Seer & Overseer
The Clear Light Road Manager Remembers
Doug painted his room all black and had spider webs and things that he put up, kinda like the things you would get at Halloween. He kinda hung to himself, he was the main girl catcher, at the time he was one handsome devil! He always had a girl in the room for days on end. He didn't come out and join us a lot.
The Clear Light House
We had the only place to rehearse and to play, we were kinda like the precursor of Studio Instrument Rentals. When all of these bands started to emerge, almost anybody who had played a Sears Robuck guitar for six months had a band and they all seemed to getrecord contracts. But for that period of time there was no place where you wouldn't have the cops over, the volume level that we all played at was sorta like Spinal Tap; “you see this Marshal, it goes to 11!”
We had two drummers, the first band with two drummers and we bi-amped Doug because of the volume of the two drummers. He would have one amplifier so he could hear himself, because we didn't have monitors, and he would put the second amp over the other side of the two drummers, so it was quite a formidable sound.
When we first went on tour to the East Coast we left a couple of keys of marijuanna hidden safely in the basement for our return. After enduring a month or so of hash and low grade grass we were eager to get back to the stash, so the first thing we did on getting back to 2125 Franklin was to venture down to the basement. We were greeted by the sight of four very dead rats with big smiles on their faces and no dope, the rodents had eaten every last leaf!
We started off with Jordan Amplifiers. They were originally offered to The Doors, but as Paul Rothchild was producing us too we got freeamps. We were sort of the guinea pigs. I remember us getting the first Jordan amps, they were supposed to be delivered before our first gigs in SF. The Jordans didn't come on time so I drove up with the old equipment. All of a sudden they were ready, so they put them on a plane. We were an hour away from playing and I took Cliff De Young's Volkswagen van and, talk about no security, drove right through onto the tarmac as the plane landed and hauled the amplifiers into the truck. I made it back and hooked them up within three minutes of playing our first gig in San Francisco.
We were just teenagers and clueless about the world until we hit New York, I think coming from Chicago I may have had more street sense than anybody else but that was just by default. I mean I never lived in a ghetto, I was a suburb kid but I at least knew the attitude. So New York was quite a learning process for all of us, We were staying where all the bands stayed, the Albert Hotel which was a great place for all the underworld to show up and sell dope, and steal... So our drums were stolen and we were just crestfallen because Elektra had put the record out and put a big billboard up on Sunset Strip but we just weren't selling any records and they were making decisions at the record company about our future. All of a sudden the bottom kinda fell out in terms of support from Elektra so we didn't feel like we could get the drums replaced, we didn't know what the hell to do. Then we got contacted by one of these people who had befriended us. We were easy to befriend because we were in from out of town and like right out of Maybury RFE (adopts cornball accent) “Hi, how are ya? Wanna be our friends? Sure!” So this fellow contacted us and said I know where your drums are, and we were like “Oh God what a life saver, do you think you can get them for us?” The guy wanted 50 bucks to get them back, I think it was 50 bucks, it may have been more. So he said OK we are gonna go up to Central Park. Only one set of drums had been stolen, a set of Rodgers drums if I recall. So Michael Ney and myself went up to Central Park on Fifth Avenue with this guy, and he said “OK you wait here on this park bench and I'll go get your drums, gimme the money.” We waited 2 or 3 hours on that park bench; he never cameback, nothing! screwed!
We did it initially in Los Angeles where we played, I can't remember if we did that anyplace else, we may have do it elsewhere as we closed the set with that song. That was the song for our fans although it never hit the radio, but for our fans Mr Blue was...”He's got his eyes on you...” So my coming out and shooting the cap pistol in a policeman's hat and “killing” Cliff at the end of that song... well we didn't do too many encores, it didn't lend itself to encores! That was a song that Paul Rothchild brought to the band, Cliff did a tour de force performance on it, being an actor he loved it, he just really went crazy on it. He always hated being compared to Jim Morrison, so this was his opportunity to show his own unique talent.
The Second Album
Clear Light was truly a musical family until the record didn't happen and Paul Rothchild tried to save the group or save his own face. Whatever his motivations were, probably all of those, he tinkered with what was in many respects the L A version of the Grateful Dead.
Tim Buckley was opening for us at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, and Tim and I were on the roof watching the riots. Later I was told that there were bullet holes in the walls of the Grande Ballroom, that it had come under fire. I can remember the Grande as if it were justyesterday, because they had this very, very long tall staircase that went up 2 or 3 floors to the main ballroom. They had no elevator so to have to carry all the equipment, especially Ralph Schuckett's B3 organ, not to mention 2 sets of drums and all these huge amplifiers up and down those stairs was just a bitch. It came at the end of our first tour and the guys were tired and I was tired, and we didn't haveanyone but me and the guys. I actually got into a spat with Michael Ney and said you can carry your own drums down, all this with a riot going on. At that time they had a lot of local Tv shows that were like Dick Clark's bandstand but they had evolved to the point where they could do simulated light shows and they started taking psychedelic bands. So from Detroit we crossed over to Windsor Ontario to do a show to promote the album in Canada. There was a big community of pot heads and collectives in Detroit, it was a major centre so we were embraced and taken care of. Detroit has been little recognised as being one of the hip centres of the time, the pot heads and the people who were taking acid all came out to see Clear Light because of the name, and we were the poster children for acid.
Robbie wasn't a very good guitar player so Paul pulled him from the band and when we went on our New York trip we left him in charge of the house, 5215 Franklin. When we came back we found he had spent his whole time in his room taking these old amplifiers that we had had prior to the Jordans and putting coloured light bulbs in them, hooking his guitar into them and finding some mechanism to make them work with the music. So we are back about 2 or 3 weeks and Olivier Coquelin, who had a club we played in New York, had built a club called the Electric Circus out at the end of the old pier at Santa Monica. That he had turned into a “light palace,” the sort of place we had seen in New York, he had spent a lot of money and he had made this thing into a living light show, not just the oil and projection stuff, the whole place vibrated with lights. So here's poor Robbie with these two little boxes on stage in the biggest lightshow that anyone had ever seen, and he just was completely blown away. We never saw him again after that.
Bob had an excellent voice and was a marvellous musician, but he, I think, felt he was the titular head of the Clear Light family after Robbie left and would butt heads with Paul. With Paul's concept that he had taken this band and tried to put his stamp on it and sell it as the next Doors, it was inevitable that the reality that it wasn't the next Doors but was the Grateful Dead of Los Angeles would become clearer over time. At every band meeting we had with Paul Bob was insistent on keeping to the core values that the band had and Paul was into moulding it. It was the hardest moment of our lives when this came down, but Paul said there would be no second album, which there wasn't in reality, that there would be no future for the band with Bob, and there was this horrible band meeting and they let Bob go. Paul had an agenda and he didn't pop it all at once and it was probably two months later that he went after Cliff, and then it wasn't what it was. They got Kootch in and he was a great musician in his own right, one of the top studio guitarists, but he was New York and it was a whole different thing. This was a family, a Grateful Dead thing, there were nights that were magical and nights that were just horrible. Later Bob turned up in SF and lived here. Nancy was Jack Holzman's executive assistant left her fine paying job as assistant to Chairman of the Board at Elektra to run off with “the circus.” I think she met up with Bob here for the first time when she came on tour with a couple of girlfriends of other members of the band.
Post Script from Doug Lubahn
What you left out is the day you went into one of the New York clubs we had played the night before, to get the group pay. REMEMBER? We were all sitting outside in the car, as you went in with a suit and a briefcase. Ten minutes later, you come flying out the door with your tie flying behind you in the wind yelling START THE CAR, BURN RUBBER! LET'S GET THE HELL OUT O' HERE!!!�; And we did! I remember thinking that you had just robbed the place! That is still one of the funniest moments in my entire career. You really got us GOOD!!! I will never forget it!