Thanks for taking your time, Rich! Tell me for the beginning, where did you grow up and what were some of your influences?
I was born in Brooklyn, NY. The opening scene from the film "Dog Day Afternoon" is a pretty good representation of what it was like where I lived. Music was everywhere....transistor radios on every front stoop at night and kids singing doo-wop on the corners. AM radio was big in the early-mid 60's and that's what I grew up with. British Invasion, Motown and especially The Four Seasons who were popular in my mostly Italian neighborhood. On my 8th birthday I received a copy of Rubber Soul by the Beatles from the girl who lived upstairs and was President of the local Beatles Fan Club. I promptly returned it to the store in exchange for a Smothers Brothers LP. One big influence was my Step-Grandfather Guisseppe(Joe). Any time we visited his home I would sit for hours and play his records, mostly R&B like Sam Cooke, Hank Ballard and others. One day I also discovered his "dirty" comedy records like Redd Foxx, Skillet & Leroy, etc......there was a certain thrill about sneaking a listen of these verboten discs. I had a pretty good stack of 45's of my own as my folks would take me once a week to the record shop and let me purchase one disc. When I was 11 my grandmother took me to Red's Toy Store on Flatlands Ave. in NY and I purchased my first LP. It was "Vincebus Eruptum" by Blue Cheer and that album changed my life. I listened to it non-stop, everyday that summer and it opened my ears for what was to be a lifetime of wanting to hear new and great music.
What can you say about your teen years? I'm sure you have some interesting concert and record collecting stories to share…
About this time my family moved out to the suburbs of Long Island. I was into sports so my first friends were "jocks" but I also gravitated towards the local music freaks who were a few years older than I was. Many of them had older brothers and sisters with record collections that we would raid. This is where I learned about Frank Zappa & The Mothers, The Fugs and other more "underground" mainstream artists. Just about every Friday two friends and I would hit the local Head Shop/Record Store and buy a few LP's that we would go home and immerse ourselves in. There was a clerk at this store named "Ledge" who would always put stuff aside for us knowing that we were on that search for the lost chord. He turned us on to many great obscure major label bands. FM radio was big by the late 60's - early 70's and the "hip" stations played everything from Al Green to Mountain. As a result my record collection contained a wide variety of music, certainly not just rock. The first concert I ever went to was Led Zeppelin at MSG in '70....it was the first of 10 times seeing Zep, including all three nights of the Song Remains The Same film shooting in '73. I never get to see some of the icons like Jimi, Janis or The Doors but over the next 10 years we did get to see just about every other major and not so major bands. Hard to believe that for ten bucks you could see an arena show AND come home with a T-Shirt back then. By the time I was 16 we would either be at a concert every weekend or hanging out in local bars checking out the local bands. Mostly cover bands doing the rock hits of the day, nickel beer and girls, what else could young dudes want. At 19 my life took an odd turn and I got a job as a bartender in a Saturday Night Fever-like Disco. My co-workers gave me the name Disco Rich as I had extra long hair and hated Disco music. I eventually also tended bar in a Rock club in Jamaica, Queens and I could write a book about the experiences I had at both of these places. I started to hang out in NYC and got to see the local "punk" scene up close...I was a big Ramones fan and saw them at every opportunity. Saw Bruce Springsteen pretty early in his career and even though I can't listen to the great majority of his music today, he was great back then.
At what point did you decide to start collecting more obscure psych records and what were some of the first you found when you started doing this?
In early 1980 I had an opportunity to move to Texas and took it. To my surprise Dallas had a punk scene that was better and ballsier than what was going on in NY and I started to seriously collect records for the first time in my life. Besides the punk scene I started to go to local Rockabilly shows. These were local 50's Rockabilly artists that were cashing in on the Stray Cats revival. Through that scene I met an older and quite serious record collector who took me under his wing. He turned me on to early blues, doo-wop, rockabilly and 60's garage. He was the first one to take me on serious record "digs" including an amazing trip to Memphis where we got to buy the collection of a long time employee of Sun Records. He asked me to do a radio show with him on a local station and as a result I got to meet people like Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and other 50's icons. At this point I became enamored with Texas Garage Punk and dove in head first buying up 45's and getting to hear all the classics that had been documented by folks like Doug Hanners and David Schutt in their "Journey To Tyme" publication. I also started to buy and sell records at the local Record Shows and by 1986 I had a little stall at a local Flea Market where I sold records. This is where I met Mark Migliore and we became good friends.....almost immediately.
When and how did Rockadelic start?
Mark was about 10 years younger than I and had been involved in the local punk scene. He came into my stall, talked me down on a garage record from $20 to $5 and then returned the next week to complain about its condition. Being a New Yorker I admired his nerve and we became friends at that moment. Mark had graduated from Punk to Garage & Psych and had a pretty good collection. Around this same time I was turned on to Paul Major's mail order list and began to search out the obscure titles he listed. Within a year I was one of Paul's "moles" and I would send boxes of LP's his way for which he always compensated me for very fairly. After discovering a record called Euphoria "Lost In Trance" Paul suggested that he could use as many copies as I could find. At this point I began "tracking" down bands. By '88 I had tracked down and spoken to just about every obscure band and/or artist listed in those Paul Major lists. Very few people were into this stuff and records didn't sell for nearly what they do today. I remember seeing Paul's list for the first time and couldn't believe someone would pay $50 for an LP...this was obviously the ground floor of the rare & private press record scene. As far as Rockadelic goes, Mark had started the label to release local late 80's bands who were influenced by psych. He had 3-4 forty-five releases under his belt when he invited me to be his partner. The idea of releasing older music really didn't occur to us until I tracked down the band Hickory Wind and the guitarist sent me a tape of a band he fronted post HW. His name was Mike McGuyer and his band was B.F. Trike. He sent the tape with a note saying "You probably won't like this" and after one listen mark & I knew we had to press it on vinyl. We had no clue what we were doing, who would buy it or how we would sell them. We pressed 300 copies only because that was the minimum quantity the pressing plant would do. I had access to a printing press and we designed the cover, printed them and glued them on white jackets by hand ourselves. We sent some out to some mail order dealers and the rest is history. The Trike LP sold out fast and we knew we were on to something. Thanks for opening that Pandora's Box Mr. McGuyer! We started to release LP's of friends bands like Burning Rain and Mark's band Fish Eyed Lens, but we knew that the real interest was in the vintage stuff and we began to search for more material to release.
I know you went on the car trip across the country in a search for obscure undiscovered gems. Would you like to share a story or two with us?
One of the ways to discover these unknown bands was to hit the road and search for unknown records, of which there were many. Mark and I both had pretty serious 9-5 gigs but we would still manage to squeeze in road trips around the country. At this time you could walk into any decent record shop and walk out with stacks of unknown private press LP's for a few bucks a piece. Looking back it was pretty mind boggling that we could hit a place like Ralph's Records in Lubbock and walk out with 100+ records that were unknown at the time but are Acid Archive staples today. Tracking down these bands and asking if they had unreleased tapes or were interested in re-releasing their LP was how Rockadelic got off the ground. I have many stories about these digging trips ranging from hitting a Mexican Distributor in East L.A. and finding boxes of great S.A. psych to digging through active chicken coops that contained piles of records. My brother John was going to school in Texas at this time and would accompany us on some of these trips. Today he is one of the worlds biggest Heavy Metal dealers and runs the O.P.M. record label.
Let's go through Rockadelic discography. You found and released some of the most amazing heavy psych stuff. I would appreciate if you could talk about each release a bit!
Wow Klem, that's a pretty big task......I'll do my best but before I do I must say that many of the releases we did were "discovered" by others and brought to us to release. On the top of that list is Clark Faville who is responsible for a big chunk of our releases. His time and efforts could never be properly compensated and he remains one of the true leaders in this hobby. His knowledge is astounding. Folks like Paul Major, Craig Green and Mark Prellberg were also big contributors to the label. Without all these folks there would be no Rockadelic.
B.F. Trike - The perfect LP to launch the label with as it had been recorded by RCA and had never been heard by anyone outside the band. The song and recording quality was top notch and probably cost a fortune to record. It was handed to us on a platter and set the bar for future releases pretty high. I'm still close friends with two of the three members and that means more than anything.
Cold Sun - Mark had a friend that was a local photographer and always talked about the band he had been in called Cold Sun. He claimed to have an acetate and we pressed him to hear it but for almost a year it never happened. Then one Sunday Mark called me and said the dude was at his house with the acetate and I needed to get there ASAP. I dropped everything and got to his place in minutes. The acetate was not in great shape but played OK and as soon as the needle hit the first track our minds were blown. It was better than we could have ever imagined and quite frankly better than most anything we had ever heard before. We contacted Bill Miller, had a long and unusual negotiation and finally got to release 300 copies of this masterpiece even though Bill wasn't as excited about it as we were. I don't think there is any question that this was the best and most important record we were privileged to release.
Bolder Damn - There is no way any heavy rock fan could here their track "Dead Meat" and not recognize it as something amazingly special. Attempts to find the band failed other than the now Police Chief bass player who was not interested in reliving his past. Mark found someone from the studio and we released it with a cheesy re-done cover. Some years later I was put in contact with the band and we helped them release a CD with comprehensive liner notes. The real shame is that there are no photos or film footage of their outrageous stage show that included beheading and caskets. Singer John Anderson remains a friend and I hope you will be reading an interview with John here in the near future.
During this time we released many LP's of current bands like Bag "Midnight Juice", Burning Rain (3), Fish-Eyed Lens, The Double-Naught Spys and The Underneath. To my ears all of them still hold up pretty well for what they were intended to be.
The Stoned Circus, Bulbous Creation & Thump Theatre/Crank - All three of these titles came from Cavern Sound Studios in Kansas City. Mark Prellberg helped facilitate their release and they were the winners of literally 100's of reels of tapes that were owned by the studios. Bulbous Creation is my favorite of the bunch with it's heavy and evil vibe. The cover artwork unfortunately reflects the scene that was surrounding the label at this point. Rockadelic had become almost a communal family of people who would help design covers, paste on cover slicks and party in excess.
Kennelmus - This bizarre desert psych disc was the brainchild of Ken(nelums) Walker who worked at Wakefield Pressing Plant in Phoenix. He pressed these LP's as needed back in the day and some of the originals came in a plain white gate-fold cover. Amazingly he still had the original pressing plates and we used them for the re-issue. Our pressing plant here in Dallas, A&R did not have the press that used this kind of plate so we had it pressed at a plant in L.A. called Alberti. It was the only release not pressed here locally in Dallas.
Estes Brothers - Our earlier release of Dragonwyck opened the door to other Ohio/Cleveland bands. The Estes Brothers were from Northern Ohio and we fell in love with their LP after finding a copy. To my ears it has a real Traffic vibe which was unusual for U.S. private press LP's.
Jon Uzonyi's Peacepipe - Clark Faville brought this amazing project to us after finding a copy of their 45 on Accent. An unusual trio of guitar, keyboards and drums Peacepipe is as heavy as anything on the label. Jon's use of feedback and effects gives it a unique sound that is not for the faint of heart.
Sudden Death - We were contacted by a guy in NY who had a master tape and far-fetched story about this being a local Long Island band and Jimmy Page sitting in with them in the studio. We didn't believe that story and never claimed it upon release. Years later we found out the band was from the West Coast and spoke to them about the LP....the Page story was pure BS as we imagined.
Gold - Mark was from Northern California originally and during a visit with his folks he met legendary studio owner/producer Leo De Gar Kulka. They hit it off and Leo offered up the Gold LP as a release. I've never been a real big fan of the San Francisco scene and this is not one of my favorite LP's.
Sugar Cube Blues Band - Some years earlier I called my friend Billy Miller of Norton Records and told him about a guy I had met named Jack Starr after finding some insane psychobilly acetates by him. He released an LP with Jack and SCBB was his way of returning the favor. These were 50's musicians who were still around in the 60's and had recorded this Dylan influenced garage folk LP. This was a departure from the heavy rock sound for us but we both dug the music and that was all that mattered.
Brain Police - The centerpiece of the Clark Faville San Diego trilogy along with Framework and Glory. Like all of our covers up to this point this was hand made and we tried to create a wallet/badge look which worked out pretty well. The band was on the cusp of hitting the big time in the 60's and had pressed a few test pressings. Top notch teen garage psych.
Glory - This was Jerry Raney of Beat Farmers fame early band. For my money the tightest rhythm section on the label and a live recording that rocks hard from beginning to end. Not psych but straight ahead rock and roll at it's best.
Framework - A double LP that many have said would have worked better as a single. I think Clark correctly thought that the studio tracks, while great, didn't really capture how heavy the band was and included the live tracks to demonstrate just that. The extravagant cover was printed by Shadocks for us in Germany and when it was all said and done cost about $9.00 each. Lost a good amount of them in a house fire in 2005 and still have discs with nothing to put them in.
Mill Run Band - This is the only current band I'll include here with details. This was basically a one man effort recorded in a bedroom in rural Pennsylvania. The artist, Michael Golembesky sent out 20 copies of his tape to record labels that "had cool names". I was the only one to reply and quickly relalzed that Michael had not ever heard any classic psych music and that this tape represented something that was uniquely his vision. It's not heavy and won't appeal to many Rockadelic fans but it has a soft spot in my heart and gets plenty of listens here to this day. This was the first release on Rockadelic after Mark's untimely death.
Stone Garden - This band had released a 45 on the Angelus label and many collectors thought they were Fraction with a different name. Legendary record digger Craig Green discovered a press kit of this Idaho based band and sent me the info. Guitarist Paul Speer is still active and runs a studio in Memphis. One of my favorites of what was to be a string of really heavy releases.
Seompi - When Mark and I started doing this Seompi was in our sights. We had a copy of their "Summer's Comin' On Heavy" 45 and we knew that is there was an LP's worth of material we HAD to release it. Finding the band was not easy...the drummer was found first but told me that the main bassist/singer was in prison and the bass player was "institutionalized" in California. I did get the name of their sound-man who lived in Austin. I contacted him and found out he was Willie Nelson's sound-man and hard to pin down. After a 5 year quest I finally got him to bring me some tapes which wound up being hours of jamming with no song titles or other info. I had to go through the Texas Prison system to contact the main dude and after 2 years of work we finally put out the LP. The plastic jacket was hand silk-screened and the photos came from the lawyer who was representing the imprisoned member who had also been a member of the legendary Texas garage band The Headstones.
Whitewood - Another Craig Green discovery this was originally released as a song-poem LP in a plain white jacket. The story of this LP is crazy. An older gentleman who was a Big Band musician wrote these songs for his kids garage band. At some point they sent them off to NYC to one of those "We'll put your poems to music" companies and hated what they received back. The lyrics are dark and I think the studio band in NY did a good job of representing them...except for the Polka track.
San Francisco's Shiver - I had known drummer Don Peck for many years before this LP came out. I'd see Don once a month and he would tell me about this band he had been in and that he had tapes somewhere. Every time I pressed him to hear them he downplayed it and said they weren't very good. One day I was at his house and he got a call from his good friend Ed Cassidy of Spirit and I then realized his band must have been better than he was leading on. I finally got him to drag them out and the LP is the amazing result. Shiver had a singer with a hook for a hand that does not appear on these recordings. Today he is a street musician in San Francisco and can be seen on Youtube as "TT Fingers".
Pi Corp - Another Cleveland band with Woody Leffel of Granicus on vocals. Bass player Guy Bickel contacted me and sent me the tapes. The closest thing to Krautrock I had ever heard from a U.S. band. Finally getting some recognition but did not go over big with the "No Fuzz, No Buzz" crowd.
Born Again - Another Clark Faville discovery and I think it's better than what people have made it out to be. Great guitar work and some real good songs. Not everything can melt your brain.
Iota - I had always been interested in the El Paso Suemi label(pronounced Sue Me as in "Go ahead and sue me). The label had released the LP "I Love You Gorgo" back in the day along with a pile of 45's. Owner Kenny Smith and engineer Bill Taylor were hired by Hi Records and moved to Memphis to record rock acts for the mostly soul label. Iota released one 45 but had an LP's worth of material recorded in Memphis and this was the result.
Wailing Wall - Time for a confession....This may be my favorite LP on Rockadelic. Recorded by the Suemi boys before they moved to Memphis this LP has a vibe that I've never heard anywhere else. The Adams brothers moved to the west coast and released some middle eastern tinged new age LP's but this LP is pure El Paso desert madness. Heavy at times but mostly deep and dark basement garage tunes that strike chords seldom reached. My friend Patrick who does the Acid Archives agrees and sees the beauty in this record. Admittedly not for everyone but for the right folks....nirvana.
Pig Newton & The Wizards From Kansas - This is another tape from the Cavern Sounds archives. Recorded prior to their Mercury LP, it took years to get in touch with the band and release this. Some of the same material as the Mercury LP although these versions are cruder and harder. Two unreleased tunes round out this great and overlooked LP.
I know I've left out a few but the above is not bad for going off the top of my head. If you have any questions about these or other Rockadelic releases feel free to send them to this site and I'll be happy to answer. I already feel like I've bored most of you to tears.
What happened next and what are you doing these days, Rich?
Well....If the vibe that came from our releases was dark and drug addled it's because that's the atmosphere in which they were made. Quite a few of the local Dallas Rockadelic family have since moved on to the next world. Mark Migliore passed away in 1996 and I continued the label for another 10 years before deciding to hang it up. In 2005 my home burned down and I lost quite a few memories in that fire. And honestly, with the popularity of the internet and the loss of vinyl distributors in the marketplace the Rockadelic business model had run its course. We had no clue what were doing when we started but our goal was never to make money or do this for a living. Mark and I had a passion about finding new and unheard music and Rockadelic allowed us to do that at a pretty high level. I still go out and dig for records 3-4 times a week and I get just as excited today when I hear something new as I did back then. Luckily, with the wide range of genres that I enjoy listening to I can still find unknown gems from time to time. Personally I've been married 31 years to my childhood sweetheart, have two grown daughters who many of you know from the ARC Record Shows and I have had a pretty straight 9-5 gig for 30 years with the same company. I still keep up with what's being unearthed by other psych labels and there is still some killer stuff being released.
Thank you so much for being a part of It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine! Would you like to share something with our readers?
Klem, it was an honor to speak to your readers this way and I really dig Psychedelic Baby. I hope to contribute some more to the site in the coming year. What I'd like to share with your readers is this....I'm flattered that people still dig what we were trying to do.....we were just the vehicle for all these great bands to finally get heard and they deserve the credit more than us.....Music is an amazing part of life.....the more time you invest in it the more it gives back. Back when we started we had to go out and find these LP's on our own and then we spent many hours listening to each one to see what beauty and surprises lurked within. The LP's I wound up liking the most were usually ones that I thought "WTF" upon first listen. Today the internet provides you with any and every record imaginable and you can travel the road that took me 30 years in a week. Don't do it...take your time...enjoy the journey....don't try to cram every LP ever recorded into your ears all at once. This music is like fine wine...it needs to be tasted, appreciated and not gulped down in one shot.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/ 2011