By 1967, I had been playing the drums for a few years, and had drifted in and out of a few local bands working the usual joints in the Eagle Rock, Glendale and Pasadena area’s of Southern California! And of course Hollywood!
However, I learned quickly that finding work was one thing, getting paid was another! Which is the reason why, when I was approached by a rival band to join them, I didn’t think about it too long!. The Band was “The Spydres” ( Yes Spydres with a “Y” like The Byrds! At the time The Spydres, seemingly had it all, matching uniforms, paying gigs AND…..A Manager! I was in! However, things got off to a rather bumpy start. It didn’t take long, once I felt comfortable as The Spydres new drummer before I started asking questions, mostly about “Our “Manager“his name was Matt and he was very well known in and around the Eagle Rock area, not as a manager or a music biz executive or even a businessman No! Matt was well known because he owned the only Gas station in Eagle Rock! Matt was a no – nonsense, ex Marine with yellow teeth, a short fuse and an evil grin that was simply frightening! But, none of that seemed to matter to anyone, as Matt was OUR MANAGER! Meanwhile during band practice, still trying to reason things out and curious about what Matt really did! I got a bit frustrated! So I raised a question to my new band mates…”Guys, can anyone tell me exactly what Matt does? After all, “WE PAY HIM! And I just don’t get it? ” At first there was silence, until I heard the sound of the rehearsal room door creak open from behind me only to hear that sneering angry voice fill the room. “I do all the dirty shit you can’t or don’t wanna do” You Got it drummer boy ? Oh yeah, I got it Matt! And with that, Matt was gone. Oh My God! What did I just do? But there I was looking at my band mates, all four staring down at the floor shaking their heads In disbelief! Luckily to my grateful relief not another word was ever said about that horrific incident except privately one night between Matt and Myself, a couple weeks later. In 1967 the most coveted and sought after “Club Gig” was The Hullabaloo Club near the corner of Sunset and Vine! Everyone played or wanted to play The Hullabaloo Club! In the summer of ‘67 The Spydres were the opening band for whoever was the headliner each weekend! (Which, this summer, included The Doors, The Turtles and The Seeds) But this coveted prime Gig came with a catch, you see, The owners of The Hullabaloo also opened a club in El Monte Calif. called “The Street Scene” and therein lies the rub, if you were offered a night or two at The Hullabaloo Club you were also obligated to play a few sets at “The Street Scene.” In 1967 El Monte was a Sub/Suburb just 20 miles due East from Hollywood, a small town in development and struggling to integrate the all Latino population that had kept it from fully merging with the rest of L.A. County! The Street Scene was primarily a bar with a couple pool tables and a Juke Box. So when The Hullabaloo owners started to make some necessary changes they knew finding an audience for long haired white Rock bands in this 100% Latino town could take some time and would be challenging. To say that The Spydres were a bit apprehensive about working in El Monte was an understatement! But, a deal is a deal and it was a paying gig! Most importantly it kept things sweet with The Hullabaloo Club! In short order The Spydres with Matt in tow we’re heading East on the 10 freeway for the 30 minute ride to El Monte and our first night at The Street Scene. Loading in back stage we’d peek through the curtains to get a glimpse of what our audience looked like. All, pretty Latina’s with their VERY BIG BOYFRIENDS! But they seemed harmless and actually indifferent to what ever the nights entertainment would be, and I had a quiet laugh listening to them trying to correctly pronounce “Spydres” But hell, everybody had a hard time with “Spydres ( for the record it’s pronounced “Spiders” like the eight legged Arachnid that we’re all afraid of! But I digress, in the blink of an eye “It’s Showtime” and the curtain goes up, the stage lights blind us as our lead singer back stage, proudly proclaims, “Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome The Spydres” Yes HE pronounced it correctly. Our introduction was met with nominal enthusiasm, we opened with one of our originals ( a bad idea )and watched as our indifferent audience drifted further away! Realizing our mistake we immediately segued into one of our “Go to”…”No fail”…. Rolling Stone covers! A note for note perfect cover of,…you guessed it, “Satisfaction” When your a club band playing mostly “Covers” The Stones will never let you down, and so it was this night with our Latino / El Monte audience! It certainly seemed like we had won our audience over as we finished our first set and took our break to some enthusiastic applause! My fellow Spydres hung out backstage and shared a joint, but not me, I was hot, winded and needed some fresh air…I found the back stage exit and headed outside, no sooner had I caught my breath and got my bearings’ when I was surrounded by a half dozen locals in various stages of sobriety! I wasn’t sure what they wanted but I knew it wasn’t good. Scared and nervous I ask “Can I help you guy’s with something?” ( for those of you who are repulsed by the vulgar, disgusting street language of those times….skip this part! Meanwhile, soon as I ask “can I help?” The leader of the group brandished a knife, takes one step closer to me and starts in….Help us? Hell no you Fucking Faggot / Queer bait / Girlie Boy! We’re gonna give you a HAIRCUT!… Now! I’m truly terrified! But he continues, relentlessly calling me everything in the book as the rest of the gang chimes in! But as I stood their shaking in my boots, from behind I hear that familiar sneering ANGRY voice that reverberates through these punks! Hey! We gotta problem here? A “Hush” drops over them like a blanket and as I turn and look, it’s Matt with a solid Oak Pool Que in his hand and as he moves in by my side, he rotates the Pool Que to a full vertical position with the “Butt” of the que on top at about eye level as he barks “I said What’s your problem here? The tough kid responds “Yeah your Girlie Boy needs a haircut! Matt responds, he’s the drummer in my band and it’s time for you and your friends to get the fuck out of here!….At this point the back and forth rhetoric gets frighteningly heated until Matt raises his hand and sez “Come here son! None of us are sure what Matt’s saying or thinking but, the tough guy steps up to Matt and sez “Fuck You Old Man” Then, with lightning speed and all his formidable strength Matt SNAPS the pool que forwatd like he was swatting a fly! With great precision the “Rock -hard butt of the que hits this former tough guy square on his forehead! At first, everyone was simply stunned by the cringing/ crunching sound of a pool que striking a human skull! Then we all watched as this former punk’s eye’s rolled back in his head and he dropped to his knees and fell over! Next Matt asked if anyone else had a problem, and of course there were no takers but the last thing I remember as Matt put down his pool que was when he turned and gave me that Yellow tooth grin and snarled….“You Got it Drummer Boy”?… “Oh yes, I got it Matt!
I quickly came to admire, respect and understand Matt and all he did for The Spydres and for me, especially that summer night in El Monte!
The Spydres circa 1967! That’s me standing in the middle trying to look Tuff…