Just recently heard that you can find Night People stocked at Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard. The iconic music and record store is located between Ivar and Cahuenga in Hollywood. It’s a fantastic place and not far from many other places on Sunset Boulevard where the story takes place: the Hullabaloo Afterhours, where we played with many of the most popular acts of the early 1960s; Gazzari’s Nightclub; where I had a crisis of faith about our music, just one week before we opened at Caesars Palace; the Sunset Las Brea Travelodge where it crosses Sunset – we had to sneak most of the guys in Stark Naked and the Car Thieves in at night we were so broke, the Red Velvet club where we switched clubs with Ike and Tina Turner so we would be close to the studio, and Producer’s Workshop where we recorded most of our records.
Quick reminder, the concluding volume of Things We Lost in the Night,Enchanted, Book 2, will be available for early review soon. Sign up for the mail list if you’d like your review copy. Also not from Gower Street, where City Recorders, my recording studio used to be.
The doorbell on the side of our house next to the driveway rang. This doorbell, with its own higher pitched ring than the front doorbell, rang in the my bedroom in the basement, commonly referred to among my friends as the dungeon due to my insistence that it be painted battleship gray and because to get to it, you had to traverse the furnace room with it’s spooky tentacled maze of vents rising up from of the furnace’s heart to snake across overhead. In my teen years it had served as the bridge of a starship, the conning tower of a submarine, and clubhouse before becoming our rehearsal room. I went up the basement stairs and ushered in Hasty Smith and another guy who seemed to tumble down the open steps all elbows and knees. Chuck Tunnah, Hasty said, introducing him to Pat Baldwin and me, was an inch or two over six feet and kind of gawky like he hadn’t quite grown into his skeleton. He had dark hair combed back from a widow’s peak that made him look fiendish.
“Now listen you guys. Don’t start that “Charlie the Tuna” crap with me,” he said with a big grin, like the Joker’s in Batman, in reference to the Starkist Tuna cartoon spokesfish, “because I do taste great and unlike that cartoon Tuna, I have great taste. Just want to get that clear”
That was how I met Chuck Tunnah, the fourth singer of my original vocal group as we formed the Aristocats, in the Fall of 1957. On July 5, 2016, Chuck, Charles E. Tunnah, died peacefully at 75 years of age in an easy chair with the Indianapolis Star in his hands. As with so many of my friends and associates passing into their later years are beginning to disappear I fear my blog will become an obit page, so I will resist that except in special circumstances. Though Chuck and I had not been in touch for many, many years, this loss struck very close to home to me. Hasting Smith, Jr., mentioned above, and Chuck sang in our high school choir and the exclusive Madrigal singers, and both patiently taught Pat Baldwin and me, both complete neophytes, how to learn and sing the popular music we liked. Hasty soon left us to go to Purdue, and eventually to become a nuclear rock scientist in Los Alamitos, New Mexico, where he passed away prematurely and suddenly as he warmed up to begin an early morning run.
Chuck, Pat, and I found Dave Dunn and went on to become the Reflections, and to record and release our first two records in Indianapolis in 1964. One of them, In The Still of the Night, became a regional hit on Chicago’s WLS, outcharting the Beatles for a couple of weeks. Chuck is the bass singer who first started the bass line that brought that version of a classic to prominence for us.
In Night People though, Chuck is introduced and disappears in the same paragraph; he never made the trip to California and on to the adventure that turned us into Stark Naked and the Car Thieves. Though he could be generous and kind, he could also be loud and obstreperous and because of that, he ended up relegated to staying in Indiana. He, and Hasty, have now passed beyond the curtain of life. When Hasty died, I felt the harsh breezes of change whispering through the hole in my history he left behind. The wind has picked up.
74 seems to be a fatal number. So many greats falling by the wayside at this milepost. Since it’s my number, can’t help but wonder, but I don’t think it’s my time yet. I’ve still got things to say … Read this fascinating article about Paul Kantner and Signe Toly Anderson, Airplane’s first girl vocalist. She was 74, too
It was sad enough that Jefferson Airplane founding member Paul Kantner, the keeper of the famed San Francisco band’s flame throughout its turbulent half-century, died last week, from heart failure. A deeper melancholy set in with news of the death the same day of the Airplane’s first female vocalist, Signe Toly Anderson, from cancer. Both were 74.
“Do you watch Dennis Leary’s new FX show ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’ about a crazy old time rock-in-roller? Well, Larry Dunlap lived it. His memoir ‘Night People’ is a frank, funny, frenzied chronicle of the 60’s music scene.” – Susan Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed memoirs Lighting Up, Only as Good as Your Word and Five Men Who Broke My Heart.
I’ll be going in to Santa Monica next Tuesday night to see Sue read from her new book “WHAT’S NEVER SAID.”:
L.A. READING OF “WHAT’S NEVER SAID”
with ASPEN MATIS (“Girl In The Woods”)
& ALISON SINGH GEE (“Where The Peacocks Sing”)
Santa Monica Barnes & Noble
1203 3rd Street, 3rd Street Promenade
Tuesday September 15 from 7-8 pm
It’s free & open to the public so join us if you can
I’m afraid I’d disappoint a lot of people who really watch S&D & R&R TV show on FX ( I watch it avidly) since we were never as crazy and weird as Johnny Rock and the Heathens. Btw, if you haven’t see it yet, it’s a hoot, and every once in a while I see something I can relate to, especially when they are all visiting a psychiatrist together…