Blue Mountain Eagle interview

December 18, 2012

Blue Mountain Eagle interview

Blue Mountain Eagle in the bushes prior to
hitting the road for the great Northwest (circa 1970)

Blue Mountain Eagle partly formed out of the New Buffalo Springfield, which included Dewey Martin, Bob Jones, Dave Price and Randy Fuller. They released only one LP back in the 1970 for Atco. In the following interview you will read a story by David Price (guitar, vocals), but in the near future also another member, Joey Newman will reply and share his part of the story. 

I’m very happy you agreed to share
the story of Blue Mountain Eagle, which was a short-lived American rock group
that evolved out of New Buffalo Springfield around August 1969. Before we start
talking about it I want to ask you about your childhood and teen years. Where
did you grow up and what are some early influences?
I was born in West Texas, but grew
up around San Antonio and Austin (with a couple of early side trips to Hawaii
and New Orleans). I went to Alamo Heights High School where I started my first
band, The Crowns, in 1960. My early musical influences among others were Little
Richard, Jerry lee Lewis, Gene Vincent and Chuck Berry. Basically anybody who
What are some of the early bands you
were involved with?
After high school, I turned to folk
music for a while, playing folk and country blues as a solo act and with a
friend of mine, Bill Holloway. The local music scene in San Antonio was where I
met Mike Nesmith who later brought me out to LA. Eventually I moved to Austin
to attend the University of Texas and fell in with John Andrews (guitar) and
Bob Arthur (Bass) in the Chelsea. John, Bob and I along with Chris Ducey, Bobby
Donahoe and Don Glut had a very short lived band called the Armadillo that
Nesmith put together in 1968 in LA.
You were original members of
The New Buffalo Springfield, formed in September 1968 by Dewey Martin, the
drummer in the original Buffalo Springfield. I would really like if you could
share the story of the New Buffalo?
late 1968. Left to right: Dave Price, Jim
Price, Dewey Martin, Bob Appersonand Gary Rowles, Don Poncher
The Dewey Martin/Buffalo Springfield
story is complex, but here’s the relatively short story. I first joined Dewey
when Mike Nesmith called me up and said “Dewey’s putting a band together up at
my place. You should come up.” That band was eventually comprised of Dewey, me,
and four guys he had found playing in Las Vegas. They were Jim Price (later
with Mad Dogs and Englishmen and the Rolling Stones on horns), Bob Apperson
(Bass), Gary Rowles (son of jazz great Jimmy Rowles on guitar) and Don Poncher
on drums. You should probably talk to Don about how they actually came to join
up with Dewey. At any rate, that group played as the New Buffalo Springfield
and occasionally as the Buffalo Springfield when Dewey’s manager thought he
could get away with it. We toured a bit, but eventually everybody quit but me.
Dewey and I then put together the next band with Randy Fuller on bass and Bob
“B.J.” Jones on guitar. We toured as the New Buffalo Springfield and as Blue Buffalo
and did some not very good recording at Sunset Sound in LA on time that Dewey
managed to get Atlantic to pay for. Nothing came of the sessions and we
prepared to hit the road again. Dewey’s manager, Mike Zalk, thought we could
use another guitar player/singer/songwriter, and brought in Joey. That band
toured the Northwest a bit, and on returning to LA after a particularly
strained tour, fired Dewey, went out and found Don Poncher playing a club in
the valley and formed Blue Mountain Eagle. Got all that? I told you it was
New Buffalo Springfield, spring
1969.Clockwise from top: Dewey Martin,Bob “B J” Jones, Dave Price and Randy
David, The Chelsea is another band you
were involved with before that. I’m currently working on a long detailed
article about Texas psych scene and since this band was from there, I would
love if you could tell us about it?
The Chelsea was formed in Austin by
John “Toad” Andrews and Bob Arthur after they returned from a trip to England
around 1963-64. My older brother was the rhythm guitar to Toad’s lead, but they
wanted someone who would play louder. They replaced my brother with me on the
promise that I would play louder and keep my brother’s blond piggyback Fender
Bassman amp. I did both, and we played the local clubs and frat parties for a
while. We were definitely not psychedelic, but at the same time we were playing
Austin, Rocky and the 13th  Floor
Elevators came into being, and I suppose the Austin psych scene was born. The
Austin music scene in those days was not what it is today. There were few
opportunities to play original music. The clubs were all top 40, and there
weren’t many of them. The main ones were The Jade Room, The Continental Club
and a dive we played at a lot called (appropriately) The Clown’s Den. In late
1965, Mike Nesmith called and asked if I wanted to come out to California. I
said yes, and my Austin music career came to a close.  As far as I know, The Chelsea never recorded.
Toad and Arthur later joined me in LA
around 1968, and we formed a band backed by Nesmith called the Armadillo. We
played all of one gig, and Toad and Arthur left for San Francisco to join Tracy
Nelson and Mother Earth. I ended up with Dewey.
So how exactly did all of you guys came together and what are some early
memories from “jamming” together?
It’s a continuation of the Dewey
Martin Saga, but as I said earlier, after we left Dewey, we went looking for
Don Poncher, and that was the start of the band. The name came from a Newspaper
in Central Oregon that B.J. remembered from our last tour with Dewey. I don’t
recall any other great name suggestions being floated at the time, so as far as
I can remember, we just went with it.
David Price, Randy Fuller, Bob Jones, Joey
Newman and Don Poncher (1969)
As far as jamming, we mainly just went to
work on the originals that each of us had been working on.
Soon you were signed by a major label,
ATCO. How did that happen?
You can ask the other guys for their
recollections, but as I recall, the connection with Atlantic came mainly from
the studio time we had pirated with Dewey. They were looking for some kind of
return on their investment, and decided to give us a listen. Ahmet Ertigun came
down to one of our rehearsals at Studio Instrument Rentals in Hollywood and was
interested in seeing Joey and B.J. do the dueling guitar thing. Personally, I
also think he was feeling pissed that he had lost out to Clive Davis on signing
Santana, and we were his next signing opportunity. Sort of a rock and roll
rebound situation. Anyway, we went up to see Ahmet at the Beverly Hills Hotel,
and he signed us up. I recall him saying, “we’re going to make a lot of records
David Price, Randy Fuller, Bob Jones, Joey
Newman and Don Poncher (1969)
What are some of the strongest memories
from producing and releasing your LP?
We recorded the album mostly live at
Wally Heider’s in Hollywood. We lined the three guitar amps along one wall,
Randy’s bass amp on the opposite wall, Don’s drums under a low shelf by the
viewing glass, and with no baffles let it rip. I was playing a ’57 Telecaster
through a rented Fender Super Reverb, but Joey and B.J. played through the
Acoustic amps we used on the road.
Is there any concept behind the cover
As far as I know it was just
something that looked trippy. The photo on the back cover was a much more
realistic depiction of what we really looked like.
Besides the album, there was also two
singles released, but I think only in Germany. Am I right?
The first single off the album was
Trivial Sum. The second single was a one off recording of Marianne, written by
Steve Stills (not his best work). Both singles were released in the U.S.
I believe if they would promote better
you would become a major act. You opened for many bands from Jimi Hendrix to
Pink Floyd. Any memories about that?
Thanks for the compliment. You never
know what might have been. As far as playing with all those other artists, that
was great most of the time. I remember the first big concert we did as Blue
Mountain Eagle. It was at the HIC in Honolulu, Hawaii and we had been booked as
The Buffalo Springfield by our manager (yeah, that same guy). We were opening
for Canned Heat and Steppenwolf, and before the show this little white haired,
bearded hippie dude came in and iidentified himself as the guy who would
introduce us. We sat him down and explained that we were not The Buffalo
Springfield, we were Blue Mountain Eagle. He said “cool” and went out and told
the audience they were not going to hear Buffalo Springfield, but a really
great new band called Blue Mountain Eagle. We didn’t know how that was going to
go over, but by the second or third song in our set, the crowd was on their
feet. I’ll always remember that one.
This can be a hard question, but I will
write down all the songs from your LP and I would really appreciate if you
could comment each one a bit?
I’ll let the other guys comment on
their songs, but will say that I liked every one of them and feel privileged to
have played with such good players.
Love Is Here         
Yellows’ Dream    
Feel Like a Bandit
I wrote this about my first ex-wife. She didn’t think it was a very good song.
I never liked my vocal on the track, but the groove, Joey’s harmony part and
the out where everyone sings are amazing.                           
B.J. wrote this with Augie Meyer’s wife Carol Brown. First thing you notice is
B.J. could sing.                            
Loveless Lives
I wish we had done more like this. I’m a sucker for heavy grooves and big
No Regrets
I came up with the chords and Don came up with the words and sang the lead. His
words and vocal turned an O.K. set of chords into a really good song. The out
where he sings with B.J., and Joey’s falsetto operetta thing at the end are
Winding Your String                      
Sweet Mama
This is Randy being the primal force he was.                    
Promise of Love          
Trivial Sum
This was written by Don’s friend Terry Furlong, and was the first single. It
had a great groove and was great fun to play.
Do you have any crazy stories, that
happened to the band?
My lips are sealed.
Blue Mountain Eagle, November 1969. Left to
right: Bob Jones, Joey Newman, Randy Fuller, Don Poncher and Dave Price. Photo
credit: Henry Diltz
What happened next?
We toured behind the album and
worked on new material as we went. Joey in particular was writing some really
strong material. We returned to LA and prepared to start on the next record,
but our producer, Bill Halverson, and Atlantic said we had to record a single
first. That was Marianne. We didn’t think a whole lot of the tune, it didn’t
really fit with what we were doing, but we decided to make the best of it. By
this time, we had replaced Randy with Dave Johnson on Bass, and he had worked
with Dr. John, so he asked him to play on the track. We ended up cutting this
kind of cool New Orleans kind of shuffle version of the song and sent it in. It
was rejected and we were told to cut the song exactly as Steve Stills had
recorded the demo. This we did, but without a whole lot of spirit behind it. We
played a couple of gigs after that, but without label support for a second
album, we just kind of faded away. 
Any regrets?

Time and money. We really weren’t
together all that long, but I feel we had started to jell a bit into something
interesting. There weren’t a lot of bands around at that time with our
combination of big vocals and big guitars. Joey’s songs were progressive rock
before progressive rock and our vocals were like the Eagles before the Eagles.
A second album, more promotional dollars and a little more time would have been
nice. All I know is when we got the opportunity to play for people, they really
like us. But then again, you never know how things would have worked out had
things been different. I’m just happy and proud to have had the
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2012
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2012
  1. Blue Mountain Eagle were the best combine group I had heard of. Its really nice of you to share their interview here. I always wanted to find out about their thoughts and opinions.

  2. Bob Bourland says:

    I also love every song on the Blue Mountain Eagle album. I heard “Love Is Here” on Dallas Tx FM radio and immediately went out and bought the album. Also, Joey Newman and Don Galucci were in a band called Touch that created one magnificent self-titled album.

  3. Playing with David, Don, Joey and BJ was so much fun! Our road trips through the Northwest were legendary. In those days when we were in LA, I was hanging out at Leon Russell’s house a lot. So I invited Leon to come hear us the upcoming weekend at the Brass Ring in the Valley. He showed up and told me how much he loved the band, and he really liked how the 3 guitar players worked together. He especially liked what Joey was playing. We sure had some great times!

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