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Ken and Dub

This is how “bad” it has become. When you enter “Dittolino Discs” into Google you get 20 hits ** every single one of them pointing back at this blog**!! How can I do research this way? OK, there may only have been less than 50 people since the invention of the internet and search engines to enter that label name but that is beside the point. Well, here we go then, adding THE Dittolini Disc master posts then.

floydboots.com have always maintained that: “Whilst together Dub & Ken also released albums on….  Dittolino Discs”

 

Dittolini lbl

Where it gets really interesting when you look up the entries for the sole Dittolino Pink Floyd title – LIVE :

 

Pink Floyd Live 3

and the one it is based on, according to them: TMOQ’s ‘missing in Hot Wacks’ double, LIVE (2804):

 

Pink Floyd 2804 gree

 

floydboots.com then writes: “ANOTHER ODDITY IS THAT TMOQ WERE ALSO CERTAINLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DITTOLINO RECORD LABEL AND THIS TITLE WAS RELEASED ON DITTOLINO DISCS AS PINK FLOYD ‘LIVE’, BUT DIFFERENT PRESSING PLATES WERE USED (D2 A/D)…

“THIS TITLE WAS NOT LISTED IN THE ‘OFFICIAL’ TMOQ CATALOGUE WHICH WAS IN FACT PRODUCED SOLELY BY ‘DUB’ AFTER THE SPLIT, SO IT IS REASONABLE REASONABLE TO ASSUME THAT THIS ALBUM IS ENTIRELY THE WORK OF ‘KEN’ ON HIS OWN. “

[In regards to the finding that two sources exist for this Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 23 October 1970, recording, the experts do seem to be in agreement that what can be found on the vinyl bootlegs ‘TMOQ 2804’ and LIVE (Dittolino)  and the 1980s reissue CYMBALINE (TMOQ) all came from the same source tape – see http://roio.prv.pl/Pink%20Floyd%20Solo.html]

***

So, if we decide to follow the logic that ‘2804’ was Ken’s work, could we then also infer that Dittolini Discs was all Ken? This label was pressed in the Southern California as well, I would venture a guess, so that is another link.

What speaks against this is that Ken has never mentioned having been behind the Dittolino titles (not that there were that many). Any opinions on this?

031:

Reed L BHMFReed L BHMF disc

This seems to have been the point where the infamous shipping problems started: “150 pressed from the original WRMB plates. Most were lost in shipping. Exm.”

Revisit the complete post for the Sydney recording under this link.

032:

Pink Floyd 032 ptPink Floyd 032Pink Floyd 032 disc

“Roughly Half of the 200 run were lost in shipment.”

Bootleg background can be found here.

****

033:

Flamin Groovies RoxyFlamin Groovies Roxy disc

“Although 200 copies were pressed on blue vinyl, this is an extremely rare record as most of the copies were lost in shipment.”

Bootleg background info to be found here.

****

034:

Stewart R Net Wht 034Stewart R Net Wht 034 disc

“150 pressed on MCV & 150 pressed on black vinyl.”

Source: Dayton, OH – Hara Arena – 17 July 1971 [the band’s 4th American Tour following the release of their Every Picture Tells A Story album]

710717_Dayton

Side 1: Three Button Hand Me Down / Maybe I’m Amazed / Country Comforts / Love In Vain                 Side2:  Had Me A Real Good Time-Every Picture Tells A Story / Around The Plynth-An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down-Gasoline Alley-Around The Plynth

Quality:  Decent, “Exm, vocals a bit weak”, according to Hot Wacks. The ROOTIE NEWTON ROLL PRESENTATIONS version is listed as “Exs”, probably incorrect.

This album had previously been released by TMOQ as and Dittolino/ROOTIE NEWTON ROLL PRESENTATIONS  #5407 and I suspect it’s a reissue from the TMOQ plates.

Performance was the last and is the rarest of the four TMOQ Rod Stewart & The Faces titles, It was never assigned a 710XX number and is only known by its matrix # 1867.  The other three are # 71016 Plynth, # 71052 Had Me A Real Good Time and # 1817 Dancing In The Street .

Date of release: 1974 based on the closest previous release, a reissue of Dylan’s Troubled Troubadour with four extra tracks not added to the newly created insert (showing images from his 1974 live dates) and with the matrix # 1865 B / D (see final image in this post).

Stewart R & Faces Performance 1867 bluStewart R & Faces Performance 1867 tan

In discussing the TMOQ catalogue dated July 1st 1973, the initiator of the 2006 thread “Homegenizing TMOQ” on recordcollectorsguild.org wrote: “add to the previous booklet the statement “Be sure it’s a genuine “Trade Mark of Quality disc” (Dub’s?). […] Should this booklet be Dubs, according to the “genuine disc” statement, the common believe[sic] that credits the four-figures matrixes 18XX, 28XX to Ken’s records only should be revised.”

Ken: “Until [Dub] went to printed jackets I had everything he had, plus everything I was making. There were a few where I couldn’t get stampers off his mothers, either because the mother was damaged or he’d skipped that part of the process or he didn’t leave the mother at Lewis. Winter Tour and Stones at the Hollywood Palladium come to mind. But I might be wrong about those. In those few cases, my records would have a different stamper number. But for the most part, Lewis pretty much made me whatever I wanted of his.

Dub and I did not do the Greatful Dead Mammery [sic] record or the Buffalo Springfield or that Double ELP. They were done by my college pal Malcolm.

I don’t ever remember scratching out a stamper number, but I do know that some of my records had numbers changed. I had a series of different partners and pressed records in six different plants and oftentimes the same record would be given a new title and perhaps that’s why some of my stamper numbers got changed.”

***

Stewart R Net Wht altStewart R Net Wht alt 1

As can be seen in the detail above, the title “Performance”is quoted here, leading me to believe that the TMOQ version came out first. Also “Love In Vain” is correctly titled here, while it is listed as “It’s All Over Now” on the insert sheets for Performance.

Stewart R Net Wht 034 Ditto

Another version of this concert was released on this rare bootleg:

the cardboard cover using a unique folding design:

****

TMOQ 1865:

Dylan Troubl Trouba 1865

“The larger pressing plants we used, used good vinyl (virgin vinyl). The smaller ones would punch out the labels, grind up the vinyl and reuse it and this made for some clicks and pops as that vinyl had already been heated before and also no matter how hard they tried, tiny bits of paper from those labels invariably wound up in the mix. Also, there was the issue of how long you left the record in the press. A full minute made for a much better pressing than a record that was only in for twenty or thirty seconds. Those small plants wanted to make records as fast as possible. And two of those small plants that we used were pretty doggoned filthy. Dirt and dust in the vinyl before it got into the press didn’t exactly make for a good sounding record.

When we went to the bigger plants (and believe me, we wound up at the biggest) they had the vinyl come out of hoppers above the press and only used virgin vinyl, but the small ones saved the crap, gave it to us, because could we complain, go somewhere else? Well, eventually we did.”

“Yeah that pesky band between the songs on an LP. On the studio versions we would use about three seconds of paper tape, so whoever was cutting the record would know to put a band there (sometimes we didn’t thought). On the live albums we didn’t do that, didn’t know you could, though I wondered how the real companies did it. Then one day I was sitting by the lathe when the applause came on after the first song and this guy running the machine reached down and turned a knob and, as if by magic, a band appeared on the acetate and then I had to start putting song times on the tape box to warn him when to make the bands. It was so much easier when all I had to worry about was was the side over twenty-two minutes, but under twenty-eight.”

 

We remember this part from an earlier short Q&A session Ken did:

Q: Do you have a list which TMOQ titles you made on CV?

A: […]Just about every TMOQ record I did was available on colored vinyl at one time or another. We didn’t charge more for colored vinyl and we used it when we could get it. Usually when we pressed at Lewis.

“The CV records all came from one pressing plant. If they had it, they used it. A couple of the guys there liked to experiment and that’s why you have splash vinyl.

I spent two months there pressing records, because a couple of employees quit and Greg (my partner at the time) and myself really needed product. This was before we went to the big plants. We pressed only CV and made many different combinations, especially with splash white vinyl. We could be working along, making a bunch of records red, then all of a sudden, to break the monotony, we’d make a few multicolored or splash.

Led Zep Final Option disc

This particular pressing plant had all old presses, so you could change up pretty quick. We’d usually make a hundred records or so, then switch to something else. So it’s possible to get any of the early TMQ records on color, multicolor or splash vinyl. There just is no rhyme or reason for it.

Bowie In America splash

Also, on a few occasions, we’d order the whole first run, usually two hundred or so records at the time, colored, white or splashed. Later, after we shifted to the big plants, colored vinyl was no longer an option. If we ordered a hundred of a title on colored vinyl, we usually didn’t specify color. The colored vinyl at that old plant came in slabs that you heated on a hot plate, then folded, then put in the press. Each rectangular slab made one record, so it was very easy to mix the colors. Some of the hundred record run would be red, blue, green, splash or any number of colors. So as far as identification is concerned, the color of the vinyl doesn’t help. Also, I’m afraid the stamper numbers don’t help me either. If the plant had CV at the time, I asked them to use it. If they didn’t, well they didn’t. I never held up pressing a record because the plant was out of CV and I don’t think Dub did either.

Deep Purple Purple For A Day

The last things we did on colored vinyl there (if I remember right) were the two Dylan Box sets. Striptease and Toasted: the Australian Collection. We did about three hundred and fifty of each and we pressed them at the same time and we went to a lot of effort to try and make one set all green, another all red, another all blue, etc. Of course we had to mix some of the sets.

Dylan Striptease box

I know the popular belief is that we did five hundred, but back then they were specialty items and a whole bunch of trouble. It was much easier to do the color jackets then at the big plants, because we didn’t have to stuff the records. They came shrink wrapped and ready to go, so we didn’t even have to take them out of the boxes. The box sets were a whole bunch of work and at the time we didn’t think they were worth all the effort.

Much later, with a different partner, I made the mega Zeppelin box set on CV. Only a hundred of those [I believe 150 is the correct number]. My partner at the time was behind the whole thing. He hadn’t done a box set before and wasn’t aware of all the work. But to his everlasting credit, I must say we made a pretty penny off that one, so it was worth all the bother.”

Led Zep Final Option

The splash white disc image used above is one of the records from this massive set that will eventually sell for five figures in the future.

Led Zep Final Option box side

As for the matrix numbers, we didn’t think too much about that with the early ones. The guy cutting the acetate probably decided in some of the cases. Then Dub came up with the series idea. Dr. Telly wanted to only do a hundred records, starting at 1900 through 1999. I convinced him to assist me with TAKRWM which I think started at 1800. Sometimes we’d change the numbers for one reason or another.”

  • “Regular pig” vs. “smoking pig”:

It would be wrong to assume that the regular pig was Dubs only. I did many regular pigs after we split up, oftentimes I would make the same record with different labels, sometimes regular pig, sometimes smoking. Sometimes I just used whatever labels I had on hand. And Dub and I used often used stampers off the same mothers, so the records would be exactly the same. I got my pig labels and stickers the same place he got his and he got his covers the same place I got mine.

The clue as to whose record was whose might be in the rubber stamp impressions. Ten or maybe fifteen of Dub’s and my rubber stamps were exactly the same, but after we split up I went to a different place for my stamps as Dub lived in Glendale and I lived in Long Beach. There was a rubber stamp place close to where I lived, so I went there for mine. So most of the TMOQ records will be out there with slightly different rubber stamps. It would probably be hard to tell, unless you knew exactly what you were looking for, but a couple of mine had straight quotes around the title and all of Dub’s had curly quotes. However, I soon caught this and ordered new stamps with curly quotes. So if you find a “Freeze Out” or a “John Birch” with straight quotes around the title, you’ve found something rare.

If today you were to hold up one of my later Great White Wonders next to Dubs, you might see a bit of a difference in the stamp impression, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you which was which, but other than that, they were exactly the same. Very confusing, I know, but back then we were not planning on anybody caring about all this three decades later.

However, we were about making the best records possible. There never has been a perfectionist like Dub. He did his very best on every record he mastered. And I know what you mean by every record being unique, there were some I only made fifty copies of with a stamp, then did the rest in inserts, I think I did that just to confuse people. But all that said, we still never thought it would last. In fact for the longest time we thought each record would be our last. We made quick money and we spent if fast, because we were young and dumb and having a lot of fun.

From my point of view (and I’m sure Dub’s), There were no pre TMoQ records. Once Dub came up with the pig idea, we shifted the first five or six of our records over. There was nobody else before us. And until Rubber Dubber (with the exception of Norty and Ben), nobody after, except for that one Canadian guy who did that one Beatles’ record. Then, all of a sudden there was Troubled Troubadour, Herbie Howard, CBM Dave, Wooden Nickel, Liver copies galore and the floodgates were open.

I remember one time Dub and I were recording Phil Ochs at the Troubadour [Phil Ochs played at least a dozen shows there from January to February 1, 1970]. He was using the same shotgun mic he’d used to record Liver. The waitresses made sure to not walk in front of our table, kept the area between Dub’s mic and the stage clear, so as not to mess up the recording. We must have looked so official to her with our long hair and hippy clothes. I don’t have that tape anymore, wish I did.”

  • On the later years, repackaging old titles, etc.:

“Boy I’ll tell you this thread has got me to thinking about how greedy we got. Later, looking for an easy buck, we repackaged the Striptease stuff as five double record sets. Those were on black vinyl, if I remember right, because we wouldn’t have been at that old plant anymore. We also made a pretty cheesy cover that we used generically for the toasted box records (I can’t remember what it looked like, but I know it was cheesy), releasing them as five double records as well. God we were a bit slimy, repackaging that stuff over and over again. It wasn’t much fun in those later days. We were just going through the motions, trying to make money on old stampers, when it wouldn’t have been very much harder putting out something new. Lord knows, there was plenty of stuff out there.

I remember TAKRL 1900 was the Beatles live in Japan, because we did so many and we were going to start a special new label with that one. We had the rubber stamp made up and everything. But at the last minute, Dr. Telly came into the picture and Kornyphone was born. So that rubber stamp never got used (except for a couple records we sent to a guy in New York who was supposed to send them to a big account in Japan).

It was all so long ago and I seem to mostly remember the fun stuff, but it wasn’t always that way. Plus, I have to admit, I may be remembering stuff out of order, or maybe even glamorizing it a bit.

Maybe I should follow my own advice and go to some of these sites and get my facts straight, but I’m afraid if I do that, that it’ll color what I have to say. So, I guess I won’t. I’ll just keep writing it the way I remember it, without refreshing my memory with useless facts. You all will just have to remember that I am a fiction writer, and fiction writers like to tell a good story. So just take everything I say with a grain of sand.

As for your questions about various groups, if it’s not Dylan, the Beatles or the Stones, it would be info my brain has long ago flushed. And even regarding those groups, I wouldn’t know anything about stamper numbers other than what I have already posted here. I only have general knowledge, you’ll have to go elsewhere, I’m afraid, for specific knowledge. I don’t own any records anymore, or even CDs. All my music is on my hard drive. For me it was always about the music, not about the medium it was on.

Also, I will tell you that you were a bit wrong in what you told Steve about Homogenized Beatles. However, that’s a story I am going to address in one of my chapters, so you’ll have to wait on that. What Steve has is the test pressing. The first two records I did after Dub and I split were that one and the Reedy River. Steve has the test pressings for both. I was at a new plant and they didn’t know they were making bootlegs, so they naturally thought I’d want test pressings.

As far as matrix numbers and release dates, I don’t know any. And as far as what came before what, if you read through these posts you’ll see that I’ve contradicted myself on that and I probably will again. Which is true? I don’t know. Maybe neither. My posts here are about the way it coulda happened, not necessarily the way it did.

What I’m about here is the why of it all, the fun, the adventure and the downside. I’m not a collector, never was, so I don’t look at it from that kind of perspective. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’ve always considered bootlegging the same as stealing, always considered myself just a lucky crook. Our only justification was that we had no money and we wanted some. We did it for the money, me and Dub. We liked the music, sure, but we did it for the money. If we told you different, we’d be lying.

I don’t want to depreciate what I did either. We did it for the money, but it was exciting as all get out. However, you have to remember we were just kids. We thought (wrongly as it turned out) that we were breaking the law. We didn’t know we were opening the floodgates, didn’t have any sense that what we were doing was going to be important someday. Sure, we knew guys like B. Mitch Reed were playing our records and guys like Grell Marcus were writing about them, but we really thought it would all blow over. Either that, or we’d get caught by the cops and get sent up the river, which is why we were so paranoid.

Last night, these original rubber stamps used to stamp bootleg covers (in 1996 though for the “Bootleg Archive Series” – not the 1970s, as you can see from the ones included that never had a rubber stamped cover) were auctioned off on eBay. I would have been interested in a couple of them but eBay has started to exclude bidders from other countries if the seller has not listed those regions of the world in the “ships to” section (dumb move if you ask me, some of us have mailing addresses in the US too, or friends…).

rs Last Live Show

rs Spicy Beatles Songs

rs 20 x 4

rs Decca Tapes

rs File Underrs Broadcasts

The seller linked to the following story:

Vesta and I spent six months in New Zealand in a small town called Onarahi outside of Wangarai in the north. We lived next to a cemetery and on Sundays we could see the funerals outside our kitchen window. We called the people at rest there, our quiet neighbors. Being Americans we had to drive to Auckland once a month to go to the mall, because as everybody knows if an American doesn’t breathe mall air at least once a year, they die. When in Auckland we’d go to Dominion Road, one of my favorite places on Earth, and eat at one of the restaurants there. There are so many fine ones and we love to eat, so Dominion Road was made for us. And it was in one of the finer restaurants on Dominion Road that one of my ex bootleg partners—who wants to be left out of the story, so I’ll call him Smith—first brought up the idea of what would later be dubbed the “Archive Series.”

Smith was visiting and we were wining and dining him when he brought up the idea, because he had about a thousand records left over in his garage, records without covers, records doomed to sit boxed up and alone forever. But since I was never planning on returning to the States, I wasn’t interested. Besides, that part of my life was behind me. However, I told him, he could do it himself, to which he replied that it wouldn’t be the same.

When our six months were nearing an end, we went to the immigration people and tried to get an extension, something very hard to do. I told them I was a writer doing a story on the Maoris and I needed more time. They gave us three more months and not a second longer. We had to be on the plane, no excuses. It was the flight out or jail.

Two months later we gave up our house, sold our car and got a rental. We decided to drive around the country, spend some time in the wine country, fly to the top of the glaciers, jet boat on the Shotover river, parasail off a mountain, the usual touristy stuff before we had to leave. We’d planned on going to Surfer’s Paradise in Queensland and return in six months. We figured if we kept trying the Kiwis would eventually take a liking to us and let us stay.

With two days left, we left the car we’d rented for our tour of the south island, took the ferry across, rented another car we could drop at the airport in Auckland, drove out of the Hertz parking lot and three minutes later had a head on collision with sixteen-year-old drunk driver. We spent over a month in hospital and another two recuperating at in a hotel in Wellington.

Then it was back to the States, where we spent a week during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I could barely walk. Getting around by myself was difficult to say the least. I’d been using a wheelchair, then crutches and had graduated to a cane, but I couldn’t go very far. So, when we left the Big Easy, we decided to rent an Executive apartment in Seal Beach, one of those places that has a gym and a Jacuzzi, so I could work on getting my leg working again.

Smith came by to visit quite often and we’d drink wine in the evening and we’d talk about the old days when we sold boots at swap meets, dodged the law and ferried records around in the middle of the night. Ah, the old days, they always seem better than the present and the new days yet to come.

He still had those records left over from when we did the boots and I did too. He still wanted to put them in white jackets, like the original boots, but at first I still didn’t want to be bothered.

But I kept thinking back to what I did just before Vesta and I went away to Spain, after we quit the biz. I sold my collection to John Tsurgee, better known as Wizardo, for a buck fifty a record. It was a lot of records, quite a chunk of change, but not a fraction of what they’d be worth today. So, I had no records left, not one, save for those mismatched records that had been in storage along with the stuff Vesta and I didn’t want to part with.

Smith is not an avid bootleg collector, but he has the best collection going of the stuff we’d made and of the stuff Dub and I did together. If it came out in colored vinyl, he had to have all the colors. He loved those records. And he hated the fact that he had all those orphans sitting in his garage, over a thousand of them. I didn’t have that many, maybe five hundred, maybe a little less, but some of mine were ones Smith didn’t have, because I’d made them after he’d retired from the bootleg biz and had gone on to bigger and better things.

These days anybody could make these Archive records, because there’s the internet. How hard could it be to find white jackets and rubber stamps? But back then it wasn’t so easy. Smith dragged me to the library in Lakewood and we let our fingers do the walking through the L.A. Yellow Pages, looking for a place that would sell us some plain white jackets. The rubber stamps Smith had made through a friend who owned a Sir Speedy printers in Huntington Beach.

In the end, we spent a lot of money on those rubber stamps, hundreds of dollars for way over a hundred of them. And why would we do this for a product we were never going to sell? For Smith it was a no brainer, because as I said, he loved those records. For me, I didn’t love them so much, but I’d held on to them for a very long time and besides, it was something for me to do.

So we gathered our records together in that Seal Beach Executive Suites apartment and made a list. Some of the records had labels with song titles on them and Smith wanted to make plain white labels and glue them over the song titles to make them look more like the first boots, but that was way way too much trouble, so I put the kaibash on that idea.

As for the pig labels. Smith couldn’t find the labels Dub and I had used, so he bought day glow label paper and printed them out on his Apple laser printer, which used to be mine, but I gave it to him when Vesta and I went away. However, they had to be cut out. At first I tried using a scissors, but the labels looked like shit. Then Smith bought, from a craft store, a circular cutting device, which worked sort of like a compass. After about twenty or thirty tries, I was able to cut out a round label that looked pretty much like the original ones did.

The rubber stamps and the pig labels taken care of, now all we needed was the white jackets and Smith set out to get them. But that turned out to be the hard part, because it seemed they didn’t make them anymore, not like the ones like Dub and I used to use. Now they were glossy and when you stamped ink on them, it rubbed right off. After his third attempt at trying to buy jackets that would take ink and getting no joy, he decided to go back to the first place and have them made up. They cost more then the glossy stock jackets, but heck, back then we had too much money and it was aching to get spent.

So now we had all the pieces. The records, the jackets, the rubber stamps, the pig labels. And for the next couple weeks it was just like the old days, we stamped covers, we stuff jackets and we boxed records.

The first day I circled out a couple hundred of those pig labels while I watched daytime TV. I went to bed early, got up around 5:00 and started cutting out more labels when the room started to shake.

“Earthquake,” Vesta shouted from the bedroom. Then, seeing I wasn’t in bed, she started shouting my name. I guess she’d thought I’d been swallowed up.

“Out here,” I said, “in the living room.”

“We gotta get outta here! We gotta get outta here! We gotta get outta here!” She wasn’t panicking, but she was getting there. Then with a strength I didn’t know she possessed, she pulled me to my feet. I was barefoot and it hurt like hell as I’d broken most of the bones in my right foot during that accident and usually I’d been wearing an oversized Ugg on my right foot with the front of the boot cut away.

But she didn’t care about my pain and I guess I didn’t either, because she was so excited that I didn’t even think about my foot. Not till we were outside and safe on the grass. We’d’ve been safe in the apartment, too, because it didn’t fall down.

Earthquake over, she went inside to get my Ugg and left footed running shoe, muttering as she went, “I hate California.”

Inside, there were little piggies all over the floor. She went to the kitchen, got a bowl, put them in it and I started peeling and sticking and a week later we had our records. No more orphans.

Beatles Get Back Masters
Mine sat until 2006, boxed up in our storage unit and would still be sitting there, but when Vesta and I came back to America, we got involved in a custody battle and lawyers aren’t cheap. My son sold some of his collection on eBay and then we decided to sell the so called Archive records. We did okay with them and they paid the attorney’s fees.

So, mine are all gone. But Smith, he’s still got his. He watched with amusement as mine sold on eBay, some bringing a pretty penny, but he’s never been tempted. Of course, he invested wisely.

I’ve asked Smith in the past what he’s going to do with his collection.

His answer, “Since I can’t take them with me, my kids will probably donate them to the Salvation Army or the Goodwill.” So if you’re a collector, you might want to start checking out the thrifts, because Smith, like me, is getting up there in years.

We Were Young and We Were Greedy

After I got the boot from the bootleg biz by Big Dub, Dub became known as Little Dub. I missed working with him, because he was good at putting the material together and I was not. I did the ‘RAH’ record, sure, but an idiot could have done that.

I bought a 650 Kawasaki BSA rip of. British bikes were cool, but you had to always be working on ’em. The Kawasaki made the real deal seem golden, it was always apart, so I bought a new Triumph Bonneville, had the fork extended, got tall handle bars, I don’t remember what they were called back then, sort of like the Ape Hanger Bars you see on Harleys today. I was cool and I liked to ride.

And one day I rode out to Riverside, about an hour from Long Beach on the new extension to the 91 Freeway. They had kind of an old town, walking type street and since I liked being a tourist, I touristed off and I found Betty’s Records. A stupid name, to be sure, but what a great store and they sold bootlegs.

I asked for the manager, who’s name I don’t remember, but the guy who ran the place was named Harry. He wanted to buy boots, but I only had the one, plus about 5,000 Donovan records in a friend’s garage. I wanted to sell these guys records and I reasoned that the Dubs would be glad to sell them to me if I paid the going rate, which was a buck fifty a record. They were more than generous and sold them to me for a buck which allowed them to double their money and I could sell them for a buck and half and do alright.

Vesta and I were back in school, because we weren’t working and being uneducated is just stupid. Every weekend I’d drive out to Riverside and I found a couple other stores to sell to out there where nobody knew me. I was still paranoid.

But I wasn’t going to be paranoid for long, because the money was running out. We needed money, because we had two babies and we’d learned that we didn’t like going to work. So tried out a swap meat, sold the records retail in front of God and everybody for three dollars each or two for five, doubles five dollars. We made a couple hundred bucks our first time out and for the next year or so that’s what we did. I bought from the Dubs and Vesta and I worked the La Marada swap meet at the La Marada drive in in La Marada, California (that’s a lotta La Maradas). We’d leave at 9:00 and wait in line till dawn, when they let us in. In those days those at the head of the line got the best spots.

Eventually I was working several swap meets. All at drive ins. I had two brothers, both also in school and a couple friends I was supplying with the records I was getting from the Dubs, but I knew it couldn’t last.

Now I have to back up here, In a previous post I talked about how Kay at Lewis Record MFG copied Dub’s stampers (which were really half mine) for me, but this, what I said above, was happening concurrently. I hadn’t gotten around to pressing any of his records yet, because I didn’t have any accounts. I suppose I could’ve taken over Dub’s and eventually I would, but at that point in time I was too dumb and stupid to think about it.

Besides, I was kind of doing okay, selling Dub’s records to my few stores and at the swap meets. But Dub was getting new stereo equipment all the time, Big Dub quit the Post Office and was stylin’, while Vesta and I were going to school and working our buns off. Sure we had new cars. Sure I had a great bike. Sure we had new furniture. Sure we had stuff. But we weren’t stylin’. We weren’t leaving twenty dollar tips for ten dollar meals. We weren’t taking long vacations. We weren’t dripping in money, rolling around in it. We wanted that.

Back to Betty’s. One day after I dropped the records off, they’d only ordered fifty or so, so I strapped them on the back of my Bonneville and drove ’em on out. Gary, that’s the name of the owner. Gary Sparger, I’m surprised I remembered that. He asked me if I’d like to stop by a friend’s house for a few drinks. That was back when drinking and driving was okay if you didn’t get caught and if you did you just got a slap on the wrist unless you killed someone, so I said sure.

No girls there, just Gary, Harry and a couple guys I didn’t know. They were making Sangria. Years later, when I was living in Spain, I’d often look back when I was drinking it at an outdoor restaurant and remember their Sangria recipe. Here it is: You take a bottle of Spinata — a cheap wine you could get back then, maybe you still can. You squeeze a lime in it. Add lots of fruit bits, heavy on orange slices and canned grapefruit with a little canned pineapple stirred in. Then you add two two hits of mescaline and two hits of acid. Then you stir briskly and smoke a joint while you’re waiting for the flavors to blend.

After a glass and twenty minutes or so we were all doing alright. Somebody found a twenty-two rifle and several boxes of bullets, so we set up cards in a towel cabinet at one end of a hallway and started target practice. We did this till someone realized we’d drilled a hole through the back of the cabinet, through the wall into a bedroom and through the wall opposite. We’d been shooting out into the street. It’s a miracle we weren’t caught and taken away. But we weren’t.

And Harry and I got to know each other a bit. Turns out he and a friend wanted to open a poster business and they thought they needed a third partner and they thought I’d fill the bill nicely. I never dreamed they could’ve wanted me because my dad, whose record business went bust, now had a poster one stop and was selling to all the hippy stores. Being young, dumb and maybe a bit stoned, I said okay.

A month later, after we’d printed up our first batch and sold ’em to, you guess it, my dad. Harry and partner dropped by my house unexpectedly one evening. Since Riverside was an hour away, I didn’t think they’d just happened to be in the neighborhood. I knew right away they were gonna give me the old heave ho. I’d been there before and could see it coming from clear across the room. But what they didn’t know was that I’d met the printer and had a plan to take bootlegs to a whole ’nother level and I’d planned on including them, we were partners, after all.

But I was out now and Vesta and I were on our own again. We were young, we were greedy and we had a couple Beatles tapes.

Tell me how you got involved in the record business to begin with. You came from a more legit side of things, right?

I was born into it. My dad owned Saturn Records, which, at the time, was the largest buyer of phonographic records west of the Mississippi. At least that’s what somebody told me.

So you just sort of fell into that as the family business?

Yeah.

How did you distribute your first bootlegs?

Dub had a friend who had deserted from the army just as he was to be shipped out to Vietnam, and then he sold them for us. However, he made a mistake. He went to the very first place to sell them, a place called Vogue Records on Hollywood Boulevard, and the guy who owned the store, a guy named Bill Bowers, bought them all. So we figured out that maybe we had a hit on our hands.

And you guys immediately started repressing it?

Well, yeah. We pressed another 300 copies and sold them, and then another couple 300.

You knew pretty much right away that this was potentially something that could make you some money?

No. Because, see, we were kids. I think I was like 20 or 21? And Dub was the same age, maybe a year younger. We thought what we were doing was, like, against the law. We thought we’d get in a lot of trouble and the stores knew us, so we had someone else go around to the stores. Meanwhile, the guys who made the big money, guys who started a bootleg label after ours, they had lawyers. They found out that it wasn’t against the law because it had never been done before. And so they made a living off these things.

It seems like at the time there was a combination of a lot of artists like Dylan, the Beatles, and the Stones that people were really, really obsessive over, and also these kinds of laws that were open enough that you could feasibly get away with something like bootlegging.

Yeah. But we didn’t know that at the time. I’m trying to remember what it was like when I was 21 years old. We initially didn’t do it for the money. We initially did it so that we could have copies of the records, and then the Stones came and Dub wanted to record them. So we bought a Uher tape recorder and a Sennheiser mic. We didn’t make a gang of money on the Dylan boot Great White Wonder. But we did a gang of money on the Stones’ Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be.

Was that when things started taking off for you?

I don’t know. I don’t know what taking off is. Taking off compared o what? I mean, it was good for us. We did OK because, remember, we were still kids. So you know, the records were taking off. We weren’t making millions of dollars or even tens of thousands of dollars. But we were doing OK. We were making rent. We weren’t buying property or anything.

I saw something in one of your blog posts about how Dub was living pretty large…

OK, yeah. I’m older now and I know what large really is. So we thought we were living large. We had new cars. I had a motorcycle. But I still worked. I never quit my job for years. I worked at Saturn and I worked as a social worker all the time I was doing bootlegs. I was working right up until, I don’t know, ’75 or ’76. I don’t want you to get confused. I don’t want you to think we made a million dollars.

I didn’t think you made a million dollars, but it seemed you were living all right for some younger dudes.

Yeah. We were able to go to Europe a couple times. We were doing all right.

You’ve said earlier that you guys didn’t get into it for the money, that it was a labor of love.

Well, for Dub it was a labor of love. For Andrew, who came later, it was a labor of love. I don’t think it was a labor of love for some of the other bootleggers like Rubber Dubber or Norty and Ben. I think they were doing it for the money. Although Scott seemed to really like music so maybe I shouldn’t include him in there. He was a Rubber Dubber guy. And then eventually for me it was not a labor of love, it was about money.

Do you remember what point it was that it became a money thing for you?

Yeah, in ’72 and ’73. But I always knew, unlike most of the other people who were doing it, and I’ve written this in a couple blogs, I always knew it was stealing. I never thought for a second that we had the right to give the music away for free to the people.

On the other hand, there’s sort of an outlaw aura to the whole bootlegging thing. It’s not letting the companies, or even the musicians themselves, determine what gets released. It’s like if the fans want a live record or if the fans want Dylan’s The Basement Tapes, bootleggers are sort of liberating the music for the fans. Is that over-romanticizing the situation, or was there an element of that?

You’re spot-on as far as Dub and a lot of the other people are concerned. You’re spot-on. Dub was really into Bob Dylan.

You mentioned you were working at Saturn while you were still doing some of the bootlegging. How was it having that double life, working both sides of the industry, like the legit and the underground, at the same time?

Well, in the beginning it was really strange because, for example, they kept saying they were trying to catch us, but our Capitol salesman knew who we were and what we were doing and he never said anything. A good percentage of the customers who came in who owned record stores knew who we were and didn’t say anything. I guess you would call them the cool ones—the ones who had the $2.99-record stores. At the time, records were going for like $4.98 and there was a lot of, like — I don’t want to say hippies, but young people… hippies, I guess—who had record stores and sold records for $2.99. They sold our kind of records. They knew who Dub and I were and they never told. More and more people knew and they never told. It wasn’t like we were really leading double lives.

Do you feel like you were able to take some of the skills and knowledge and contacts that you had from the straight business that you were doing and apply it to bootlegs?

No.

It didn’t feed into it?

No. After the second record, after Live’r, we just walked into recording studios. When we did Stealin’ [their second Dylan boot], we just walked into a recording studio and the guy put it on and he was crying, “This is Bob Dylan!” Everybody, all the producers and everybody in the studio, just stopped and came in and listened to the record we had mastered, you know? And everybody thought it was really cool. Everybody in there knew that we didn’t work for Bob Dylan.

It seems like there was, in terms of pressing, a sort of hit-or-miss element in terms of figuring out how and where you could get records pressed.

Not really. It was pretty easy. In those days, people who owned record distributorships said, if the guy doesn’t steal more from me than he makes me, I can’t afford to fire him. I don’t want to say everybody was a crook… but just about everybody was a crook. We would just walk into a pressing plant and say this is what we have, and they would make it and we would pay them— in cash.

That seems like an incredibly gutsy thing to do.

Well, the first pressing plant we approached was a place called Wadell’s. They pressed Verve and Disney stuff. We had a friend go in to meet them because we were just frightened kids. Our guy who talked to them wasn’t involved in the record business at all. He figured, what did he have to lose. So he went in there and he said that they made the mold, put it on, listened to it, and—this was the Stones live record—they pressed it right alongside Let It Bleed. They would have to have been not very bright to not know that it was the Rolling Stones on our record. That’s when we figured we could be doing this ourselves.

Wow. You guys were going in and pressing stuff right—totally legit.

Live’r was literally pressed right next to Let It Bleed. But the only plants we didn’t use, obviously, were Capitol and Columbia.

Were there a lot of independent pressing plants back then?

There were. Are there any now? We used Wadell, Jack Brown, Louis, Korelich… we used one on Hollywood Boulevard whose name I can’t remember right now.

I know there was some time where there were some authorities interested in your operation, right?

Yeah. There was a guy named Pete somebody-or-other, whose name I can’t remember. He was a process server who worked for Columbia Records, and he was after us. The first thing Columbia did is that they issued a statement to Billboard magazine saying that it wasn’t Bob Dylan, it was someone who sounded like Bob Dylan. Well, obviously no one believed that. They said that about a bunch of people. Then they hired this Pete guy to get on our trail and find us, so that they could sue us. And he did actually serve me, but he served me a subpoena with Dub’s name on it. It wasn’t valid. Other than that, in those days, we were just, like, really careful.

Really?

Well… that’s a lie. We were not really careful. Some of us weren’t really careful. Dub went and gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine.

That was either brave or stupid.

We were kids. We didn’t know better. I think it was with Greil Marcus—but he gave Dub’s name as Vladimir.

That’s a really deep cover. Just giving a different name.

Well, yeah, because the next month they got his real name and we figured that that would be a problem if there were process servers looking for Dub. So I told Ben Goldman, who owned a store called Ben’s Records and who was Norty Beckman, our biggest competition’s, brother-in-law, that Dub and his girlfriend still lived in Vancouver and had just opened a gas station there. Lo and behold, there it was next month in Rolling Stone: Dub Taylor moved to Vancouver and opened a gas station, and that was the only guy I told.

That’s pretty sneaky. You guys were total hippies at the time?

Yeah, we were. We were actually like, “Fuck the man!”

It’s pretty common knowledge that the major-label record industry has always been really corrupt and kind of devious.

Well, I know lots of stories where they screwed over artists. I’m not going to go into those, but I have lots of stories. I never really liked the labels. I thought they were all just crooks. But then again, that meant that we were crooks.

Yeah. But at least you guys were kind of up-front about being crooks.

The difference is they wore suits and had short hair and we had really long hair and wore Levi’s and cowboy boots.

The labels weren’t above taking hints from the bootleg industry.

The Stones never would have released Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out if it weren’t for Live’r. [The Who’s] Live at Leeds looks just like a bootleg. Look at Bob Dylan. Are you familiar with the The Bootleg Series? My dad sent me copies of the first volume, and he checked off all the ones he thought they copied from us.

There are also things like B-sides and rarities collections, and even box sets, that started off as bootleg formats and have been adopted by the legit labels. It seems, in the end, bootleggers helped the record industry as much as they hurt it.

Scott Johnson, a Rubber Dubber guy, once told me that he had a friend who worked at Warner Bros. who said that he considered Rubber Dubber an unpaid advertising arm of Elektra / Atlantic.

What about artist reactions to your bootlegs?

Neil Young said something derogatory about a bootleg we did of his stuff, and so we stopped making it. We figured, fuck him. He doesn’t get to get bootlegged by us.

You guys had some balls on you.

Keith Richards was going into stores in Berkeley to buy up the bootlegs, and a lot of bootlegs were signed by Mick Jagger. I’ve got a photograph of a signed Mick Jagger Live’r [Click on ”Autographed Bootlegs’ on the right to see it]. So, a lot of the artists seemed to like it. They realized they’d make a lot of money on concerts, and bootlegs are not costing them very much, and it’s good publicity.

Were there any times when things got really dicey or scary?

My dad had financed a good percentage of black record stores in Los Angeles. Since I knew pretty much everybody who owned those stores, and I knew what was selling, we got the idea that we would just pick the No. 1 and No. 2 single, which I think were “The Onion Song” by Marvin Gaye and something else, and put them back to back. Then we would hire a guy, because Dub and I didn’t want to go around to the black stores, because they knew us, and we didn’t want them to know it was us. So we hired a guy to go to those stores to sell these records. We figured we’d make a bunch of money really fast because it only cost 15 or 16 cents to press these things up. So we pressed up 300 and had someone run them to all the stores. No one would buy any. They all knew it was a bad thing. And then these gangster guys, they figured out immediately who did it and they came to my dad’s house within three or four days. My dad was having dinner when these gangsters came in. They hit him in the stomach with an ax handle when he tried to protest, and they told him they wanted his son and they wanted him now. My dad set up an appointment and we were going to have a meeting and they wanted all the money we made—but we didn’t make any ’cause none of those black stores bought these records, because they were smart. And in those days, black people didn’t have the same rights as white people did, and they didn’t have the same recourse with the law. So they had to take matters into their own hands. And that’s exactly what they did. They told my dad they wanted all of the stampers, all of the records, and all of the money we made. Dub and I figured we should throw in a thousand bucks so they’d think we made something and were giving it to them.

What was that meeting like?

It was in the back of my dad’s house. Myself and my two brothers, we cut little holes in the wall and we had guns pointed out at these guys when they came in. We were just dumb, scared kids.

Looking back on your bootlegging experience, what’s your overall feeling now about what you did?

Well, I moved to New Zealand and I wrote a book called Ragged Man. It’s a horror story, and in it, this monster guy kills all these bootleggers. That’s how I got it out of my system. I just spent six months killing them all. And when the book came out, it didn’t mean anything to anybody because people who read horror stories don’t care about bootleggers. I reissued it a while back [There is no trace of this book on the internet].

It’s sort of a shame, at least in my opinion, that there’s not the same kind of bootlegging now as you were doing back then. New bootlegs tend to be exchanged on the internet, but there’s something about the feel of having the tactile sensation of bootlegged vinyl in your hands. I mean, the fact that you know you shouldn’t have it makes it that much cooler.

Yeah, but the guys who wanted to give away the music for free won. One taper goes to every single Dylan show anywhere in the world— so he’s got to have a lot of cash—and he does a really good job and he puts them online for free. How can you compete with that? Now you can just get whatever you want for free.

Unreleased material and live shows come out online all the time now. With that, on top of file sharing and how the record labels adopted so many formats from you guys, it seems like your quest has been legitimized by history.

You know, I never thought about it like that, but yes! Because, you know, when I see how poorly the record companies are doing, I sort of smile.

****

[This interview first appeared in Vice magazine]

It Coulda Happened this Way — Not First, Not the Best Either

Dub and I mastered the Donovan record Reedy River a couple months before we broke up and we’d ordered 5000 copies [am I the only one who thought ‘5000!!!’ Holy cow! ?], which I’d picked up and was storing in my friend Jim’s garage as Big Dub’s basement was pretty full. We’d put out some feelers about the record and it was looking like this one wasn’t going to be the runaway hit our other records had been. In fact, when I was over at Jim’s, I swear I could hear the gobbling of those turkeys, trapped fifty to a box out back in that garage, calling to me.

Dub hadn’t been bugging me about the records and it was plain to see why. He’d heard that gobbling too. So, for the time being, those records were going to be on the back burner, maybe never seeing the light of day.

After the I breakup I had two main things on my mind. One was getting and making new records and two was getting even. Growing up, my father told me time and time again the best way to get even with somebody was to do them in without them knowing you did it. This way you get the satisfaction of seeing your enemy twist in the wind, without turning him into a revenge seeking maniac.

In that light I’d decided to keep making Dub’s records, but didn’t see any reason for letting him know I was doing it. Also, I didn’t have any inventory. Why I didn’t think half those records in Big Dub’s basement didn’t belong to me is beyond me. I guess because I was young and dumb, because it never occurred to me Big Dub was actually stealing something of mine. I guess because we were making so much money, I’d never given much thought as to the value of the inventory creating it.

I did, however, have those five thousand Donovan records for all the good they were going to do me. Plus I had the original stampers for Great White Wonder over at Pete’s. So that was one record, at least, Dub wasn’t going to be making anymore.

So I had GWW and Dub didn’t. Plus, I had access to all his stampers. But what I really needed was something of my own.

Something good.

Something they didn’t have.

I had the soundboard recording of Royal Albert Hall and to the best of my knowledge, nobody else, except Waterford, had it. I could rush it out. It was damn good, a very good soundboard recording, but it had been recorded from an acetate, it was mono and there were a few very annoying clicks and pops on it. I’d probably listened to that tape over a hundred times with headphones on and I personally knew every click, was acquainted with every pop. I’d tense up just before they happened and I didn’t want to put out a record with them on it.

So I was going to have to go back up to Waterford’s, because he claimed to have a version of the tape taken from the master tape. Plus, he’d said that the last three songs were in stereo. Much as I dreaded going up there again, I had to have that tape.

But I didn’t want to go alone, so I called my friend Malcolm. True, he’d gone south on me during that fiasco with the R and B single, but this wasn’t a life threatening situation. Waterford was just annoying, probably the most annoying person on the planet, certainly too annoying for me to deal with by myself. If I was going to have to listen to him preach about how Bob was God, then have to spend the night in his bathroom, I wasn’t going to do it all by myself.

Malcolm couldn’t go till the weekend, as he was in school. He was going to UC Irving and was earning extra money by selling bootlegs on campus. Saturday came, but he had a test to study for on the following Monday, so we put off the trip to Santa Cruz for another week, but when I called Waterford, he said he had plans with his new fiance and could we postpone for still another week. He assured me he would have the tape ready to go, no staying up all night in that bathroom.

“Actually, you can’t record in there anyway,” he said.” I’ve moved and I don’t have a sound system in my new bathroom.”

“Really.” That was great news.

“Yeah, I got a place where I can play Dylan loud as I want. The apartment was kind of a drag that way.”

“I can imagine.”

“See you when you get here.”

“Yeah.” I hung up and two weeks later Malcolm and I were on our way in his hot 1969 Firebird 400, which I’d sold to him for take over payments when I got the Healey.

When we got there, Waterford was waiting on his porch with this yappy little dog, it had short hair, perky ears, a pointy tail, was mostly white, maybe grey, and barked like a three-year-old who wants cookies, but doesn’t know the words. It was every bit as annoying as Waterford himself. They were made for each other.

His new place was a cabin type of affair in the woods just outside of Santa Cruz. He had electricity and water, but save for that, the place looked pretty much like it must have when it was built, sometime during the gold rush. The man was not into creature comforts. He had his trunks of Dylan stuff piled against one wall and told me he had others buried in the forest.

Spooky.

Waterford resembled a sloth, the place looked like it hadn’t been cleaned, ever. There was dust and dirt, bugs and smells everywhere.

Creepy.

“I got a couple sleeping bags, if you guys want to spend the night. I’ll be sleeping up in the teepee.”

“Not spending the night,” Malcolm said. Mal was just about the cheapest individual I’d ever met. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’s opted to sleep naked in the snow, rather than spring for a motel room. For him to give up the offer of a free night is a true testament as to how much Waterford’s place reeked.

“So where you staying then?” Waterford wanted to know.

“We’re heading back tonight,” Malcolm said. “I gotta study.” And here I thought we might be staying in a motel.

“I guess we better get copying then,” I said.

“First we have to set up the teepee,” Waterford said.

“What teepee?”

“The one I’m getting married in tonight.” Though he looked like a grub, for a second there he almost looked angelic. “I’m gonna need your help setting it up.”

“I’m not setting up any teepee,” Malcolm said. Not only was he cheap, he hated work, would do almost anything to get out of it.

“We can make you the tape as soon as we have it set up.” Waterford was playing us. But if I had to go along with a little blackmail to get the tape, well, I’d do it.

“I’m not—”

I cut Malcolm off with a glare.

“All right. We’ll help you set up the tent,” Mal said.

Waterford made for the door, Mal and I followed, Yappy right on my heals.

“The dog bites me, he dies,” I said.

“He won’t bite.”

I’d been around big dogs all my life, got along with them fine, but there was something about me this guy I didn’t like. I couldn’t help feeling he wanted to rip my Achilles tendon out.

Waterford led us down what looked like an animal trail of some kind to a clearing where there was some bundled canvas and three poles that looked suspiciously like the poles I’d hated so much when I was in bootcamp. These things were about fifteen feet long. The drill instructors would assign four or five guys to a pole and we’d be picking them and putting them down for about an hour or so. Sometimes they’d line us up four abreast and we’d do curls with those poles, or overhead presses. I hated those poles.

“Okay, let’s get this thing set up, so we can get out of here,” Malcolm said.

“Oh, we’re not having the wedding here.” Waterford pointed. “We’re having it up there.”

I did remember he’d said he would be sleeping in the teepee on a hilltop.

“I’m not moving that!” Malcolm said.

“Then you’re not getting the tape!” Waterford said.

I wanted to strangled them both. I needed that tape, so I pinned Malcolm with another glare.

“All right!” Mal said. “Let’s get it over with.”

Waterford was shorter than us and he took the middle, Malcolm took the front and I brought up the rear. We shouldered the pole, Malcolm and I bearing most of the brunt, and started up the hill. Twice I almost fell. It was heavy, the footing precarious and Waterford wasn’t doing his share. The little shit.

It was back breaking work, getting that pole up that hill. Once there, we saw that brush had been cleared away, stones had been set up for a fire.

“This is gonna be great,” Waterford said.

“So the wedding’s tonight?” Malcolm said.

“Yeah. It won’t strictly be legal, cause she’s not quite old enough.”

“Really?” Waterford looked about thirty, reminded me of a snake and there was no way I could imagine a seventeen-year-old girl, no matter what she looked like, ever being interested in him.

“So how can you get married then?” Malcolm said as we started back down the hill.

“I have a friend who is a Universal Life Science minister,” Waterford said.

“No shit,” Malcolm said. “So am I.” He’d sent away for the card in the mail, anyone could do it back then. It was a scam. Some people thought it would help keep them out of the draft, others liked to be called reverend and thought a card you could get for twenty bucks gave them the right. Malcolm told me it got him to the head of the line when he was flying back east once. He also said it helped him get hippie chicks in the sack.

“Let’s just get this over with,” I said.

We took the canvas up next, then another pole. One more to go and I didn’t think I was going to make it. The climb was steep, the poles heavy. I picked my way up the hill with the pole digging into my shoulder. I had to shit, thought I was going to blow, because I was so worn out I didn’t think I’d be able to hold it back and no way was any bathroom inside of that place Waterford lived in gonna ever see my naked butt. I needed a place in the woods, needed it now.

I saw the top, soon this ordeal was gonna be over. A quick trip behind some bushes, then back to Waterford’s, copy the tape, a fast drive to Long Beach and in the morning I’d get the tape mastered. This one was was gonna be LiveR all over again. I felt it in my blood.

Finally we reached the top.

“Oh fuck!” Waterford screamed. He’d stepped into a beehive. Somehow it had fallen from a tree, was waiting there on the ground, like a land mine.

The dog howled. It was covered in bees, looked black now. Malcolm screamed.

We dropped the pole.

I whirled around, jumped off the edged of the hill, slid down on my backside, with a swarm of those stinging bees hot after my hide. I made the trail below, still hadn’t been stung. I started running, pumping my arms like I’d never pumped them when I ran track in school.

I couldn’t hear the bees, but I knew they were there.

Up ahead I saw a group of people, five or six girls and guys out for a walk in the woods. I ran toward them, chugging air for all I was worth, legs working overtime, feet slapping the forest floor.

I ran into the group, zapped straight through them. Somehow I knew the bees wouldn’t follow.

“Thanks a lot, motherfucker” one of the guys said as the women screamed. I kept going, running like the wind. The path turned, I slowed, stopped, turned. Sure enough the bees hadn’t followed. I headed off the trail, found some privacy, took care of business.

Back on the trail, I made my way back to Waterford’s only to find him, Mal and the dog already there. The dog got the worst of it. He was covered with lumps and didn’t look like he was going to make it. Waterford had been stung several times, Mal only four. Who knows how many times the group in the forest got nailed. I came through scott free.

Waterford was not happy. He told us to come back around sundown and we could copy the tape then, but for now he had to take care of the dog, plus he was in pain. Mal, to his credit, bore it well.

We went to a pharmacy in Santa Cruz and the pharmacist there told Malcolm to scrape the infected areas with a credit card to get the stingers out.

“The stinger is hooked on to a venom sac,” he said. If you pull it out, you’ll just get more of the venom in you.”

After Mal scraped those stingers away, he used alcohol supplied by the friendly pharmacist to clean the infected areas. Mal had no allergy problems and aside for a little pain, followed by a little itching, was good to go in no time at all. I could only imagine how Waterford was fairing. And the dog, I didn’t want to think about that.

Sundown and we were back at the cabin. Waterford had a couple lumps on his neck, some on his harms, but he seemed in no pain. Drugs, I thought, but I couldn’t be sure. The dog, he said, was at the vets. He was going to survive.

“So let’s start copying then,” I said.

“Gotta pick up my fiance first,” Waterford said.

“What?”

“I don’t have a car and she doesn’t drive.” He crossed his arms. “As soon as we pick her up, we can copy the tape for you.”

“Christ,” Malcolm said.

“Sure, why not.” I really wanted that tape.

We got in the car, Waterford in back. It was getting dark as he led us to an upper middle class area. Two story homes, nice lawns, three car garages, big lots.

“Stop there,” Waterford said.

Malcolm stopped.

“C’mon, I gotta get out.”

I opened the door, got out, held the seat for Waterford so he could get out too.

A girl opened the back door of the house, rushed to the car.

“Hurry!” Waterford said.

“Boy my parents are gonna be pissed.” She jumped into the back.

“Oh Christ,” I said. She looked like she was fourteen. “We’re in trouble.”

“We gotta get out of here!” Waterford jumped into the back.

“Get in!” Mal said.

“We’re not going anywhere!” I said.

“You’re going to jail if you don’t get in,” Mal said.

I got in and Malcolm peeled on out of there.

“What’s going on here?” I could’ve ripped Waterford’s heart out.

“She’s very mature,” he said.

“I don’t care.”

“Just drop us at my place,” Waterford said.

Malcolm drove like the wind and in just a few minutes we were at his cabin.

“Get out of my car!” Mal wasn’t happy.

Waterford got out, again Mal burned rubber. Soon we were on the freeway, without the tape.

I got home around two in the morning, went straight to bed, got up early and took the tape I had, the one that was recorded off the acetate to DCT studios near Sunset. That’s where I did the MLK speech record. The guy cutting the record knew right away he was cutting a bootleg. He thought it was cool. Even with those few clicks and pops it was a pretty darned good tape and I was convinced it would put me right on top of the bootleg biz.

It didn’t.

I took the acetate into Lewis as soon as it was cut, as they made the masters, mothers and stampers on site. After a few minutes with Kay I wandered around the plant, saw that Dub had copied GWW and was doing it on colored vinyl. That was gonna sell. In fact, everything he was doing now was on colored vinyl.

Then I saw a record that wasn’t on colored vinyl and my heart sank.

Somebody, not Dub, had beat me.

And he was making a lot of records.

I took one of these Royal Albert Hall records home and to my dismay, it was better than mine. Those annoying clicks and pops were conspicuous in their absence. I did not, however, stop production of my record. I sold a lot, would have sold a lot more had I put my version out earlier. Then to make matters worse, Dub came out with his own version and it was even better yet. And he had those last three songs in stereo.

I felt like driving up to Santa Cruz and shooting Waterford, but I didn’t go back up there. I don’t know what happened between him and the child he wanted to marry. I never saw him again, never spoke to him again and when I saw his books in the bookstores, I turned away, refusing to acknowledge them. [Does anyone know who he’s referring to? Obviously, the name’s been changed]

I was so sure I was going to be the first with this record, so wanted mine to be the best. But I’d failed in both, this new guy beat me to the punch and Dub creamed me with quality. It this case, his version truly lived up to the name Trade Mark of Quality.

****

Confirmed RAH 115 plates version, later used again for TAKRL 1962:

Confirmed BD-105 plates version, later reissued for the Toasted re-release shown as the last image:

bobsboots writes: “Released in 1971, it is unclear why this original TMOQ package was pressed from entirely different plates then the other versions. The completely uncharacteristic matrix would suggest that TMQ acquired these plates from another manufacturer. No evidence, however,  has been found that would suggest that the title was ever released by anyone else under this matrix. Perhaps TMQ was just in a new and experimental mode. There are variations in the matrix to suggest one or both of the above hypotheses. Some matrix have an ‘-RI’ following. Some have other numbers as well that are crossed out. These ‘BD’  releases are indeed an enigma!
The various released packages came with yellow, white or beige jackets and clear green green or or blue vinyl, large ‘1&2’ labels, original pig logo labels and a deep red, gray or beige insert.

These plates were also later used to press the ‘Dead head’ release. It had a white jacket, a copy of the original insert, an added Dead-head logo and BD-105 reference number, and great looking clear/multicolor splatter vinyl with no labels. ”

[I’d love to say with confidence that BD-105 was Ken’s version but then why was the other version – RAH-115 – used for the TAKRL 1962 version? Were Ken and Dub’s plates swapped? And wasn’t Toasted one of Ken’s spin off labels as well? I am confused at this point.]

The Great White Wonder Stamps

I’ve gotten a couple e-mails about this rubber stamp business on “Great White Wonder”, so I went looking for this sheet that I made up a long time ago. It was in a folder with a lot of other stuff from when Vesta and I were kids. Here it is, the three incarnations of the GWW stamp. Of course, there are more, because the record was widely copied.

The first one is my first copy of the one Dub and I did together. I had one of the originals, but we were selling so many that I wanted more, so two or more people could stamp at once. As I said in my last post, Bob didn’t get them right. The bottom one is the original. The top one is thicker and the middle one is similar to the top one, but the lettering isn’t as thick.

If you look at the bottom one you can see it’s a similar font, I didn’t know what a font was back then, the serifs extend outward, rather than straight down. If you have a record with one of the top two stamps, especially the top one, you’ve got something very rare, because hardly any got out.

Still, it goes without saying, any copy, especially the gatefold ones, are rare and I hope this clears it all up.

It Coulda Happened this Way — Big Dub, Bad Stamps and a Horny Dog

Record stores all over the country wanted our records and we needed a way for them to get in contact with us. Giving out our phone numbers wasn’t an option. Or addresses also, we weren’t too keen on handing out. Getting a post office box wasn’t a good idea either, because you have to give the postal people your address to get the box and the FBI, cops and PIs could get that info and then they’d be right at our doors. And besides, even if the post office people would guard our addresses from those who wanted to put us permanently out of business or in jail even, it wouldn’t make much difference, because all they’d have to do is simply wait for us to pick up our mail and they’d have us.

We wouldn’t last long with a PO box, that was for sure.

Not unless we could figure out some way to give the mail people a fake address and be guaranteed they wouldn’t ever verify it. And not unless we could figure out a way to get our mail without ever going to the post office, because there were going to be watchers watching that box.

Enter Dub’s dad.

Big Dub had worked for the Postal Service his whole live. A veteran mailman he was. He got us a box in the Glendale Post Office, and he picked up the mail every night, from inside the post office, so the bad guys (or good guys on the other side, depending on your point of view), could wait till the cows come home, but they’d never catch us.

Big Dub brought us the mail everyday, with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. He just loved the fact that he was helping us put something over on the man. Not only did he bring us the mail, but when our business got bigger and it was no longer convenient for us to work out of our homes, he let us store the records in his basement, which had been Dub’s room when he lived there.

Actually it wasn’t really a basement, because the house was sort of on a hill. The front of the house faced an upper middle class Glendale street, the back of the house was actually down a level and opened on a large backyard. Dub’s old room was the whole bottom floor of the house and had its own entry from the back. You could also get to that large room, which we converted into a warehouse, with record bins on all the walls, by taking the stairs down from the kitchen above.

This moving the business to the basement didn’t happen overnight, it was sort of a gradual thing. I was there a lot and Big Dub, Virginia and Tammy the poodle, who ate better than most humans, all made me feel like I was part of the family. Well, Tammy didn’t make me feel like I belonged. She actually hated me. But the feeling was mutual.

This pampered poodle got a bath at the vets at least twice a week, was talked to by Virginia and Big Dub as if it were a baby, cuddly and cute, and she was cute, but she was evil. Virginia was a good cook, I know, because I ate an awful lot of meals with them before Dub and I would retire down to the basement to pack and ship records. But before she cooked for the humans, Ginny cooked for the dog, grinding her steak just so, not too chunky, not too fine, then cooking it just perfect for Tammy.

And if she didn’t make it just the way Tammy liked, the pedigreed pup would turn her nose up and Dub’s mother would dump the food in the trash and start all over again.

One day Dub surprised his parents with a month long holiday in Europe. One of those motor-coach affairs, where if it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium. They were going to see the Continent in style. First class all the way for Dub’s folks. Dub wasn’t cheap. As the time drew near to day when they were supposed to get on the big airplane, Virginia got more and more nervous.

“What about poor Tammy,” she would whine.

“Tammy will be fine,” Dub would answer. “Don’t worry.” I think, like me, Dub hated that dog, only he couldn’t say it out loud. Well, actually I couldn’t either, not if I didn’t want to incur Ginny’s wrath.

In the end, Virginia didn’t trust us to take care of the dog, so she found a kennel that sort of met her approval. One of those places where the stars took their pets. This was a wonderful gift Dub had given his folks. I don’t think they’d ever been out of the States. However, four days later they were back. Ginny had called the kennel while they were in Rome and learned that Tammy wasn’t eating regularly. Apparently those kennel people didn’t sauté Tammy’s steak just so.

I swear, and may lightning strike me dead if I’m lying, that dog went around the house for the next weak or so with a smug look of satisfaction on its poodle face. I think Dub would have killed the dog if he could have gotten it alone, but that wasn’t possible, Ginny was in constant attendance.

One day shortly after Big Dub and Virginia got back from Italy I went by Lewis and picked up a couple hundred copies of Birch and Freeze Out.

The records without covers were packed fifty to a box, so I had eight boxes of records in the back of my small car. I drove straight out to Dub and Virginia’s to off load the records. Which was normal. I figured on dinner, then a couple hours stamping covers and stuffing records, then I’d planned on hitting the freeway, getting home around 8:30 or 9:00.

But that’s not what happened.

When I got there dinner wasn’t on the table. Virginia was out walking Tammy. Dub wasn’t home.

But Big Dub was there and he wanted to talk. He told me he thought Dub was responsible for the records being as successful as they were, because of all of his state of the art stereo and recording equipment. The records were actually assembled in Dub’s old room and Big Dub was the guy who was paying the rent, so to speak, for storing our records. In fact, the way he saw it, I wasn’t really doing very much at all. I wasn’t carrying my weight, it wasn’t fair to Dub. Dub needed a partner who could move the business forward. I was dragging him down.

Bottom line, I was out, Big Dub was in.

To this day I don’t know why I didn’t attack the man, then burn down his house with him in it. But I didn’t. I got in my car with those four hundred records in the back seat and drove home, getting angrier and angrier as I sat in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic.

When I got home I’d calmed down some. I told Vesta what happened. My friend Dick came over and I told him.

Richard MacPartland, was just about the best friend I ever had. He was raised in Boston, was an incorrigible kid whose parents took him to reform school when he was eight years old for stealing a pack of Oreos. And there he stayed till he was sixteen.
Out, he got involved with the wrong kind of people and he shot and killed a man with a flare gun. Dick’s story was that there were three guys who wanted to take him down, after he shot the one, the other two fled, but he was caught by the cops and sent back to reform school without a trial.

He got out again on his eighteenth birthday. A couple weeks later he saw a man beating a dog with a cane. Dick pushed the man over a row of hedges, took the dog and set him free a few blocks away. However, unknown to him, beating your dog was not against the law, but dog napping was and so it was back to jail for skinny Dick MacPartland till he was twenty-one.

Out again, he figured he should get as far away from Boston as possible, and you can’t get much farther away and still be in the United States, than Los Angeles, so that’s where he headed. In L.A. he met some guys who were into counterfeiting and in no time Dick was hawking counterfeit copies of Smoky Robinson’s My Girl. My dad bought a lot of ’em, knowingly or unknowingly, I never knew, but my father took a liking to Dick and he sort of became part of the family.

However, Dick was always going away on vacation for small peccadilloes like, Interstate Transportation of Counterfeit Securities (he’d moved up from Smoky Robinson forty-fives to American Express traveler’s checks), Grand Theft Auto (he was part of a car theft ring), Drug Smuggling and a host of lesser crimes. During theses enforced vacations my brothers and I would send him cigarettes and fifty or sixty bucks a month. Dick was out at the time and when he heard about what happened, he wanted to go out and pay Big Dub an immediate visit.

Once, when I was working for my dad, I forget to order the third Doors LP. Dick said he needed to borrow my car. He took it (without my knowledge) over to Cal Racks, a major rack jobber, parked it next to one of their trucks that was about to make a delivery and off loaded a couple hundred Doors records from their truck into my trunk. He’d committed a daylight robbery, just so my dad wouldn’t know that I messed up and forgot to order the hottest record in America, and he got away with it. Dick got away with a lot of stuff back then. But he got caught for a lot of stuff too, which is why he spent so much time behind bars.

I was mad at Big Dub, but I didn’t want him dead.

“But I need to help somehow,” Dick said. “What do you need?”

“If I could borrow your car tomorrow, that would be good.” I needed jackets for the records. Big Dub kind of fucked up, he should have waited till after I unloaded those records before instigating his coup.

“No problem.”

The next day Dick came over bright and early. He’d been out to Dub’s with me a couple of times and he’d been out to Big Dub and Virginia’s as well, so I don’t know why I was surprised when that’s where he headed.

However, when we got there nobody was home and that was a good thing. So, next we went out to the pressing plant, because I wanted to talk to Kaye.

We got there right after Big Dub left. He’d been there to inform Kaye not to press any records for me. He was his son’s new partner and he and his son were the only people who were going to be making bootlegs there.

Kaye was an alright old gal. I never went there to pick up records without spending time with her. She had a smoker’s voice and maybe she drank too much on occasion, but she had great stories she liked to tell and I liked to listen. I had some stories too, and she liked to listen to mine.

Dub, when he went there, just grabbed the records and went. He was a nice guy, one of the nicest people I ever knew, but he had faults, faults he’d inherited from his parents. He talked about Catholics and Jews as if they were inferior. He didn’t mean it, he just didn’t know any better. He acted like he was superior to others as well. Again, he didn’t know any better. But when Kaye met his Daddy, who was not such a nice guy, she learned straightaway why Dub was the way he was.

She and Dick were like two peas in a pod. After only a few minutes together, they’d worked it out that Kaye would make me mothers of everything Dub had in there, stampers too. And she’d do it for free. Plus she’d keep pressing for me. And that deal went on forever. Whenever Dub took something in there, she’d make me a set of plates gratis. When he ordered records, she’d ask me how many I wanted.

Okay, so I was still in business, thanks to Big Dub’s arrogance, Dick’s smooth talking and Kaye’s sense of what was right and what wasn’t. We left Lewis and went to pick up the jackets and with them safely in Dick’s trunk, we got on the freeway and lit up a joint.

Back then you went to jail for a long time if they caught you smoking dope, so we figured the safest place was on the freeway at about seventy-five miles an hour. If a cop pulled up behind you, you could toss it out the window. Fat change a cop was gonna find it. What could they do, shut down the freeway?

We got home around 3:30, easily beating the rush hour traffic which is a big deal in L.A. However, after we off loaded the records, we realized we had another problem. I didn’t have any rubber stamps. Pigs I had plenty of, because we used to make up the records in my living room. But I needed a Birch and a Freeze out stamp pronto.

“I know a guy,” Dick said. He asked me what I wanted the stamps to say, then he made a call. “We can pick ’em up in a couple hours. He’ll call when they’re ready.”

The kids were at my fathers for a couple days. Vesta used to do that, drive them out there and leave them for three or four days, because my dad and his new wife had a girl a year older than my son and a year younger than my daughter. They loved it, because they spent most of the time in his pool. We didn’t have a pool.

So without the kids we had no reason to maintain. We had a couple hours with nothing to do, so we fired up a joint, put “Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues” on the turntable and waited for that call. About halfway through side one Dick mentioned that he had a hit of acid and maybe we could split it three ways.

This is the kind of suggestion that under normal circumstances one would laugh off at 3:30 on a Thursday, especially if you have to go outside and deal with normal people. But we were already stoned and besides, we were gonna split it three ways, what could happen? So I went out to the kitchen, got a coke, popped the tab and Dick dropped the acid in. Vesta got the rum out from the cabinet on top of the refrigerator, got three glasses and made us each a drink.

Funny thing about LSD, I don’t think it’s the amount of the drug you ingest, but how easily it is to open that doorway. You know, the one in your mind most people like to keep closed. We were all veteran drug takers and we were all pretty used to seeing what wasn’t there. In fact Dick used to be a junkie, but my brothers and I introduced him to acid and he never went back. So, really a third of a hit, three hits or four, it made no difference, our doors were blown right off the hinges and we had no business going outside, much less getting inside of a moving vehicle.

However, when that phone rang we piled right into Dick’s old car like it was the most normal thing in the world. And he drove us down to the Pike. The Pike was an old amusement park full of barkers, hustlers, carny people, tattoo parlors and it sported the greatest roller coaster on the planet, “The Cyclone” or as those not from Long Beach Called it, “The Cyclone Racer”.

“We’re going to ride the coaster.” Vesta sound enthused.

“No we’re not.” I might have been floating above all that’s holy, but I wasn’t so stoned that I didn’t know that we’d never get off that beast alive if we got on it in the condition we were in. It had killed before, I didn’t want it killing tonight.

Dick parked in front of a tattoo place and lead us to the business next door where he introduced us to Bob, a guy with a Santa Claus white beard that attempted to hide a ruddy drinker’s face, but Bob’s bulbous, blue veined nose gave the game away. Bob wore a sailor’s hate just like the Skipper wore on Gilligan’s Island.

He held out his hand, I shook it, was about to say I was pleased to meet him when something clamped itself around my leg.

“What?” I looked down and son of a gun if Tammy’s twin wasn’t dry humping my right leg.

“His names Brucie, he likes you,” Bob said.

“I don’t care. Get him off!” Tammy and I never hit it off and I could see that Brucie and I weren’t starting off on the right foot either.

“Down, boy,” Bob said, but that just got Brucie humping harder.

“Knock it off.” Bob grabbed Brucie by the scruff on his neck, tossed him across the room. This dog wasn’t mollycoddled, but he had a problem with no, because in an instant he was right back on my leg. Bob grabbed him again, went behind the counter, set Brucie on it. “Behave!” he said.

Then he handed us the stamps.

They were horrible. Neither stamp said GWW on it. The Birch stamp didn’t have the square outline around the title. The printing was too small. The typeface was different.

“We can’t use these,” I said. Though we did use the Birch one a few years later, probably stamped five or six hundred records with it, but the Freeze Out stamp never saw ink.

“I made ’em just like you ordered,” Bob said to Dick. And that was true. Dick told the man what he wanted the stamps to say over the phone and Bob made ‘em up.

I explained our problem and Bob was very understanding, especially since I told him we’d pay for the bad stamps. Bob said if we could get him an impression, he could have the stamps made up the way we wanted in a couple hours. He’d stay open, do ’em special tonight. You can’t beat that for service, so we drove back home, a major feat in our condition, got a copy of each of the records for Bob.

So here we were, three very stoned people at the Pike. The last time I’d been here I’d been arrested by the Shore Patrol for being in uniform without a tie. I’d been drinking too, so they turned me over to the cops, which under normal circumstances isn’t a very nice thing to do. But they were sailors and saw a chance to stick it to a Marine.

The cops handcuffed me, one of them put his hand on my head, guided me into the back seat. This wasn’t good. They drove away from the Pike, then the officer riding shotgun turned around and smiled.

“Where’d you park?”

Not my car. I had a 1960 Ford Starliner, candy apple red, white tuck and roll, 352, Holly four barrel, Hurst four speed on the floor, racing slicks. Not the fastest car in Southern California, but I’d won my share of races on Cherry between those two big cemeteries, the Catholic All Souls and Forest Lawn. We raced in the dead of night, the dead cheering us on. I really loved that car and now these guys were gonna tow it away. I felt like shit.

“Relax, Ken, we’re not taking your car.”

How’d this guy know my name? We hadn’t been introduced. He hadn’t check my ID when they chucked me into the car.

“So where’d you park?”

“John?” It was John Ogden. Though he was a cop, he also owned Ogden’s Judo and Karate School on Cherry and Anaheim. Unlike most of the Marines at the Pike that night, my home was local and my brother and I had studied Shotokan Karate under Kaylor Atkins at John’s school. I only stuck with it for about six months, but it was like a religion for my brother.

“So, I’m not going to jail?”

“Think you can drive home without wrecking the car?”

“Yeah.”

“You are going home, not to Pendleton, right?”

“Yeah, home, I go back tomorrow.”

They dropped me at the car. I was with a couple other guys that night, but they’d seen me stuffed into that cop car, so I didn’t think they were counting on me for a ride back. Because I was going to Camp Pendleton that night. However even back then I wasn’t a complete idiot, I took the car to my mother’s and she drove me to the Greyhound Bus Station, where I met my pals, who were, needless to say, pretty surprised to see me.

Now, I was back at the Pike with my wife and my best friend and we were all flying Trans Love Airways. We had a couple-three hours to kill. Vesta still wanted to ride the Cyclone. Dick knew of a crap game we could get in. I didn’t like either of those ideas. If the Cyclone didn’t kill us, Dick’s illegal pals were for sure going to slit our throats and take our money. At least that’s what my drug indulged brain was telling me.

“You decide, Ken,” Dick said. Dice or the Coaster.”

“I vote for pinball.” There was a pinball arcade right across from Bob’s. We wouldn’t have to go very far at all. I headed to the arcade, hoping they’d take my lead and follow. They did.

I cannot say enough about the virtues of pinball when you’re on acid. It’s more fun than you could ever dream of. Plus it tends to keep you rooted to one spot. The game is always changing, every ball different, so you don’t get bored. I mean if you can trip out on a few grains of sand on the tip of your shoes, imagine what you can do with bells, whistles, targets popping up and down, flippers and the Who’s Pinball Wizard playing around in your head. Fun, fun, fun, that’s what you get when you mix pinball and LSD.

Things were going good, I’d managed to master the art of grabbing the ball with a flipper and holding it in place, taking aim and getting fairly close to what I wanted to hit. We stayed on one quarter eating machine, getting to know it well. After a couple hours we were all pretty good, then something grabbed my leg.

“Brucie,” I said. “Get away.” But the dog was humping to beat the band. I wondered if he smelled Tammy on me. Maybe that was it, he thought I was a big, attractive poodle.

“Trouble here?”

“Oh crap,” Dick muttered.

It was the cops.

And that’s just about the last thing you want to see when you’re out having a good time on acid.

“Are we in trouble?” Vesta said.

“Ken is that you?”

“Don, Don Berans?”

“Yeah, it’s me.”

I’d met Don in the service. We were clerks. Yeah, a lot of Marines carry a rifle, but Don and I, we could type and back then they didn’t have computers or even Xerox machines. We used carbon paper and you had to be a dead on typist, because if you made a mistake, especially on a promotion, or anything remotely important, you had to do it over. We’d never been pals, but we’d worked together, been drinking together.

I don’t know if he knew what kind of condition we were in. I hadn’t seen him in years. I’d changed a lot. I had long hair, a beard, was obviously part of the counter culture and he was obviously part of the establishment. But he seemed so dammed glad to see me. He pumped my hand like we were long lost brothers. Then he wrote out his address on the back of some kind of business card, said we should get together sometime.

Twice in my life I’d had a close call with the cops at the Pike and twice I’d gotten away by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin.

“Don, do me a favor,” I said.

“What?”

“Shoot the dog.”

He laughed, then he and his partner left.

“The stamps might be done by now.” I pulled the dog off my leg and we went back to see Santa Claus Bob.

“Finished.” Bob handed me the stamps and I handed over his dog.

“Perfect,” I said.

And they did look perfect, but when we were back home, still flying Trans Love, Vesta noticed something wrong as we were stamping the records.

“They’re different,” she said.

“They’re not,” Dick said.

“The quote things on “Birch”, they’re straight and the type on the others is off.” She was right. We stopped stamping the records, because I wanted the stamped covers to look exactly like Dub’s.

The next day Dick and I drove out to Glendale, where Dub and I had the original stamps made. I ordered another Birch and Freeze Out, plus I ordered a new one. GWW Royal Albert Hall, and I paid him for all three stamps. The stuff on Burn Some More was the last Dylan stuff that I got from Waterford that I gave Dub, actually I mastered that one. I’d held back RAH because I wanted to listen to it a bit, before we put it out.

The next day I went back to pick up the stamps. The guy there wasn’t happy to see me. Big Dub had been in and told him not to make any more stamps for me. The guy gave me the three stamps I paid for, then told me not to come back.

On the way home I wondered if he told Big Dub about the stamps I’d made there and if he’d told him about Royal Albert Hall. I could only assume he had, but Big Dub wasn’t into the music. He wouldn’t have know how important that record was going to be. How necessary it was to my comeback that I have it and he didn’t.

But what I didn’t know was that I wasn’t the only bootlegger in L.A. with that tape.

It Coulda Happened this Way — Dub Dubbed the Rubber Dubber

Things were ticking along okay, Dub and I were making our records in colored vinyl now. We both had good cars, Vesta did too. Dub got to buy lots of cool electronic toys. We ate out all the time, bought lots of records. Life was good.

Norty and Ben were out of the picture. Sure a couple other people were making boots, but they were insignificant, they didn’t affect us. I didn’t care. We didn’t own Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin or Jethro Tull. They hadn’t signed contracts with us.
Rubber Dubber was making his records and I ran into him at Rare Records in Glendale. He introduced himself right off. He seemed like a nice guy, invited me to his home in Sherman Oaks. I went, met his wife. They drove matching BMW motorcycles, which I thought was kind of cool as I had a Triumph Bonneville. Scott Johnson was a guy with a story for every occasion and some of them were a little much, so I excused myself, said I had to go to the bathroom, where I checked out the names on the prescription bottles in the medicine cabinet. Sure enough, he was who he said he was, at least that part was true.

During the course of my afternoon there, Scott showed me the bamboo growing in the backyard, said he used it to disguise the fact that he was growing marijuana behind it. Well I was a dedicated dope smoker, who was constantly supplied by a younger brother whose two main goals in life were to stay out of the draft and to grow the perfect marijuana plant. What Scott was growing behind that bamboo, just looked like more bamboo to me, but I didn’t say anything.

I ran into Scott and Richard, a guy he called his enforcer, a lot in the next couple of months. He was always trying to figure out where we got our records made and I was always trying to figure out where he got his done. He told me he had them done in a moving truck, a secret warehouse where he’d set up a couple presses and that he’d been paying off the people at Capitol to make them at night. He didn’t tell me these stories all at the same time. Every time I asked, he had a different tale. Still, he was a nice guy.

His favorite story, one he told me just about every time he saw me, was where he claimed to have friends at Warner Brothers and they knew who he was and liked what he did. He said Warner’s called Rubber Dubber the unpaid advertising arm of Warner, Electra Atlantic. Or maybe he said Warner, Reprise, I don’t remember if they owned Electra at the time, but you get the picture.

Then he did the Stones European Tour, or maybe he’d done it earlier and Dub just got around to finding out. Whichever, it really pissed Dub off. Apparently he thought we had the rights to the Stones. They were our band. Bootleg Dylan, Zep and Hendrix if you want, but leave the Stones alone. I tried to tell him it was no big deal, but Dub wasn’t having any of it.

One morning I showed up at his place to find that he’d mastered Scott’s record. Copied it straight from Scott’s double disc, got all the material crammed onto a single disc, improved the sound with his equalizer (Dub was one of the first people on the planet to actually have one of those in his home. They were expensive, new and most people had never heard of them).

“This is not a good idea,” I said.

“We’ll sell as many as LiveR.” He was excited. “Nobody’s going to buy his double record any more.”

“We’re doing to Scott, what Norty and Ben did to us.” This from me, a guy who would go on to copy any and every bootleg he could get his hands on in just a few short years. But then I still had a few morals. I knew we were crooks, but I truly believed you had to be honest if you lived outside that law. And that meant no copying.

“No, it’s not,” Dub said. “We invented bootlegs. It was our idea.”

I didn’t agree with his reasoning, but I didn’t fight him too hard when he got the record mastered. I’m not stupid, I was more than happy to take my half of the money, even though I thought it was wrong.

I was disappointed when the record came out, because it sounded pretty awful compared to LiveR, but then YaYas sounds pretty awful compared to LiveR, too. However, it was more than that, European Tour just sounded like something I didn’t want to be associated with. Sort of like some of those Dylan tapes I’d listened to in Waterford’s bathroom.

The record had only been out a few days when Scott called me and he was pretty upset, told me Richard was coming right over with a friend. They wanted to talk. You know, when you’re sending someone over to “talk sense” to a rival, you shouldn’t call the person first.

That was dumb.

Malcolm happened to be at my house when Scott called. I told him what was happening, that there was likely to be a confrontation. I could tell he wanted to leave, but he’d japped out on the business with those bad guys from back East and he wanted back into the bootleg business in the worst way. If he ducked out on me now, that was never gonna happen and he knew it.

I told Vesta that now might be a good time for her to take the kids over to my mother’s and she agreed. After she was gone, I went to the bedroom, reached under the bed and took out my father’s service revolver, that same forty-five auto I’d held in my shaking and a quivering hands during that escapade at Saturn, where we almost blew away my father and half the black record store owners in L.A.
“You think it’s going to come to this?” Malcolm’s eyes went big when he saw the gun.

“Probably not, but Richard looks like a pretty tough guy.”

“So you’re going to shoot him?”

“Not if I don’t have to.”

“Shit!” Now Malcolm really wanted to go. To his credit, he stayed.

I had a sofa on one side of my living room, two chairs in front of bookcases on the other side. Vesta and I have always been voracious readers, every house we ever lived in was jammed full of books. Our boat was stuffed full of them. Reading is important.

I checked the clip, put it back in the weapon, chambered a round, made sure the safety was off, because it’s stupid to have a gun that won’t shot when you pull the trigger.

“Oh fuck!” Malcolm looked like he was going to wet himself. But he hung in there, even though he wasn’t liking it very much. “What if you shoot him? What are you gonna do then?”

“That’s what you’re here for. You’re gonna put the bodies in your trunk and take ’em out to the desert.”

“Oh fuck!”

“You already said that.”

“It’s the middle of the day!”

“I was kidding, nobody’s gonna shoot anybody.”

“Then how come you did what you did?”

“What?”

“Checked the bullets.” He was sort of bouncing on his toes. “Oh shit, they’re here.”

“That was fast.”

“Oh, shit.”

“It’s gonna be fine. Just stand behind me and try to look tough.” I put the gun on the third shelf of the bookcase, so it’d be close at hand when I sat in one of those chairs.

Through the window I saw Richard and a big guy get out the car. Richard wasn’t so big, but he was kind of scary, the big guy didn’t look so scary, but he was big. It looked like he was just for show, but I wasn’t sure.

I went to the door, opened it as they were coming up the porch steps.

“Hey, guys, come in.” I showed them my back, went to a chair, sat down.

Malcolm took the other chair.

Richard and Big Guy took the couch. Richard got tense all of a sudden.

“What are you going to do with that?” He didn’t have to say what he was talking about. I knew what he meant and he knew I knew.

“Just being cautious. You would be, too.”

“Scott’s not happy that you copied his record.”

“But we didn’t,” I lied.

“Oh, come on.”

“It’s like with the Zeppelin record, independent tapes.”

“You’re full of shit.”

“I’ll show you.” I got up, moved away from the gun, went to my records. I had them stuffed in alphabetical order in old wooden seven up crates. They took up a whole wall, stacked three crates high. My stereo system was on top of them.

“You got something to drink. A coke maybe,” Big guy said.

“Out in the kitchen.” I pointed. “Lots of stuff in the fridge.”

Richard seemed surprised. I was across the room, well away from the gun and I’d just let the big guy go out into the kitchen by himself. That really was pretty stupid of me, but I was playing it as it went. However, I sort of wished now that I hadn’t chambered a round. In fact I sort of wished the gun wasn’t loaded.

“What are you doing?” Richard was still sitting, was watching me and not the gun.

“Here it is.” I pulled out the record. “You’ll see now what I’m talking about.” I put the record on the turntable, cranked the volume on my McIntosh Amp up loud, dropped the needle on the disc and Mick’s voice blared through the living room, singing Sympathy for the Devil.

Richard started bobbing his head up and down as the big guy came back into the room with his coke.

I turned it down.

“See what I mean?” I said.

“Yeah,” Richard said, “different tape.” But it wasn’t a different tape, because Dub had just plain copied their record. I don’t know if he and his EQ work made it sound different enough to fool Richard, or if my playing it loud fooled him, or if it was just the power of suggestion, or if he just didn’t want to take it any further.

“So we’re cool.” I looked over at the gun. Richard did too. He was closer.

“We had it out first,” Richard said.

“We had Zeppelin out first.”

“That was different.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right.”

“So, we’ll check with each other in the future to make sure something like this never happens again.”

“Absolutely.” I walked over to him, held out my hand.

“That’s good.” He shook it and they left.

The big guy sort of smiled, gave me the high sign with his coke.

“That went okay,” Malcolm said as they drove away. He’d never gotten out of his chair, didn’t say a word the whole time they were their, didn’t even bother to look tough. Still, he was there. That was something.

A few days later I went out to Scott’s, because a customer of ours wanted some of his records. We’d done a few trades in the past and it worked out okay for everybody. But when I got there the house was vacant. He was gone, so was his stuff. I looked in back. The bamboo was still growing, but somebody had pulled out some plants from behind. So I guess it had been marijuana after all.

I never saw Scott or Richard again.

But I read an interview he gave Esquire Magazine a few months later. He told how he made his Rubber Dubber records in a semi truck, always moving it around so the FBI couldn’t find him. What a typical Scott Johnson story. The Esquire interviewer bought it all.