Hickory Wind & B F Trike interview

December 19, 2011

Hickory Wind & B F Trike interview

B F Trike got their start under the name Hickory Wind. Hickory Wind made just one self-titled album in 1969. The following year, the band changed their name to B F Trike and recorded a number of songs for an unreleased album for RCA in Nashville.

Interview with Mike McGuyer (guitar/vocals/harp)

Where and when did you grow up? Who were your major influences?

Michael McGuyer: I was born March 9th, 1945 in Evansville, Indiana. I can’t remember a time when I was not interested in music. I was first interested in “Cowboy” music. About 4-5 I was enamoured with Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers. I remember singing “Back In The Saddle Again” over and over. My step mom would tell me to “shut up in there”. I must have been annoying! Then at 6-7 I discovered my Dad’s, collection of old 78″s. I was listening to Frankie Carl, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, the Dorsey Brothers, Frank Sinatra, etc. Even stood in front of the mirror and played like I was playing each instrument. Then Elvis hit when I was about 11. I loved Elvis, but what spoke to me was the “sound” of that music. The echo, the delivery with his voice, and, of course, the electric guitar. Scotty Moore! I was so young I didn’t know what it was, but I liked it. Then it was rapid fire after that. Ricky Nelson and James Burton, Buddy Holly and his Stratocaster, Chuck Berry and his big fat Gibson, Bo Diddley and those crazy Guilds. Well you get the drift. Next up was surf music. I loved the surf guitars of the Chantays, Dick Dale, etc. but really loved the Beach Boys. Their’s was the first concert I attended. Saw the original line up in ’64. I remember the curtain opening up and “Fun, Fun, Fun” was the first song…wow! When Brian went into that falsetto ending, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and the hook went deeper. Lord they sounded just like the record. It was also at this time that I started to realize that I was becoming a “gear head”. I loved the music, but I also loved the guitars and amps! (I still am…got more amps and guitars than I need…ask my wife….haha). Loved that period. Anyway, things started to change when I got to college. The Beatles hit, the British Invasion was on and I decided that I wanted to play music. I really got a late start playing. I am in awe of these guys that started in clubs at 13-14 years old. I was and “old” 18 – 19 before I got my start. After that I got into Cream, Stones, Steppenwolf, Hendrix, and the Who. One thing I might mention, around ’65 – ’66 I heard the Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s first album and I fell in love with the blues, and the harmonica. From that album I learned to play “Born In Chicago”, and then other harmonica songs like Canned Heat’s “On the Road Again”, and Bo Diddley’s, “I’m a Man. Love the harmonica. In fact, “I’m a Man” became Trike’s concert closer. Yep, we did it three piece. Started with the harp and ended with guitar. We adapted the Yardbirds version with an extended guitar solo with feedback (I guess you can tell from the Trike album I was a fool for feedback) at the end! We always thought it was a good ending song because of the double time ending. BTW you can hear a studio version of “Man” on the Void reissue of the “Wind” album but it doesn’t do it justice.

I hope this shows that I absorbed a lot of music during my early years. Space prohibits naming them all. Like I forgot all of the guitar instrumentals (Dick Dale, Ventures, Duane Eddy, etc).

What bands were you a member of prior to the formation of Hickory Wind?

Yes, all of the members of Wind and Trike played with other bands. My first band was called the Tempos from about ’64. In fact that band had Carl Rodenberg in it who will be mentioned later. I played with Bobby Strehl in a blues band called the Rouges for about two years in Owensboro, Kentucky around 65-67. I think Big Al and Sonny Prentice had been playing in Louisville, Kentucky before Wind. The only recording I can think of was of the Rouges. We went to Louisville to record two songs. One was written by me and the other by Carl. I have a copy of that recording…somewhere?

Can you elaborate the formation Hickory Wind?

The information for this question will be a little vague and fuzzy. I came to the Hickory Wind Sessions after it had already started. I was teaching in Owensboro while playing with Bobby and Carl in the Rouges. In 1969 I sort of “quit’ music to start my masters program in biology at Western Kentucky. I also landed a teaching job for the fall at North High School (which was my alma mater) in Evansville. So Carl and Bobby and I “lost touch”. Well, I finished my work at Western and my wife and I had moved back to Evansville to start my teaching. Along about September (as best as I can remember) I get a phone call and it’s Bobby. He says, “Mike, we are doing an album and we need some harmonica on a couple of songs!”. Well long story short I get involved with the Wind album. I ended up playing harp, guitar, and sang on several songs, but not all. This is when I met Sonny Prentice and Allen Jones. They had come from Louisville to make this album. I got the feeling that it was really Sonny Prentice’s album. I didn’t mind because, heck, I was in a band! It was nice to play with Carl and Bobby again. Carl was doing most of the keys on the album. Anyway, we finished the album. As I remember (again this is 40 years ago), I think Carl wanted to continue to work 6 nights a week with a cover band in town and was not interested in playing with Wind. They asked if I wanted to play and I said “yes”. So Hickory Wind became: Sonny Prentice, Allen Jones, Bobby Strehl and, Mike McGuyer. I was given credit on the album because I played guitar, harp, and sang. I was given credit for keys because I could play keys if needed. That’s how I became a part of Wind.

“The album was recorded in a funeral home”

What are some of the strongest memories from producing and recording your LP?

The album was recorded in a funeral home in Evansville, Indiana. Yep that’s what I said, a funeral home. The guy that owned Gigantic Records ran a funeral home and a realty business in Evansville. Now, we were not in the part where the funerals were conducted. Best I can remember we were in a cavernous area behind the funeral home proper. This building was huge! It even had apartments above. Now that I think about it, it seems more weird now than in 1969! The funeral home was in front, recording area was behind that, then the control room came next and then up to the apartments. The strongest memories were hoping not to see dead bodies and how spooky the recording area was. The other strong memory for me was the night I did the first overdubs on “Transit Blues”. I was so excited to be playing again that I had the rhythm track so hot in my earphones that I woke up the next morning to go to school and I couldn’t hear! I was almost deaf. Not a good day. Like I said, I got there kinda in the middle of the album, but the sessions I played on were kind of loose and fun. It was Sonny’s album.

What kind of equipment did you use?

Herb used a Scully Four Track to record. As I remember, he used Telefunken microphones. Herb had good equipment for a little studio in a little town. We were using pretty much the equipment of the day. I was using a Gibson 335 through an Ampeg Gemini II. I had been using Ampegs since I had started. Started with a Reverborocket and graduated to the Gemini. I always liked the sound of the Ampegs over Fender at that time. I still own a Reverborocket and and a Gemini, but have added about 12 mid 60’s blackface Fenders to my arsenal. Now I won’t play out unless there is a Fender or two on the backline. Funny how you change. Sonny was using a 335 and a tweed Fender. For the life of me I can’t remember what Al was using. He might have had his Gibson Thunderbird by that time. That’s what he used in Trike…still does today!

What can you tell me about the cover artwork?

Bobby drew that picture that is on he cover. He designed all of the artwork on the album. Always thought the circling words in the credits on the back was kinda cool. Funny story about the album cover. When we got the album back from the pressing, Herb wanted to see if we could get the album in stores in Evansville to sell it. We went to Kmart to see if they would put it in the store. Al and I get dressed up and go to the local Kmart and ask the manager if he would put it in the record section. We show him the album and explain that it is all local musicians and the first thing he says is, “This material is clean, isn’t is?” He looked at the cover and thought it was obscene material. Al and I just fell out! By the way, it went straight to number one at Kmart for one week, haha!

What’s the story behind Gigantic label?

Well, this is were the story gets interesting. Most of the postings on the internet talk about the 100 pressings, but I think the number is much higher. Here’s why. We finished the album and Herb sent the tapes off to get the album pressed. The company finished the pressing and Herb just “sat on them” for a while. There was a reason, but I can’t remember. I just remember being frustrated because he wouldn’t get them shipped to Evansville. Well, Big Al, Bobby and I thought…let’s drive to New York and pick them up! Crazy right? But we were mid 20’s then…haha! So we did! We left on a Friday right after I got out of school, drove to NY, picked up the albums, then drove back. Got back on Sunday night. The reason I tell this story is that we used Al’s old Plymouth station wagon to get the albums. Now we loaded enough albums to fill the back of that wagon. In fact, we weren’t sure the car was going to be able to transport them. That’s a lot of albums. Al and I both agree that the number of albums was closer to 1000 and not 100. If so, where are they? We don’t know. Remember all the hoopla over the “Wind” album came some 20 years later. We had lost track of Herb in the meantime. Big Al, Bobby and I had kind of lost track of each other too. It was Rich that brought us back together. So…we don’t really know where they are. Did get hold of a friend of ours from that time period and he had heard they were stored in a barn somewhere. I guess we will never know. But that’s the story on that one.

Would you share your insight on the albums’ tracks?

“I Don’t Believe This”
This was already recorded.

“Time and Changes This”
It was already recorded. I always thought the fuzz guitar was very thin on this and wanted to rerecord it. They won that one, but I got my wish on the Trike album.

“Maybe Tomorrow”
This one was done too.

“Transit Blues”
This was the first song I played on. I was excited to be a part of it and it was a harp song to boot. This is the one that I went “deaf” on for a day.

“Country Boy”
This one took a 1000 takes. For some reason we couldn’t get the timing right on the drum track Bobby came up with.

“Judy This”
This was the last song to be completed and we could not decide on a vocal track. Herb pretty much said “Just get the damn thing done so I can send the tapes off.” Big Al and I went in on a Sunday afternoon and cut what we called the “breathy” version! Ye Haw it was done.

“The Loner”
This was done.

“Mr. Man”
This was all Carl and Sonny.

“New Albany Police Carnival”
Another harp song for me. Sonny wrote it after he had gotten a speeding ticket in New Albany on his way home.

“Father Come With Me”
The only thing I remember on this cut was as we were listening to the playback we realized that Bobby’s bass drum pedal had a squeek in it!

What was the scene in your town?

Pretty much the way it was in other towns. At that time there was a place to play on every street corner. Lots of bands. Many of the musicians of the day would stop in and see what was going on. It was exciting that there was recording going on in Evansville. Most were very supportive.

Did you play any shows?

As I remember we did not play very many gigs. Hickory Wind’s playing is very fuzzy with me. We played a couple of times at the college here, but again, I don’t remembering them going very well. We only did a few songs off the album and did mostly covers of the day. I seem to remember Sonny wanted to go back to Louisville and was not happy with “Wind”. Anyway, no we did not play much.

At what point did you change your name to B F Trike? 

When Sonny left, Big Al, Bobby, and I decided to form a three piece. We seemed to get along well. Remember I had played with Bobby in Owensboro for several years. Al was very easy to get along with and the three of us “hit if off well.” So we knew that we needed a change in name and agreed we needed something that denoted three piece. We first went with Troika and soon found out there was another group with that name. So we said, “Why not just Trike”. I think it was Bobby that thought we needed something to go with it. We worked on a “big” sound for just three pieces and Bobby and Al had the long hair (mine was still short for the day since I was teaching-that changed later) and Al had the mutton chops so it became “Big Furry Trike”. That was too cumbersome so we shorted it to B F Trike. That’s the true story on how the name came about. Course as we became somewhat popular around the tri-state area everybody said “sure it is” and they started the other B F translation. I had to stick to the former explanation when the kids at school started asking me what the B F stood for! (I don’t think they believed me either…haha). Now Rich Haupt put the real translation in the dead wax of the album (you little devil.) I’m not sure how Hickory Wind came about as I was not there in the beginning.

B F Trike

There was another album recorded.

We had gotten to the point that we needed to do some recording if we were going to get a contract. It was just the next level for us. Truth be known, we thought that if the record company liked the recording, they would have us rerecord the songs in their studio. As I have said before we had some interest from RCA, and actually United Artists. I may have caused some confusion when I mentioned RCA in the liner notes of the album that were included. I think some thought we recorded it in RCA studios. We did not, as I will explain later. We wanted something to present to RCA and hoped they would sign us. It was spec work. They did not, and the album never found any company that would take it on. Neither United Artists.

“Hell, blow the walls down!”

Please share your recollections of the sessions.

We recorded the album at Cinderella Studios right outside of Nashville. The owner of the studio and engineer was Wayne Moss. Being in Evansville, we needed to find a studio that as professional but relatively close. Nashville made sense. Now the problem was, this was 1969-70, and what was Nashville then…country with a capital C. It wasn’t like it is now and country music was real country then. Now picture three long hair – hippy musicians with huge amplifiers going into Monument studios to cut some tracks! (By the way, the person who was recording before our session was Boots Randolf) Understand? It was hilarious now that I look back on it. And believe me I am not making fun of country…its just, we didn’t fit. I hit one note with the Big Muff connected to a double stack Tryanor amplifier and they showed us to the door! We tried several others but to no avail. Now I really don’t know how Bobby Alexander, our manager, heard of Wayne but he did, and that was our ticket. Wayne had a real small 8 track studio but was putting in a 16 track. It looked like you couldn’t have recorded a thing in there, wires everywhere. But of course he had the sound we were looking for. Wayne came from country, had worked with the then supergroup Area Code 615, had recorded with Bob Dylan, and was in the process of putting together his new album with his group Barefoot Jerry. He played some tracks off his new album and we knew we were in the right place. We were in heaven. Al brought both Sunn bottoms and Wayne never said a word. I only had brought my 2X12 Tryanor cabinet, leaving the 4X12 at home because I had gotten so much grief from the other studios. Wayne said I could have use it if I wanted. Of course Bobby brought all of his drums. We asked Wayne right off if we could record at the volume we were used to, and is reply was music to our ears…”Hell, blow the walls down!” Yipee! We’re gonna make a record. We had a ball that weekend. Played at the volume we liked for a change and I think it showed in our playing. We did the instrumental tracks, no overdubs, on a Friday night and into early Saturday morning, and came back Saturday afternoon and did the vocal tracks. Of course we knew these songs backwards and forwards. Had been doing them, I don’t know, 6 or 7 months. If I’m not mistaken (again fuzziness) I think we did most on one take. I have been playing music for about 45 years now and I have never been in a group since, that knew what each was going to do before you did it. We just meshed so well. We never pretended to be anything we were not. We thought we were good musicians with a good foundation. Not the best, but not the worst. You out there that are musicians know what I mean. It was magical for us. We had our own little world called B F Trike. I think I have covered the equipment we used. Bobby used Ludwig drums. Big Al used two Sunn Cabinets each loaded with two 15″ JBL speakers and powered by the Sunn 200S head. At that time Al was using a mid 60’s Gibson Thunderbird base. I’ve played with Big Al a couple of times in 2006 or 7 and he still uses the Thunderbird. As I said earlier I used Tryanor. I had the bigger 4X12 cabinet with a smaller 2X12 cabinet on top of that and the head on top of that! We wanted it to look as BIG as we could get it. Refrigerator size…haha. But that was rock and roll of the time – right! (BTW the last gig I played in November, I took my early 70’s Fender Princeton to play through…oh how the times have changed). My main guitar at this time was an experimental model from Gibson. I think the model was a 340. Looked like a 335 but had different electronics. I liked it because the down position of the toggle switch put the guitar in standby and I could play harp without having to worry about feedback. The model did not last long. It was only around for about 2 years. Almost forgot, I used a Electroharmonics Big Muff Pi. That turned out to be the “signature sound” for us. (little story here: we did try to shop some of the songs on record row knowing we would probably fail, but in one of the meetings with some A and R people one of them did ask “how do you get that sound on your guitar”… I told them I wound my own strings…smart ass huh? The Pi was new and and they didn’t like our songs so they could go find it themselves). We were very satisfied with the results we got with Wayne and looked to sell it to RCA or United Artists. Wayne was the best. I sometimes wonder what he is doing today?

Would you share your insight on the albums’ tracks?

“Time & Changes”
What can I say. I finally got this song to sound like I wanted it to when “Wind” was together.

“For Sale or Lease”
Al wrote most of the words to this one and I handled the arrangement. Was a bit of a challenge doing the intro with only one guitar but I guess I succeeded.

“Wait & See”
This one was mine. The people who followed us and were friends were constantly asking “When are you going to get the contract.” My reply was “Wait and See” As you might guess there was much more feedback in the live version. The Pi was good at that.

“Lovely Lady”
Big Al’s song. Al brought it to one of our noodling sessions and I wondered where he got the idea. He didn’t tell me till later. When we were on the road we played Schnute (can’t spell it) Air Force Base in Rantoule Illinois. Remember go-go dancers? There was one that danced when we played. The young lady doesn’t know it, but there is a song written for her.

Ok, now it’s time to fess up some. This song was not done in Wayne’s studio. When Rich Haupt called me after I sent the Trike tapes and he said the album is a little short on material. He asked if I had any more material to augment the others from Trike. I told him I had several songs I had done in my studio in Evansville around “77. He said send them, and he used two of them on the album. So there you are. Here’s something you might be interested in. The tape machine in my studio in Evansville was the Scully 4 track that Herb had for the Hickory Wind Sessions. So I recorded my songs on the same machine. I quit playing around ’77 because my family was growing and I was gone all the time. I bought Herb’s equipment and got my own thing together. This song was all me. I used a drum machine, about three or four acoustics and bass. That’s one reason it “fades” in. That was the easiest way to get the song started with a drum machine. The song is dedicated to my wife of now 45 years Janice Elaine. Jan has been with me every since I started this goofy stuff called music. I just wanted to take a second and tell everyone how lucky I was and am to have her. She has been my “rock” through all of this. I called here “Sunshine” in our early years, and still do some times now. It’s her smile!

“Bench of Wood”
All Al’s song. The only thing I contributed was the guitar lick. Al says this is dedicated to Pinocchio!

“Three Piece Music”
Pretty much my song. Some stigma even then for three piece groups, so I guess this was my response. This was our “opener” in our concerts.

“Six O’clock Sleeper”
This is the other song from 1977 and my studio. My second daughter Mandy got in the habit of sleeping early and then up all night. So that’s were the line six o’clock sleeper – midnight creeper came from. On a personal level, this song is really a tribute to this pedal, the Big Muff. that I had been using all those years. I wanted to build a “wall of fuzz” as a backdrop. Don’t know if I succeeded, but I sure had fun doing it. I laughed to myself the whole time I was doing the intro. It was like “can I get another fuzzy guitar in this song”, haha!

“Magic Making Music Man”
This was Bobby’s song. Always loved to sing it.

“Be Free You”
I really did have to hear this song live. I have to admit the recording did not do it justice. We were still doing dances when we wrote this song, and I have to tell you we got a great response from people that danced. We also used the old “call and response” trick with the people that were dancing. We would shout “Be Free” over and over. It was a simple fun danceable tune. Had kind of a “jungle” feel. Anyway you had to hear it live. I really think it went too long on the record. We shortened it for our concerts and it did fit nicely next to the last song which was the rave up version of “I’m a Man.”

Did you do any concerts or festivals as B F Trike?

Unlike Hickory Wind, we played for, I guess, two solid years. We did about every type of venue you could think of. Did a lot of dances early, but then after the recording and doing our own songs, we started to play concerts. That was a blast and really thought we might still pull the recording contract off. We opened for Mott the Hoople, Johnny Winter, Mountain, Cactus, two times for Ten Years After, the Guess Who, Grand Funk Railroad, etc. At one point, I was leaving school at 3:00, catching a plane in Evansville, flying to Indy, or Louisville, or Chicago, playing the concert and then back to Evansville early in the morning to teach the next day! Hey I was 25 then…bullet proof.

In 1988 Rockadelic Records finally released your LP.

This I remember like it was yesterday. I had just gotten home after open house at school. Jan said there was a guy who had called from Dallas and wanted to talk to me. Well, it was Rich. He had gotten my name off the Hickory Wind album. He was looking for more “Wind” albums for his record collecting buddies. I remember I said “Why do you want Hickory Wind albums”? (I always considered the Trike stuff to be superior to the “Wind” stuff – probably because I was so much more involved with Trike – I thought it was more “ballsy” and I didn’t feel bad thinking that because Al felt the same). Anyway he related to me that there was a cadre of collectors that loved the “sound” of the record. I had two records and I sent him one and the other I wanted to keep for my collection. After that I think some time went by (not sure how much…fuzzy). He did call again and asked what had happened to the group and did I have any more recordings. I told him about Trike and the recording we had made at Cinderella studios. He said would I send it to him and I said, sure! Well the rest is history as they say. Rich asked if we would let him press it and we said we would love for him to. It made me and us so happy to finally have a “hard” copy of our songs that we could play. Several years later he called and wanted to do the CD. This is a chance to publicly thank Rich for taking the time and his money to make our songs a reality. I think the world of Rich Haupt. I’ll never begin to repay him for the joy that he has brought to me and my family. We still keep in touch on Facebook. I wrote a song for Rich that kind of chronicles what he and I went through in getting the Trike stuff pressed. Its called “Pandora’s Box”. Big Al, Bobby, and I got together in ’92 and recorded about 5 or 6 new songs, and one of them was “Pandora’s Box”. It was a song that I thought should be written. It was fun. I won’t go into all of it but I accuse Rich of opening up something that was long buried. I had quit playing since 1977 to raise my family and all this interest in Trike started me up again. The chorus goes: “Been 20 years since I tuned my guitar, been 20 years since I was called a star”, Rich I guess I should thank you a lot, but I think, you might have opened…Pandora’s Box. Tongue in cheek tribute to my buddy Rich. I love you man.

Michael McGuyer today

Thank you for taking your time. Last word is yours.

I would just like to thank all of you for taking an interest in something that is very near and dear to my heart. If our music brought a smile to your face or a tap of the foot it makes me happy. You put yourself “out there” when you write something of your own, and I am grateful to you that have embraced it. After we broke up in late ’72 I really thought it was “dead”. How blessed I am to still be talking about B F Trike in 2011! Bless you all and thanks!

– Klemen Breznikar

  1. Jingles says:

    These old stars are really looking so amazing and dashing also.

  2. dUtley says:

    love ya mike thanks for the storys all the years we have known each other I never knew any of that stuff except that you were in a band called bf trike when you were younger.. That was a great interview.. and I might also add you are a terrific musician and a dear friend.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Love B.F. Trike! Six 'o' clock sleeper is one of my favorite tunes on the record, so it was cool to get the back story on that song. Thanks for a great job with the blog and this awesome interview!


  4. Steven Lintzenich says:

    Your missing an important key….Charles Gianoli! You may want to look into that! Probably, the greatest guitar player in the tri state! And hell of a writer!

  5. Paul Feagans says:

    Was one of your students in the mid 70’s at North. It was cool to have a teacher with long hair and so laid back. Wish you could have told stories of your musical career to us in class. Looks like you have had a blessed life.

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