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

Solomon (left) & Chris

The first rehearsal of the proper band took place in Solomon's barn, which was one huge room in which he lived, in Rosemead. Lindley recalled the occasion: "Solomon had just woken up and looked like Lazarus. He had completely forgotten about the rehearsal, and it was the first time that he met Chris. However, looking up red eyed and gray, his first words were 'Coffee Mama' (Lindley said this bit in a gravelly basso profundo). His old lady, Marta, who was a belly dancer, got up from the bed to the kitchen section and put on the pot of caffeine and to this day he runs on strong coffee with cream and Blue Velvet pipe tobacco."

Solomon also, it would seem, liked a pretty constant supply of women. I asked Lindley about the story that Kaleidoscope were pursued by the ugliest groupies in California. "Oh yes, and some of the tastiest too. But there were some real boilers. Solomon was responsible for them, he'd have anything that moved. He had an incredible appetite for one after another. He was the king of the knee tremblers, except he would do it over the hood of his truck, out in the back of the Avalon, in the alley at the side of the Avalon, under the stage of the Avalon! Also, one of the few documented times with an air hostess in the loo aboard a plane. We were going to Seattle, to the Sky River Rock Festival, we know it, for sure. I saw them go in and said 'Write this down, record it for posterity.' He's got Satyriasis, you know. We're going to get him a pair of goat skin pants and pan pipes.'

Musically of course they were real innovators, playing everything from bluegrass, folk and Cajun through to acid rock and especially all the near eastern stuff. Solomon had that sort of musical background and had taught a lot of it to the others, although Lindley's father had lots of traditional Indian music records, which he had listened to since he was very young. Quite a few bands had attempted to play near eastern music but few did it as well as Kaleidoscope. Lindley definitely agreed: "In order to play it you have to learn the right basics, like the Dhaska system, the right tones, the right quarter tones, otherwise it's a fake." Was it difficult, I asked, to amalgamate western and eastern scales when they played things like "Taxim" or "Seven-Ate Sweet"? "Well, there are Persian and Turkish scales that correspond almost exactly to some western scales, such as the Dhaska or Mahour. It's just a major scale with occasional altered tones in the secondaries. The rules for staying with that Dhaska are incredibly complicated though. Even the parts of not playing, leaving the right spaces, that fascinates me, the whole thing. One day I'm going to sit down with a teacher and learn them - all the classical Turkish scales and the Persian ones. It was fun doing all that stuff with Kaleidoscope, many ethno-musicologists have come up to us and said 'Boy, that's a great way of doing that!'"

Strangely enough they never encountered prejudice from either the old folk crowd (as Dylan did in 1965) or the academics. In any case, apparently, every oud player that plays in a night club amplifies his instrument to be heard above the crowd. The only people that did care were the kind of people that no one gives a shit about anyway. A few other bands did play Arabic/near eastern stuff particularly the Devil's Anvil, who featured Felix Pappalardi on a bouzouki, which is similar to a saz except that it doesn't have any quarter tones and is fretted liked a guitar. Also in the band was Steve Knight (later keyboard player for Mountain) and they cut at least one album on Columbia called Hard Rock from the Middle East in 1966. If anyone is prepared to part with a copy in good nick or anything else by other bands in a similar vein (e.g. the Orient Express) I would be glad to hear from them.

In common with the Ramblers Mark Two and the original Scat Band, the first Kaleidoscope lasted a year before Darrow left. I asked if that said anything about Darrow? "Well Chris has his own way of approaching things, which turned out a little different from the rest of the band and we wanted to go into different areas that Chris didn't want to go into. Same thing happened with the Scat Band."

Next: "Electric fiddle through a stack of Marshalls is really frightening."