The First Time I Met Eric Hord
Mama Cass huddled on a chaise lounge with my lead singer. They had been like this for three days. Talking art? Poetry, love, life. Singer/songwriter meets Mama Cass the great patron. It was decided. We would come to LA. We were only sixteen years old. Our lead singer was a bit older. It seemed like a normal progression for me. We were as big as we could get on Clearwater Beach, so our friend and booking agent put this meeting together. I had no idea how unique this moment was. The hotel pool had been closed for the night, only our two bands sat around. There was no booze, no drugs, no groupies, no music business. Just us. John Phillips was on the phone in a room with the door open to let in the balmy Lakeland, Florida night air. Denny came and went like a ghost, occasionally murmuring to Michelle who just sat and watched, the benevolent Rock Queen, having a precious moment of quietude. My band had watched the Mama’s and Papa’s working huge sold out audiences for the last three nights. It was a life lesson in professionalism and pure joyful music. I approached their drummer, sitting at a cabana table. “You’re great.” I said offering my hand. He smiled and shook my hand. It was Hal Blaine, the greatest session drummer. “Fast Eddie..from Chicago.” He said with a grin. “This is The Doctor” he said with a gesture to the lanky red haired lead guitar player in a white Ben Casey doctor’s shirt, clutching a black doctor’s bag. We talked small talk for a moment, they congratulated us on coming to LA to record. Then Eric, “the Doctor” opened his black medical bag and pulled out a Fuzz Tone. He gave it to Wally. “Here. Take this.” he said. It was like Spock beaming down to a small town and giving a kid a phazer. We were speechless. This kind of technology would not arrive in Florida for years. It was one of the most gracious things I had ever witnessed. Soon after this night though, some of the parents of “Those Five” had their last say. We did not go to LA at the virginal age of sixteen. I protested, yelling, “You’re ruining my career!” Several years later, I am sitting in the drum booth at Capitol records in LA recording for Vince Martin. Eric Hord walks into the session. I jump up and shake his hand, “You probably don’t remember but you gave my lead guitar player your fuzz tone when you were in Florida with the Mama’s and Papa’s. He started laughing, then I was laughing. Then Van Dyke Parks was laughing and Vinnie was laughing.
“You’re Right!” Eric said. “I don’t remember!”