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Provostian Moments Vol. IX: Davie Allan & The Arrows

29 Apr

What did DAVIE ALLAN & THE ARROWS, THE DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND and THE DREAM SYNDICATE and all have in common? Bassist Dave Provost, that’s who. Who has played in musical aggregations with the likes of AL GREEN, SKY SAXON, and KATHY VALENTINE? Dave Provost has.

Dave is a kind of rock n roll Zelig, somehow popping up at all the crucial turns and twists in LA rock history during the past 4+ decades. Over the years his formidable musical & rhythmic chops got him seats next to some seriously world-class musicians, while his gregarious, outgoing nature had all the rest inviting him to their after-gig parties. And now, he’s now spilling the beans about it all, starting with this post.

This is really, really good news to those of us who appreciate just where this man’s walked and rocked in his lifetime. So please: do take a seat at the feet of Mr Dave Provost for a spell, and follow him in his search for lost rock n roll time.

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Davie Allan & The Arrows

n 1965, I wanted to be James Bond as much as every other acned adolescent boy. In the darkness of the Van Nuys Fox Theater, I watched the short skateboarding film Skaterdater that was used as the intro to Thunderball. The music score was terrifying. The massive theater was filled with the fuzz drenched guitar sound of Davie Allan & the Arrows.

Davie Allan, also known as King Fuzz, provided the soundtracks for over 40 of the coolest cult films of all time. With close ties to director Roger Corman and the production of Mike Curb, The Arrows became the best selling instrumental band of 1967. Their hit single “Blues Theme” from The Wild Angels would be responsible for the formation of countless garage bands for the next four decades, including Van Halen, who worked the song up as their first number. The iconic photo of the 6’5″ Davie Allan holding a double neck Mosrite guitar is forever etched in the minds of cave-teens worldwide.

I couldn’t watch a teen dance show on TV without seeing the Arrows. They were ringers for other Tower recording artists, including Max Frost & the Troopers, the Hands of Time, and the Chocolate Watchband. The Arrows appeared on TV’s Get Smart, and in Corman’s film The Hard Ride. Davie is also the uncredited vocalist on the theme song of Corman’s Glory Stompers. Needless to say, I became Davie Allan’s biggest fan.

My friend Chris Ashford is the man who first released the Germs on his indy label What? Records. In 1993 Chris was producing Davie Allan’s new album, and he asked me to play bass. Original Arrow Drew Bennet was also in the band. For the first two years we played LA shows with bands like X and Agent Orange, and became Hollywood’s cool party band. When the film Pulp Fiction was released in 1995 the Instro scene exploded. Even though the Arrows weren’t on the soundtrack, we were rediscovered by a new generation of fans. Rhythm guitarist Drew Bennet did not want to tour, and was replaced by the lovely miss Carman Hillebrew, formerly with the Dayglo Abortions. Together we played on bills with Link Wray, Dick Dale, and the Lively Ones. We also toured Europe, and sold out a show at the Garage in London. Davie and I happily continued to write and record songs for Roger Corman soundtracks too.

When we played on the starting line of LA’s gigantic annual motorcycle rally/charity fund raiser, the Love Ride, there were ten thousand Harley Davidsons revving up their engines as we launched into “Blues Theme”. But the real chaos was yet to come.

Jerry Lewis, the event’s host waited in his dressing room trailer as celebrities like Peter Fonda and Pamela Anderson mingled with the crowd. The radio DJ Doctor Demento was our MC. Ten kids in wheelchairs had been rolled on stage, and were placed right in front of our powerful amps. The kids had Muscular Dystrophy, and were to be interviewed by Mr Lewis. Our drummer had very specific instructions to play a long snare drum roll, as a cue to bring Mr Lewis to the stage, but first there was to be an unveiling of the original oil painting of the new Love Ride poster.

Over the years many of the world’s greatest living artists such as David Hockney and Peter Max had donated their talents to the charitable cause, and this year’s poster art was painted by my hero Stanley Mouse. Even if you don’t know the name, you’ve seen his work. His 1960’s psychedelic posters for San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom are American treasures, and the originals fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. Stanley Mouse looked like a real hippy as he stood in the crowd next to Anna Nicole Smith who was asking for his autograph.

During the unveiling, our stupid ass drummer played the long snare roll too early, and Jerry Lewis came bounding to the stage. Jerry Lewis quickly realized that this was a miscue, and defaulted into his famous slapstick mode. He grabbed the painting like it was a 10 cent vaudeville prop, and proceeded to stretch it over his head. The fat biker security guards tackled Stanley Mouse to the ground as he ran to the stage to rescue his valuable masterpiece.

Mr Lewis then stood on Stanley Mouse as he taunted him with a “Hey Biker Biker” in his best Nutty Professor voice. To add insult to injury Jerry Lewis successfully ripped his head through the painting, and danced like a striper as he wore it like a beauty contest sash. Dr Demento turned to me and said “Looks like the King of Comedy is a little out of control this morning. Why don’t you play a song?” But we couldn’t without blowing out the eardrums of some unfortunate children.

Later that same day, The Arrows played behind a transsexual fashion show in Silverlake, but it was like a midwest ice cream social in comparison. Davie and I are still good pals, and I’m sure we’ll play more crazy shows together.

– Dave Provost

Provostian Moments Vol. III: The Textones

7 Apr

What did DAVIE ALLAN & THE ARROWS, THE DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND and THE DREAM SYNDICATE and all have in common? Bassist Dave Provost, that’s who. Who has played in musical aggregations with the likes of AL GREEN, SKY SAXON, and KATHY VALENTINE? Dave Provost has.

Dave is a kind of rock n roll Zelig, somehow popping up at all the crucial turns and twists in LA rock history during the past 4+ decades. Over the years his formidable musical & rhythmic chops got him seats next to some seriously world-class musicians, while his gregarious, outgoing nature had all the rest inviting him to their after-gig parties. And now, he’s now spilling the beans about it all, starting with this post.

This is really, really good news to those of us who appreciate just where this man’s walked and rocked in his lifetime. So please: do take a seat at the feet of Mr Dave Provost for a spell, and follow him in his search for lost rock n roll time.

_____________________________________________________

ever name your band after a city, or for that matter a drug. In 1976, I joined a band that was signed to ABC Dunhill. They had an album out, a lifetime supply of Lone Star beer, and I needed a road trip. They were from a small town near Houston called Navasota. Which was ironic, because their name was Navasota. It was as close to being in the Hells Angels as you can get. A Southern boogie band that could rock with the best of them, Navasota were a hugh regional draw. We played legendary rooms like the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin.              

Texas treats it’s musicians like royalty. Unlike the rest of the world, Texas parents would rather have their daughter marry a bass player then a doctor or lawyer (Waylon must be smiling).  Navasota had a hard and fast rule: women must be shared with the whole band. After a show in Austin, I met a charming young lady named Kathy Valentine. I was just enjoying hanging out with her, but my band had other ideas. Now, I do have some scruples. Sitting with her in a coffee shop, talking music all night, was alright with me. Navasota shipped me back to California the next day.                                                                                                                                                              
Three years later, I was playing with Kathy and her friend Carla Olson in The Textones out in Los Angeles. They had played together in an Austin band named The Violators, often considered the first late 70’s Texas punk band. Both had lived in England. Kathy had played with Girlschool, while Carla had worked with Nick Lowe.

LA was hopping again. Great indy labels sprang up: Dangerhouse, Slash, and later SST. The scene was a mix of music, art, and fashion. The better bands found their own unique niche: X, The Screamers, The Alley Cats, and The Weirdos were my favorites. I also liked pop groups like The Know and The Zippers.  My band The Textones were carpetbaggers, like our fellow Texans The Plugz. The notion of being an import weighs heavier in LA than in more sophisticated cities like New York.

As much as I hate to admit it, The Runaways had broken the novelty of being a female musician. Girls no longer felt compelled to overplay just to prove that they could hold their own with the boys. We befriended a lot of bands of various styles, and painted ourselves into a corner. We became The Official Opening Act of Los Angeles, opening for Teenage Jesus & The Jerks one night, and The Cowsills the next. Los Angelenos have always been Anglophiles, and our Southern drawl was no match to the British accents that were invading our town.

Ted Caroll of Chiswick records liked our “Texas beat”, and as The Violators had opened for The Damned in San Antonio, he signed us to a one off deal. An unreleased Tom Petty song on one side, and Kathy’s tune “Vacation” on the flip. This would be the last record ever recorded at Shelter studios. During playbacks we could hear loud popping sounds, which on closer inspection we discovered were just some hillbillies shooting at beer bottles on the roof. Those hillbillies were The Dwight Twilley Band, and it was the beginning of a long friendship.

Other LA bands signed with UK labels. The Go-Go’s went with Stiff, and Holly & The Italians signed with Oval and moved to London. We also cut a 7-inch for IRS that received the lowest score in the history of American Bandstand’s Rate A Record. This is because they had played the wrong side – a ballad about wife beating that the kids couldn’t dance to. But having a record out gave us the cache that we needed. We were no long playing at Chino Prison with The Plimsouls, we were opening tour dates for Gang Of Four and The Ramones, and were still able to play honkytonks in Austin with groups like The Big Boys, Joe King Carrasco, Double Trouble, and Doug Sahm.

When we appeared at a club called Zeros in Fort Worth, the taxidermist next door hadn’t payed his electric bill in over a week – the stench of rotting animals permeated the wall behind the stage. The cowboy that owned the club had no sense of smell due to cocaine abuse, and demanded that we play three sets to an empty house. Kathy Valentine quit The Textones the following night, only to join The Go-Go’s soon after.

Our drummer Markus Cuff and I stayed on with Carla as a trio. We no longer had Kathy’s insight or song catalog, however we were still well known enough to procure a 6-month weekend residency at The Whisky back in LA. Being the house band at the Whisky a Go Go had been a flossy gig at one time, first held by Johnny Rivers back in 1964. But our opening status put us more on the level of The Leaves.

Carla Olson had a vision of us being a country music crossover. No one liked this change, including our fans. After a disastrous gig with Echo & The Bunnymen, I left the group and joined Twilley alum Phil Seymour to promote his album on Boardwalk Records. Richard d’Andrea of The Know replaced me in the new Carla Olson and The Textones.

– Dave Provost

Provostian Moments Vol. II: Rodney’s English Disco

2 Apr

What did DAVIE ALLAN & THE ARROWS, THE DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND and THE DREAM SYNDICATE and all have in common? Bassist Dave Provost, that’s who. Who has played in musical aggregations with the likes of AL GREEN, SKY SAXON, and KATHY VALENTINE? Dave Provost has.

Dave is a kind of rock n roll Zelig, somehow popping up at all the crucial turns and twists in LA rock history during the past 4+ decades. Over the years his formidable musical & rhythmic chops got him seats next to some seriously world-class musicians, while his gregarious, outgoing nature had all the rest inviting him to their after-gig parties. And now, he’s now spilling the beans about it all, starting with this post.

This is really, really good news to those of us who appreciate just where this man’s walked and rocked in his lifetime. So please: do take a seat at the feet of Mr Dave Provost for a spell, and follow him in his search for lost rock n roll time.

_____________________________________________________

Rodney's English Disco

was a teenybopper when I had first met Kim Fowley, at an afternoon Doors show at Devonshire Downs on July 15, 1967. Kim was standing behind me, when he overheard me tell a friend that I’d ditched my paper route to be there. He grabbed me, and yelled: “That’s the spirit of Rock n Roll! Don’t ever lose that.” I never have.

The opposite reaction to the 70‘s singer/songwriter scene happening at the Troubadour was Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco on Sunset. A small room with a large dance floor, mirrored walls, jailbait, and quaaludes. Kids from the Valley spoke with fake British accents, and dressed like bisexual Disney characters. The music was great: Roxy, Bowie, Dolls, Quatro. My head’s about to explode just thinking about it.

Rodney would showcase live bands from time to time, including Zolar X and The Hollies. He really took a risk one night with former Seeds frontman Sky Saxon though. Kim Fowley had introduced me to a very overweight Iggy Pop earlier that evening. Iggy was my hero. He was more excited to see Sky than a kid waiting for Santa. He was also fucked up on drugs that they still don’t have names for today.

The thin white crowd didn’t know what to expect as a bevy of hippie girls walked in the room with their dogs and incense. Walking behind them was the most healthy suntanned version of Jesus I’d ever seen. Sky was at the top of his game; his backup band featured young guitarist Randy Rhoads. At one point Iggy grabbed the mike, screamed something about Hitler, sang “Pushin’ Too Hard” and then crawled under a table.  Sky’s response was “that’s really beautiful, man.”

A good time was had by all. Sky left with his seven wives, and Iggy left with two chubby lesbians.

– Dave Provost

Provostian Moments Vol. I: Remembrance Of Gigs Past

30 Mar

What did DAVIE ALLAN & THE ARROWS, THE DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND and THE DREAM SYNDICATE and all have in common? Bassist Dave Provost, that’s who. Who has played in musical aggregations with the likes of AL GREEN, SKY SAXON, and KATHY VALENTINE? Dave Provost has. And who’s gonna take the reins of this blog for the next dozen or so serialised posts? That’s right, Dave Provost is.

Dave is a kind of rock n roll Zelig, somehow popping up at all the crucial turns and twists in LA rock history during the past 4+ decades. Over the years his formidable musical & rhythmic chops got him seats next to some seriously world-class musicians, while his gregarious, outgoing nature had all the rest inviting him to their after-gig parties. And now, he’s now spilling the beans about it all.

This is really, really good news to those of us who appreciate just where this man’s walked and rocked in his lifetime. So please: do take a seat at the feet of Mr Dave Provost for a spell, and follow him in his search for lost rock n roll time.

_____________________________________________________

proclaiming "I'm four your older than rock n roll" never works as a pick-up line

he San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles was quite the destination in the early 1950s. Small ranch style houses, orange trees, movie stuntmen, and well stocked bomb shelters, all built by cold war paranoids. My parents moved there from Nashville in 1949.  My father had played piano with the Big Bands, and had written some hits. Session work was plentiful for my dad as Hollywood opened top flight recording studios.

A lot of great musicians would rehearse in our living room: Barney Kessel, Howard Roberts, Johnny Ray, Dorsey Burnette, and Art Pepper. There were songwriters Wayne Shanklin, Johnny Mercer, Cindy Walker, and comedians Milton Berle and Mort Saul. After I expressed interest in learning the guitar, my dad set me up with Carol Kaye, who loved to teach.  I would spend all of the money that I made from my paper route on records, lots of records. The first record I bought was “Raindrops” by Dee Clark, others were “Hippy Hippy Shake” by Chan Romero, and “Work With Me Annie” by Hank Ballard. We spoke rockabilly in our family, and we worshiped Phil Spector.

In the Valley every house had a garage, and after Hard Day’s Night every garage had a band. I was not a Beatles fan; I went for The Kinks, Yardbirds, and The Walker Bros. I would have played music even if The Beatles had never existed, but I’d be doing it in a different world.

(NOTE: I’m sick of the typical romanticism spewed by middle aged men about being in 60s bands. So let me set the record straight. The barometer of how good you were was not how many times the police asked you to keep it down. You didn’t run the whole band through one Vox amp. You couldn’t have been as big as The Turtles. You didn’t quit music to pursue a higher education, they sent your sorry ass to Vietnam. Your girlfriend never loved you, or your band. And the only reason that you have these glorious memories is that your folks owned a station wagon. Thanks, I needed that . . .)

My first gig was in the parking lot of a supermarket grand opening. We were doing great until the Oscar Meyer Wiener Mobile pulled up, and all the kids ran over to greet a “real” star: Little Oscar, the foul mouthed dwarf who drove the vehicle.  On the weekends, we played at a club called The Image in Van Nuys. We then moved to Gazzarri’s on the Strip. I had been going to clubs for years, however I was a babe in the woods when it came to the Strip. It was so far beyond anything depicted on film.

The Whisky A Go Go became the center of my universe. Most of the 60s clubs were all ages, but within days of the riot on Sunset, The Whisky changed it’s policy to 21 and over, and exclusively booked Motown acts.  What had been the primo venue for bands like The Byrds, Love, and The Doors was now driving the scene up north to San Francisco.

Overnight, garage punk bands starting switching to soul music, and added horn sections. Farfisas were replaced by Hammond organs. It was an easy transition for me to make. I had been recording radio jingles out at Gold Star Studios. My ability to read music made me a shoe in for the soul players to exploit for cheap labor; I had to learn “steps” that we would dance, as we read the sheet music that was placed on the floor. I was now playing with older black gentlemen who carried snakeskin sax cases and knives in their Italian shoes.  Al Green did a stint in that band. There were plenty of soul clubs and Key Parties to play. During that time Booker T & The MGs became my biggest influence, and still are today.
But after almost being grazed by a bullet while playing at the downtown RnB club called The Apartment, I decided it was easier to play with guys who picked on me in Jr High School.

——

In the early 70s, everyone wanted to be The Rolling Stones. I started a band that we unfortunately named TWANG, with lead singer David Leon, who later played the role of John Lennon in Broadway’s Beatlemania, and bassist Richard Grossman, later with Rick Springfield (circa “Jessie’s Girl”). The Sunset Strip was no longer a hot spot, it was now inhabited by tourists. The teen clubs were gone. The Whisky was now a major label showcase. So, we played the only game in town: Gazzarri’s.

Gazzarri’s was completely different now. Three stages with alternating sets. Pacific Ocean (w/ Edward James Olmos) and The Bantams were always on the bill, and sometimes Tony & The Tigers featuring Hunt and Tony Sales. Mammoth, who later became Van Halen, replaced us when we were fired for playing a ballad. Sparks became the brightest light to emerge from LA during this dark, dark period.

The so called Singer Songwriter epidemic reared it’s ugly head. Need I say more? I loved the Bleeker/McDougal Folk singers like Tim Hardin, Fred Neil, Dave Van Ronk, and Brits like Fairport and Pentangle. I also loved The Jefferson Airplane. But this new crop was painful. So I left Rock behind and joined the LA production of Jaques Brel Is Alive And Well.

– Dave Provost