AT THE BEGINNING, FIRST TIME I MET HIM
I was working at Salty Dog Recording in Van Nuys in 1988 as a sound engineer,
which is a good job for a drummer like myself waiting for the next gig. That’s
where I first met ahbe.
A skinny, older guy with a white beard and crystal blue eyes. To some, he would
appear to be a homeless guy. He didn’t dress to impress. He usually wore
white clothes and a wool cap which held his long white hair from sight.
He owned a tack piano that he kept there at Salty Dog Recording Studio, (now
called Santa Fe). He loved playing that piano, but on this day he wanted to
make an edit on a 1/4’’ reel-to-reel tape. The studio’s 1/4’’
machine wasn’t working, so I took him to Rob Carmichael’s studio
a few blocks away to do it. He was so grateful to me for doing such a simple
thing, we hit it off right away. It was simple to me, but to him it was like
a miracle had happened.
He told me he wrote a song called “Nature Boy”. “The favorite
song of three presidents”. I wasn’t familiar with the name, so he
sang a little bit of it and I said “Oh yeah, I’ve heard that one
before. Great song!” Then he’d say something like “But that
was the past, and I don’t want anything to do with it. I’m working
on something new and wonderful the world’s never heard before!”
He was very talkative and almost excited to share his, what he called ‘Poems’
with me. He talked of the “The flux and the flow of the miracle of nature”
and equations that sounded so scientific, but yet so beautiful and soothing
to hear. Not stuff that makes your head hurt, but words and thoughts that make
your heart feel good. Such a gentle soul.
He paid $75.00 pr hr at SDR, a very steep price to pay, being that most the
time spent in the studio, ahbe would talk and recite his poems more than recording
on the project at hand.
When he booked the sessions with me, we would talk about what he needed done,
and I would prepare for the session, but when we’d get together, he would
change his mind and want to do something else. Sometimes it was impossible to
keep up with his ever-changing tasks.
This taught me patience. Just when I thought a piece of music was done, he would
change the smallest things, over and over again. In fact, he probably had recorded
at least 20 versions of “Nature Boy” before we even met. We recorded
at least five versions during my time with him. His favorite version was with
Jerry Vinci on violin.