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II: 'We knew nothing about the music business and got taken for a ride."
All of this leads up to the formation of my favorite band from LA (and just about anywhere also too)… Kaleidoscope. The very earliest Kaleidoscope, the pre-Darrow band, has been rather shrouded in mystery, even now it's not totally clear, largely because Lindley couldn't remember everybody who had passed through it rather than a conscious desire to keep it dark. Actually there are allusions to the early band on the Side Trips sleeve notes, in John Vidican, the drummer's piece. I passed my copy to Lindley and he came up with the following revelations. "Vidican had taken a lot of acid around then, but let's have a look at this. 'As I floated down the road, David Drew up and honked at me" now that would be Wormwood which was a place in the Sierra Madre region (of which more in a moment) where John Welsh lived. 'And buzzed off in his Renault and Wednesday we got busted.' Wednesday John got busted. 'We left John and found Tom and Brian.' Brian was Brian Monsour who played keyboard bass, I forget Tom's last name. 'Then we blew the Troubadour and met Barry.' That's Barry Friedman, also known as Frazier Mohawk, who produced Jackson's first (unreleased) album. He sold us into bondage with Michael Goldberg and Stuart Eisen. They were involved with a company that managed people like Tommy Roe. We knew nothing about the music business and got taken for a ride. They got everything, publishing, the lot."

This deal turns out to be the fabled deal which in fact was not directly with Epic but with the aforementioned management company. David explained that "It wasn't a recording contract, we weren't signed to the record company, which is the big trap that many people fall into. They're told 'Well, you're going to have to go through us to get to them - we're the only people that can get you the deal.'"

Returning to Side Trips, the next note says 'and then Epp and Chris got found.' Lindley continued "Any strange name in there is Chester Crill. Epp is Chester Crill, Charles Chester Crill to be exact." I said that we had thought he was Robert Armstrong. "Oh no! Robert Armstrong is someone totally different - he's a blues musician, excellent bottle neck player. That's not Chester at all. If Chester thinks he's Robert 'Big Boy' Armstrong, he's very wrong. They're in different leagues." It seems that the two do know each other - in recent years they have both been in a band called the Shrimp Boat, which evolved out of the Indestructible Old Timey String Band, which Armstrong had been in with a guy called Bill Bryson. Lately Shrimp Boat have evolved again into the R. Crumb Band. Hardly a surprising name given Crill's interest in comics. (One last piece of trivia here, the comic book Mickey Rat allegedly produced by Crill was in fact only written by him, the pictures were done by Armstrong.)

Finally we come to the notes on Side Trips again. Lindley continued quoting "'And Chris got found and rehearsed at my house (i.e. John Vidican's house), my mother moved out.' His mother did move out." He then proceeded to mutter and chuckle over the rest of the notes. "Side Trips, my God, what a thing, there's some real bullshit on here."

Back up there somewhere he mentioned a place called Sierra Madre which is a place that shouldn't pass without comment. Apparently it was a poor man's Topanga, but with much more class. It was a like a little mountain village in Germany but deep in the heart of California. The foundations of the houses were made out of river stones that the Canyon river washed down right through the center. In the mid 60s this place was a hotbed of hippiedom, but very well organized, in a strange amalgam with conservative older people who'd been there for years but tolerated the long hairs because they weren't violent and because they all wanted to keep the place from being modernized. There were a few people who formed a link between the two groups; one of these was a guy called Rick Aerially who owned property in the canyon - he also ended up playing bass in the prototype Kaleidoscope! In the early days not all the band lived up there, Lindley lived in Pasadena and Chris lived in Claremont, but after his stint with Terry Reid Lindley also moved in. What drove him out in the end wasn't the usual things, like police harassment, but spiders. The infamous Brazilian Fiddleback to be exact - one bite and fifteen minutes later you're dead. A pregnant female had found her way up from South America (no doubt by Greyhound bus) and laid her eggs in Sierra Madre. They have a metal statue in the town square as a warning, but people keep stealing the legs as talismen.

Back to the story: after a few months of the prototype Kaleidoscope it was agreed that they needed someone who knew about electric music - i.e. Chris Darrow had been in a pop/r'b band called the Floggs and consequently knew about amps and stuff, so he brought all his equipment and Lindley bought his first Vox AC30 (he'd just bought a new one the day I talked to him, which he was very proud of) and they were ready to go.

Next: "Solomon had just gotten up and looked like Lazarus."