In the Beginning (2)

May 20th, 2011

Whew!  Back in action.

As you can see, there are four people in the picture above, but when we signed off on Part One, the band was calling itself We Three.  Clearly, something had changed.

Stephen:  My dream, after graduation, was to be a concert guitarist. So  I holed up in my claustrophobic little apartment and practiced six to eight hours a day. To say it was a lonely, tedious existence would be an understatement.

One day the phone rang and the voice identified himself as Robb Royer. He said he knew my guitar work at CSUN and that he had a singing group and wanted a jazz guitarist and a classical guitarist to accompany them. He sounded confident, persuasive and like he had a well defined sense of direction. I was torn but decided to give a try. It held the promise of getting some badly needed stimulation in my life and possibly making some money.

Tim:  Had he but known.

Robb:  Stephen initially came aboard with a jazz guitarist named Mike Petruso. Mike was a devotee of the Howard Roberts school, a style of music in which, I’m convinced, they think they get paid by the note. If you yelled ‘solo’ at Mike, you’d have to duck.

Mike quickly found us too simplistic and moved on but Stephen, for some reason, was intrigued. He became our fourth member and the Pleasure Fair was complete.

Tim: What I remember most clearly about Mike was a sort of chill of disapproval that radiated out from him in concentric circles.  We were nowhere near serious enough for Mike.  And we laughed all the time, and every time we laughed, he checked his watch.

Michele:   It’s funny, I remember you all differently. Robb was really sweet to me and a wonderful composer, Tim was larger than life and of course very Byronic….I was a bit intimated by him, actually, Later, Steve, as we called him, joined and I was completely in awe of his talent. He was the serious musician… The dark, brooding, shy guy.

Tim:  I’m not really quite sure where this “Byronic” thing came from.  I was a putz in those days.  It was years before I got Byronic.  You want Byronic?  Here’s Byronic.

Sorry.  Back to business.

Stephen: Coming out my cocoon and meeting Tim and Robb and Michele was quite overwhelming. They were high energy, creative, talented – and here’s the main thing: They were fun, charismatic people and working with them as compared to sitting on my butt, practicing in my apartment was addictive.  And here’s the other main thing: THEY WERE WRITING SONGS. I was around this buzzing creativity for hours most days.

During this same time period, I played a few gigs with a woman named Elizabeth Waldo whose ensemble played “Ancient Inca Music as she imagined it.”  One day, in a rehearsal with her, I found myself writing a song. This was a beginning of what has turned out to be the real direction of my life. Besides the writing of my first song, the early days with PF also included the smoking of my first joint (thanks to Tim) and my first experiences in the recording studio, my introduction to the music business…all this caused the real transition from being a trained musician to being someone who creates music as a way of life.

Tim: For me, the band was the first time I ever wrote anything on a regular, somewhat disciplined basis.  I wasn’t very good at it, but I did it, and it changed the direction of my life, too.  After the band fell apart, I wrote all sorts of stuff, and that led — after a lot of detours — into writing books.

When I was putting this together, I asked people to come up with one of the best moments from their days with the band.  For me, I think it was the first, and perhaps only, time we heard ourselves on the radio.  I think a DJ named B. Mitchell Reed played “Morning Glory Days” off our Uni Records LP.  It was like being hit by lightning.

I think Robb and Stephen may have somewhat different memories of the same event.

Stephen:  One memory that keeps resurfacing: Before we had gotten our contract with MCA, we were in Arnie Mills’ (our manager’s) office. He was explaining why he was having trouble finding us work. He offered – as a comment on our immature self-preoccupation – “No one gives a shit!”  Later that day in rehearsal Robb coined a new motto for us: Nunc daba feces, and suggested we have shield made with that (incorrect) Latin quote at its center. Soon thereafter we got our contract with UNI.

Robb:  In a meeting we were having, I decided that the guy we were talking to was full of shit or didn’t recognize our genius and couldn’t wait to get out of there  As we were leaving, Steve turned to me and said,  “We’ve really got to work on our business acumen.”   And it was true.  There’s that attitude Tim warned you about.  One of these days I’ve got to work on that.

Michele:  Of course I recall all our gigs, but what I really remember is meeting everyday to rehearse. That condo became my escape from a rather painful life.  It was the first free, fun and purposeful time  of my life.

Let’s close this out with a sample.  This is “Morning Glory Days.” PLEASURE FAIR – MORNING GLORY DAYS (1)

19 Responses to “In the Beginning (2)”

  1. michael hallinan Says:

    Stephen, we have something in common; tim gave me my first joint too. But I was only three.

  2. EverettK Says:

    Now that’s what I call a retrospective!!! Thanks for sharing, all of you. It’s almost enough to make me wish I were 10-12 years older and grew up in Southern California. Well, almost.

    Not really.

    But I enjoyed it vicariously! 🙂

  3. Laren Bright Says:

    Hey — I remember that song!! (Okay, no I don’t. But I would if I did.)

    Glad you’re back on your feet Tim (or, probably more accurately, on your butt in front of the computer.

  4. Stephen Cohn Says:

    I got a series of emails from a guy who loved “Morning Glory Days” when he was young. He had been searching for an MP3 of the song and finally found one. He told me that, as a kid, “I always thought the words (in the chorus) said “find a place to bury tom”

  5. Usman Says:

    OK. so now its official: Tim was actually handling the weed side of the business.
    That helps explain also, why everyone considered him Byronic.

  6. Suzanna Says:

    Hi, Pleasure Fair!

    Listen, I find this really fascinating because this last installment made me realize that the time you spent in the band together seems to have really paved the way for many of your future creative endeavors and accomplishments. These were not humble beginnings, you all, writing your own material, a record deal, radio play. And to top it all off you are all so humble about it. Love the Byronic pic, Tim. Such a handsome feller. Thanks everyone. This was fun!

  7. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, all of youse.

    Glad you’re liking this. Putting these two posts these together was a really enjoyable thing to do, and to tell you the truth, I was surprised at how emotional I got. I’d thought it would just be a cut-and-paste job with a couple of jokes.

    The four of us went on to very different lives, and decades passed with almost no communication among us. Robb and I corresponded occasionally, but not even that, really, until he finally got dragged, kicking and screaming online by his daughter Jessie. Stephen and I re-bonded about five years ago and collaborated (in a sense) when he wrote the splendid “sound track” music for the first Poke Rafferty book, A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART. (If you haven’t heard this, you should go to the NAIL page and listen to it.) And Michele, who lives only a few miles from Stephen in the Valley, might as well have been on the other side of the moon for all we knew, until Malcolm Searles found her while researching his forthcoming book on Bread.

    So for me, this has been kind of touching. And, of course, we were so absurdly young and just starting to find our way, both in the world and as creative people.

    mice, I did not give you your first joint when you were three. I LOANED it to you, and I’ve been waiting, tapping my foot, for the 77 years since then.

    Everett, glad you liked it, and I certainly understand why you’d prefer to have grown up way up there, where the primary recreational activity is counting drips of water as the roof leaks and everyone is as pasty as the cast of “Twilight” and they have to turn over hospital patients daily because moss grown on their bodies and the only way to get dry after a shower is to climb into the dryer. And the sun comes out for the first time in 14 years just seconds before the Rapture.

    Laren, if you remembered that song, which so far as I know was played on the radio exactly one time, I’d be frightened of you. Even more frightened than I already am.

    Stephen — Thanks for the mp3 (Stephen furnished the one you can play at the end of the blog.) Isn’t it weird how people emerge online who remember bits and pieces of things we’ve done? You think there’s any way we could make money out of it?

    Usman, this weed/Byronic business is way out of hand. But you’re right in that the more loaded they were, the more Byronic I looked.

    Suzanna, thanks for the “fascinating” and double thanks for the “handsome.” You had the same realization I did about the band being a sort of chrysalis for all of us. One thing I didn’t do, since this was a post on the band’s beginnings, was to outline our so-called professional life, although some of it was fascinating and some was hilarious. Maybe in the future.

  8. Malcolm Searles Says:

    A fascinating insight Tim (and you other guys – and gal – as well) ! Thank you so much. I truly wish this reminiscing could go on and on … but hey, that may steal my thunder when my book finally appears. Still awaiting publishing confirmation on that … but that’s another story altogether. Now excuse me whilst I’m off to play my Pleasure Fair album …

  9. Sharai Says:

    It’d been awhile since I checked the rest of your site here, it’s looking good. Stephen’s music for NAIL, ROSE, & SUPERMAN is brilliant. When’s the movie coming out?!

  10. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Lovely song! I sometimes miss the music of those years. You could actually sing along. You are all so open; it is very poignant to read your thoughts. Lots of life since then, but it must have been a special time. Tim, you look most Byronic on the cover of the album. Very handsome, and I’m glad you’re better.

  11. EverettK Says:

    Sheesh. If you going to insult my country home, see if I email my extra energy the next time you get sick! At least here, it’s still safe to breathe when the air is too thick to see 20 feet (fog or heavy rain), unlike some southern locales I can think of…

  12. John Lindquist Says:

    If I were to write a review of the Pleasure Fair LP, I would point out the youthful enthusiasm which pervades each and every track and appears to keep you all young in heart & mind. Instead, I’ve been playing you guys whenever I get a chance to do an oldies show on WORT which (BTW) is 89.9 on the FM dial, streams live around the world, and also serves as your 3000 watt blowtorch of love in steamy Madison, Wis. A recent playing of “Junior Executive” reminded a lot of folks of our present governor. With that, I’m now off to Minnesota to check out yet another source of the Mississippi.

  13. Sylvia Says:

    I love Morning Glory Days, what a wonderful song! Is there no end to your talents?

    I love your brother, too. I lost a large mouthful of wine to his comment. 😀

  14. Larissa Says:

    Wow-it all sounds like a lot of fun-and some great experiences. I can’t imagine what hearing yourself on the radio would be like-I know hearing the recordings back that my friend and I make in her kitchen is intimidating enough…and sort of hilarious because you can usually hear us discussing what the lyrics are supposed to be or what key we should have been in instad of the thing that actually just happened..while playing and singing hehe. It’s fun. (c: Thanks for sharing all of this-you could like write a book about it or something (c:

  15. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    You know, it was a great time and one that probably shaped all of us one way or another, but of course we were at the age when you’re looking for something to shape you. It’s probably good I didn’t fall in with a group of young embalmers.

    Malcolm — can’t wait for your book. When it comes out you should do a guest blog here and also one at John’s site which is Bread Central on the web.

    Hi, Sharai, isn’t the music wonderful? As to the movie — well, I’ve been waiting for Hollywood to call so long they’re going to bury me with my phone.

    Hi, Lil, and I agree that there was some amazing music back in those days, back when we had nothing else to do but paint animals on the wall of a cave and, apparently, steal my stash. I’m not going for Byronic, but thanks for trying.

    Everett, you can breath fine as long as you don’t look up. People have drowned where they stood, looking for a break in the clouds.

    John, “The 3000-watt blowtorch of love?” That’s a great slogan, even if the light in my refrigerator uses more wattage. (I’m just kidding.) You should stream the show on your site so those of us outside Snow Country can listen.

    Sylvia, too bad my brother wasn’t there. He’d have found a way to recover the wine. (Joking, Mike.) And, yes, today at 4:30 PM Pacific time I reached the end of my talents. I am now officially stalled.

    Hi, Riss, and thanks — it was a great feeling, and the nice thing sbout it only happening once is that I never got jaded. I would write a book about it, but I think Malcolm will beat me to it.

  16. Malcolm Searles Says:

    The speed my potential publisher is going I wouldn’t bet on it! BTW Tim – you may wish to check out my own Bread site (not that it’s comparable to John’s of course) over at I shall have to insert a Pleasure Fair page now!

  17. Pat Browning Says:

    Well, nuts. I keep trying to leave a comment and that blinkin’ captcha thing won’t let me.

    Anyway, I love “Morning Glory Days.” “Hair” could have used it. Their loss.

    Pat Browning

  18. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Malcolm — great site, and very good-looking.

    Pat — you got through. If you can’t read the Captcha, there’s a little circle of arrows right next to the fill-in box. If you click on it, you’ll get a new code,and you can keep doing it till you get one you can read. “Morning Glory Days” would have fit right into “Hair,” wouldn’t it?

  19. Colin Mason Says:

    Hi Tim

    I’ve just written an article on The Pleasure Fair (adding my own label scans etc) and uploaded ‘Turnaway’ from the studio album on UNI.

    I’ve used two pictures that I got from your blog and have provided a link to it accordingly.

    If there is anything I’ve missed, need to know or add etc, please let me know.

    Colin (in England)

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