Bill Champlin

MP3 AUDIO SAMPLE (1:09:26--1:14:40) (MZ000002), Transcript P. 12-14

Bill Champlin 250Speaking about Terry Haggertyʼs generous “guitar gesture”:
Tim was just such a great arranger, incredible. And when Jeff came into the thing, the jazz groove kind of came back and it got more complex. And then you had Terry, who was such an innovator, who could really take it outside the blues vein. I donʼt know if that was so much jazz, I donʼt think Terry was a “jazz” player so to speak, but he is one-of-a- kind. Was then, and is now. He was anything but a conventional rock guitar player, not by a long shot. And you know, on top of that, he is just a great rhythm guitar player too, something that often gets overlooked. Just listen to the music and itʼs there. Itʼs really pretty funny, heʼd say, “Man, I get great kudos for some of the solos that you were playing.” (Laughs) And he was really cool. I remember at one point we were rehearsing, I think we were still a 5 piece, and we were rehearsing in a garage in Fairfax. Terry had his L5, running through a twin, and he was sounding fucking great, just swinginʼ hard. And the blues thing had really hit town pretty seriously, Albert Kingʼs record had just come out. And Iʼm sitting at home with a $90, one pickup SG trying to play the blues. So I asked him, “Terry, let me try your guitar for a minute.” And I said, “Just play a shuffle, guys, let me try something.” So I started playing some blues, and Hag said, “Fuck, man, youʼve been practicing!” And Terry went, “Geez, youʼre still playing that little $90 guitar?” So he fuckinʼ went out to Sherman Clay and put down a down payment on an ES 175 (Gibson). And gave it to me and said, “Youʼre playing this from here on in. You gotta make the payments, but you need this.” I mean it was the most awesome thing for him to do. And from that point on I became way more of a guitar player. I had forgotten about that. It was such a really cool thing for Terry to do. And I had that ES 175 for years. Then everybody started going with the Strats and Teleʼs, the skinny guys, easier to carry on the road.

Bill 1998 250

Talking about early associations with Marin musicians as a young player: (MP3 AUDIO SAMPLE)
And he was a deep guy, I always really liked John (Cipollina, then with the Swinginʼ Deacons). He was a sweetie pie, one of the first guys that said, “Hey Bill, come out onto the stage and play with us.” I was hanging with Adam, and he said, “Hey, weʼre doing a gig at the Sausalito Womenʼs Club, do you want to come with us?” Now dig, the bass player in the Swinging Deacons was Rob Moitoza. Right? So I knew Adam, then I met John. And then I met this guy Rob, and Rob was just this young guy, who originally played with a group called the Chord Lords. They were really happening at the time. Rob was a couple of years older than me, and he just lived up the hill. So, I met him, and I met the Searles family, and they had a group called Kustom Keys, and that was the big thing in Marin for quite a while, especially early in the going. At the beginning of rock and roll. Right at the very beginning of it. I think, 1958. And a guy named Johnny Allair who used to play with the Kustom Keys. John Allair is still considered the grandfather of Marin music. He and Pete Lind used to have a duo that played at the bowling alley on Francisco Boulevard, and we used to go down there. They had a restaurant, bathroom, and then doors that opened to the lounge. So, weʼd open the doors from the bathroom and listen to Pete and John play. John had a Hammond, and thatʼs when I said, “Oh, Iʼve got to get one of those.” That might have been the move on that one, you know? So John had and extra guitar and an extra amp on the stage and he just handed it to me and said, “Come on, play with us.” He handed me that guitar and that was the first time I actually went on stage. He just said, “Play along man, what the fuck.” I was just standing there on the side of the stage and he just said, “Come on out, letʼs go.” So John was the first guy that did that for me, and Adam was playing the piano. And then, I was just walking with Adam one day and we ran into this guy Ed Booth. I was, I want to say about 15 maybe, and that had to be ʻ61 maybe, ʻ62, somewhere in there? So we saw him on the street, and he was saying, “Hey man, how you doinʼ? Howʼre you playinʼ, are you havinʼ fun?” That sort of thing. And I told him, “Yeah, cool thatʼs great”. And I was having piano lessons at that point. But I was playing piano or guitar. I mean, having seen Adam play both instruments on the same gig, I was saying, thatʼs the way to do it, you play two things. But now that I had to carry my own gear Iʼm realizing two things means that you just have got to carry more shit. (chuckles) So, Iʼm walking along with him and this guy Ed Booth comes walking up and says, “Hey Adam, whatʼs going on man?” Adams says, “Yeah, great man howʼs the band?” And he says, “Man, we need a piano player.” And Adam says, “You should get Bill.” It was a group called the Falcons, and I joined those guys. I mean, Ed was 29, the guitar player in the band, Ted Kemmer, was 31. And I was probably 15 years old. I was a freshman maybe a sophomore at Tamalpais High in Mill Valley. I was just a kid. I think I was maybe even in the eighth grade when I first started playing with those guys. And then there was one point when I was playing with a group called the Royal Keys. That was actually Bruce Brymer, and Bruce played with Freedom Highway for a while. Great singer, really good singer. He appeared on one of our records, actually on Follow Your Heart, I had him singing a verse on “The Child”. Iʼve always liked Bruceʼs singing. And he was a drummer, so we had something going. And then Ron Arnsmeyer ended up playing with us, and Ron was an older guy, he played sax and he was awesome too. So thatʼs just kind of a handful of different people that I found myself running around with, and playing with a lot of different guys and seeing what was going on. Eventually while I was hanging around, I heard Tim Cain playing saxophone. I actually met him when there was somebody else playing a gig at Brownʼs Hall and Tim was playing with them. I just heard him playing sax, and I thought, this guyʼs got a sick tone. A big, fat, giant tone. I donʼt remember who he was with...It might have been that he was playing with Bruce Walford, the guy that ended up owning The Church (Marin recording studio). (END MP3 AUDIO SAMPLE) In those days none of us really were driving. The difference between Tamalpais High School and Drake High School, which is where Tim went, seemed like it was forever far away. Drake is in San Anselmo, almost Fairfax. So it was a little bit of a cruise from Mill Valley. You had to get older before these things started to cross pollinate and you start seeing different musicians in different groups. So eventually I ran into Terry Haggerty. Tim and Terry went to school together at Drake, theyʼd been friends since they were little kids. I had met Terry later, and I canʼt remember exactly how we met. But we had this group called the Opposite Six. And one of the guys in the Opposite Six was the guitar player Don Irving. Now, this was in...this is kind of cut to the chase later. It was Rob Moitoza, Don Irving, me, Tim Cain, Dick Rogers, the drummer, and John Leones who played bari sax and some tenor. And that was the Opposite Six. The name was probably something Rob came up with...it was cool. The Opposite Six, yeah! We had cards made and the whole nine yards. Now, at some point in the game, we had the draft, and the Vietnam war. Now, a lot of these guys I was playing with in the Six were couple of years older than me. And they were coming up on this draft thing. Pretty serious. And what the rule of thumb was in those days was, if you wanted to get into the band, or radio or something along those lines, donʼt get drafted. Join. It will take you one year longer, but you will probably avoid grunt land. Because if youʼre drafted, youʼre going to be shot at. It was as simple as that. So, Don went ahead and joined, so we had a slot open for a guitar player in the Opposite Six, and Terry filled that slot. And Tim wasnʼt going to get drafted. You know, come on. Heʼd contracted polio when he was 6 years old, maybe 7, right before the Salk vaccine came out. He missed it by that much. But he actually went to his draft physical though, and they passed them all the way up until they said, “Let me take a look...are you using crutches?” Tim had a shoulder bag, with his medical record inside that looked like a Manhattan phone book. So he said, “Here is my medical history.” And he put the thing down, wham! And at the top it says “Jonas Salk”. They took one look at this thing and said, “Get the hell out of here! What are you doing?” Now, I registered for the draft too, but by that time I was already married and had a kid. Being married didnʼt get you out. It got you a little later in line, but it didnʼt get you out. If you had a kid, theyʼre looking at it from the point of view that, if you get killed, we are supporting your wife and your kid for the rest of their lives. And theyʼre not doing that.

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Excerpts from the biography

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L  I S T E N   T O   T H E   M U S I C :

Sons of Champlin: Home Grown in Marin

1. 1982-A: from Loosen Up Naturally (1969)


2. Turn On Your Lovelight/Drum Solo/Goldmine: Live from Winterland Auditorium, San Francisco (October 4, 1975)

Turn on Your Lovelight/Goldmine

3. Hey Children: Final Band Performance, Kirkwood Meadows (1977):

Hey Children

4. Beggin’ You Baby: Live Performance, from Minus Seeds and Stems (1968):

Beggin' You Baby