I remember those days so well. Sunshine, riding waves and shooting (going through) the pier on my Wow Wave Boogie Board at Huntington Beach. Razor-sharp
barnacles? What barnacles?
going SCUBA diving in the kelp at La Jolla. It was there I first saw the light display I now call Captain Nemo’s Window.
being captain of a 42 foot sailboat (with mizzen mast) and taking it to Catalina with my friends from The Record Plant (recording studio) almost every weekend all through the Summer,
Going on moonlit motorcycle rides to the top of Mount Palomar with a gorgeous Hollywood Hills Hot Patootie sitting on the back,
flying to Catalina Island for lunch, sometimes with one of the hot babes that worked with Ike Turner,
flying the coastline from Ventura to Carmel to see all the secret places you can’t see from the road,
flying to Reno to get in the air races . . . that’s my plane, out in front, with the yellow stripes on the wings (just kidding),
flying to the Shoshone Airport. The white pebble “DV” on the black lava pebble hill indicates Death Valley,
to visit the Tecopah (Indian spelling) Hot Springs here spelled Tecopa—(Callifornia spelling). The walls are really high on the left side because this is the women’s bath. After a long car trip to get there, we would take a hot bath and then play with glow-in-the-dark Frisbees. Sometimes, late at night, some showgirls would drive in from Las Vegas. Those were amazing nights. Sometimes, when I was with a lady friend, Winnie would give me the key to the “invalid” bath house.
Death Valley in the sprigtime (when it’s not 130º in the shade)
visiting Griffith Observatory to enjoy the city lights, the left dome is the telescope, the middle dome is the planetarium, the right dome is the helioscope for Sun observation. Inside, there is a giant gravity-powered pendulum clock and a powerful Tesla coil.
the three streets heading south are (left) Normandie Ave., (middle) Western Ave.—the longest straight street in the world—and (right) S Van Ness Ave.
playing writing and recording music. This is Telearte recording studio in Caracas Venezuela, designed by Chips Davis of Las Vegas and built by my friends from Wally Heider Recording. I taught my entire recording course there. The course took a month to complete.
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Spending hours with beautiful Greta as she painted and talked philosophy with me. Swimming in Greta’s beautiful pool, riding around in hot cars, learning to ride horses at Onendarka Stables in Griffith Park, cantering bareback through Griffith Park at night with my class, nighttime bareback jumping, asking for the horses no one else would ride at Pickwick Stables in Burbank (now bought out and called the Pickwick Condominiums) and riding with my friends at the Sunset Stables. I actually fell asleep on the back of a horse when I was riding (bareback) with a bunch of friends from Sunset Stables up to the Hollywood Sign!
I wrote an essay of some of my favorite Greta memories. Read it here.
Toluca Lake Bob
Then there was Toluca Lake Bob. He had the coolest car collection of anyone I knew then or since.
He’s really smart. His three boys, Cary, Christopher and Nate turned out to be geniuses too.
Bob’s ’57 porthole T-Bird. Big engine . . . light car. Whoosh! Automatic tranny that always “got rubber” when it shifted into second.
Bob’s 427 Corvette. Bob was very fond of this car which he named Willoughby.
Bob’s 421 Grand Prix with 3 double-barreled carburetors, known as “three twos.” Hi replaced the rear tires with “slicks.” He would pause in front of his girlfriend’s house, pop the clutch and engulf her house in white tire smoke. See the eight-lug wheels? It’s a muscle car!
This car looks like it’s hauling (you know what) even though it’s parked! I think this comes from all the parallel, leaning-forward angles. See the back of the rear wheel well? The slope of the roofline leading down to the trunk . . . the angle at the back of the rear window . . . the angle at the back of the front wheel well . . . the angle at the back of the front bumper . . . the angle at the front of the front bumper and finally, the racy angle as the top of the car’s sides sweeps back as the body comes down at the over-and-under headlights. To me, it makes the whole car seem to say, “Go fast? Now?” What a car! I wish I had one.
I wrote a placeholder essay for Bob. Read it here.
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Love Was In The Air
Flight Instructor Bob
My advanced training flight instructor, Bob, was falling in love with Greta.
Bob wrote an essay. Read it here.
Lars was falling in love with Maryvonne.
Maryvonne wrote an essay. Read it here.
and I was falling in love with Eloise. She was a model and actress—a VERY beautiful woman. That’s how I “graduated” from the Hollywood Hills Gang: I moved in with Eloise. She was lovely, classy, curvy and loved to cuddle. She was a knock-out. She was a body model, hand model, face model and foot model. She had beautiful 9 1/2 AAA feet ! Her acting abilities were superb. They were SO good, her acting actually saved my life—a story for another time. Eloise wrote an essay. Read it here.
Eloise! Your pretty feet!
The way you use ‘em
It sure is neat
Keep a-walkin’ keep a-walkin’
When you wear shoes
It sure gives me the blues
2 HERTZ commercials starring Eloise
Margot wrote an essay.
Read it here.
Here is a link to Margot’s artist website containing her beautiful art.
Barbara, Barry and Kaia
Ian wrote an essay. Read it here.
It seemed like we were suspended in time. We knew about The Bomb, of course, but we overcame our fear and lived and loved anyway.
A Different World
We were born to mothers who smoked and drank
Our cribs were covered in lead-based paint
No child-proof lids, no seat belts in cars
Rode bikes with no helmets and still here we are
Still here we are
We got daddy’s belt when we misbehaved
Had six TV channels you got up to change
No video games and no satellites
All we had were friends and they were outside
It was a different life when we were boys and girls
Not just a different time it was a different world
School always started the same every day
The Pledge Of Allegiance and someone would pray
Not every kid made the team when they tried
We got disappointed but that was all right
We turned out all right
No bottled water, we drank from a garden hose
And every Sunday, all the stores were closed
Cruiser stripped his VW Variant transmission looking for gemstones in the mountains around Death Valley. He called me in Hollywood for a rescue. I removed the back seats from a Cessna 182 (which is basically an oversized flying VW) and flew out to Tecopah (near Death Valley) to meet him. There they all were . . . camped out at The Hippie Tree (named this by the locals once they got to know all of us).
So the engine was removed and then the transmission.
We tied the transmission down with the seat belts in the back of the plane (where the rear seats had been) and the two of us flew the transmission to the VW dealer in Las Vegas. We gambled (not very well) for a few hours and then flew back with the repaired transmission. On the way back there was a huge storm and a desert flash flood. Silver water was roaring down a mountainside throwing up a rolling horizontal grey tube of debris. Right behind it was an avalanche of water. The clouds came lower and lower. The mountain passes were almost obscured but a little blue sky showed through, so, remembering my training, I flew the “eye of the needle” under the storm clouds and just above the rocks of the mountain pass. When we caught sight of Tecopah, our friends were out in a clear spot dancing around in the light rain with pieces of cloth in their hands, waving them. I think they thought we were “goners.” We were fine. We flew over them a couple of times wagging the wings (to attract Lloyd) and then headed back to Tecopah Airport.
Of course we did. We thought nothing of it. We were headstrong and powerful. We could do anything. We had no fear. We were alive and well in the moment of that time.
I used to chase my Park Ranger friend, Lloyd, along the road from his encampment at the hot springs to the Shoshone Airport. I would fly around in a circle over his trailer camp until he came out and waved a pillow case at me. I wagged the wings at him. There were NO telephone wires. As he drove down the road, I flew right up behind him. He could see me coming in his rear view mirror. Then I’d go over the top of him and back down in front of him—a “vertical pass.” Lloyd loved this.
He always wanted to go flying with me. When he looked out the airplane window, he made permanent mental maps of what he saw. He could take his jeep and drive right to any spot he had just glanced from the air. Amazing! He always got airsick. He would proudly show me his collection of wax paper bags saying, “See? I’m ready. Can we go up?” Then, he’d tuck the wax paper bags back into his jacket and away we would fly.
One another trip, Lloyd rushed up to me saying, “My friend is having severe chest pains. Can you take the two of us to Lonepine (at the foot of Mt. Whitney) to the hospital? I said sure. Lloyd’s friend was the wealthy local who owned most of the land around there including The Hippie Tree where we always camped out. We arrived in Lonepine without incident. The doctors attended to her and she recovered just fine. Lloyd and I had lunch and then flew back to his car at the Shoshone airport near Tecopah.
Cruiser, Dirk and I dug precious stones from an abandoned silver mine and brought them back to LA. Cruiser made beautiful jewelry with the stones.
Boy did I love my Land Rover 109. It had an American V8 (not a 4) and had a two-speed transfer case. It passed every other Land Rover on the road like they were standing still. It was the only car I’ve ever driven where I could shift into 2nd. going backwards. This freaked a lot of people out.
Being a recording engineer for The Turtles, Alice Cooper, Frank Zappa and Ike and Tina Turner.
Playing rhythm guitar on stage with Ike and Tina and being their recording engineer in the studio.
Playing bass on stage with Spirit,
and touring with them.
I went from being the chief engineer at Sunwest Recording Studios to being a “rock star” in a well-known “power trio” in one giant step. I never got “the jitters,” or “had butterflies.” We recorded two albums: The Spirit Of ’76 and Son Of Spirit for Mercury Records between tours. How did this miracle happen? Spirit booked a recording session with me, but at the session all they did was worry about having just lost their bass player. That’s when it happened. I said, “I play bass.” Left to right: Randy California, Ed Cassidy, me.
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Greta’s Bob Wrote
Back in the day (1967) I was a flight instructor at Whiteman Airport and Barry was one of my advanced students. I signed him off to take his Commercial Pilot flight check with a federal inspector. He passed with flying colors, of course. Barry & I became friends. He introduced me to the scene up in the Hollywood Hills.
Greta was a wonderful, beautiful, respectful, compassionate, empathic, genuine, forty-seven year old woman. I was a young, skinny, good-looking, blond haired, blue-eyed, nineteen year old boy. I was welcome to drive up to her place in the Hollywood Hills at almost any time and just hang out. I had some issues with self esteem. Greta took the time to listen. That was something I had never experienced on any level before. And I also began to learn—from Greta—HOW to listen. It's the hardest thing. It's an art. Greta totally changed my life. I will always remember her.
The Total Eclipse was my first band and was actually great at times depending on the line-up and state of mind of the various players. Lars and Maryvonne and I were the core. We had a song list of current covers, oldies blues etc. and originals with over one hundred and thirty songs.
One memorable gig we had was at The Satin Doll, later to become The Basement and what is now No Ho—a biker bar with a lot of long hair freaks in the mix. Five sets a night, five days a week for five months!
One of our lead guitarists "Mark Landon" was from The Music Machine (TalkTalk) and had toured with Ike and Tina Turner.
Later I did some solo work at Sound City with Kieth Olsen, also from The Music Machine. It was a small town back then. Crossed paths with a lot of talented people, some on their way up and some on the way out. John Girton went on to play guitar with Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks for years. He was an amazing guitar / piano player.
I do not know where Mike went but he was a good drummer with a great sense of humor.
Lars continued to perform and record for many years.
Maryvonne never stopped, and is still working to this day. She and Lance Baker Fent have made a lot of great music together.
I went on to tour with Magus (hard rock), did some solo work, worked in the motion picture business for fifteen years and then various other fascinating day gigs, all the while continuing to make music.
I was the Lead Singer and rhythm guitarist in Snow Blind (metal), & Hoopa Boogie (rhythm & blues / folk / jazz / rock) among others and finally Wagner Anderson (retro-metal).
Today I'm semi-retired and living in Sherman Oaks. I haven't played a gig in ages. Still no hits yet. It's a little late to go with the airlines. I am still a licensed flight instructor, and I still fly airplanes!
I remember so many of the people from back then, and so many stories. It's good to know what's goin' on with some of you today.
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Maryvonne Fent, famous author of the two books The 35¢ Dowry and Mango Blood [ at Amazon ] sent me this photo and story from our past.
My thanks to Gray Newell for finding this evocative photo shoot featuring old friends.
Lowell became a big star and, sadly, is gone.
Barry became a sound engineer for The Turtles, Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper, and Ike & Tina Turner. Then he became a “rock star,” playing rhythm guitar for Ike & Tina and joining the rock group SPIRIT where he played bass and sang backup for Randy California. He wrote two textbooks on sound engineering: Practical Techniques for the Recording Engineer and Quality In Sound Engineering. Barry continues to write and record music in Tucson, Arizona.
Lars and I were in several bands, notably the Total Eclipse in the US, and California Gold in Denmark. Lars continues to write and play in Montana where he now lives.
Looking at their faces made my day!
Back to Maryvonne • Maryonne’s website • The Lance Baker Fent website
Greta Story Written By Sherman
Greta’s studio was at the southeast corner of the house. It was cut off from the main house by large, frosted, sliding glass doors. If the sliding doors were closed, the rule was you could NOT come in.
One day I stopped by the closed sliding door and knocked. I heard Greta yell, “Go away.” Then I heard a young girl’s voice say, “It’s OK Greta. I want Barry to see me.” Greta then said, “OK. Come in quickly and close the door behind you.”
There was a fabulously beautiful Hollywood Hills Hot Patootie (what we called the beautiful girls living in the Hollywood Hills) posing nude for Greta. I think I said, “I’m honored,” and sat down to enjoy the beautiful sight.
Sometimes Greta would leave her studio and come out to the pool where a bunch of Hot Patooties would be skinny dipping with me. Greta would smile and say, “Is everything OK?” We’d all smile and say yes. Greta would smile and say, “Good,” and then go back to painting in her art studio.
Greta was very evolved. She caused all of us to become evolved, too.
From time to time Greta would put on a big dinner for a bunch of us. Greta’s cat was named Mein Katsie—a huge golden cat. The cat knew that when we had finished eating it was OK for it to jump up on the table and carefully step from plate to plate, sampling tasty goodies we had not eaten. The cat had a long fluffy tail. If the end of the cat’s tail should catch fire by passing through the flame of one of the many candles, we had been told what to do. Take the tail and dip it in a water glass. One night, the cat’s tail did catch fire. The person speaking dipped the tail and went right on speaking. No muss; no fuss.
Could you give me a start on a short story?
Maybe about us sleeping on the rim of the Ubehebe Crater and flying a kite on a moonlit night—flying it out two entire spools of string until it disappeared.
Without you, I never had the courage to just sleep on the ground—which I also did on a beach in Portugal (adventure ensued).
I remember sitting on the sidewalk at LAX, waiting for you. you were late picking me up when I returned from my months of "Vagabonding in Europe." You'd probably been detained by one of your many lovers. 😍
And you said you didn't bed L.R., but then why would she have said what she said to me? "Pisces men are crazy, but they're good f**ks." (And she never even saw the unique way you could carry a bath towel !)
After the premiere of the Beatle movie, you looked amazing in your black cape, lined with red satin, white ruffled shirt, black slightly bell-bottomed trousers, black shiny boots, and a fancy walking stick, the shoulder length, flowing, beautiful blond hair! You irresistible dog!
I've probably already reminded you of when I drove off the road in Death Valley when you flew at me, lower and lower, and freaked me out—like a scene from the film Zabriskie Point. And remember when we were going to leave Shoshone Airport, you were checking out the plane when a pickup full of rednecks stopped and came over to the plane because they thought you were a Hippie trying to steal something, before learning that you were the pilot?
And harrumph! When I was posing nude for Greta, you were never around! If you had been, I would NOT have allowed you to come in. I wasn't that kind of girl!
Good evening. I just got off the phone with Gretchen. Haven't talked with her for a year. Another memory. Once I hung up from a conversation with her and you were annoyed. You said something like, "You work with her all day—why do you have to talk with her again at night?"
And since my sound is now working, I've begun to catch up with your compositions. Just before Gretch called, I listened to Devorah's song. Rather wonderful. What is her last name? Maybe I can try an internet search.
People will envy your life, m'dear.
Many thanks, love you, goodnight.
Toluca Lake Bob Story Written by Sherman
I met Bob when we were both campers at Camp Pacific in Carlsbad, California. During the year, it was Called Army And Navy Academy—a military school. In the summer, it was a cool camp.
We hung out, went boogie boarding and became friends. After camp, we lost track of each other.
I went back to Hollywood, Bob went back to Toluca Lake. Months later I went to a friend’s house for a party and . . . there was Bob.
We became friends again. I really liked riding around in his cool hotrod cars. In the summer we went to the beach and did more boogie boarding. We went to Pickwick Ice Rink (in Burbank) where I learned that Bob was a champion-level ice skater.
When my marriage to RSU† 1 broke up in Sedona, I found a great job at Seiko in Torrance, CA . . . right down the hill from Rancho Palos Verdes where Bob’s house was located. I asked if I could stay there as I started my new job as Director Of Robotics Documentation and Training.
† Reliable Spousal Unit
After listening to the (then) beautiful music on the extraordinary radio station called The Wave (now made boring and ordinary by new management), I fell in love with new age music and got into MIDI and computer-based sound recording in my room at Bob’s house.
During the time I lived with Bob and his beautiful wife, they were both called away for a short time. I was given the enviable task of being a substitute “father” to Bob’s three genius sons. It was a rare chance to be a stand-in dad so I took the responsibility seriously and did my best.
Everything worked out fine.
I eventually got an apartment close to Torrance Beach. During the summer, I would leave work at Seiko, get in my International Harvester Scout II (with the roof removed) and drive 10 minutes to the beach to go boogie boarding.
My mom got sick in Tucson so I left LA and my dear friends and moved to Tucson to take care of her.
Bob and I are still friends. I have asked Bob to write an essay for this remembrance page. When he does, I’ll remove this essay and replace it with Bob’s.
Back to Toluca Lake Bob.
I will never forget the night you set up a meeting for me with Ike Turner about a possible guitar playing gig. We had been jamming at Bruce's house when you were on the phone with Ike. Ike could hear me playing in the background and asked who was playing guitar. You told him about me and Ike asked you to bring me down to his studio sometime. Naturally, I was blown away about this so a couple weeks later when you invited me down to Inglewood I said, "YES"!
When I got to the studio that night you were working on Flo and Eddies next album and there were a bunch of people there. There was a real party atmosphere as you were working on the last song of the album to wrap it up. I was invited to sing with the group on a track like "wicky walla walla" or some such island silliness, which was a hoot.
After awhile everybody cleared out and you were working on the tracks as I hung out in the control room.
You said Ike was on his way. So I waited . . . and waited.
Well, minutes turned into hours and when it got to about 2 in the morning I was ready to take off. Just then you said Ike was rolling up to the back entrance. I waited there and after a couple minutes the door opens and in strolls a sultry and foxy lady with head to toe negligee and lots of attitude. Following close behind was Ike in a full length mink coat and dressed in the grooviest pimp style. You sad, “Hey Ike, this is Ian Espinoza, the guitar player you asked me to bring here.” Ike kept walking into a room right past us and mumbled, “Yeah, man,” as he shut the door behind him.
So much for that big break!
Another favorite memory is when you invited me to Paramount Studios while you and Zappa were going through his massive archive of recording sessions. He was mighty cordial to me and I was quiet as a church mouse in the inner sanctum observing while you two worked.
Additionally, you later invited me to a Mothers rehearsal down on Sunset. What a gas to witness that scene and amazing music!
As far as being a Hillrat, there are too many great memories to mention—most of which had to do with playing music and feeling a part of a cool family of people dedicated to having fun in the Hills Of Hollywood.
You and Lars taught me a lot about music and my admiration for you guys knew no bounds.
Thanks for that Sherman!
Here's a little story for you.
There was that time you, me, Dirk and Lloyd drove out into the desert at night with a large bottle of tequila and the usual sense of adventure. I was somewhat preoccupied on the bumpy ride with the technique I'd been taught of licking lime and salt off my hand as a prelude to taking a shot of tequila.
Nobody seemed to know or care exactly what we were looking for out there in the dark, but everything changed once the headlights picked up a large snake wriggling in the sand just ahead of the truck. Brakes! Great excitement . . . I was advised to stay inside the vehicle as you and Dirk clambered out, bold and unarmed, to confront wild nature.
You approached the snake—with what aim I had no notion—but whatever ideas you might have had (more likely ideas Dirk had) of dancing with death was cut short by a huge Whack! Tecopah Hot Springs Park Ranger Lloyd had appeared swiftly from around the back of the truck with a shovel and bashed the snake's head in.
I can just remember pausing mid-lime and salt lick to wonder if my budding Buddhist intention—to do no harm to all living beings—applied to snakes as well. But even that thought was forgotten in the charge of Lloyd's vitriolic rant at the foolishness of approaching a sidewinder. I nearly sobered up on the spot.
The two of you certainly looked soberer, gazing down at the bloodied head of the snake.
As a desert tale, the evening turned out to be less mythical and more cautionary. For some time after, I wondered why Lloyd couldn't have just told you to back away, rather than letting the snake die for your error. I guess we all know that stories about a desert night ride are intended to be mythological, but sometimes a sacrifice is called for in their making.
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The only reason we think our Good Times are not with us any more is because we’re not living in the NOW.
We tend to think that the past was better, that we’ve “lost it somehow,” and that nothing as good will ever come along again.
Or we think that the future will be better but first we have to wait for it to get here.
These are tricks of the mind.
Read or listen to Tolle’s books starting with “The Power of NOW.” He explains “The Present Moment” better than anyone else. The Present Moment is not:
If you think NOW is one of those three, you should read Tolle (pronounced toll-eee).
I think we should say, “These are the ‘good old days.’ “
And then we can Make It So.
Of course we can. We’re headstrong and powerful.
We can do anything. We have no fear.
Nothing can stop us from finding and enjoying Our Happiness.
Alan Jackson Sings Remember When