, “if you guys think we’re bitches you can pay for this place all by yourselves.” By that time everybody was gathered around. The girls demanded an apology, Bill refused. Cookie and Lori told us they were moving out. Looking back now, they wouldn’t have felt so hurt and betrayed if the guys had been more thoughtful. They were used to being treated like whores at the club, and they expected more from us especially since they provided us with a place to live and practice when we came out to L.A. We had lied to them about hitting it big in Hollywood, and they still helped us out. The damage was done, they left and we had until mid-October to make enough money for rent or to find a new place to live.

If you would like to follow or get more news on Strictly From Hunger please visit and friend The Strictly From Hunger! Facebook page or Jim Cherry’s page.

The Doors Open for the Outcasts

A work in progress “Strictly From Hunger! A Rock and Roll Memoir” by John Morton with Jim Cherry.

Chapter 1 The Doors Open For The Outcasts

Don Koss, the popular local DJ in Portland, Oregon stepped up to the microphone and introduced us. “And now we have the number one band and the winners of the Teenage Fair, The Outcasts!” Our drummer Don Marrs threw his drumsticks into the air, then slammed them on the snare. We broke into our medley of the Young Rascals tunes ‘Good Lovin,’ ‘Lovelight,’ and ‘Groovin.’ It was flawless. Our fans and the audience were cheering! We had beat eighty-five other bands. We were the number one band in Portland! All of the sudden we were celebrities. Standing on that stage, lights in our eyes, sweat pouring off of us, we were instantly hometown stars when only the year before we had lost the very same contest, we’d come in last place, and we weren‘t sure the band was even going to survive.


The promoter of the Teenage Fair, Rick Desart knew he could draw a large crowd with a lot of bands, a popular local DJ, prizes that included a $500, radio airplay, a recording contract, and bringing in up and coming national acts, and he booked The Doors. In June 1967 The Doors were the up and coming band. “Light My Fire” had been released as a single, but was still climbing the charts. Not yet the number one song in the country, The Doors weren’t yet the band they were about to become. It was the night I heard “Light My Fire” for the first time and I knew they were light years ahead of the Portland scene and that music was taking a new direction. The Doors weren’t affected nor did they have any onstage gimmicks. They were real. Jim Morrison hung onto the mic like he was making love to it, his eyes were closed. I imagine he was somewhere else. The words drifted out of his mouth like honey even as he yelled “try to set the night on fire!” They weren’t well received that night. For the most part, the rock scene in Portland was still into cover songs. We wore matching outfits, knee high boots and had choreographed steps. They looked liked they were from another world with their long hair, their hippy style was strange.

Milling around the stage after the show basking in our win, I had my first encounter with The Doors. Jim was dressed like a poet laureate, black shirt, rolled up sleeves, tight black leather pants swinging from his hips, long wavy hair, a real lady killer. Ray Manzarek had what I call a California cool, he looked like a surfer with long blond hair, sideburns, blue paisley shirt, light brown pants and brown sandals. All I remember of the guitarist Robby Krieger was a flashy red Gibson SG fuzzed out guitar, and the drummer, John Densmore was tight and on the money when they played. The different sound they came up with no one in Portland was ready for. It’s like The Doors were sending a message to the higher part of my brain and it transcended into a message that was real and true. I was intrigued by The Doors. It was then that I began to think beyond three chord frat songs.

Jim was off in a corner with a bunch of sophisticated looking women hippies signing autographs telling them stories of the adventurous vagabond and his love for film. The women were mesmerized. I could see the desire in their eyes from where I was. Robby Krieger and John Densmore were on the edge of Jim‘s circle talking with the women trying to meet Jim, about their gear and how they got their unique sound. I went up to Ray Manzarek, who was off by himself, he had just lit a brown Sherman cigarette snapping closed a gold lighter. I introduced myself.
“Hi, I’m John Morton, guitarist for The Outcasts.”
“Ray,” he said, extending his hand. “Portland’s a groovy town, a little backward and weird but people here are friendly. I like the gold satin shirts with the long lapels you guys wear, I wouldn‘t mind ordering one. Who’s your tailor?”
“Our bass player’s mom made them.” We both laughed. “We’re kind of behind the times here! Folk music and Peter, Paul and Mary, and ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ is hot right now! Really not my scene.”
“Well, ‘Light my Fire’ wouldn’t even had made it on the radio if it wasn’t for ‘Puff the Magic Dragon.’”
“I like your keyboard and bass set up.” I said.
“It’s easier than having another member in the band.” Just then Jim Morrison glided over.
“Hey, man, where’s a good place to get something to eat?”
“Lido’s is great for Italian food and a lot of performers who come to town eat there and nobody will bother you.” I said.
“Thanks man! Great!” and that was my first meeting with Jim Morrison. Little did I know it wouldn‘t be the last.

Rock ’n’ roll has always been my dream and focus, early in life I found music to be my friend. As a kid I was shy and loved to block out the world by daydreaming. I was very into keeping track of all my experiences. My mother was crazy and always screaming and yelling at me and my brothers. My father was my angel and devil all at the same time. He would take me to classical concerts with Andre Segovia and Flamenco of Carlos Montoya. From the age of five to twelve he beat me, but I didn’t hate him because he gave me my love for music. He played guitar, mostly by himself, but sometimes he entertained neighbors and friends, or at church with my mother singing. The most exciting times for me were when my father’s cousins came over from Hawaii. I loved the singing, guitars and ukulele. I was proud to be of Hawaiian descent. My father’s cousins were all storytellers, one of them had even played and recorded with the Arthur Lyman Band in the 40’s. It was during one of these visits that a light bulb turned on in my head and I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to play guitar. My destiny in music had begun, little did I know where it would take me, and how far!

My brothers were beatniks and dug jazz. I was eight when I first heard Miles Davis, he
was way out there. Theolonius Monk, Dave Brubeck would always play loud on the record player. My brothers would listen to them for hours and smoke weed. I’d get high just from the smoke in the room. A lot of that music rubbed off on me. So when I got older I always dreamed of playing like Wes Montgomery or Barnie Kessel. The Hunger! music has a jazz tinge to it. I even used jazz chords in some the songs. It fit for psychedelic rock. Jazz was experimental and so was psychedelic rock.

When I was 12 when I started playing guitar. I’d watch my dad play and learned from his style. He played like Chet Atkins with a thumb pick. I was fascinated by the way he’d alternate his thumb and play chords at the same time. The first guitar I played was my father‘s beloved Martin guitar when he wasn‘t home. One day My brothers told my father and I spent the afternoon waiting, wondering how my father would punish me. Instead, he surprised me with a cheap Roy Rogers type guitar with palm trees painted on its face. Like I said, my father was my devil and hero all at the same time.

It was difficult to learn to play that Roy Rogers guitar because it was hard to keep in tune, and it killed my fingers. But I persevered and despite the pain I finally got good enough to play the Ventures “Walk Don‘t Run,” and “Pipeline.” After I mastered that cheap guitar it was time to start rocking out! My older brother bought me a Danelectro guitar which had the unique feature of the guitar case doubling as the amp. I was into surf music and “Louie, Louie.” I played that guitar until I wore it out. As I neared my eighteenth birthday it was time to take the plunge and get a Fender Strat and Fender amp. I had already played a few gigs and always had to borrow an amp, or plug into the lead player’s amp. It was pretty sad to have two guys jacked into one amp and have only one microphone. I talked to my father and I asked him for a Fender guitar and amp for my graduation present. He gave me a choice, he’d either buy me a guitar or a car for graduation. It ain’t hard to guess which I chose! I still had to get a job to pay for the amp so I worked after school delivering newspapers until I got a Fender amp to go with the guitar.

With Fender Strat and amp in hand I was ready to play in a real band. My cousin, who knew of my ambition, asked me to play at a party she was having for her sorority and they wanted a live band. So I got together some of my high school buddies. The first was Steve Hansen who I had previously met on the bus after school, I had my guitar with me and I was going to practice. Steve asked me if I played guitar, the answer seemed obvious, but I said ‘yes‘ anyway. Steve was my age and told me he played guitar too and knew some Ventures tunes and “Louie Louie”, that sold me! It turned out Steve had lied and he couldn’t play a lick of rock and roll, but he wanted to learn to play the guitar so I taught him everything I knew in 3 months. He didn’t have an amp so I gave him mine, a Gibson amp with a 12″ speaker. That amp was loud. I got a Silvertone amp with two 12″ speakers and we were off and running! The band had its rhythm guitar player. High School was a small world of friends and girlfriends, and it was through them I put together a band. I met Tom Tanory, who played bass, and Mike Lane, who would be our lead singer. Tom and Mike knew John Crispi, who would be our drummer. I had thrown together a band in two weeks! We weren’t even the Outcasts yet We named the band Frog Morton and the Toads.

When we played for my cousin’s sorority the girls hovered over us like bees to honey especially when we played Beatles tunes! Before The Beatles, instrumentals dominated the radio, the big bands were The Ventures and The Fireballs. If you could play “Walk Don’t Run”, “Tequila” or “Pipeline” you were in demand. All the young people loved to dance to that music, it was the closest thing to rock and roll you could get and call your own! Most parents were into Mitch Miller and Lawrence Welk, or square dancing. Jazz was the popular music of the day. It took everybody by surprise when The Beatles came along with their own brand of music and strong rich harmonies. Time to get rid of your Fender for a Gretch or a Rickenbacker guitar. “A Hard Days Night” and “Ticket to Ride” became anthems of the year and the airwaves were saturated with The Beatles. Everybody was talking about The Beatles. Even parents were into them, “they’re such cute lads.” Bands learned to fake English accents, it was great to finally relate to our own generation of music. Later, we even started a fan club for The Outcasts because Steve Hansen looked like John Lennon and played a Rickenbacker guitar. Fame to The Beatles must have been an absolute mind blower.

After the show, the girls wanted to give us their phone numbers and asked us where we’d be playing next. These were the best looking, popular girls who wouldn’t have given us the time of day if they had seen us in a class at school. All of a sudden we were no longer geeks but cool musicians. After that gig those girls were the best promotion a band could have, it was all over the school about our band! In all the excitement from that party we decided to see where the band could lead us, but we needed a manager, someone who could get us gigs.

I had met Steve Davis in high school. He played guitar, but was too shy to play in front of people. I knew he wanted to be a member of the band, but once he heard us he didn’t want to rock the boat because we had a decent sound. So I asked him to be our manager, and he took the job seriously. He took us from a sloppy sound to a musical unit. He got us to practice until we got down a good set list, cover songs, fast songs, ballads, instrumentals and slow songs so we could play any gig that came up and give the people what they wanted to hear. A couple of qualities that made him a good candidate for manager were that he had a great way with people, and he got us a lot of cool gigs. We got experience playing every gig we could, lots of parties, high schools, store grand openings, and contests like battle of the bands. The best gig Steve ever got us was at the Crystal Ballroom opening for The Sonics. How he swung that one still baffles me. It still blows my mind, he was a great manager for being only seventeen. Frog Morton and the Toads was a hard working band making $25 dollars a gig.

It was around this time I met Laura who would become my girlfriend. I met her through Tom Tanory who introduced me to her at his house when I picked him up to go to a gig. She looked like Marilyn Monroe to me, blonde, blue eyes and a curvaceous body. Laura thought it was cool to hang out with the band. She had her eye on the rhythm guitar player Steve Hansen with his John Lennon looks and deep blue eyes. Of course every girl dug Steve, but I was totally infatuated with Laura. It was love at first sight but she had no idea I was head over heels for her. I had a 1956 blue and white Buick so I’d drive everybody around back then. After the gig everybody was hungry so we went to a hamburger joint called The Whizburger and I paid for everyone. Of course the hamburgers were only 19 cents back then, so for everybody it was less than five bucks. But it impressed Laura and she was the first person to thank me for being so generous, everybody else followed suit. On the way home we were packed like sardines in that Buick. Five guys and three girls, but that Buick fit us all. Laura, either by chance or design sat next to me. I turned to her and put my hand on her leg. It was like electricity went through me and I stuttered and asked her where she lived. When we got to her house I walked her up to the door and asked her for her phone number. I didn’t have to write it down it was burned into my memory. I was in love and awe struck. No girl had ever affected me that way. When I got back in the car everybody asked “why didn’t you kiss her?” I replied, “next time for sure!” They all laughed. Life was pretty simple back in the early sixties

Frog Morton and The Toads were a typical teenage rock ‘n’ roll band out for adventure. We were all so young and crazy, we didn’t take things too seriously. We’d show up late to shows, or we’d bring our girlfriends to practice and once there bullshit around before we’d even start practice. At one of our early gigs we played a party and I got drunk. On our way home we took a corner a little too fast, the car door flew open and I fell out of the car, tumbling and rolling on the concrete. I wasn’t hurt, just a little battered and bruised (but I was used to that from my father). Everybody in the car was laughing and one of the guys said “now you know the meaning of rock ‘n’ roll!”

The night Frog Morton and the Toads became The Outcasts we were the wrong band at the wrong gig. It was for a black tie affair for a mayoral candidate at the Hilton. After the show a woman who was dressed to the nines for the affair came up to us and said “your band was terrible, you’re nothing but a bunch of outcasts.” I think we looked scary to her even though we were clean-cut and dressed in suits and ties. I think she expected Frank Sinatra tunes. She was shocked as hell when we played rock ‘n’ roll. But we liked the name ’The Outcasts’ so much, Frog Morton and the Toads became The Outcasts that very night!

We hadn’t been a band for very long when we had our first defection from the band and we almost disbanded because of it. In early 1966 John Crispi, our drummer quit the band. John’s dad wanted him to spend time with him running the family Italian Pizza Restaurant and keep his grades up for graduation. I think John (and his father) basically saw the band as fun and games but not a way to make a living as an adult. We didn’t perform for a month until Steve hooked us up with Don Marrs. Steve found him from a ‘drummer wanted’ ad that he placed. Don called him and told him he had played with The Bishops who had broken up. We met Don at the house of The Bishops’ manager, L.K. Wright (little did we know he’d be playing a bigger part in our future). Don was a great drummer and showman. He’d double time with the snare and pop the cymbal and immediately stop the ring with impeccable timing. He could throw a stick behind his back and catch it. He was definitely a big attraction, but with that came ego and attitude. He was temperamental always throwing jibes at us but he believed in the band as a whole. I admired that in him. It was kind of a mutual thing. He made things exciting.

As we neared graduation from High School in the spring of 1966 we had another setback when Steve Davis quit to join the Navy. Because of Steve we were playing lucrative and respectable gigs. Before Steve managed us we were playing gigs for free, but he made sure every gig was paid up front. He had a great belief in the band “you guys sell yourself every time you get up and play, and you’re gaining a following!” But I guess, in the end he didn’t see a future in rock ‘n’ roll from a high school band.

As his last act as manager he turned us on to our next manager L.K. Wright. At first, Wright didn’t seem interested in managing us because he’d had his fill of guys screwing off and not showing up for practice, but he already knew Don Marrs and The Outcasts had a pretty good reputation as a band. He was a mechanic but he was ambitious and wanted to quit his day job. When he agreed to manage us he had his eyes set on The Outcasts being a show band that could play anywhere, clubs, the college circuit, local tours in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Northern California like The Sonics or The Wailers. His idea was to have us playing 5 to 6 nights a week as a profession. We started calling him Merle, because we thought it sounded better than L.K. Wright, and it stuck.

His first act as manager was to lay down some rules and consequences that were pretty severe if you broke them. No immature behavior, know your parts to the songs, know the setlist, no changes in songs unless it was decided as a group, no lying to parents and using the band to get away with sneaky behavior, respect for all fans, no complaining, be on time for practice even if you’re sick, pretty much you better be at practice unless you’re dying, but let band know ahead of time. The first and second offense you were fined and the third time you were out of the band.

One of the benefits of having Merle as our manager was we also got a band van. Merle had an old van International from the ‘50’s on his back lot that needed a new engine and a drivers seat. We painted on the Outcasts name in large cursive lettering. It kind of looked like a UPS truck. When it didn’t have equipment in it, we’d throw in some bench seats. If we were hauling equipment we’d throw moving blankets over the amps. Either way it was pretty comfortable when the whole band was going to a gig in it.

I turned 18 in February 1966 and was required to sign up for the draft by June. Before and after school the recruiters would be talking to us handing out pamphlets. I remember guys were excited about joining the army and serving our country and making a career out of it. Groups had already started protesting the war but it was still thought of as a honor, so a lot of guys wanted to go to Vietnam. I wasn’t very gung-ho about the idea, and I waited until almost the last minute.

When I went to sign up, there was one guy who came in with long hair and a robe and Samurai sword. He was higher than a kite, waving the sword at everyone telling us to not be fooled by the lies and we were all going to die. Four recruiting officers jumped him and put him in a choke hold and the guy just went stiff as a board chanting, mesmerized in some trance. They picked him up like a sheet of plywood and carried him out. When the officers came back they told us “that nut case would sleep it off in jail and they would escort him back the next day, shave his head and have him fit for duty.” Then they walked us into the next room, gave us physicals, dropped our pants, checked our nuts with the cough test, and then we waited. The recruiting officer came in and said “you guys are all headed for boot camp!” Everybody was cheering and shouting except me. Then they really scared me, the recruiting officer took me into a separate room and said “you didn’t pass the physical because of a heart murmur.” He said, “we would have taken you but we had a guy drop dead in basic for the same condition, and besides being tall as I was I’d be the first one to get my head blown off in combat.” Then he told me “we have a desk job available if I wanted to join on my own and they would classify me 1-Y and I’d only be taken if a major war broke out.” I said “I’m not interested but if I change my mind I’ll get back to you!” In the back of mind I was thinking what a lucky shit I was! I drove my car down the street, rolled down the window, cranked the radio up hooting and hollering. People were staring at me like I was some crazy teenager. I had hit my rite of passage head on. All the other guys in the band were a year younger than me. When they were required to sign up, they all managed to get deferments as well.

The scene in Portland in the 60’s was very exciting. As The Outcasts got better we became a popular band and developed a following. We started thinking we really could make a living in rock ‘n’ roll. With Merle managing us we started playing the over 21 clubs, and they were good paying gigs. The fans were great! People started asking us to sign autographs and gave us their cards. The girls were chasing us around, we were like The Beatles in “A Hard Day’s Night.” I felt like I was a celebrity.

It was an older crowd that were digging us, a lot of women wanted our phone numbers. Things started getting a little wild and out of control. When we were on the road we stayed overnight in hotels with little supervision. Being under 21 there were a lot of one night stands, drinking, and smoking cigarettes and weed. Merle was our guardian, but he was wilder than the entire band put together. Our parents would have been appalled. Merle was married and when he was out on the road he just couldn’t yield to temptation. At that time he wasn’t much of an example to the band and we all were partying and drinking, smoking and dabbling in drugs. We lost our innocence. Steve Hansen got so drunk he passed out in the bathtub, I got whacked in the head from somebody throwing a beer bottle, somebody filled my shoes with sand and everybody was using them for ash trays. I woke up one morning passed out on the floor with two chicks in my bed. We were staying in a hotel at the Oregon coast and had played at a club called The Dunes. Merle called us all together afterwards and said this shit had to end so we all knew we’d have to have a mutual trust with each other to behave and get serious about the band again. ‘Cigarettes, Whiskey and Wild Wild Woman’ “they’ll drive you crazy/they’ll drive you insane” was a song that definitely had meaning to The Outcasts. But there was one act left yet to play out in this phase of the Outcasts career.

Merle was able to get us into the Teenage Fair 1966. The annual Teenage Fair was a battle of the bands. All the local bands vied for a shot to play in it because winning meant better gigs, more exposure, and more money. I think Merle knew we weren’t going to win, there were a lot of pressures building up in the band. After a gig at a high school in Eugene, Oregon turned out to be a bigger deal than it sounds. I don’t know if it was because it was their homecoming dance or because the girls had seen us in Portland and had started a fan club for us. They knew all our names and were in love with our lead singer Mike Lane. When they announced us the crowd started cheering wildly. I always thought Eugene was a one horse town, but the kids were pretty hip and it was a great show! Afterwards, the girls from the fan club asked us for a ride home, so we packed them into the van figuring we’d have a party, get drunk, and we’d get laid. We left the equipment locked in a storage room on campus to pick up in the morning. After that things went downhill fast. When the girls still hadn’t come home two hours after the dance was over, one of the girls father was a cop and it wasn’t too hard to figure out where they went off to and they put out an APB on the Outcasts’ van! It didn’t take them long to the find the van with the Outcast’ logo on it, they found us on a hilltop overlooking the town. They had us lined up, they poured out the beer we had and we were waiting for them to slap on the handcuffs. The girls father didn’t want to be embarrassed because she had gone off with a rock band, he told us to sleep it off in the van and leave town first thing in the morning. We could have easily ended up in jail. Don Marrs was pissed at the rest of us because we were using the van to pick girls. He complained how unprofessional it was to be picking up women in the van with The Outcast logo on it for all to see, like we were advertising it was our pimp mobile. Steve Hansen told him to “cool it, it’s time to party.” Nobody in the band cared for Don’s attitude. But Don made a big deal out of it to Merle and the whole band was fined. Merle told us he couldn’t trust us to do anything on our own.

By the time of the 1966 Teenage Fair it was a volatile situation. Merle knew of the tensions in the band and even though he’d read us the riot act he figured once we got our immaturity out of the way we could be a great band. So I think he knew something was going to happen, and he let it. We were the last band to play that night. As we were standing around backstage watching the other bands play it added to the pressure, and we were getting more and more nervous. We argued about which song to play right before we went on. Somehow we decided on, “Out of our Tree” a Northwest favorite by The Sonics. When we took the stage we all got more nervous because we could see the judges watching us, and we knew our future was riding on this. Don Marrs called off the beat and did the drum intro, but Steve Hansen had forgotten to plug in his guitar and missed his cue. His lead was crucial to kicking off the song and it wasn’t there! Marrs stopped completely and said “what the fuck happened?!”
“I forgot to plug in.” Steve said.
“Plug your guitar in you dumb shit! Let’s do it again!” It put Steve on the defensive and we tried our best to get into it. Our synchronized steps were off and the ending was rushed. Marrs was so pissed off he threw his sticks at Steve, hitting him in the head. Steve dropped his guitar breaking the headstock. Don stood up knocking his cymbal stand over, just missing my hand but took a gouge out of the neck of my prized red Strat. After that it was a free for all, Don punched Steve in the mouth and the blood was flying! The judges were appalled, and told us to get our shit off the stage. Then security jumped onstage and broke everything up, escorting us off the stage. Naturally, We came in last place. the biggest gigs were the battle of the bands and the Teenage Fair. This made our failure their all the more heartbreaking. It made me sick and I was ready to quit the band.

After the debacle of losing the Teenage Fair Merle, called the band together and told us we really screwed up onstage and never do it again. “Don’t ever let the audience see that kind of behavior again!” He promised that if we followed his rules The Outcasts would win the Teenage Fair next year. I didn’t believe this, but we didn’t have anything to lose. He left it up to us to decide as a band whether we wanted to go on. Merle told us each one of us would have a say in what our strategy would be, and that if we held up our end he’d hold up his end. We took a vote knowing that we either had to break up, or we had to start taking ourselves seriously as a band. I’d spent too much time and energy devoted to the band, and I wasn’t ready to quit. We voted, everybody was in. We were committed. It was Merle’s way of getting us to work together. After that it was up to us to contribute a new song every week and the band would decide if we kept it on the setlist. Each of us had input on how the overall sound should be. The bottom line was there was no arguing about what songs we’d play. Even with our differences we had held together. I guess it was the camaraderie we had that allowed us to really laugh at things at the end of the day. Merle knew we were green and he was willing to watch us grow. It wasn’t like he was throwing us to the wolves at the Teenage Fair, we had to learn on our own what it meant to be responsible and successful. Later, that gave us our dogged determination to make it in Hollywood. I remember Merle asking us “you guys want to be successful? Then think of all the failures you made to this point and strive harder!” Our success was his success.

After the 1966 Teenage fair we went back to the garage for most of the summer. Merle didn’t book us any gigs and he installed the new discipline we needed for The Outcasts. He didn’t allow any drinking or showing up late for gigs. Everyone was required to show up for practice and those practice sessions were closed, no friends or girlfriends, or people hanging out. He led by example, he cleaned his act up and quit drinking, and wild partying and saved his marriage in the process. Managing the band had him going on the road a lot and he just couldn’t yield to temptation. Our practices became totally productive. We worked on not just being musicians but entertainers. Mike Lane developed a style to be more connected with the crowd, talking between sets and announcing any updates where the band would be playing next and synchronizing with the band when needed between his lead vocals. There would be no dead time between songs and our breaks would be no longer than 15 minutes. After a 45 minute set that was pretty standard, but it meant the difference between being hired back or not. We’d keep a mystique about the band and never brag about being a great band. We’d let the fans decide that. Any differences we had would be set aside to hash out at practice. We’d never smoke or drink onstage or during the gig. That time would be designated after practice ended. That was part of presenting a clean image that most professional northwest bands had.

Everything would be tried and tested with nothing considered amateur. If we joked on stage, we’d never single anyone out in the audience unless it was pre-planned. One of our early role models was Paul Revere and The Raiders. A lot of our ideas were all taken from Paul Revere who was not only a successful musician but a savvy business man. Steve Hansen and I loved The Raiders and would see them every chance we had. I remember them playing at D Street (a local square dance hall converted into a teen club) and Paul talking to us after his set about their performance. We were groupie nerds wanting to know everything about their setup. I think Paul got a little tired of us after awhile because every time they played there we’d be talking to him. He was a cool guy, very accommodating to fans and never treated us like we were bugging him. The Outcasts had an opportunity to play with The Raiders once, but they canceled their gig when they became famous, basically, overnight. They were just regular guys like most musicians, but the difference is they played for a living and that became The Outcasts’ goal. We adopted a lot of their characteristics. The knee high boots and colorful outfits, the joking on stage, synchronized steps, great music and impeccable timing. We were now a professional northwest band. Merle was so impressed and proud of our transformation he said, “There’s no doubt in my mind that The Outcasts will win the Teenage Fair next year!” Merle was astounded that we had taken our practices and our ideas to the next level. He didn’t go out of town anymore on The Outcasts’ gigs, but still kept booking us and promoting us from his phone.

We played all the coast teen clubs and were contemplating playing northern California, Idaho and Seattle. Merle had worked hard to get us gigs, it saddens me that we never fulfilled his promise. Every place we played we were now announced as one of the Northwest’s greatest upcoming bands. By the time we walked on stage at The Teenage Fair in 1967 we were a polished band and very confident. A year earlier I would of thought it was not possible. That’s how The Outcasts came to the Teenage Fair. The grand prize was to record in Hollywood and an appearance on the Dick Clark “Where the Action Is” We had won the grand prize!

After winning the Teenage Fair, we went from 50 bucks a gig to $300 a night which was big money for a Portland band. Merle said he could book us solid for two years. We had a choice to make, stay in Portland and be a successful local band or go to L.A. for a chance at stardom. We chose stardom! We’d go to L.A., record the album, appear on the Dick Clark show, and be back in Portland in two weeks. Then we’d have the gigs at home to fall back on to and wait to hear about the album. Even though we had the $500 in cash from winning the contest it wasn’t enough to sustain us in L.A. we had to raise some money for the trip, so we booked a month’s worth of gigs, starting with a teen club on the Oregon coast for four nights. We and made $1200. The idea was we were going to pool our money to finance our big break in Hollywood.

We were simultaneously of two minds, we had our head in the clouds, sure we were going to be the next best thing in L.A., or sure we’d end up right back in Portland after we recorded the album and did the TV show. But before we even left the band almost imploded when we lost our second drummer. Don Marrs decided he didn’t want to go to L.A. because he didn’t trust the promoter. Rick Desart, he thought (or had a premonition) that we’d be stranded in L.A. without any money. To be honest I don’t think he wanted to leave the northwest. His family owned a bowling alley and he didn’t have to worry about money. I think he liked it that way. It felt like we were flying by the seat of our pants because we were going through drummers at an alarming rate. So, for a month before we were supposed to leave for L.A. we were frantically trying to find a drummer who wanted to go to L.A. At the last minute we brought in two new guys from The Kingsmen, Mike Parkinson on keyboards, and Bill Daffern on drums. Parkinson’s organ playing had great dynamics that helped shape our sound. When I first met him he played “Feeling Alright” and “Gimme Some Lovin’” just like Steve Winwood. I joined in on guitar and we fell right into the groove. I knew then his big Hammond sound was going to be a trademark of our band. Bill was fresh out of the military so when he joined us he had short hair, but he knew his chops. Besides being a drummer, he was a great vocalist. In fact, he would share the lead vocals with Mike Lane. The official line-up of The Outcasts now included me, Steve Hansen, Mike Lane, Mike Parkinson, Bill Daffern and Tom Tanory.

Also going along were two topless dancers Cookie and Lori, and their Chihuahuas. We needed a place to stay for the two weeks we’d be in L.A. Merle knew a promoter that owned a strip club in Portland and was sending two of his top dancers to L.A. for a lucrative deal. Talent Scouts were always looking for the hot dancers that would bring in a crowd. The promoter footed the bill for some nice digs in the North Hollywood Hills. The girls agreed to let the band stay with them because it would be only for two weeks.

We packed everything into a U-Haul truck, the girls were following in their own car. All of us had stardom in our eyes, and we just knew we were off to fame and fortune in Los Angeles, and little did I know, to Jim Morrison and The Doors.

Meeting the Star Trek Cast

September 8, 1966 “Star Trek” debuted on national TV. In 1968 John Morton and Hunger! bumped into the cast of “Star Trek” on a couple of occasions. Here is an excerpt from his rock and roll memoir “Strictly From Hunger!”

Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner were guests on Happening 1968, the same night Hunger! appeared on the show. Dick Clark interviewed them about Star Trek and the latest episodes, not bothering to mention that the series was ending. The banter between them was strictly Captain Kirk and Spock. It’s what everyone was expecting. It was acting at its best. No one could capture the attention like Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner. The audience cheered as they walked off the set.

Vox was the main sponsor for the show so all the performances had to have Vox guitars, keyboards and amps. There was a room in back of the set that was like a music store. The guitars weren’t even in cases–they were in bins. As I was picking out the one I was going to play a guy stepped up and said” That one looks right for you and winked. I looked up and it was Leonard Nimoy. Wow! Spock without his ears and I said, “that sounds logical!” We both laughed. “it’s a long time between shoots and I thought I’d hang out and have a smoke. Besides it’s pretty quiet back here and I can relax.” He was right about the shoots. It took at least an hour before we went on but I had a fascinating time listening to Leo speak. Very few people would ever call him that. He talked about Star Trek, the cheap cardboard sets and was surprised when the filming was done that the stories would come alive. He said that was due in part to the Machiavellian portrayal of the characters that the actors brought to life. Shakespeare was alive and well. The stories of love, life and death with humor and sarcasm made the show magical. And Leo was proud to be a part of it all. Roddenberry said Star Trek would live on long after the series ended. Guess what! He was right. It feels sacrilegious now to call Leonard by any other name but that day in 1968 he was comfortable with Leo, he actually preferred it. He spoke little of his private life other than he was a family man and wanted to keep his personal life out of the limelight and Hollywood. He also spoke about Spock’s ears and what a hindrance and nuisance they were. It took a long time for fitting and constantly had to worry about them falling off especially around the camera lights or action scenes. Usually action scenes were done by a stuntman but close ups were always Leo. There were constant jokes about the ears. “Hey Elfman!,” “What’s up Dumbo?”, “are you sure you heard that right?”, “gee! Grandma what big Ears you have!” Only one actor I know could take that kind of abuse, Leonard Nimoy and I could only guess the biggest jokester was William Shatner.


The second time was a gig set up by Stan Zipperman, it was at Darren McGavin’s home celebrating the final shoot of Star Trek. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, limousines, Beverly Hills, sunglasses, women in scantily clad bathing suits, fancy drinks, storytelling, jokes, Sherman cigarettes, Havana cigars, caviar, drugs of choice in a candy dish, and servants in white shirts and black shorts passing out the finest hors d’ouevres. It was the send off party for the final shoot of Star Trek. Anybody that knew anybody was there. Gene Roddenberry even showed up.

If anytime we were nervous to perform that was it. We arrived in lesser than fancy attire. What the hell, we were a psychedelic rock band! McGavin called us off to the side and said, “I want you guys to look nice. Come into my clothing room and pick out some shirts to wear. I have a big selection. You can take them with you when your done with the gig.” I picked out a Paisley blue shirt high end silk and the rest of the guys picked ruffled shirts and Tom Tanory picked a paisley brown with a silk scarf around his neck. We looked cool!

Everything went off without a hitch. It was the perfect gig. Vocals were great and all the instruments were in sync. McGavin requested songs we normally didn’t play. They were covers mostly. Beatles, Stones, anything Top 40. He wanted us to be sure we play ‘La Bamba’ for William Shatner. I thought if this is what it takes to be popular for Hollywood parties so be it. McGavin told us, “after you get the crowd going you can do your original songs.” So it was definitely a good opportunity to get exposed to well known people.

To see all these actors, producers, well known faces in one place was a mindblower. I could walk around poolside and hear any of the conversations and listen to anyone. I felt like a celebrity in my own right. I always wondered why more bands didn’t do parties like this. And then it hit me. This was Stan Zipperman’s plan all along. If Hunger! could become well known among the Hollywood jet set then the doors would open wide for ultimate success. There were well known acts that couldn’t even touch these kind of gigs. Being in the right place at the right time never rang truer. It was definitely not a casual affair. Even William Shatner in white California shorts and Hawaiian shirt with black sunglasses was the epitome of cool. Something about being from California everybody had their own unique style. Shatner was what you see is what you get, Captain Kirk personified. The most, personable, funny guy I ever met. He could be very serious too and considerate even when he was drunk. He actually introduced us and had no problem promoting us to the crowd, “these guys are Hunger! and they’re starving to show you a trippy, rocking good time! Let’s party!” He wasn’t there to be sad over the ending of Star Trek. What was really cool he called all his fellow actors by their Star Trek names. They in turn did the same. Too bad they didn’t have the party as the final show! Shatner took it upon himself to roast all the guests. It was hilarious, he said things like, “well Spock it’s great you made it here tonight even without your ears! Hey ladies he made it here without his wife, look out he’s living dangerously! Lt . Uhura now’s your chance!”, “what are you laughing about McCoy? That red head in the bikini over there needs a body scan. Get to work!” By this time the crowd’s roaring with laughter, and Shatner still wasn’t finished. “Hey Sulu I see you took the cardboard props to last you a lifetime for your origami!”, “And Checkov, when you going to learn to speak English!” “You look a little spaced out Scotty! Give this man another drink!” “and as Capt. Kirk I say to the rest of you it’s been a pleasure to guide the USS Enterprise!” Shatner turned around to the band and looked at Mike Lane and said, “I see Ritchie Valens is here to do ‘La Bamba’ hit it boys.” He cha cha’d the night away. We played that song till we ran it into the ground, but hey it was worth it to be entertained by the great William Shatner,

On our break I walked into the house and the beautiful Nichelle Nichols was singing with her pianist on a big black grand piano. I had no idea she was such an accomplished singer. It was another side of Lt. Uhuru. Just then, Darrin McGavin came over to me
and said, “you enjoying the party? The crowd’s loose enough. Go ahead and play your original music. I ‘ve been getting requests for your movie theme, ‘She Let Him Continue‘. Oh, another thing, if you guys want to take a dip in the pool when the party’s over your welcome to it. Swimsuits and towels are provided for you.” So basically we were paid for having fun.

I had a completely different perspective of the famous and wealthy. They’re just regular people after you peel off the facade. It was a beautiful California night and the party went into the wee hours. Finally when everyone was inebriated and had their fill Capt. Kirk stood up and said, “Beam me up Scotty! We’re out of here!”

If you want to read more excerpts of “Strictly From Hunger!” and follow the progress of the writing of the book, and what John Morton is up to today please visit the Strictly From Hunger! Facebook page.