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Hometown: Redwood City, California -- living in SoCal since 76

When did you begin seriously listening to Top 40 radio?
Summer of '62

What station and where?
KYA 1260 and KEWB 910... KYA had the better jocks -- Emperor Gene Nelson (I too was a Royal Commando -- good for discounts at Playland at the Beach and that was about it, as I recall); Russ "The Moose" Syracuse, Bobby Mitchell 3-6pm, Tom Donahue 6-9 and Tommy Saunders 9-midnight (first guy to play a solid straight hour of Beatles that I can remember). On KEWB I remember Bobby Dale and Ron Lyons (who stayed with them through about ten format changes, didn't he?) and that's about it.

For better or worse, earliest songs etched in your memory?
"Pussy Cat" by the Ames Brothers. One of my brothers had the 45 record. On the radio I remember "Calcutta" by Lawrence Welk, "The Chipmunk Song" and "Hound Dog." No wonder I turned out the way I did.

If stranded in the jungle, ten songs you would take:
"Can I Change My Mind" (Tyrone Davis)
"It's Alright" (JJ Jackson, although it's getting overplayed on oldies radio in LA now
"No Particular Place to Go" (Chuck Berry's best guitar solo as far as I'm concerned)
"Come Go With Me" (Del-Vikings
"Since I Fell For You" (Lenny Welch -- primo pipes)
"You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma" (Frizzel and West)
"You Never Even Called Me By My Name" (David Allan Coe)
"She's No Lady, She's My Wife" (Lyle Lovett)
"Smoke from a Distant Fire" (Sanford Townsend Band)
"Summer Wind" (Frank Sinatra)

First few records owned and why:
"Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" Rolf Harris -- why not? He played his diggeree doo, mate and he tanned his hide when he died, Clyde and that's it hanging on the shed -- does it get any better than that?

One Song, a Hit the first time you heard it and why:
"Honky Tonk Woman" by the Stones -- the guitar lick which came after the second line just seemed like something every air guitarist at school would soon be doing.

First trace of show business in your blood:
I played a wicked accordion at age eight -- right hand only, of course.

First performance in front of a captive audience:
We had a trio of accordionists in my fourth grade class at Taft School. The teacher punished our class by making them listen to us around Christmas time.

Between the ages of 6 and 16 what was your favorite radio station:
For music: KYA - then KFRC... KSFO (for the Giants and Niners) and before it was top 40 -- KFRC for listening to the then San Francisco Warriors in the dark, with Bill King - best sports anouncer ever -- even counting Vin Scully or Chick Hearn.

Between the ages of 6 and 16 your average daily exposure to music?
always on in the background at least 2 hours a day

Ulterior uses of music (this one's for Julio but if you can answer it too):
To get out of doing real work

Name of first band?
Dan & Jean & the Bop a Dips

Musical repertoire of first band?
Oldies between beers

Earliest musical influences and why:
Jerry Lee, Floyd Cramer, Victor Borge

Between ages of 6 and 16 favorite comedians?
Bob Hope, Jonathan Winters, Charlie Manna... and all the movie comedians on KGO's Mad Mad Movie every Saturday morning: Abott & Costello, Red Skelton, etc.

Punch line of earliest joke you can recall:
"I know! Why don't you take your flashlight and look in mommy's cave and see if you can find my little red bike." (Don't ask me why the dirty ones have stuck in my mind.)

Who or what influenced your sense of humor?
Bob Hope, Ben Hecht, Woody Allen

How did you first hear the name BWGP?
A buddy of mine had seen them at the Sand Castle and raved about them, so in Spring of '73 I went to see them at Homer's Warehouse in Palo Alto, where they were supposed to open for Asleep at the Wheel. (I was a sportswriter for the Redwood City tribune, and was moonlighting doing some reviews). Unfortunately, Asleep's bus had a flat or something so after a long delay (and a couple pitchers of beer later) Butch and the Boys went on and did three sets. I died laughing (especially at the Big Fella show) and saw they had no piano player (Carino was sick that night or something). I got to know Gary and Karl that night and then after writing a glowing review (major suck-up action, I know) I got to know Jerry. When Carino went down with tetanus Jerry asked me to fill in for a few weeks and it turned into a three year full-time gig and this 20-year part time session work.

When and why did you join BWGP?
see way too long answer above

Earliest recollection of performing with BWGP?
First night was at the Boathouse, Dec. 73. Overlooking Sausalito, packed house, the Hells Angels providing "security", The owner, John Ballestrasi (however you spell it) working the room, and Wally trying to work the blonde named CiCi(?).

Most desperate BWGP moment:
July 1974 -- First performance without Jules, Karl or Hag and first show with with Rob and Peter Gordon. A theater in Santa Rosa... Bob does the talk-up to "Misty" and then says Mister Music Man, if you please... amd Perry (our lighting man) turns every light in the house off and I can't see the friggin' keys... I just put my hands down and start playing ( I think I was about two steps off, but the way I played anyway -- no one noticed, much like now) although as Perry slowly brought the lights up, I eventually hit the right lead-in key for Bob.

Most embarrassing moment performing with BWGP:
So many, so little time... Stretch Fortune (Bob was sick, so for some reason Gary and Jerry thought I could pull off the DJ routine. I was so nervous, all I could do was some stupid laugh) Never Can Say Godbye during our dance set in Saskatoon -- I think that will always be a band classic moment.

Fondest recollection of BWGP:
In no particular order:
1)Indianapolis 1976 - Johnny B screaming at the top of his lungs "She's biting my *** off!" at about 3:30am in our Indianapolis rent-a-pad, and then moments later telling us to go back to bed, everything is under control.
2) Rome, Georgia - 1976 - when the huge Big Fella sign lit up revealing the redneck boys ready to throw stuff at us.
3) Saskatoon 1975 - Bob pretending to be Yogi Bear ordering food from Gerald Ford at Jack in the Box and killing Perry who was dying laughing.
4) Winnipeg 1975 - Sunday lunch with the Strippers at Lake Winnipeg. (actually that was more weird than anything else).
5) 1983-present - The look on women's faces when Laz turns around for the Tom Jones bit, revealing the strategically placed sock -- always classic.
6) 1974-76 -- Vancouver and The Cave -- watching Nixon resign at the Fraser Arms, the Sylvia Hotel... Tim and Kevin and basketball at Kitsilano Beach by day, hitting the Columbia and LaBatts's Breweries with Harry Kirkpatrick... Johnny B booking me to make some extra bucks playing piano at the female impersonators lunch shows that Stan Grozina somehow thought would be a hit.
7)1974 Sacramento - Johnny B doing a Freduian and saying "Mary Jo Kopechne" had been expelled -- the Oaks in Sacramento.
8) 1974-76 -- Playing with Commander Cody and the Boys.
9) 1974? -- Backing up Chuck Berry for two-and-a-half hours in Monterey , with no set list, no idea what song we're doing next or in what key, and doing a piano solo for 96 bars (I thought Chuck would only want me to do a standard 12 so I went all out, and then he let me go for 12 more, and then another 12 and I was having severe arm fatigue and cramps by bar 72) and then having Chuck invite the crowd on stage only to find out seconds later that he's boogied out of there, and we have to finish and then get our equipment off stage before it's toast.
10) The whole process. The hectic wait til the last minute sketches with Gary, still the funniest writer I've ever worked with. The Sunday and Wednesday practice before the shows when we finally get a chance to rehearse the new sketches and then start chopping away the chuffa and cricket fodder and revising lines and just making it work. Gary somehow amazingly coming up with fifteen new funny lines; Bob being his usual pain until he gets an audience -- and then making it fifty times better than we imagined). Julio, Laz and Craig just not being afraid to commit -- 90% of the battle. Jery's calm, efficient organization, Dede's voice, the boys in the band quickly adapting to left hand turns we throw at them on the spot...the guys to just trust us on faith and they do (even when they shouldn't) and it usually works... I think.
Last, and most importantly, the lasting friendships, the comraderie and the shared experiences. That's something we have and no one else ever can... although some of the wives may not necessarily think of that as a good thing.

Finest sketches:
Big Fella Show is still a classic -- Love Notes to the Big Fella
Unabomber (Return to Sender),
Lucky Strike Singers,
OJ Jeopardy.
Phil Donahue/Pete Rose/Wade Boggs/Margo Adams
Elvis Camp
Hey Little Girl (Prince Charles and Princess Di)
Jose & Renee (although it kind of kept growing over the years)
Father Duffy (ditto)
Call me crazy -- but I always laughed at Wally doing Jolson in blackface -- especially in Atlanta -- we were pretty stupid then, weren't we?

Not so finest sketches:
Stretch Fortune I think, via trims and a couple new jokes, we somehow rescued a lot of our bad stuff and turned it into okay bits.

Weirdest BWGP moment (on or off stage):
Mister Peanut performing with us in Vancouver is right up there. (He was a performance artist
The Santa Clara College fight when Julio and Jerry went after the guys who threw beer cans at us.
Laz hitting his head when he misstepped on his jump into the crowd.
Up in Redding when the bass singer from the Coasters, bolstered by more than a few drinks, kept wanting to get on stage with us.
Oh, and Saskatoon -- right before we get ready to go on and the lovesick boyfriend trying to win back his waitress girlfriend. She says no and to prove his love he sticks his hand into the deep fryer.

How do you explain your role in BWGP the 19th Annual Farwell Performance to new friends or colleagues who have never heard of BWGP and didn't know you have a secret closet life?
I start to tell the entire story of the band and its social relevance to the people of Guatemala and by the time I reach the Eric Burdon in Santa Cruz chapter, people have usually fallen asleep on me and I kind of sheepishly let myself out.


  © 2005 Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs